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!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Semi-Friendly Persuasion s2ep21

co-starring: Geoffrey Lewis as Kale Sykes, Tim O'Connor as Karl Peerson, Sam J Jones as Eric, Franc Luz as Frank Traynor, Red West as Sinclair, Robby Kiger as Ollie
Written by Danny Lee Cole
Directed by Craig R Baxley

The team is hired by a peaceful group of people to stop a gang from the local town who are threatening them and preventing them building a meeting house.

Given that the A-Team was criticized during its run for the amount of violence it presented (ridiculous as that may seem now), it was inevitable that at some point an episode would deal directly with this issue. Here the emphasis is on the clash of means between the pacifist group and the A-Team, one that causes inevitable friction and makes up for what is otherwise a rather ordinary story.

Given that the team is asked to stop the local gang without resorting to violence, it is ironic that this was the first episode directed by Baxley who had been the stunt co-ordinator / second unit director since the show started. Of course, this is The A-Team and things can’t stay non-violent forever and events culminate in a very effective action sequence.

Being more story-driven than most, the episode benefits from having a recognisable cast including O'Connor (from Buck Rogers), Jones (from Flash Gordon) and Lewis (from most Clint Eastwood films of the time). The story is similar to the Harrison Ford film ‘Witness’ (right down to the construction of a building) but with a few oddities thrown in such as Murdock's fixation with walnuts.

The fact that the episode is shot entirely on location gives it a real sense of place and irons over some clumsiness in the writing. Danny Lee Cole would pen the passable ‘Beneath the Surface’ and the embarrassing ‘Uncle Buckle Up’ in season four and some of his dialogue is decidedly patchy. Hannibal gets the worst of it (“Hold your fire, he’s got a woman!”) and there’s some dodgy macho posturing (“You’re a tough guy, take your best shot” (punch) “not bad”).

Still, for all the holes you can pick and a slight feeling of familiarity (it's all a little too similar to ‘Labor Pains’), this remains an enjoyable episode, one which may not be anyone’s favourite but a is good watch nonetheless. 8/10.

1 comment:

  1. This story is about a problem that constantly confronts us in the world today-how to deal with violence without being as bad as, or worse than, the bad guys.

    It's pretty predictable that the team would suffer for their employer's beliefs. Face takes a beating, and Murdock and BA are knocked out and left to die in a burning building, along with a child belonging to the non-violent society. Those are sobering moments, and Hannibal admires the society's leader for sticking to his beliefs even though he disagrees with them.

    It's also predictable that in the end, the team would take out the bad guys. More surprising is Hannibal's comment about how the freedom to think is elusive and valuable, and how soldiers pay the price to protect it.