Friday, September 20, 2013

Day Two Hundred and Sixty-three - The A-Team: Season 1, Pilot, "Hurray for 80's Stunt Shows!"

I grew up on the A-Team... and MacGyver and The Fall Guy. To a kid like me, who didn't get the cheese factor inherent to the genre, Hannibal & Co. were the epitome of cool. Adventurous, ex-Army mercenaries wronged by their government, helping the little people and kicking generic bad guy butt!

Freaking awesome!

I think that I can safely say that I never saw the pilot, though. Why do I say that? Because I have absolutely no idea who that dark haired cherub is playing Face. The Face that I remember was always performed by Dirk Benedict. Here in the pilot, he's played by some bloke named Tim Dunigan. Now, it's not that Dunigan does a terrible job... his effete Hollywood Producer alias is both offensive and believable... it's just that Dirk will always be Face.

At least for the television series.

Really, everyone in the movie was great in their respective roles, but that's another post altogether.

This pilot, though. Man, was I young and immature for liking this series. It has all the terrible gaffes that were endemic of television back then. Ridiculous stunts that make no sense, casual racism that isn't called out, disdain for the mentally ill, and your basic ethnic stereotypes.

I think the most egregious example of shoddy stunt editing was during the second chase scene where we're introduced to Hannibal, Face, and B.A.. They force a squad car off the road on a Roman Movie Set and it goes flying off a ramp... in a Forest Set that is an obviously different scene all together. I get that it could've been from the same series of stunts, just an earlier or later portion of it, but there's no way the foliage they crash through was on that Roman set as we see the whole street section the first time they pass it.

As for the racism? The Mexican banditos actually aren't the worst example... though I did expect them to do the "we don't need no stinkin' badges" routine just for kicks. No, the award for "Most Racist Caricature" goes to George Peppard's Hannibal... who pulls a Mickey Rooney with cheap makeup and acts the surly old Chinese fixer.

I mean wow... just wow. Sure, it was a different time, but it's hard to forgive.

The story, itself, is forgettable. A reporter is kidnapped by generic Mexican revolutionaries who are funded by gangster pot farmers who are terrorizing a town and the old reporter's young protege (who happens to be a hot chick) hires the A-Team to get him out. Cue two-part pilot episode.

I think, really, the only standouts for the whole thing are Dwight Schultz... as corny as his "Howling Mad" routine is, I'll always love Broccoli... and a small muscle role for whom MST3K fans would recognize as Vadinho from Puma-Man! Other than that, coupled with the absence of Dirk Benedict, there's very little to love about the pilot for The A-Team.

And I'm beginning to worry that the same could be said for the whole series... that my memory of it was glossed over by the haze of nostalgia. We'll see, I suppose, as I'll give it at least a few more episodes, just not in the near future. I need to wash the taste of this out of my mouth.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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