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!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Battle of Bel Air s2ep14

co-starring: Michael Fairman as Anthony Raymond, Kurtwood Smith as Mr Carson, Lance LeGault as Colonel Decker, Carl Franklin as Captain Crane, Randolph Roberts as Ron Graham
Written by Frank Lupo
Directed by Gilbert Shilton

A reporter finds the team to warn them Decker is in the area, only to be kidnapped by a gang of criminals planning an assassination.

In many ways, the second season of The A-Team can be divided in two. This episode marks the start of what you could call season 2.5 and is one of the most exciting and entertaining ever made. By this time, the series was established as a worldwide hit and Universal were more willing to put money into the show. Prior to this point, some of the episodes were made somewhat on the cheap but now an even greater emphasis on location shooting meant the cheap sets and obvious cost-cutting would be a thing of the past (at least for a while).

The overall effect (one that would last into the next season) was to make the series seem much glossier than before. Adding to the sense of glamour is the introduction of Marla Heasley who would play reporter Tawnia Baker in seven of the next ten episodes. Tawnia is present purely for sex appeal and, unlike Amy, rarely gets her hands dirty as this would chip her nails or mess up her immaculate hairstyle. Many have found her to be a whiny and rather irritating character but that is down to the way the part is written more than Heasley’s performance.

The episode gets off to a quick start, having Decker corner the team in a hardware store as they plan an upcoming vacation. Like the rest of the episode, these opening scenes are successful both as action and comedy plus it gives Decker one of his best ever lines (Hannibal: “Aren't you going to tell me I'm not going to get away with this?”, Decker: “Oh I know you're going to get away with this but there are only just so many times, Smith”).

Everything about this episode is top-quality, the script by co-creator Lupo is excellent and the cast are all on the top of their game. Even the music is noticeably better. There's a great cue as the team escape from the Intermode building and a rare outing for the alternate, extended end theme music. The highlights come thick and fast and Face is memorably thrown out of a 7th story hotel window into a pool (a moment borrowed from the Bond film, “Diamonds are Forever”, right down to the line, “I didn't know there was a pool down there”).

The episode culminates in a dramatic helicopter chase sequence, which is extremely well-shot from within and around the two helicopters. True, the shot of one of them crashing into a cliff is a completely different type and clearly borrowed footage (from “Capricorn One” actually). It’s also ridiculous that the villains emerge safely from the crash, which completely destroyed the front part of the helicopter. There’s also been some rather clumsy post-production dubbing to emphasise the amount of time until the assassination. These, though, are very minor flaws that can’t detract from what is one of the very best A-Team episodes. 10/10.

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