TV Thursday: The A-Team (1983-1986)

Okay, if you are anything like me as soon as you read the post title you started humming the television show theme. This is an entry that almost everyone who visits this site will know everything about, but just in case you are not familiar with the premise of the series I’ve included the opening below.

I ask you, is that not just one of the best openings for a television show? Now how about some things you might not have known about the characters and controversy of the series.

While my favorite character has always been Templeton “Face” Peck, the actor originally hired to portray him was not Dirk Benedict, it was Tim Dunigan that got that part before being replaced after the pilot episode. Tim Dunigan would a few years later go on to don the power armor of Captain Jonathan Power in the syndicated Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future television series.

In the fourth season of the series we learn from his mother what B.A. Baracus’s initials stand for, Bosco Albert Baracus. Though in the rest of the series we are told it stands for “Bad Attitude”. Also in that season four episode we learn that his nickname used to be Scooter.

As for the crime the team was accused of we learn that, Colonel Morrison, their commanding officer tasks them with robbing the Bank of Hanoi to quickly put an end to the Vietnam war. They pull the mission off but when they return to base they learn the Viet Cong has murdered the Colonel, destroying his headquarters by fire in the process, thereby destroying any document of proof that the A-Team was acting under orders.

Up for the part of John “Hannibal” Smith originally was James Coburn (The Magnificent Seven, The Aquanauts, Our Man Flint, among many others). It’s interesting to not that George Peppard was originally considered for the role of Steve McQueen’s character of Vin in the Magnificent Seven.

As to that controversy I mentioned above, the level of violence was always a focal point for outrage, but what about the cry of sexism? I give thanks to Wikipedia for the below text:

“Marla Heasley’s experiences on-set
Marla Heasley portraying Tawnia Baker in the episode “Say It With Bullets” (Season 2).

As Marla Heasley recounts in Bring Back… The A-Team (May 18, 2006), although sexism was not prevalent on the set per se, there was a sense that a girl was not necessary on the show, and she was even approached by George Peppard about it:
“ He was really serious. He said: “When you’re finished with your make-up, I would like to talk to you. Please come to my trailer.” I said: “Okay.” So I went to his trailer and he said, “Have a seat,” I said, “Okay,” and then he said: “I just want you to know that we don’t want you on the show,” he said “We don’t want you on the show. None of the guys want you here. The only reason you’re here is because the network and the producers want you. For some reason they think they need a girl.”

The interview continues with Marla Heasley noting that on her last day of work Peppard took her aside again, saying:
“ I’m sorry that this is your last day, but remember what I said the very first day, that we didn’t want a girl, has nothing to do with you. You were very professional, but no reason to have a girl. ”

In an interview with the Sunday Mail (AUS), George Peppard, portraying Hannibal Smith on the show, admitted that he thought that “whenever the studio slips an actress on to the team, she becomes a distraction. She always slows down the action. She’s someone who’s only there for the glamor shots. Everything stops for the sexy smiles – and I can’t see why that’s necessary on The A-Team.”

VicSage

Editor at Retroist
Searching through the alleys for useful knowledge in the city of Nostalgia. Huge cinema fanatic and sometimes carrier of the flame for the weirding ways of 80s gaming, toys, and television. When his wife lets him he is quite happy sitting in the corner eating buckets of beef jerky.

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4 thoughts on “TV Thursday: The A-Team (1983-1986)

  1. Dax says:

    No matter how insensitive it may be, I have to admit that I chuckled at Peppard’s attempt at consoling Heasley: “You were very professional, but no reason to have a girl.”

  2. Well, it turns out one of his co-stars backed him up as well, Dax.

    “In Bring Back… the A-Team, Dirk Benedict also remarked that, indeed, the show was very male driven:
    “ It was a guy’s show. It was male driven. It was written by guys. It was directed by guys. It was acted by guys. It’s about what guys do. We talked the way guys talked. We were the boss. We were the God. We smoked when we wanted. We shot guns when we wanted. We kissed the girls and made them cry… when we wanted. It was the last truly masculine show. ”

    In two similar interviews in 2007, on the Dutch talk shows Jensen! and RTL Boulevard (both broadcast on May 11, 2007), Benedict remarked again that The A-Team was a guy show, and if it were remade today, it’d be a lot more feminine, and a more adequate naming would be “The Gay-Team.””

  3. Richard says:

    I know he got a lot of flack for the comments, but he was right.
    It was not a guy/gal show and it was alright that way.
    When ever you add a girl to this kind of show/ movie it detracts from your
    basic plot.

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