The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Featured Series (A)
The A-Team 
(NBC, 1983-1987)
Col. John "Hannibal" Smith
George Peppard
Sgt. Bosco "BA" Baracus
Mr. T
Lt. Templeton Peck("Faceman")
Dirk Benedict
Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock
Dwight Schultz
Col. Lynch
William Lucking (1983-84)
Col. Roderick Decker
Lance LeGault (1983-84)
Gen. Hunt Stockwell
Robert Vaughn (1986-1987)
Amy Allen
Melinda Culea (1983)
Tawnia Baker
Marla Heasley (1984)
Frankie "Dishpan" Sanchez
Eddie Velez (1986-87)
Judy Ledford (1986)
Lt. Templeton Peck ("Faceman")
Tim Dunigan (pilot only)

The premise: A crack team of commandos knock off the Bank of Hanoi for one hundred million yen a few days after the Vietnam War is over, and when they can't prove they were under orders to do so, are imprisoned by the U.S. government. They escape, and become soldiers of fortune, outlaws wanted by the government. Led by Col. John "Hannibal" Smith, a master of disguise, the team includes expert mechanic Sgt. Bosco Baracus, otherwise known as B.A. (for "Bad Attitude"), Lt. Templeton Peck, a.k.a. "Faceman," a handsome and smooth-talking hustler, and Capt. H.M. "Howling Mad" Murdock, a pilot who seems to have a few screws loose. In the first season they are joined by a reporter named Amy Allen, and in the final season by a special effects wiz named "Dishpan" Frankie. In that last season, the team is captured by General Hunt Stockwell and turned into undercover operatives.

Despite all the gunplay, explosions, car chases and general mayhem of the show -- which caused some to label it the most violent series on television in the Eighties -- almost no one got hurt in this tongue-in-cheek action-adventure that ran ran for four seasons on NBC for a total of 90 episodes. It became one of the network's biggest successes, and was NBC's only Top Ten show in its first season. During the second season it finished #4 overall, and was #6 overall in the third season. It spawned a huge amount of spin-off merchandise (see below) and created a cult hero in Mr. T, who wore 35 lbs. of gold chain around his neck and made immortal the line: "I pity the fool!" In 1984, Mr. T won the People's Choice Award for Favorite New Male Star. (That same year the series won Favorite New Show.)

George Peppard, who played Hannibal Smith, was a film star -- The Carpetbaggers, Home From the Hill, How the West Was Won -- who had already enjoyed success on the small screen with the series Banacek before signing on with The A-Team. Dirk Benedict ("Faceman") had previously appeared on the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica. Dwight Schultz was a noted stage actor who went on to guest roles in a variety of TV series, from Hill Street Blues to Fantasy Island. Mr. T (Laurence Tureaud) had been Hulk Hogan's tag team partner in Wrestlemania, bodyguard for celebrities like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Mohammad Ali, and starred as Clubber Lang in Rocky III (1982).

The rights to the series were bought by Fox 2000, and an A-Team movie is in the works.

An A-Team game
Series Highlights
Mexican Slayride (2-hr. pilot; 1.23.83):
Colonel Hannibal Smith leads his team of Vietnam vets-turned-soldiers of fortune to Mexico to rescue a colleague from guerrillas.
Children of Jamestown (1.30.83):
The A-Team sets out to save a girl from a crazed cult leader. John Saxon guest stars.
Pros and Cons (2.8.83):
Heavyweight champ Ken Norton guests in a story about to-the-death boxing matches arranged by a prison warden.
The Out of Towners (3.22.83):
The A-Team protects shopkeepers from a neighborhood protecttion racket in New York City. Yaphet Kotto guest stars.
The Taxicab Wars (11.1.83):
A small cab company hires the A-Team when a rival firm tries to sabotage their operation.
Labor Pains (11.8.83):
The A-Team takes on a ruthless landowner in trying to help migrant workers unionize.
Say It With Bullets (1.17.84):
A WAC makes a deal with Decker: she'll betray the A-Team in exchange for the murderer of her brother, who was involved in arms trafficking.
Pure-Dee Poison (1.31.84):
A minister (John Amos) gets help from the A-Team in putting a moonshine runner (Bo Hopkins) out of business.
Semi-Friendly Persuasion (5.8.84):
The A-Team's clients are pacifists who won't allow them to use violence to save them from being run off their property.
The Bend in the River (2. hrs; 9.25.84): The A-Team searches for an archaeologist last seen when his Amazon expeditions was attacked by pirates.
The Island (11.13.84):
A doctor who once saved BA's life asks the A-team for help in keeping a gang of thugs from taking over a tropical island.
Skins (1.29.85):
The A-Team goes after poachers who kill a game warden in Kenya.
Bounty (4.2.85):
Bounty hunters kidnap Murdock and use him for bait to capture the rest of the A-Team. Gene Evans and Bill McKinney guest star.
Lease With An Option to Die (10.22.85):
The A-Team swings into action when BA's mother is harassed by thugs trying to force her out of her apartment. Della Reese guests.
The Heart of Rock'n'Roll (11.5.85):
The A-Team is asked to help a rock'n'roll legend who is getting out of prison. Rick James and Isaac Hayes guest star.
Body Slam (11.12.85):
Hulk Hogan asks the A-team to stop a mobster trying to close down a youth club.
Cowboy George (2.11.86):
Face wants George Strait to perform in a tough dancehall, but gets Boy George of Culture Club instead.
Beneath the Surface (3.4.86):
Face runs into trouble at a reunion when his old girlfriend decides to turn him in to the Army for a reward.
The Sound of Thunder (5.13.86):
The A-Team returns to Vietnam to find the one man who can clear them. Tia Carrere guests stars.
The Say Uncle Affair (10.31.86):
The Man From U.N.C.L.E's David McCallum and Robert Vaughn share the screen again as the A-team tries to rescue a kidnapped general.
Family Reunion (11.14.86):
The A-Team tries to protect a political adviser whose diary could reveal widespread corruption -- and who may be Face's father. (Viewers were asked to vote on the outcome of the episode by calling a 900 number.)
The Spy Who Mugged Me (12.12.86):
Murdock poses as a suave spy in this spoof of the James Bond films.
Without Reservations (3.8.87):
Face, Murdock and Frankie are taken hostage by mobsters out to kill the U.S. Attorney General. Final episode of the series.

(CBS, 1984-1986; USA, 1987)

Stringfellow Hawke
Jan-Michael Vincent (1984-86)

Dominic Santini
Ernest Borgnine

 Caitlin O'Shannessy
Jean Bruce Scott (1985-86)

 Michael "Archangel" Coldsmith-Briggs III
Alex Cord (1984-86)
Deborah Pratt (1984-86)
St. John Hawke
Barry Van Dyke (1987-88)

Jason Locke
Anthony Sherwood (1987-88
Major Mike Rivers
Geraint Wyn Davis (1987-88)

Jo Santini
Michele Scarabelli (1987-88)

The success of 1983's Blue Thunder, a movie about a super-helicopter, spawned television series on all three networks: ABC's Blue Thunder, NBC's Riptide, and Airwolf on CBS. Airwolf was a high-tech attack helicopter that (in the pilot) was stolen by its creator who wanted to sell it to Libya. A secret U.S. organization called The Firm recruited ace pilot and Vietnam vet Stringfellow Hawke to get it back. Hawke retrieved Airwolf -- but refused to hand it over to the government until the U.S. made an effort to locate his brother St. John, an MIA. When The Firm accepted this condition, Hawke agreed to fly Airwolf on occasional special missions. Hawke's contact at The Firm was the mysterious Archangel; his assistant was the middle-aged Dominic Santini, Hawke's old war buddy. Sometimes an agent for The Firm, Marella, also lent a hand. At the start of the second season, a spunky lady pilot named Caitlin O'Shannessy joined the team.
Airwolf ran for three seasons (56 episodes; it was launched as a mid-season replacement in 1984). When CBS dropped the show, the fledgling USA Network picked it up. Production was moved to Canada, and a fourth season of episodes were filmed on a very low budget and aired in 1987. The cast was completely changed: Dominic was killed off and Stringfellow Hawke was badly injured when one of his helicopters, sabotaged by enemy agents, exploded. Archangel was replaced by Jason Locke and The Firm became The Company. An agent named Mike Rivers used Airwolf to rescue Stringfellow's brother St. John. After that, St. John Hawke took his brother's place as head of the Airwolf team.
Jan-Michael Vincent, who played the reclusive and rebellious Stringfellow Hawke, was born in Colorado in 1944, and raised in California. He made guest appearances in such television series as Bonanza, Gunsmoke and Police Story before landing roles in feature films like The Mechanic (1972), in which he played the protege of assassin Charles Bronson, Bite the Bullet (1975) and Hooper (1978). He also had leading roles in Buster and Billie (1974) and White Line Fever (1975). In the Eighties he starred in the highly acclaimed miniseries The Winds of War in 1983 before taking on Airwolf. After the series was cancelled, Vincent tried to resurrect his film career, with mediocre results. Ernest Borgnine (Dominic Santini) was born in Connecticut in 1917; after graduating from high school he went into the navy for ten years, after which he went to drama school and did stage work for four years. In 1951 he moved to Los Angeles, and a couple of years later had a memorable role in From Here to Eternity. In 1955 he won an Academy Award for his performance in Marty. In the '60s he conquered TV with a lead role in the hit comedy McHale's Navy. In his 50-plus years in show business, Borgnine has appeared in over 100 films.

Series Highlights
Shadow of the Hawke, I & II (1.22.84):
A special helicopter called Airwolf has been stolen and taken to Libya, and Stringfellow Hawke is called upon to get it back. Pilot.
Bite of the Jackal (2.4.84):
Dominic is used as bait to lure Hawke and the Airwolf into a trap.
Fight Like a Dove ( 3.10.84):
A woman seeking revenge for the murder of her father wants Hawke to use Airwolf to help her infiltrate the stronghold of an ex-Nazi in Paraguay.
And They Are Us (3.31.84):
Hawke tangles with a squad of mercenary chopper pilots when he's sent to a small African nation to protect its leader from a suspected coup.
Moffett's Ghost (10.6.84):
A computer virus turns Airwolf into a killing machine.
Fallen Angel (4.3.84):
Archangel is captured behind the Iron Curtain on a mission to rescue an ex-lady friend, and is brainwashed in a plot to kill The Firm's chief.
Condemned (1.5.85):
Hawke and Caitlin are exposed to a lethal toxin and must join forces with the Russians in a desperate search for an antidote.
The Horn of Plenty (9.28.85):
When a master criminal wants to take over a small country, he plans to use a hypnotized Hawke to deliver Airwolf to him.
Airwolf II (10.5.85):
Tex Jenkins is going to steal Redwolf, a helicopter that surpasses Airwolf, and sell it to foreign mercenaries.
Fortune Teller (10.14.85):
Archangel is missing and The Firm, thinking he's turned traitor, will send an assassination team to kill him, unless Hawke and Dominic can find him first.
Day of Jeopardy (1.25.86):
Hawke uses Airwolf to deliver the wife of a crime boss to a top-secret location so that she can testify against a cartel of corrupt businessmen.
Birds of Paradise (3.29.86):
The disappearance of Half-Pint's stepmother leads Hawke to a night club run by a modern-day white slaver.
Blackjack (1.23.87):
When Hawke is seriously injured and Dominic killed in an explosion, The Firm sends Mike Rivers to find Airwolf -- and Stringfellow's brother, St. John.
Salvage (2.13.87):
When St. John and Mike are sent to investigate strange lights on Devil's Ridge they discover a super helicopter called The Scorpion that seems to be a match for Airwolf.
Malduke (7.17.87):
A madman named Malduke hijacks a cargo ship carrying radioactive waste and uses it in a bizarre, global extortion scheme.

TV Guide Review, Robert MacKenzie, 31 March 1984
This CBS series is named after its central character - a helicopter. Airwolf is an experimental machine that flies at supersonic speeds, fires heat-seeking missles, foils radar, and generally does everything but dice carrots. If you saw the movie "Blue Thunder," you get the idea.
....Sometimes I have the opposite reaction to a series than the one intended. The A-Team, which is supposed to be happy, he-man fun, just depresses me. Whereas Airwolf is such a solemn crock that it makes me smile. Our hero, Stringfellow, is a tight-lipped loner who lives in a secluded mountain cabin with its own private lake, where he keeps a collection of priceless impressionist paintings, plays classical cello like a young Casals and communes with eagles. He is rude to women, which fascinates them, of course, and he likes to stand around brooding when he is not bombing the bejabbers out of something.
Jan-Michael Vincent didn't write any of this, so I can't hold him responsible. Vincent has a certain glum magnetism and can carry a scene, though he shares a quality with Steve McQueen: the less he has to say, the better he is. He is quite closemouthed here, and viewers who can follow this Stringfellow character may enjoy his work....
Machinery fans will find happiness with the helicopter, which is quite a snappy piece of gear. It has sleek lines and a raft of technological toys - computerized search devices, video readouts, digital ding-dongs and "awesome firepower." The air maneuvers and battles are often spectacular, though the machine never looks to be moving as fast as they say it is. I guess there aren't any supersonic helicopters.
Borgnine is acting loudly and vigorously, as he always has. You have to admire the man's energy. You have to admire something here.

(NBC, 1986-1990)
Paul Fusco (voice)
Lisa Buckley & Bob Fappiano (puppet)
Michu Meszaros (suit)
Willie Tanner
Max Wright
Kate Tanner
Anne Schedeen
Lynn Tanner
Andrea Elson
Brian Tanner
Benji Gregory
Trevor Ochmonek
John LaMotta
Raquel Ochmonek
Liz Sheridan
Jake Ochmonek
Josh Blake (1988-89)
Dorothy Halligan
Anne Meara (1987)
Neal Tanner
JM J. Bullock (1989-90)

The character of Gordon Shumway -- otherwise known as ALF (for Alien Life Form) -- was created by Paul Fusco in 1984. When Fusco failed to interest Disney Studios and Muppet-man Jim Henson, he took his idea to NBC's Brandon Tartikoff. NBC agreed to produce the show,  and reaped the rewards. A first-season hit, especially among kids, ALF generated a merchandise bonanza that included a doll, as well as an animated spin-off on NBC's Saturday morning lineup (1987-1990) entitled ALF Tales, which chronicled Gordon Shumway's adventures on his home planet of Melmac. NBC even produced an official biography.

The destruction of that planet was the catalyst for ALF's arrival on Earth. He crashes his spaceship into the garage of your typical suburban family. ALF is a wisecracking, inquisitive, accident-prone alien with a number of bad habits, not least of which is his appetite for cats, considered a delicacy on Melmac. And he's not shy about voicing his opinion on various aspects of human society. In spite of all this, he grows on the family who takes him in -- and who sometimes have to go to absurd links to keep his presence a secret. There's the long-suffering and softhearted Willie Tanner, his wife Kate (who never can quite reconcile herself to the presence of the furry, three-foot alien), daughter Lynn and son Brian.  

Producer Fusco provided ALF's voice. During the first season, Michu Meszaros, a dwarf, wore an ALF costume for shots in which the alien was seen walking. An animatronic puppet built and operated by Lisa Buckley and Bob Fappiano was used for above-the-waist shots. A total of 102 episodes were aired. In 1996, Warner Brothers produced a made-for-TV movie entitled Project: ALF.

ALF sits in for Johnny Carson as host of The Tonight Show'
(See Series Highlights)

Series Highlights
A.L.F. (9.22.86):
Gordon Shumway, only known survivor of the planet Melmac, crashes his spaceship in the Tanners' garage.
Looking for Lucky (10.6.86):
When the Tanners' cat disappears suspicion falls on ALF; in this episode, ALF sings Seger's "That Old Time Rock'n'Roll".
Pennsylvania 6-5000 (10.13.86):
ALF calls the White House to discuss nuclear weapons with the president.
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (11.17.86):
ALF has a crush on Lynn and makes a music video in an attempt to impress her.
Baby, You Can Drive My Car (12.1.86):
ALF sells his spaceship to buy Lynn a sports car.
Try To Remember (2.9.87):
The Tanners reminisce in an attempt to help an amnesia-stricken ALF recover his memory.
Going Out Of My Head Over You (3.16.87):
Willie tries to talk to a psychologist about ALF.
La Cucaracha (4.20.87):
Trouble abounds when a cockroach from outer space invades the Tanner home.
Ballad Of Gilligan's Island (9.28.87):
ALF visits Gilligan's Island in a dream.
Take A Look At Me Now (10.5.87):
A neighbor, Mrs. Ochmonek, thinks she's lost her mind when she sees ALF.
Wedding Bell Blues (10.12.87):
ALF joins a monastery after discovering that he was an illegitimate alien.
Something's Wrong With Me (11.9.87):
ALF is afflicted with a serious case of hiccups.
Someone To Watch Over Me (2.8.88 & 2.15.88):
Trying to capture a prowler at the Ochomonek's house, ALF ends up in a standoff with a SWAT team.
Movin' Out (3.14.88):
The Tanners discover how difficult it is to sell their house when ALF keeps scaring away the buyers.
I'm Your Puppet (3.21.88):
The ventriloquist's dummy ALF orders through the mail takes on a life of its own.
Stop In The Name Of Love (10.3.88):
When Lynn goes out on a hot date, a protective ALF hides out in the back seat.
The Tonight Show (10.24.88):
Ed McMahon guest stars as ALF makes a hash out of hosting The Tonight Show.
We're In The Money (10.9.89):
Using Willie's computer, ALF becomes obsessed with making stock market deals.
Consider Me Gone (3.24.90):
ALF is captured by the Alien Task Force as he prepares to leave Earth. Final episode.