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American television in the nineteen-eighties underwent a strange mutation. Previous shows - which had dealt with war and especially violence, even if it were a comedy - dealt with violence in a thoughtful way. M.A.S.H. ran for eleven years and even at its most amusing never forgot that violence begets pain and misery. The eighties changed all of that.
Instead of pain, television started treating violence, especially firearms and explosions, as legitimate forms of entertainment. This was the decade which would give us Knight Rider (1982-1986), Miami Vice (1984-89), MacGyver (1985-92), The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-85) and of course The A-Team (1983-87). Many of these shows found a successful formula for their weekly pyrotechnics and most were buried because of their repetitious lack of originality.
The A-Team Blu-ray collection brings together all five seasons of the show, in glorious 1080, in a twenty-two disc box set. The set collects together all of the ninety-seven episodes.
The show revolved around four soldiers of fortune who had been in the same special unit during the Vietnam war. Asked to rob a bank, in order to help bring the war to an end, they returned to find their unit and commander destroyed and a military police who did not believe that they had stolen under orders. Escaping from prison they became soldiers of fortune, helping the disenfranchised and downtrodden protect them from a different weekly villain. Like the opening narration said “If you have a problem and there's no one else who can help, and if you think you can find them, maybe you can hire The A-Team”.
The premise was not that particularly novel and would be rehashed by Edward Woodward in The Equalizer (1985–89), but whereas Woodward could portray the existential angst of a man who has killed for a living trying to give back something, The A-Team in comparison was more of a comedic venture.
The team was made up of George Peppard, who played John 'Hannibal' Smith, the leader of the group and a man who had the gift of being able to get the team in and out of tight spots, usually in an unconventional manner. Like the rest of the main cast he was given a catch phrase “I love it when a plan comes together”, great to hear a couple of times but, like the rehashed plots and the rehashed dialog, went a long way to tarnishing the show's reputation. Even changes of format and the introduction of Robert Vaugh did little to stop the slip in audience through the fifth season.
Second in command was Dirk Benedict as Templeton 'Faceman' Peck, who had previously played Starbuck in the original Battlestar Galactica (1978 - 1979). He was the sophisticated conman of the group, able to lay his hands on almost anything the team needed. Their pilot, Howling 'Mad' Murdock was played by Dwight Schultz, who would go on to play Lt Barclay in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lastly the team’s mechanic, B.A. Baracus, the B.A stood for ‘bad attitude’, was played by Mr. T.
The set has been given the Blu-ray treatment, so there is a noticeable improvement in the quality of both the picture and the sound over the previous DVD release. The set contains only two extras Rumours of Soldiers of Fortune: Interview with Stephen J. Cannell and The Great 80's TV Flashback.
Now, the box set may look pricey but Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises are outputting quality product into, let’s face it, a relatively small market. That said, if you look at how much each season would cost, it doesn’t come out much more expensive than other shows.
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