About this blog

In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire ... The A-Team.

This was the introduction to one of the great TV series of the eighties. The purpose of this blog is to build up the definitive episode guide to the show across its five seasons which ran from 1983 to 1987. So this isn't too much of a burden, I'm intending to watch a couple of episodes a week and given that there were around 100 episodes made during its run, this will turn into a year-long project!

Monday, 30 August 2010

The White Ballot s2ep11

co-starring: Clifton James as Sheriff Dawson, Andrew Robinson as Deputy Rance, Joshua Bryant as Baker, Lance LeGault as Colonel Decker, Carl Franklin as Captain Crane
Written by Jeff Ray
Directed by Dennis Donnelly

The team travel to a small town run by a corrupt sheriff and put Face up against him in the upcoming election.

This is one of the best season two episodes, one which starts quickly and maintains a real sense of fun throughout. The pattern is established early on in a restaurant scene in which a nervous waiter asks “Would anyone like some coffee? How would you like it?”, only for BA to reply, “In a cup, fool!”. The tone is kept light and entertaining for what is a very brisk 45 minutes, making this one of the most consistently funny episodes.

Writer Ray has a real knack for advancing the plot while delivering great dialogue at the same time. A great example of this is the scene in the van in which Hannibal sets up the plan. Halfway through the discussion, Face and Murdock suddenly appear and the discussion then continues, all pure exposition but it works superbly.

James, who had previously appeared as the warden in “Pros & Cons”, is a worthy adversary. The ways in which the team get under his skin (such as the key-to-the-city presentation) are good fun because the sheriff is such a great character. The additional threat of Decker adds to the sense of urgency as the comedy-driven first half giving way to a plot-driven second half.

There's an enjoyable section in which the team break out of a locked room, giving an opportunity for Murdock to sing “Ceilings” (as opposed to “Feelings”). From start to finish, everything about this episode is a cut above (even the usual construction montage), providing great entertainment, pure and simple. 10/10.

This was to be Melinda Culea's last episode. There is no acknowledgement of this and it is not mentioned until “The Battle of Bel Air” when she is said to have taken a foreign correspondent's post with her paper. The reasons for her departure have never been fully established but are most likely to be a combination of factors: Culea's increasing unhappiness at the limited nature of her role; the producers becoming irritated with her demands for a more substantial part; Peppard’s dismissive attitude towards having a female member of the team.

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful episode with two terrific actors (Clifton James and Andrew Robinson) as the bad guys, both of whom have previously (but separately) appeared as villains in the A-Team's first season.

    Like in "There's Always a Catch," the Team is caught between the bad guys and Decker, and Hannibal gets to use one of his classic "pincer movement" strategies at the end. Hannibal's quote to Amy Allen for her article is classic.

    Many fans were sad to see Amy leave after this episode. However, I will confess that back in '83 her departure did nothing to damper the show's popularity, as Season Two would continue with some of the series' best episodes.