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

The Point of No Return s5ep9

Co-starring: Rosalind Chao as Alice Heath, Soon Tech-Oh, Dustin Nguyen as Bobby, Judith Ledford as Carla, Nancy Kwan as Lin Wu
Written by Burt Pearl
Directed by Robert Brauler

The team travel to Hong Kong to investigate Hannibal’s disappearance there while he was trading plutonium.

The writing team of Pearl and Sears didn’t exactly have a great record when it came to writing episodes for the show. However, Sears fared much better on his own when he delivered ‘Family Reunion’, so would it be expecting too much for Pearl to do the same?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. This is one of the least interesting episodes in the season, a rather stale and dull affair that improves in the later stages but challenges your patience for most of the first half hour. The key problem is that the script shows a lack of understanding for show dynamics, keeping the team split up for too long in one talky, set-bound scene after another.

The plot dictates that Hannibal should be missing for most of the running time (which doesn’t help) but it is also odd that BA is largely absent as well. For whatever reason, he is hardly in this one, though there have been attempts to cover up his absence, albeit not in a very convincing way. BA does get a fight scene late on but otherwise he is shown only in separately filmed inserts or as a double shot from behind (with dialogue added later). His absence in some scenes is excused because he is “covering the perimeter”, “in position” or “examining evidence”.

The whole episode is a bit of a fragmented shambles in all honesty, moving from one scene to the next as if it was made up on the morning of shooting rather than sufficiently in advance. Face and Murdock do most of the investigating initially with Frankie and Stockwell milling around in the background. It is this episode more than any other that shows up how much their characters were lacking compared to the main cast.

Scenes in which the team show their concern for the missing Hannibal add much-needed drama but not much sense of urgency to the episode. Occasionally there’s a bright bit of dialogue to wake you up, notably when Frankie and Murdock discuss possible radiation poisoning (“I wanted to have a family. Do you think we’ll be able to have children, Murdock?”, “I don’t know think I know you well enough”.)

There isn’t a great deal of action, generally just a few fistfights, one of which is undertaken by Vaughan, or rather by his much younger and slimmer stunt double. Things do brighten up a little in the final third and matters come to head with a shootout finale, though it’s one of those ridiculous ones (even by A-Team standards) in which hundreds of rounds are fired at close range without seeming to hit anything. 5/10

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