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DVD Shopping Bag: The A-Team: The Complete Series
Does it hold up?
By Robert T. Trate
June 08, 2010
A-Team the Complete Series Box Set
© Universal Pictures/Bob Trate
In 1983, immediately after the Super Bowl, our lives were changed forever. The A-Team made its debut and young boys across America had a new set of heroes to look up to. Hannibal Smith (George Peppard), B.A. Baracus (Mr. T), Face (Dirk Benedict) and Murdock (Dwight Schultz) were four escaped military prisoners living in the Los Angeles underground. Their crime, allegedly, was robbing the bank of Hanoi during the Vietnam War. These men escaped and were constantly pursued by the United States Military. Their weekly mission wasn’t to clear their names, unlike the modern comic book counterparts, The Losers. They were just trying to survive. Helping those in need, with kill free violence, they became TV legends. After years of waiting an A-Team movie will hit the big screen this week. To coincide with the big theatrical release Universal Studios is releasing The A-Team: The Complete Series in a Limited Edition Box Set in the shape of B.A.’s van. What more could a fan want? Though we have to ask, does The A-Team hold up?
Breakfast at Tiffany's
As a little kid I loved the show. I remember sitting down with the whole family and watching The A-Team. I know it must have been strange for my parents to see George Peppard on a weekly, some times comical, action adventure show. To them he was Paul 'Fred' Varjak from Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). I know it was because I once saw Breakfast at Tiffany's and it was strange to see Hannibal without Face, B.A. and Murdock at his side. I knew it would be a slippery slope to go back and watch the A-Team again after all this time. I’ve seen a few re-runs over the years but to watch one from start to finish was a rarity. My memories of the show were fun and great but what about now. I’ve traveled down this road with The Greatest American Hero and after three episodes realized the past should remain in the past. I also know this new A-Team movie will never live up to my memories. “Screw it,” I told myself and put in the pilot and pushed play.
In the Beginning
I sat through twenty episodes in a row before my deadline for Mania made me turn it off. To be honest I never thought I would actually get that far. Right away it was weird to see Captain Power (Tim Dunigan) in the role of Face in the shows pilot. Grant it the formula was there but Dunigan didn’t have the charisma of Dirk “Starbuck” Benedict. I’m probably not being fair to Dunigan because Benedict did have 96 episodes to shape his character where he had only one. I was immediately on the watch for the Cylon that would pass by Benedict in the opening credits. I’m well into season 2 and he still hasn’t walked by yet. Another weird little tidbit was the character of Amy Allen (Melinda Culea) who would only be on for twenty four episodes. Here was this cute reporter with the right name but she gets left behind. Plus Decker (Lance LeGault) was nowhere to be found; only this douche bag named Lynch (William Lucking) who was pursuing them.
The formula for The A-Team was pretty straightforward. Someone hires them who can’t help themselves then the A-Team underestimates the bad guys and gets captured. Building some crazy vehicle out of junk they give the bad guys what for. Oh yeah and somewhere in there Hannibal says, “I love it when a plan comes together”. Wait, I almost forgot Murdock’s latest persona will annoy B.A. Okay so it is a little more complicated than a Three’s Company episode but as kids we ate it up.
The first two seasons were refreshing however. The writers mix it up and have the gang crash in the wilderness only to help some stranger who was about to be burned alive. No money, no reason just helping a human being in trouble. They go to a friend’s funeral and help his widow out because it is the right thing to do. Sure there is one with a diamond mine where they are totally in it for the money but these early episodes are great.
The Fourth Wall
The fourth wall is term used in the industry for when you step outside a show or a movie and see the production beyond the story. The A-Team makes it easy to see the fourth wall. We clearly know that no one is going to die and that all the cars will be totaled by the finale. Unfortunately all the stuntmen, in their rubber capped mohawks, stand out too. Clearly each and every set and back lot were written into the episode to justify a reason for being there. The A-Team must have been cheap and easy to shoot because all of these things now stick out like sore thumbs. What made it still fun was seeing all the up and coming TV actors and future movie stars that would appear in guest spots. Even the occasional henchmen had a future Hellboy (Ron Perlman) riding shot gun.
Why it Still Works
As the plots started to blend together at the end of season one I realized why this show worked so well. It was the A-Team’s chemistry. These actors really were a unit, each playing their part and delivering solid entertainment. Peppard ate up his scenes and played both funny and serious when he had to. Benedict was beyond cool as he weaseled his way around characters all the while getting a different girl to hang off his shoulder. Then there is the heart and soul of the A-Team, Murdock and B.A. In most ways they are as inseparable as Spock and McCoy. Constantly battling one another and providing that perfect mix of reality and insanity that a show like this needs. If the plots begin to blend together for you just sit back and marvel at Schultz and Mr. T. You’ll remember why you loved this show so much.
Collector’s Note: These are the same as the individual season releases. The box is the only thing that makes it different.
ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS
The Cry of the Owl ~ Julia Stiles
Drifter ~ Ryan Alosio
From Paris with Love ~ John Travolta
From Paris with Love (+Digital Copy) [Blu-ray]
Harder They Come (Dol)
Happy Together [Blu-ray] ~ Tony Leung
The Illusionist [Blu-ray] ~ Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, and Eddie Marsan
Jack Says ~ Simon Phillips, Eric Cantona, Rita Ramnani, and Aurelie Amblard
Long Pigs ~ Anthony Alviano, Phyllis Cooper, Paul Fowles, and Shane Harbinson
Power Kids [Blu-ray] ~ Nantawooti Boonrapsap
Quick & The Dead (1987) (Ws Dub Sub Dol Amar)
Shinjuku Incident ~ Jackie Chan, Naoto Takenaka, and Daniel Wu
Shutter Island ~ Leonardo DiCaprio
Shutter Island [Blu-ray]
Stigma ~ Philip Michael Thomas, Harlan Cary Poe, Josie Johnson, and Peter Clune
Bleach Uncut Box Set: Season 5 - The Assault
Ninja Nonsense Dvd Collection (Thinkpak)
Samurai Deeper Kyo (Litebox) (6pc) ~ Katsuyuki Konishi
Animation Express [Blu-ray]
Jim Henson's Dog City: The Movie ~ Ron White, Elizabeth Hanna, Stuart Stone, and John Stocker
Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind ~ John Sparkes, Justin Fletcher, Kate Harbour, and Richard Webber
COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style
41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It ~ Bryan Callen, Noureen DeWulf, Mircea Monroe, and Stephen Kramer Glickman
Caddyshack [Blu-ray] ~ Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, and Michael O'Keefe
Not the Messiah ~ Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam
Not the Messiah [Blu-ray]
Bloodlock ~ Debra Gordon, Gregg Biamonte, Karen Fox, and Ashley Gallo
Creek ~ Cassie Jaye, Aaron Leddick, Jill Slattery, and Brett Hundley
SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY
Metal Man ~ Reggie Bannister
The A-Team: The Complete Series (Limited Edition Box Set) ~ George Peppard, Mr. T, Dwight Schultz, and Dirk Benedict
Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season ~ Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Garlin, and Cheryl Hines
Family Matters: The Complete First Season ~ Rosetta LeNoire
Nip/Tuck: The Sixth and Final Season ~ Dylan Walsh, Julian McMahon, John Hensley, and Roma Maffia
Tales of the Gold Monkey: Complete Series ~ Stephen Collins, Jeff MacKay, Leo the Dog, and Caitlin O'Heaney (look for my review later this Week)
Z-Rock: Season 2 ~ Jay Oakerson, Lynne Koplitz, and Dee Snider
Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection (Thanks for the Memory / The Cat and the Canary / The Ghost Breakers / Nothing but the Truth / The Road to Morocco / The Paleface) ~ Bob Hope
Jackie Chan & The Karate Kids 8 Film Set (2pc)
TCM Spotlight: Charlie Chan Collection (Dark Alibi / Dangerous Money / The Trap / The Chinese Ring) ~ Sidney Toler, Roland Winters, Benson Fong, and Victor Sen Yung