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 May 2011

Family Reunion s5ep8

Co-starring: Jeff Corey as AJ Bancroft, Clare Kirkconnell as Ellen Bancroft, John Carter as Jacob Edwards, Terri Treas as “Ellen”, Beau Billingslea as Owens
Written by Steven L Sears
Directed by James Darren

The team protect a government witness who is returning to America with vital information and to see his daughter.

One of the best-remembered episodes from the fifth season, this is an always interesting attempt to combine the stock A-Team action elements with an involving character-based storyline.

The initial scene-setting has a comic tone as it turns out that Murdock has become too attached to the turkeys he has been tending to kill one for Thanksgiving (when this episode is set, emphasising the family storyline).

Once the team attempt to reunite father and daughter, the episode becomes an action-driven affair as they break her out and bring the two together (or so they think). It is at this point that the plot takes a key turn when it is revealed that the man the team are protecting claims to be Face’s father. Murdock discovers this at the same time as the audience, putting the character closet to Face in his most difficult dilemma.

The remainder of the episode is split between the main protection plot, scenes with the newly reunited but not entirely aware family and Murdock agonising over whether to tell Face. Bancroft, who has returned to America as he is dying, wants to tell Face the truth personally, something which Murdock decides to respect.

The one problem with the episode is that the two disparate elements never quite mix, there being a rather derivative pursuit element in the background that means constant shifts in tone between standard action and family drama. Although the two sides to the story never quite blend, there is enough happening to ensure the interest level remains high.

Both Benedict and Schultz give very strong performances and the scene in which Face argues with Murdock for not telling him sooner is one of the most genuinely affecting moments in any episode. This scene alone makes the episode well worth seeing, being built on the close bond their characters have developed over the course of five seasons.

It may not entirely work but all credit to the show for trying something very different to the norm. With episodes such as this, it is a shame the plug was pulled on the show before the 5th season had the opportunity to complete a full run. It demonstrates that the show could lend itself to more serious episodes which would have been more beneficial for the ratings than some of the silly episodes like ‘The Crystal Skull’ and ‘The Grey Team’. 9/10

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure I fully buy the premise of Murdock being torn between loyalty to Face or a vow to a complete stranger. A scenario where Murdock felt he had to protect Face from the truth seems like it would've been far more plausible. Regardless, Benedict and Schultz do manage to sell the idea, particularly in their big confrontation scene.

    This episode was originally used as something of a promotional gimmick, with fans being allowed to choose (via a phone-in poll) whether or not Bancroft would really be Face's dad. Presumably, the unused ending was little more than alternate dialogue during the final scene. Too bad it wasn't included as a dvd extra- assuming it still exists.