20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the A-Team

filed under: Lists, tv
Image credit: 
Hulu

1. The exact nature of the “crime they didn’t commit.”

In 1972, the A-Team was sent on a covert mission to rob the Bank of Hanoi of gold bullion, with the intent of helping to end the Vietnam War. They succeeded, only to find that their commanding officer had been murdered in a traitorous double-cross and his headquarters burned to the ground. Unable to prove that they were acting under orders, they were sent to a maximum security stockade.

2. B.A Never Actually Says, “I pity the fool.”

Getty Images

This was a catchphrase belonging to Mr. T, but just like “Play it again Sam” and “Beam Me Up, Scotty!” the exact quote never appeared in the series. Usually B.A. preferred to call people “Suckers.”

3. The Van Has Its Own Website

A Team Van

Well, not the van. But a replica of the highest standard, built and painstakingly refurbished by two brothers, Liam and Jerome Brett. They built it up from an original 1982 G Series Cargo Van, which they imported to the UK from Vermont, and scoured the world for authentic parts. Their amazing work can be appreciated here.

4. There was only one (sorta) on-screen death in the entire run of the show

Fans will remember almost every show climaxed with explosions and gunfire and bad guys flying every which way, but no one ever actually got hurt. Crooks were shown scrambling out of cars before they blew up, or running away after being thrown from a window. The only on-screen death was the death-by-explosion one implied of General Fulbright in “The Sound of Thunder.”

5. “A-Team” is actual military terminology

Military actions, such as a forward attack, are often done by an assembled Alpha Team. The “A-team” advances first, and then are often supported by a Bravo Team, or B-Team. Alpha Team can also refer to a small special-forces unit, which was more likely the designation on the show.

6. There is a Battlestar Galactica in-joke in the opening credits

Before Dirk Benedict became The Face Man, he was Lieutenant Starbuck of the Colonial Service on the original Battlestar Galactica. The credits scene is lifted from an episode that partially takes place on a Universal Studios lot, where a Cylon (the BG bad guys) strolls past a perplexed looking Faceman.

7. The Full Names and Ranks of the A-Team.

The members included: Lieutenant Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith; Lieutenant Templeton Arthur “Faceman” Peck; Sergeant Bosco Albert “Bad Attitude” Baracus; and Captain H.M. “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock. Murdock’s first name was never revealed.  

8. Hannibal is Loosely Based on a Real Life Colonel

Getty Images

Lieutenant Colonel Gordon “Bo” Gritz was a controversial Army Special Forces soldier who was popular for the efforts he made to recover lost soldiers after the Vietnam War. His popularity coincided with the conception of The A-Team, and Hannibal, the leader of a ragtag band of crazy Special Forces heroes, was modeled after him.  

9. Dirk Benedict got the role of Face because he was old.

Getty Images

Another actor, Tim Dunigan, was originally cast and shot the pilot episode of the show. However, on camera, Dunigan admitted he looked “like a high school sophomore"—too young to play a Vietnam veteran. He was replaced with Benedict.

10. Mr. T Thought the Movie Version was too Smutty

Getty Images

The original B.A. had this to say about the remake:

People die in the film and there’s plenty of sex but when we did it no one got hurt and it was all played for fun and family entertainment. These seem to be elements nobody is interested in anymore. It was too graphic for me. I’ve no doubt it will do big business at the box office but it’s nothing like the show we turned out every week. We ran on TV for five years without having to sex-up the show. You can’t get away with that these days.

11. Amy Left Because Everyone Ganged Up on Her

Hulu

We’ll never know the particulars of why Melinda Culea, who played the Team’s first feisty journalist side-kick, was written out in the second season. But consensus seems to be that there was bad blood between her and Peppard from the beginning. Culea claimed the animosity spread, and by the second season the entire cast “ganged up on her” to get the producers to dump her.

12. Mr. T “quit” During the Fourth Season and Had Himself Flown Off-Set

While filming the fourth season premiere on a cruise ship, T had just suffered a loss in his family. Also the air-conditioner was annoying him. He had himself helicoptered off the set and phoned the producer with a list of demands, at which point he was “fired.” But the two were able to work out their grievances and filming resumed. 

13. Girls Were Just There to Look Pretty

Wikimedia Commons

The producers of the show tried to attach female sidekicks to the team in the first two seasons to stem criticism of sexism, but it just didn’t work. According to Marla Heasley, the second short-lived sidekick Tawnia, Peppard took her aside to tell her no one wanted her there. Or, as better put years later by Dirk Benedict, 

It was a guy's show. It was male driven. It was written by guys. It was directed by guys. It was acted by guys. It's about what guys do. We talked the way guys talked. We were the boss. We were the God. We smoked when we wanted. We shot guns when we wanted. We kissed the girls and made them cry... when we wanted. It was the last truly masculine show.

14. There Was a Series of Novels

With titles like Bullets, Bikinis and Bells, and Operation Desert Sun: The Untold Story, the books are mostly novelizations of popular episodes. There were 10 published in all, although half were only printed in the UK.  Most can be found on Amazon.

15. George Peppard Smoked Three Packs a Day

Wikimedia Commons

Hannibal was always at his best when chomping on a cigar, but in real life Peppard stuck mainly to cigarettes. He gave up smoking in 1992 after the removal of a tumor from his lung. Unfortunately. it might have been too little, too late; Peppard died of pneumonia while still being treated for lung cancer in 1994, aged only 65.

16. There is Still Great Merch Available

You have lived way too long without a Mr. T-shirt.

17. The A-Team was (almost) too Violent for Germany

In 1989, German broadcasters were interested in purchasing the rights to The A-Team to run on German television. However, they found the show had a tendency to be excessively violent, and chose only 26 of the 98 episodes to run.

18. There is Lots of Slash Fiction.

Sure, the Internet is littered with less homoerotic fan-fiction, furthering the adventures of the A-Team. But if you’re looking for something steamier, you can find an excellent source of slash fiction here.  

19. Marvel Comics Released an A-Team Comic book Series

eBay

There were three comic books released—separately at first, then repackaged together as The A-Team Story Book.

20. The Series Finale was buried in Reruns

Hulu

“The Grey Team” was intended to be the series finale but, for some reason, it aired as the second-to-last episode. NBC forgot about the “Without Reservations” episode and didn’t air it until March 1987 amongst reruns. In “Reservations,” Murdock wears a shirt that reads “almost fini.” In “Grey Team,” his shirt reads “fini” (the French word for “end”).

More from mental_floss...

April 7, 2014 - 2:00pm
submit to reddit