A-Team versus MacGyver

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A-Team versus MacGyver

Postby Mr. Mike » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:48 pm

I don't think I have ever seen an episode of The A-Team in my life. So I borrowed the first season from the library yesterday and watched the pilot. Stoooopid!! I thought MacGyver, which I had also never seen before and viewed for the first time recently, was pretty dumb (I think "simple-minded" would be a more appropriate adjective), but The A-Team was really bad. And the show's main theme (by Post/Carpenter), which was repeated ad nauseum throughout, is probably one of the very worst ever.

There has been recent talk about an A-Team reboot, by the way. As has been discussed previously, next season MacGyver will be hitting TV screens again (prior to Five-Zero on Friday evenings). The script for the new MacGyver's pilot will be by Five-Zero executive producer Peter Lenkov, of whom deadline.com says "Lenkov has a solid track record in rebooting classic series" (cough, cough).
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Re: A-Team versus MacGyver

Postby ringfire211 » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:04 am

Mike, I'm going to disagree with you more on this one than on MacGYVER. I didn't really grow up watching MacGYVER the way I did watching THE A-TEAM so I'm certainly more biased towards the latter. THE A-TEAM was fun to watch as a kid but believe it or not (I kid you not!) it's an even bigger blast to watch it today. Seriously! I think it's one of the few 80s shows that has really held up. I used to love KNIGHT RIDER with an almost unhealthy passion as a kid but it hasn't really held up and comes across quite a bit corny these days. MacGYVER is in the same boat too. But with THE A-TEAM it's different. Sure, logic-wise it's dumb. They can build almost anything (an improvised tank!) with just some spare parts laying around, in almost no time at all. And bullets fly all over the place and cars flip multiple times through the air, yet no one gets killed. Sure, it's a live-action cartoon in that sense (which is also the show's charm). Bottom line is that it's not meant to be taken seriously AT ALL!!! But there are 3 things that really make it work - the ACTORS, the CHEMISTRY between them, and the WRITING. We've got 3 very good actors here - George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, and Dwight Schultz. These ain't David Hasselhoff or Richard Dean Anderson. They're genuinely very good actors. Yes, Mr. T wasn't much of an actor but more of a pop culture phenomena but he works brilliantly here because he gets to play off 3 very good actors, especially Dwight Schultz who is absolutely hysterical as Murdock! The chemistry between the 4 characters was outstanding (especially between Murdock and B.A.) and I just loved how each character had his own gimmick - Hannibal was the planner and master of disguise, Face was the con artist and ladies man, Murdock was the apparently insane pilot, and B.A. was the driver/mechanic/muscle. It's sort of like MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE updated for the 80s with a lot of humor and action thrown in. The writing really stands out to me as impressive (not so much the plots - they were all the same week in, week out) but the dialogue, the idiosyncrasies of each team member, those bits of humor (very often involving Murdock) really hold up well after all these years. Hey, when something is genuinely funny, it's funny. No matter if it's the 80s or the 00s. Hannibal had a great way of getting under the baddie's skin with his smart-alec replies and quips. It was funny then and it's funny today. Again, it's the writing. None of this is particularly high-brow stuff but it has a certain wit to it and it helps that you have really good actors delivering this stuff. With lesser actors this would have fallen completely flat. If you only saw the pilot episode (which is far from a great episode) I suggest you check out a few more. You might even want to skip to season 2 where the show is really firing on all cylinders. Heck, the pilot didn't even have Dirk Benedict playing Face. That guy they had (Tim Dunigan) was all wrong for the show.

Some excellent season 1 episodes I'd recommend:
-A Small and Deadly War
-Black Day at Bad Rock
-The Out-of-Towners (Yaphet Kotto plays a NYC extortionist)
-West Coast Turnaround
-The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing
-A Nice Place to Visit

Some excellent season 2 episodes I'd recommend (I own this season on DVD):
-Recipe for Heavy Bread
-When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?
-The Taxicab Wars
-The Battle of Bel-Air
-It's a Desert Out There
-Chopping Spree
-Deadly Maneuvers

All the seasons are streaming on Netflix by the way so they're easily accessible.

It's possible that the show may not be your bag at all (it helps having seen it as a kid and having those warm fuzzy memories with you) but as for me I honestly think that this show, along with MAGNUM PI which I actually did not watch as a kid, are very watchable these days and don't come across as corny or as dated as its many other contemporaries. In both shows it's down to the writing and the chemistry of the characters - Magnum and Higgins on MPI and Hannibal, Face, Murdock, and B.A. on A-TEAM. And unlike on the new FIVE-0 the banter or arguing between those characters is actually funny, not groan-inducing.

P.S. Oh, and the main theme by Post/Carpenter is absolutely fantastic! Extremely hummable! Just like MAGNUM (which they also did). No clue why you didn't like. It's a classic 80s theme.
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Re: A-Team versus MacGyver

Postby Jeff*H » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:16 am

I agree, the A-Team has always been big dumb fun for me, both as a teen and today, too. The actors indeed make the show click, and the first two seasons are the most fun and inventive, while the later seasons became stale and formulaic. Plus the chemistry was affected in season 4 when Peppard and T began feuding in real life. That said, season 5 tried to reinvent the show in more of a Suicide Squad-type format, and a few of those were pretty good, but by then the audience had fled the series and moved on.

My favorites were the Season 2 Range Ryder show, and the second episode of season 1, "Children of Jamestown". Great humor and action and music scores in both!
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Re: A-Team versus MacGyver

Postby ringfire211 » Wed Jun 29, 2016 4:03 pm

Yes the earlier seasons (as with most shows) were the best. I thought seasons 1-3 was the show at its peak! Season 4 began getting stale and it didn't help when they decided to bring on various celebrities as guest stars (Rick James, Boy George, Hulk Hogan, Pat Sajak & Vanna White) to spice things up. Murdock as a guest on Wheel of Fortune? B.A. is a huge fan of Boy George? B.A. and Hulk Hogan are old pals? Rick James is buddies with the A-Team? Gimme a break! Ridiculous! Aren't these guys supposed to be keeping a low profile in the "Los Angeles underground"? So why are they hob-nobbing in public with the rich and shameless? Still, there were a few solid episodes in the 4th season. The less said about season 5 the better. By that point the show changed its structure and the team was now working for some covert CIA outfit headed by Robert Vaughn. It was no longer the show we all loved. Only the 3-part opener where the team is captured and court-martialed was any good. Oh and the updated synthesized theme song was kinda catchy too.

I too would pick the 2-part "Range Rider" as my favorite episode of the series! Along with "West Coast Turnaround" (season 1), "Deadly Maneuvers" and "Battle of Bel-Air" (both season 2), and "The Big Squeeze" (season 3).

I was never a big fan of "Children of Jamestown". I thought John Saxon's ridiculous overacting was too much, even by this show's standards.
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Re: A-Team versus MacGyver

Postby Jeff*H » Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:14 pm

Ringfire, I totally forgot about "Deadly Maneuvers" and "Battle of Bel-Air", those would rank as 3 and 4 for me on the all-time favorite episodes list. Maneuvers was enjoyable simply seeing the team get taken out of commission rather easily by the mercenaries, I watched this one over and over as a teen on the vcr.

As for John Saxon, his performance was so off-kilter and goofy that I found it very entertaining, and I loved the whole bit about Hannibal's boots.

Also agree about season 5, the 3-parter was the best part of that season, the other episodes failed to live up to that story and premise.
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