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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this cult favorite 1980s action series is about a group of mercenaries. Consequently, there are plenty of explosions, guns, and other weaponry -- though almost no one is ever hurt, and it all feels pretty tame by today's standards. The guys fight on the side of good, but they often use deception, theft, and firepower to accomplish their missions. Though each episode includes a segment in which the group is under attack, the tension is never intense, and the team's successful outcome is never in question. Worth noting: Women don't fare very well in this show. They tend to be either gullible accomplices or absent helpers.
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What's the story?
Accused of a crime they didn't commit, THE A-TEAM members are former U.S. Army Special Operations soldiers who escaped from a military prison. They use their considerable skills to accomplish missions for hire while avoiding capture by the military police who are always on their tail. Most episodes involve the group being hired for a dangerous-but-sympathetic mission during which they become trapped and use their ingenuity and firepower to escape, finally completing the mission with great success. The core cast includes group leader and disguise expert John "Hannibal" Smith (George Peppard), con artist and handsome ladies' man Templeton "Faceman" Peck (Dirk Benedict), expert mechanic "B.A." Baracus (Mr. T), and mentally unstable pilot H.M. Murdock (Dwight Schultz). Throughout the show's five seasons, different female characters joined or helped the A-Team, most significantly, reporter Amy Amanda "Triple A" Allen (Melinda Culea).
Is it any good?
While each episode features massive explosions and tons of shooting, no one's ever killed or even seriously injured (with one or two exceptions). This element, along with the over-the-top characters and constant humorous chatter, makes the show a lighthearted adventure, rather than a graphic crime drama.
That said, while the characters all ultimately mean well -- often giving back their fees to needy clients and only taking on missions for good guys -- some questionable messages do emerge. For example, group members bicker frequently: The relationship between B.A. and Murdock is particularly sour, with insults flying back and forth, many of which are directed at Murdock's apparent mental instability. Faceman, meanwhile, uses a variety of cons and deceptions in his job, frequently flirting shamelessly with gullible women to get her to trust him while he lures her into his plan. It's all got a good gloss of '80s nostalgia on it now -- and compared to the a lot of modern primetime TV offerings, the whole series is really pretty tame.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about TV violence. When a show has lots of violence but no injuries or death, what message does that send? Does it make the show easier to watch? Does it bother you that the show gives the impression that firepower and explosions might be fun to use and not have serious consequences? Can you think of other violent shows that skip the blood and injuries but keep the guns and weapons? What about vice versa? How has typical TV violence changed since the '80s?