Written by: Stephen J. Cannell & Frank Lupo
Starring: George Peppard, Dirk Benedict, Mr. T, Dwight Schultz, Melinda Culea
- All fourteen episodes from the first season
Released by: Universal
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Fans should own.
A group of soldiers winds up in prison for something they didn’t do, but decides not to stick around. They bust out, and become mercenaries that those in dire need of some help can seek out. You’ve got Hannibal (Peppard), their leader who loves a good cigar and “the jazz,” B.A. (T), the tempermental mechanic from hell who hates to fly, Face (Tim Dunigan, who was replaced by Dirk Benedict), the con man extraordinaire, and lastly, H. M. (“Howling Mad”) Murdock (Schultz), one of the best pilots in the military who now resides in an asylum that the team must constantly break him out of. These do-gooders will go just about anywhere and do just about anything–with very little in the way of hardware.
[ad#longpost]This was the action-adventure show of my generation. For those who came too late to fully appreciate it, just think about it as My First Action Show. The staples of this show became something to both emulate and scoff over, as some of the icons and plot points have become legendary. You’ve got the black van with the red stripe, the constant reality-defying breakouts of Murdock, the constant need to trick B.A. into getting sedated so he could fly, and of course the team’s ability to create a tank out of an old mattress, some heads of cabbage, a box of matches and a Slinky. “Dun-dundun-DUN! Dun-dun-DUN!” as the tank (or whatever) is created out of practically nothing. Oh, and the show was pretty much bloodless. Not until the G.I. Joe cartoon would we see again so many rounds fired without anybody getting hit.
Okay, so it’s cheeseball. And it’s amusing as hell to watch again because comparing this show to stuff that’s on television over twenty years later? Jesus Christ. I wish I could remember if some people were up in arms about it being too violent. But regardless, taken for what it is, the show’s a lot of fun. They don’t really take themselves too seriously (at least not until the last season) and you’re about a stone’s throw from a laugh track and a “Whau, whau, whau” sound effect as the bad guy gets the short end of the stick.
The actors are pretty much perfect for their parts across the board, apart from the rather abysmal showing of Tim Dunigan as the original Faceman in the pilot two-parter. I had honestly blocked his part in this out of my mind, which is bizarre. I can remember George Peppard in a giant rubber lake monster outfit, but not a different guy as Face? Well, I was younger then. Dunigan lacked the just frictionlessness of Benedict’s performance. You honestly believed Benedict could talk you out of whatever he wanted. Peppard was the perfect leader with the requisite attitude, cockiness and cigar. Schultz has a blast in playing the maniac and he was always my favorite of the four; I’d find it so depressing every time I caught him playing a bit role on some Star Trek show. He appears to be working his ass off doing voicework these days, so more power to him. And lastly, Mr. T, who I think we all assumed was playing himself. Again, no matter what he’s done in life, no one deserves to be relegated to The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour.
The set’s here and it looks good considering it’s TV from twenty years back. However, there is nil as far as bonus features go, and that’s a damn shame. A commentary on one of the episodes would have been nice, since we’ve got all the main players, both cast and crew, with the exception of Peppard, who we lost in 1994. Or even a retrospective with the players. I know so very little about the show and its creation, its casting and so forth and so on. Anything would have been nice. But alas.
The fan of the show is going to want to buy this, since it’s no longer in heavy syndication like it used to be. However, only the hardcore should apply. Without any features to bump it along, the casual fan should just rent and take back to get in that fix.