The A-Team

A-Team

The “A” stood for asshole, but they were lovable assholes, so naturally America welcomed them with open arms every Tuesday night for about five years.

They were pretty much a third version of the Rat Pack, a down and dirty TV-level antidote to that era’s group of beautiful and damned film actors everyone called the The Brat Pack. Undisputed leader John “Hannibal” Smith was the Frank Sinatra of the bunch, the “roller of big cigars,” as Wallace Stevens would say. Dean Martin’s role was taken up by the oily and syphilitic Templeton “Faceman” Peck. Even down to the jewelry, B.A. Baracus was a bizarro world version of Sammy Davis, Jr.–the gentle, nimble Candyman turned ferocious and uncontrollable He-Man. “Howling Mad” Murdock was the kind of fool insane enough to make a life-long enemy of the Chairman of the Board just like Peter Lawford did.

The members of the A-Team blew up a lot of buildings and wrecked a lot of cars and fired off a lot of ammunition, racking up the most incidents of violence per hour than any show in history up to that point, but the covenant with the network was that no one ever got killed or even bled. It was all a cartoon, but children have a hard time understanding that fact when the show is using live actors instead of illustrated anthropomorphic characters. A lot of American kids were maimed and killed attempting to recreate stunts from the show. Leaping from garage roofs, stealing cars they had no idea how to operate, firing loaded guns at unsuspecting classmates–it was a half-decade of mayhem that has never been properly compiled and recorded. But if you’ve got a long weekend to spend looking at old newspapers on the microfiche machine at your local library, it just might be a book worth writing.

Like Moses once said from his perch on Mount Sinai–it’s all fun until somebody gets hurt. And many, many people were hurt by this show.

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