Murdock is adorable in a man childish way, especially when he has Billy around or is heading therapy sessions for walnuts in a German accent, or, well, doing just about anything really.
In "The Taxicab Wars" Murdock becomes a superhero called Captain Cab and even makes a cloth mask and cape for himself, all while talking to his sock puppet, Socky. Face is terribly embarrassed by his antics and B. A. wants to murder him (more so than usual), but the way Murdock goes about it is just so cute!
Ensemble Dark Horse: Murdock's character was almost written out of the series before it aired, as the producers found the character too "over the top". The popularity of the character among the test audience however convinced the producers to keep the part of Murdock. Fans of the show all over are glad they did.
The show was more popular in Belgium and the Netherlands than it was in the United States, and Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict are still going over there for interviews and conventions.
Was also very popular in the UK; its popularity for ITV contributed to the 1980s rating decline of Doctor Who. Mr. T appeared in panto as the Genie in Aladdin, as well as an advert for Snickers. Among the UK TV channels that have shown the series in reruns are Forces TV and 5USA. In 2017, Channel 5 would eventually begin to broadcast three to four episodes of the series every Saturday and Sunday
Harsher in Hindsight: A.J. Bancroft from "Family Reunion" is a con artist turned businessman, who made a killing on the stock market, before his criminal enterprises finally caught up with him and he was forced to flee the country to his own private island. The government and the mob are both terrified of his return because he has blackmail files that could "bring down half of Washington DC". If that description sounds familiar, it's probably because it sounds exactly like Jeffrey Epstein.
Ho Yay: These days, you could look back and spot quite a bit of it, especially between Hannibal and Face, Face and Murdock, and Murdock and B. A. (which might border on Foe Yay at times).
In the Season 1 episode "Till Death Do Us Part", Murdock has to help save the client from her evil fiancée by wearing her wedding dress and walking down the aisle. He spends the rest of the episode feeling broken up over leaving the groom at the altar and even writes the man a letter to apologize. It all culminates in these lines:
Hannibal: Murdock, he was lucky to have you for as short a time as he did. Murdock(sniffling): That's beautiful of you to say, Colonel.
Strongest example has to be in "In the Line of Fire" - Murdock is so happy to see B.A. that he kisses him all over his face, and when Stockwell tells them they have to move to Virginia, Murdock says "Virginia, that's so far away. B.A. and I, we just got back together." Awwww.
Magnificent Bastard: General Hunt Stockwell, from season 5, has the distinction of being the first and only person to capture the A-Team and actually make it stick. Putting them on trial under the pretense of getting them exonerated for the "crime they didn't commit", Stockwell instead controls the trial from behind the scenes in order to not only have them found guilty, but also to escalate the charges so they're sentenced to death, only allowing them to escape at the end so he can recruit them now that they have no choice left but to work for him. With the team under his employ, Stockwell proves himself to be something of a Bad Boss who, though ostensibly on the side of American prosperity and world peace, also has no problems using people to accomplish his goals, withholding vital information when it serves his purposes, and treating all of his operatives and even himself as expendable.
One of the earliest Internet memes was the "Mr. T versus" comic, which mostly involved editing stills from The A-Team and borrowed heavily from B.A.'s character to describe Mr. T (like claiming Mr. T also had a fear of flying). Some of them also included Murdock to be pitied by Mr. T.
I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER.
"Don't let this [news article] distract you from that fact that 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."
More Popular Replacement: Colonel Decker. Colonel Lynch was the first who tried to catch the team in season 1 but Decker is the one all fans remember.
And most of the other celebrity appearances for that matter, with the worst probably being the infamous "Cowboy George", which culminates with B.A., of all people, grinning like a loon while bopping away to Culture Club's musical performance. Because nothing speaks to battle-hardened war veterans like the music of a camp, cross-dressing, British pop star. And that is nothing compared to the public Culture Club ends up playing for: a bar full of rough and tumble redneck cowboys who think nothing of lynching the team when they believe they have stolen their paychecks, and were originally promised a performance by country singer Cowboy George. And they end up LOVING Boy George's music.
Nightmare Fuel: "A Small and Deadly War": While not quite nightmare-inducing, sweet, kooky Murdock delivering a funeral wreath to one of the villains of the weeknote disguised as a funeral parlor worker and claiming it was a mistakewhile singing "The Hearse Song" is somewhat unsettling.
Replacement Scrappy: Tawnia is this to Amy. Amy at least had some fans; Tawnia was just shoved in because the networks wanted a female character and wasn't all that capable when the team was in the field.
Retroactive Recognition: Two one-off characters from the show are played by actors who would later land significant roles on Voyagers! — Meeno Peluce, who played Joey, Jase Tataro's brother from "Pros and Cons", became the protagonist Jeffrey Jones, and Stephen Liska, who played one of the minor antagonists in "Hot Styles" showed up as recurring antagonist Drake.
Tawnia Baker. While Amy did have some popularity, Tawnia was nothing but a boat anchor getting shoehorned into every situation and desperately wanting to be on the team for totally selfish reasons (she hoped being involved with the team would jump-start her reporting career like it did for Amy). Despite the Character Shilling she got, the actors themselves clearly don't want anything to do with her. Even the characters show her only a bare minimum of respect.note Marla Heasley, the actress, later explained that from the first day she showed up on set, she was treated with hostility by George Peppard just for being a woman on what the cast felt should be an all-male ensemble. Melinda Culea, who played Amy, told a similar story of her own departure being essentially forced on her for daring to ask for something more to do and Peppard pushing heavily for her to be ejected. Both character existed entirely because the network was concerned about airing a show with so many male main characters and zero women. Eventually, Peppard won out, but one last attempt was made at the end of season 4 to integrate Tia Carrere's character of "Tia" into the show, but Carrere dropped out due to her obligations to General Hospital instead.
Frankie Santana, a fifth member added to the team during the show's last season. His character combines aspects of the other four, though watered down and mostly only embodying all their flaws and negative aspects. He's a mechanic like B.A., but he's not very good at it. He's a bit of a loose screw like Murdock, but not to the degree of actually being Crazy Awesome like Murdock is. He's also a Casanova like Face, but without Face's charisma or propensity for cons. He's also willing if not eager to put himself In Harm's Way for the greater good like Hannibal, but without Hannibal's tactical ability he just ends up looking like a reckless fool. As a result, he ultimately didn't add much to the team. Pretty much everything he did could have been done just as well, if not better, by the existing characters. He mostly just serves to minimize the rest of their contributions. He's also not combat trained like they are, which turned him into The Chick on top of all of that.
Worse still was the interactions he had with the rest of the team. For the first seven episodes of season 5, the writers thought it was a good idea to make Frankie something of a new Murdock to B.A. (while the actual Murdock got Flanderized into a much saner individual), with B.A. even saying the usual things and making the usual threats that he would normally make to Murdock. The writers seemed to realize it didn't work, so they teamed up Frankie more with Face and Murdock for the remainder of the series.
General Hunt Stockwell, for apparently taking over the show, as well his attitude towards the team. Despite being played perfectly by Robert Vaughn, he still remains a Scrappy to many.
Seasonal Rot: The show unfortunately fell into this in the later seasons. Season 3, while still strongly rated, began to slip in the latter half, with the writing becoming a bit less tight, and the characters often operating openly under their real names, as if the writers forgot they were supposed to be fugitives. Season 4 was really the beginning of the end, with a major and unwanted shift beginning to occur. That season relied heavily on guest stars and ratcheting up the camp, even for an admittedly already pretty campy show. On top of that, the show suffered serious production problems, particularly with mercurial lead actor George Peppard and breakout star Mr. T beginning to have serious problems with each other, mostly arguing over money and which of the two was playing "the main character." This led to major retooling in season 5. They brought in Robert Vaughn, who was a good friend of Peppard and didn't dislike T, in the hope that he could calm the waters. In order to work Vaughn's character into the story, the A-Team was finally captured and forced to work directly for the government, and more specifically for Vaughn's character of General Stockwell, who ended up being a bit of The Scrappy because of how he took over the show and treated the team poorly. Season 5 also added another Scrappy in Frankie Santana, an annoying mechanic who added little to nothing of value to the show but served to minimize B.A.'s role in the team. Even the opening theme got messed with—they did away with the opening monologue altogether and changed the theme's sound from orchestral/electric guitars to an almost entirely synthesized remix. All of this eventually came together to lead to the series' cancellation.
Mo/Maggie Sullivan, the doctor from "Black Day at Bad Rock", won over a devoted section of the fanbase. She's more active and assertive than the female characters often were, and seems even to have impressed Hannibal, given that he asked Tawnia to call her in during a medical emergency. Some portion of the fanbase also enjoys the chemistry between the two of them. Unfortunately, she was only in two episodes out of the entire series.
Kelly Stevens from "Bounty" is another example for some. She has a lot of good chemistry with Murdock (as she should, considering the actress who played her has been married to the actor who played Murdock since 1983) and even took the initiative to track Murdock down to the V.A. hospital at the end of the episode. (It's implied he didn't call because he didn't want her to find out he's a mental patient.) Unfortunately, she never appeared or was even mentioned again after that episode.
It's hard to imagine Hannibal getting away with yellowface or blackface disguises anymore as he did early in the show's run. The network seemed to be aware of this on some level, as the "Mr. Lee" disguise only appeared once on screen and disappeared from the opening credits past the first season. B.A. made a crack about the low quality of Hannibal's blackface disguise in the very episode in which it appeared, though even the joke itself comes off as bad taste now.
It's also hard to imagine Hannibal and Face being able to utter as many sexist comments as they did back then.
Main characters on network television aren't generally allowed to smoke on-screen anymore (at least not as often as Hannibal), especially when the show is aimed at children.
In the same episode where Hannibal is in blackface ("The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas"), while undercover Murdock mock-threatens to rape a woman associated with the bad guys.
Murdock also blatantly gooses one of the VA nurses in "Waste 'Em" (and promptly blames it on Lefty the glove).
"Beneath the Surface" has a big one. At the end of the episode, Face's New Old Flame Rebecca Piper tries to lure Face into a trap (again) by offering to perform certain unspecified activities with him in the back of a limousine which is being driven by a disguised General Fullbright. After their steamy off-camera love affair, she tries to spring the trap only to find that Face knew about it the whole time. He already had the team take Fullbright captive and replace him with Murdock, and Face let the girl think he didn't know so he could have sex with her. This is Played for Laughs, and presented as him finally getting one over on the Gold Digger who tried to Honey Trap him twice. He even insults her abilities, calling it "nothing to write the alumni newsletter about." These days the scene comes across as being far more questionable.
The Woobie: Faceman. His father left him before he was old enough to even remember, no mention of what happened to his mother... all we know is that he wandered into an orphanage when he was five years old. From a young age, he taught himself to con people, seizing at every little opportunity he saw, only to miss out on the big ones because of it, most notably when he conned his childhood friend Barry into giving him concert tickets - while Face was at the concert, a family showed up at the orphanage looking to adopt, and they chose Barry (who was pretending to be Face as part of their deal).Granted, that was Face's own fault, but that kind of makes it worse. His college girlfriend Leslie (who he called "The only woman I ever really loved") disappeared with no explanation on the same day he was going to propose to her. He never allowed himself to get too close to another woman after that, so very few of his relationships ever made it past one-night stands. Leslie's disappearance led Face to drop out of college and join the Army where he went through the horrors of The Vietnam War, including spending time in a prison camp, and then he and the rest of the team ended up as fugitives because of something they were ordered to do (he laments in one episode, "Why is it that every time we try to serve our country, we end up behind bars?"). In "Family Reunion", Murdock discovers that A.J. Bancroft, a criminal the team is negotiating with, is Face's father. A.J. begs Murdock not to tell Facehe wants to do it himself. But A.J. chickens out and ends up dying before he can tell Face the truth, leaving Murdock to have to deliver what would have been good news had it come earlier. Plus the number of times Face has been hurt, kidnapped, beaten up by the bad guys... somebody give this guy a hug!
Acceptable Ethnic Targets: Played With and nearly invoked, as the Big Bad is apparently an Arabian business man (shemagh and huge-ass beard)... only to be neatly subverted when it is revealed that the "Arab" behind everything is actually General Morrison in disguise.
Hilarious in Hindsight: The way Face shoots at Reapers in the falling tank scene, yelling at them and laughing maniacally makes it seem as if Bradley Cooper is warming up for the role of Rocket Raccoon.