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!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Quarterback Sneak s5ep4

Co-starring: Joe Namath as TJ Bryant, Alan Autry as Mike Horn, Jim Brown as Steamroller, Bo Brundin as Dr Strasser, Judy Geeson as Marlena Strasser, Judith Ledford as Carla
Written by Paul Bernbaum
Directed by Craig R Baxley

The team fly into East Berlin (just east of West Berlin!) to rescue a scientist, using the cover of playing a game of American Football against a local team.

The first individual episode of season five is a good one, built on a strong plot, a real attempt to establish a sense of location and a solid blend of action, comic and dramatic elements. The script by Bernbaum (who would go onto write ‘The Spy Who Mugged Me’ later in the season) is concise and to the point, getting through a lot of plot in forty five minutes and consequently ensuring a strong pace throughout.

It’s an episode rich in humour, using the age-old but still fun fish-out-of-water scenario as the team try to get Strasser, and a project he is working on, out from behind the Iron Curtain. Of course, Stockwell informs them that if they are discovered then they they will be abandoned and most likely be shot as spies, to which Murdock remarks, "It just makes you want to go out and buy war bonds doesn’t it?”

Given the number of American Football stars involved here, being a fan of the sport would help as the game takes up a large part of the later stages. The casting of real-life players isn’t as clumsy or awful as the guest star casting of the likes of Hulk Hogan in season four as, crucially, they aren’t playing themselves.

The action mainly takes place on sets but the episode escapes the cheap & restrictive feel of previous set-bound stories as an Eastern European location has been created on the backlot (presumably for another TV series?). The final game takes place in an empty stadium, something which the story makes excuses for but is preferable to trying to fake a large crowd.

Murdock carries the comic elements of the episode, taking his work as an underwear inspector out to East Berlin and being suspected by local authorities of being a spy. Face tries to get by with a German phrase book but ultimately has to rely on a travelling salesman joke to get him out of a tight spot (something that becomes a running gag during the episode).

There isn’t much padding here, though the game is elongated more than necessary by a pointless sequence in which Frankie uses an air rifle to shoot the ball out of the air. This aside, matters build to a strong fight and escape finish, all adding up to an episode which is solidly entertaining. 8.5/10

1 comment:

  1. A pretty strong episode that evokes "The Longest Yard" while making great use of the show's new format. I'm actually surprised it took so long for the show to incorporate a football theme.

    I'm also surprised Jim Brown didn't appear as a co-star sooner. He's certainly a much better fit than any of the guests they featured in season four.

    Face has a great scene where he has to rescue the scientist's wife from an oversized guard (Sven Ole Thorsen). Soon after this episode, Thorsen and Brown both appeared in "The Running Man".