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, 9 June 2011

The Crystal Skull s5ep10

Co-starring: Manu Tupou as Chief Sikahama, Barry Pierce, Sam Hiona as Chief Walekino, Peter Jacangelo as Brother Francisco, Jeffrey Alan Chandler
Written by Bill Nuss
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

The team parachute onto an island and Murdock is mistaken for a god by local tribesmen.

It's a question asked between fans of any TV show: what is your favourite episode? Personally, I don't have one, I did try to come up with a list once but stopped once I got up to 20 favourites. Once that conversation is exhausted, attention may turn to the worst episode. As far as the A-Team is concerned, Body Slam would be a strong contender for me, Waste 'Em as well but with this shambles, we may have a winner.

It's an episode that lulls you into a false sense of security. The opening is a spirited one as the team make their escape by plane after acquiring the skull of the title. Then, after another outing for the aerial footage first seen in ‘Holiday in the Hills’, the team land on the island and the whole thing falls apart.

The story is certainly different by A-Team standards (think ‘Return of the Jedi’ with Murdock as C3PO and the tribesmen as the ewoks) but that doesn’t make it interesting. There's a suspicion that the whole episode was deliberately written to be made as cheaply as possible. Much of it takes place on beaches and the rest on sets previously seen to much better effect in the season four finale 'The Sound of Thunder'.

There are various plot threads running through the episode, one of which involves the possibility that the skull is cursed (which may be true given how dodgy 'Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull' was). There aren't many highlights to speak of and those that there are (Murdock walking on hot coals, his fight with the chief) are played out in slow motion in a desperate effort to add a sense of drama.

The pacing is plodding and often tedious in the extreme, causing the episode to feel much longer than the usual forty-five minutes. What is most interesting is that the chant of the natives has been changed to "who wrote this" in post-production (the answer is Bill Nuss, responsible for too many below par episodes). Fair play to the makers for acknowledging how unremittingly awful it is but that doesn't make it any more watchable.

Only audience goodwill and the efforts of the cast (who are still often left floundering) make it possible to sit through this to the end. Poor. 3/10

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