A team once again

Barry C Chung

The least violent action show ever hits the big screen, writes Barry C Chung

Barry C Chung |

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The show's cast of larger-than-life heroes - and premise of good versus bad - captivated people of all ages, especially teens.
Certain television theme songs remain ingrained in our consciousness long after the show has been taken off the air. A few come to mind: Friends, Cheers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - and The A-Team.

The hit series is the latest TV adaptation to attempt a comeback on the big screen. As expected, the highly anticipated blockbuster comes with plenty of hype and fanfare; the television show was, after all, influential in bridging the action-humour divide.

The series aired a total of 98 episodes from 1983 to 1987. It quickly became a phenomenon and grew into one of the most successful series of the '80s. The show connected with audiences of all ages - especially teens - who simply adored watching their favourite alpha unit kick butt.

A lot of the show's success came from the concept of good guys versus bad guys.

"At its core, the series had a simple premise: four guys who are wrongly convicted of a crime decide to go out and help people who can't help themselves," says the series co-creator Stephen J. Cannell in the production notes for the film. "The need to fight back against injustice is a great subject for a story."

Despite this being a core focus, though, nobody ever died as a result of the elaborately planned fights.

The A-Team is famous for its cartoon-like heroes, each with his own talent, personality traits and nickname. Mr T played the most conspicuous member of the team, Sergeant Bosco Albert "BA" Baracus - although it seemed like the most conservative nickname of the bunch, BA also stood for "bad attitude".

There was also cigar-chomping Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard), the team leader and master strategist; Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Dirk Benedict), a ladies' man and expert at procuring objects; and Captain HM "Howling Mad" Murdock (Dwight Schultz), the insane pilot.

The show boosted the career of Mr T, one of the most memorable faces to grace the television screen. Not only was his image the most iconic in the series, the entire Mr T package fascinated youngsters. From his tough-guy persona (with an unexpected soft side), to his grizzly voice, accompanied with a perpetual snarl, Mr T was idolised by legions of fans because everything he did had a certain coolness to it.

Mr T got his big break in the 1982 film Rocky III, in which he coined the phrase "I pity the fool", making "fool" a mainstay in pop lingo well after the '80s.

In 2006, I Pity the Fool became the title for a reality television show - hosted by none other than Mr T himself.