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    The Ultimate A-Team – Volume 1

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 276 mins . PG . PAL


    I have so much stuff I’d like to talk about here I wish I had the space it takes for two reviews. But I don’t, so I’ll just cram in ‘the best of’ what I was gonna say. Which is what they’ve done here, so it’s kinda fitting.

    I remember being in Grade Eight in 1984 and everyone coming to school asking, “Did you watch The A-Team last night?”

    Naturally my answer was always in the affirmative, or a saddened, “No, I had to go to bed early for farting on the cat,” or something like that. Ah, good times.

    I remember the catchy jingle they had during the cartoons to sell The A-Team action figures:
    There’s Hannibal, Murdock and Face!
    B.A.’s got big knackers, you know they’re both ace!

    Or something like that. Even now, as I type this with a faint nostalgic smile upon my face, I can see my Mr.T doll on the shelf above my desk smiling angelically down at me, his innumerable bling bling a little faded by the rigours of too-much-playing-with. He’s still my T though. He stands next to a bendy Gumby, holding hands as if they’ve just bought a house together and are surveying the street outside... Gumby looks happy.

    I remember everyone always wanted to be B.A. when we played A-Team at school. Even though there were no black dudes at school, everyone wanted to be B.A. I’m sure, wherever he is now, that would please Mr.T. I have his autobiography too, but this was written in 1985 and doesn’t feature any pictures from The A-Team days. Nor does it update itself regularly. In fact, I’ve read it so hard and often, all the black and white pictures have all fallen out. He sure pity the fool…

    However, this can’t all be about Mr. T, even though I know that’s all you’re reading this for. There’s also George Peppard, who played Colonel Hannibal Lecter, but he died some years back, so that’s not helping. Dirk Benedict played Face Man (real name Templeton Peck) but he’s probably all ugly and wrinkled by now. And, there’s everyone’s favourite Robin Williams inspired character, Murdock. Played by Dwight Schultz who went on to fame and glamour on TV’s Star Trek, which guarantees him a paid gig et eternum at any Star Trek convention whenever he needs more money. And big stars need money. They didn’t all invest wisely in bling bling.

    On this crackerjack two-disc set, we get six classic episodes, including the original pilot episode with some no-name guy playing the original Face Man. I didn’t bother to find out who he is because he’s obviously a loser who didn’t want to accept the role when it got picked up as a series and where is he now? Working the lucrative theatre restaurant circuit no doubt.

    As we all know, every episode contains some pretty regular features. Murdock has some new mental disorder, for example. After all, it was shot back in the days when mental illness was hilarious and so poorly studied that Murdock’s week-to-week changes appeared perfectly acceptable. There is also Hannibal’s disguises. These are so intricately woven and so perfectly makeupped, you’re lucky I’m here to help you tell which is he and which is the fake. And, of course, there are Mr. T’s loveable comments usually finished with a flourish such as ‘sucker’ or ‘fool’. So, in DVDnet’s eternal pursuit of helping you, the consumer, understand your purchase (or, conversely, previewing a disc to save you a couple of bucks) I’ve carefully trimmed these happy details from each included episode to help you reach your decision on whether to buy or not.

    Let’s watch…

    • DISC ONE: Mexican Slayride Part One + Two. 1983. Runtime: 1:31:23
      This crazy pilot episode sees both episodes run together as a total film! Wow! It gives us the backstory on the boys, while setting them up as actors who run a fake front movie company. Their walls are breached by Amy, a dedicated young reporter who needs help rescuing a friend in Mexico.
      Murdock’s malfunction: Just general insanity here. No specific illness rages unchecked.
      Hannibal’s crap disguises: A smelly hobo, a conwincing Chinaman named Mr. Lee and a Mexican bandido.
      Mr.T’s best line(s): “You can’t drive, sucker!” + “Coming out of the closet, Hannibal?”
    • The Taxicab Wars. 1983. Runtime: 46:33
      After a taxi company’s cabs are run off the road and their opposition is threatening to remove what’s left, who else can save the day?
      Murdock’s malfunction: Captain Cab + Vern the Veterinarian with sock puppet friend, ‘Socky’.
      Hannibal’s crap disguises: Clarence Wickersham the Third, a wealthy Texan landowner.
      Mr. T’s best line(s): “He’s got a cape and mask in here, Hannibal! This fool’s gonna drive around in this taxi with a cape and mask on!” + “Drop it, or yo dead!”
    • DISC TWO: The Maltese Cow. 1983. Runtime: 45:46
      After a Chinese restaurant The A-Team have part ownership in is derailed by a gang of Asian gangsters, the boys must get to the bottom of things and shoot bullets without killing anyone. The whole episode culminates in the obligatory fireworks warehouse.
      Murdock’s malfunction: Phillip Marlowe.
      Hannibal’s crap disguises: Black pyjama ninja + policeman.
      Mr.T’s best line(s): “Shut up, fool!” + “No, you got it, sucker!” + “Aye that, sucker!”
    • Champ! 1984. Runtime: 45:42
      After a boxer is paid to take a dive but doesn’t, B.A. must replace him so the team can get to the bottom of this. And win boxing.
      Murdock’s malfunction: Boxing coach.
      Hannibal’s crap disguises: Paramedic, Fight Manager Pimp.
      Mr.T’s best line(s): “We work hard for our money man… we should invest in somethin’ safe… like gold!”
    • Lease With An Option To Die 1985. Runtime: 46:23
      When B.A.’s mamma gets assaulted, the team fly to Chicago to set things straight with the evil head of a corporation trying to buy out her building.
      Murdock’s malfunction: Retarded yo-yo champion + documentary filmmaker.
      Hannibal’s crap disguises: Mrs. Murdock (shudder).
      Mr. T’s best line(s): “Cut it out, fool!” + “I gotta work with this fool?!”
      BONUS Face Man crap disguise: Irish priest.

    Ah yes, these rare gems culled from among the many, many episodes are certainly the best. The highlight though, must lie in Lease With… at the sweet relationship between B.A. and his mamma. It’s truly beautiful and Mr.T even looks kinda cute when he smiles his way through the episode. Easy as it was for me to choose, how hard it must have been for the guys selecting these six as The Ultimate A-Team. It’s unfathomable to me. How could anyone choose one beautiful child over another?


    Considering the age of the show, nothing has been left to chance here with a rather magnificent transfer. While there are film artefacts about, there isn’t anything really offensive, and if so, I like to think of them as an errant bullet having bounced off the camera. So many were fired, you know.

    Colours are great, blacks are true (Mr.T’s shaggy hair and eyebrows, for example) and the little shadow detail is fairly good. Occasionally some grain appears in a darker scene or two, but this is rare and not too bad.

    The original titles are included in each episode as are the closing ones that feature just after the mildly amusing epilogue.


    It’s only Dolby Digital stereo, but it sounds just dandy. All dialogue, though as cheesy as hell and without challenge to any actor in the show, is relatively easily understood, although I once had to check the subtitles to make something out. Actually, no, it was twice. But that was it. And I think T said it.

    Music has been scored by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter and this is the balls-out theme song you hummed through 1984 whenever you punched a smaller kid in the guts. It sounds fine, full of cheering and rousingly uplifting triumphant U.S. Army type hype. Yahoo. Sound effects are the best part here though. So many cracking punch sounds, bullets singing and whining, guns barking and cars revving as they magically jump over a parked car and flip in the air. And it’s the same every episode. Literally. Oh, and there’s the explodeys. These all sound fine too and neatly contrived to suit any type of explosion. Regardless of the size of the thing exploding, it always sounds the same. Early '80s budget TV rules!


    These are all being held captive in a South American bamboo prison awaiting extradition by a lazy government. The only ones who can rescue them, and if you can find them, are The A-Team. Who are unfortunately busy during this set with other missions. Oh well.


    This classic series from the early 1980s is a good reason why I grew up into the strapping four feet nine inch tall man I am today. The ‘TCB MR.T’ tattoo on my left arm is also evidence of this. No one could possibly buy this thinking it’s something else, so anyone buying it is buying it because they liked The A-Team once, or are trying to like it to impress a boy they like. So, by process, there is little for me to do here by way of recommendation. I enjoyed it, not immensely, but there were some good laughs (though not all intentional) and a myriad swarm of memories piling on top of me to the point I’m now in an adjoining room to Murdock’s cutting myself. It’s sweet.

    No one bothers me all day, I just get to type up this sort of thing. Therapy, they call it.

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