In which we meet our characters, travel to Mexico and get on the jazz.
Here we go, the first episode of The A-Team, the show that has shaped childhoods for an hour at a time since the 1980s.
Before meeting the team, we find a reporter in trouble with a local bandit and his goon squad. Luckily, he gets a message out to his intrepid colleague Amy Allen who sets out to find and then hire… The A-Team… duh duh du duh, duh duh duh. Actually, there’s no theme tune in the pilot episode, but you get the idea.
We’re introduced to the team in classic fashion, Hannibal’s on a B-movie set in character as a cheap-looking monster, Face has the scoop on the mission, BA is mentoring some underprivileged youths and Murdock gets broken out of the psychiatric hospital.
For some reason (in theory to prove she’s not a government agent but don’t ask the scoring system), Amy has to pass a few tests which are just meeting Hannibal in various disguises and locations before she can hire the team. Despite these precautions she then turns up with less money than she promises and hires them anyway. At least we learn the ‘A’ in A-Team doesn’t stand for astute.
A short flight later and we’re in Mexico, with BA told he blacked out and slept for a day to explain the time difference. He doesn’t seem too concerned. The team get into a bar fight and find out Amy’s colleague has been kidnapped by the drug lord from the start of the episode (what a twist).
Face acquires a crop duster, ammonia, a bus and various sheets of metal. After a quick building montage, the team starts their twin attack – destroying marijuana fields from the air and driving the now armoured bus into the drug lord’s compound and escaping with the reporter.
Victory is short-lived as a chase ensues, complete with several far-out car flips, that results in half the team getting cornered by local guerrillas. As ever, they promptly escape but are almost as promptly captured again. This time though, Face and Murdock come through with an army of villagers rallied to their cause.
With the mission complete, we get one final sting as Amy blackmails her way onto the team by promising to get them good press. Everyone suitably satisfied, we end on a classic 1980’s freezeframe that even spins upside down as Murdock pilots the plane in his own special way.
Let’s wrap up with a few key questions.
Does Hannibal wear a disguise?
Yes, loads of them. He’s in full Aquamaniac costume when we first meet him, then a drunken bum in an alley and of course Mr Lee the ‘majorly uncomfortable by todays standards’ dry cleaner.
Does BA get on a place?
Yes, drugged first with novocaine by Hannibal and later by Amy showing off her new team membership.
Should someone be dead?
100% – several cars flip over in the chase through Mexico, starting a trend of increasingly unlikely scrapes survived by extras in the series.
Overall, Mexican Slayride is a strong start to The A-Team and worthy of sparking five seasons of 80’s antics. The core elements are already in place with only two noticeable changes to come – the epic theme tune and Dirk Benedict replacing Tim Dunigan as Face.
Of course, the theme tune is the most A-Team part of The A-Team so it’s a given that’s an improvement. As for Tim Dunigan, he does a good job as Face in this one appearance. He checks off all the characteristics we’ll come to know and love, establishes an individual rapport with the team and would probably have done well in the role. That said, who wants a world without Dirk Benedict as Templeton Peck?