Friday 29 May 2015

1983: THE A-TEAM (Target Books)

From 1983: THE A-TEAM, by Charles Heath, published by Target Books.

One of the Star Age things that's been all-but -eradicated by the digital age (although i suspect the rise of VHS was an early nail in the coffin) are novelizations of pretty much any film of TV show that looked like it might shift a few pulpy paperbacks.  

Target Books, long time publishers of the DOCTOR WHO range, decided to hedge their bets in the early Eighties and start publishing books based on imported US action shows.  Ironically, THE A-TEAM was thrashing the pants off WHO in the Saturday night schedules at this point.

The US editions of the these books came courtesy of Dell although it seems like Target kept the faith longer as they managed several additional outings that didn't see US release.

THE A-TEAM was, at least for a while, red hot on both sides of the Atlantic.  Target managed to eek out at least ten paperbacks adapting various episodes.  And they also indulged in some brand extension with at least a few Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type outings. 

This first book in the series (no number... presumably because Target weren't confident they had a franchise on their hands) adapts Mexican Slayride, the show's feature-length first outing.  Despite the bog-standard cast publicity photo on the cover, Dirk Benedict (Face!) didn't actually appear in the episode.  Tim (Captain Power) Dunigan had the honors but looked too young to be convincing as a Vietnam vet.  Benedict stepped in from the second episode and no effort was made to remount the pilot (presumably on the grounds of cost and time). 

I've not read the book but I do have a soft spot for the show itself.  It's easy to dismiss as being repetitive and not very clever but, watching as an adult, it's easy to see Stephen J. Cannell's light touch shining through and elevating the material.  The cast are also uniformly excellent (Bennedict is basically channeling Starbuck... which makes the Cylon gag from the episode Steel even more fun), especially Dwight Schultz as Murdoch.  He brings the right charm and manic energy without pushing it OTT and into the please-get-off-the-screen zone. 


  1. I used to love those TV novelizations in he 80s. I had the Battlestar Galactica novels, the V novels, and even a pair of Knight Rider novels. I had no idea the A-Team warranted one, much less a series. Very cool.

    1. Hi Bob.

      I LOVED the original V novels from the Eighties. They (even more so that the DC comics) were far more ambitious in the scope of their storytelling than the TV show (particularly the campy and cash-strapped weekly series) could ever hope to be. The best ones were the ones that barely featured (or didn't feature at all) the characters from the series and broadened the scope of the invasion to a national and international scale.

      A couple of the earliest V novels (like Pursuit Of Diana) were obviously written before they'd fully nailed the format (and even the cast list) of the weekly series.

      The BATTLESTAR novels are more of a mixed bag. You frequently got the impression that no one involved had a firm grasp of the show... even when they were adapting the episodes.

      I will look out for the KNIGHT RIDER novels. I have some others prepped for future posts. Stay tuned!


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