The A-Team was one of those defining 80’s shows that came along whilst there wasn’t much exciting on Saturday Teatime TV, for kids.
The A-Team featured the adventures of ex-Vietnam Vets on the run : Colonel Hannibal Smith, Mr – T, “Howling Mad” Murdoch and the Faceman.
Every week they would solve the kind of problems that the police couldn’t. An evil Mexican gang threatening your lettuce plantation? Call the A-Team. The Mob trying to close your beach front hotel? Call the A-Team. This was all whilst the Military police where on their trail, attempting to arrest them for crimes they didn’t commit.
The show was so popular it ran for 5 seasons from 1983 to 1987. In that time, a number of changes were made to the central cast. Amy, a sexy undercover femme-fatale, who drove a Ferrari – joined and then left. Frankie “Dishpan” Santana who was Murdoch’s friend, travelled with the Team for a while.
So, in its long stretch on the TV it was obvious it was going to run out of steam at some point. So when A-Team ‘jumped the Shark’ it wasn’t due to any one character.
In the A-Team’s case, ‘jumping the shark’ was when; in their final season, having been caught by the Military and faking their own deaths. Agreeing to go undercover to work for General Hunt Stockwell to perform potential suicide missions for a pardon.
What sounds like an interesting twist on the usual A-Team plot of the team working for themselves, now thrust them into missions on foreign soil, working for someone else. It was less A-Team and more Mission Impossible, it then lost all of the charm that made it the hit show that it was.
General Stockwell wasn’t a likeable character at all, he was a bit sleazy and not in a good way. Robert Vaughan, the journeyman of TV series and movies didn’t bring anything to this part – at all.
And with Hannibal suddenly not in charge anymore. Something was lost from the character. In fact his catchphrase : “I love it when a plan comes together!”, now needed the additional line “…for someone else!”.
Luckily though, this blip only happened for one season and at the end, the A-Team resigned from the General Stockwell’s employ, forgoing their pardons to go back on the run and work for themselves. But the show was cancelled after this season so it didn’t really matter.