The A-Team's popularity caused Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley's ratings to drop

Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley reigned supreme until The A-Team came along.

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We've all heard stories about The A-Team's success. The action-adventure show consisted of four former members of a fictional U.S. Army Special Forces Unit. George Peppard (Hannibal), Mr. T (B.A. Baracus), Dirk Benedict (Faceman), and Dwight Schultz ("Howling Mad" Murdock) were treated like superstars around the world, selling out events full of excited fans.

The show was loved so much that it beat out many of its competitors in the same time slot. Some of those shows were series that always had top ratings and usually were the reason why many new productions were canceled. According to The Baltimore Sun TV critic Bill Carter, in 1983 when The A-Team premiered, it took off right away.

Carter started his article by saying, "The A-Team is probably the hottest new show to hit television since Mork and Mindy." Since the article was published on May 15, 1983, a few months after the show made its television debut and five days after season one's finale, it's safe to say that the series made its mark instantly.

It was the tenth-ranked show for the entire season and was near the top ratings "since its first week on air." The critic was most surprised by The A-Team's success in a time known as "Death Valley" on its network NBC. Tuesday nights at 8:00 pm was a tough time for new series because ABC sitcoms Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley were two of the most successful shows of the late '70s and early '80s and were on at that time.

Carter said, "[Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley] killed off one new show after another. The stack of their victims could all but fill a network's prime-time lineup. They reigned supreme - until The A-Team came along."

During the second half of The A-Team's season, the two shows saw low ratings that they hadn't seen since their debut. Viewers deserted the shows to give their full attention to the action-packed series. The adventures and the promotions used for the production played a massive part in its success.

Other factors contributed to rating dips for the shows, too. Laverne & Shirley was in its final season, and actress Cindy Williams, who played Shirley, was only on two episodes. Happy Days ended in 1984, but a few fan-favorite characters departed, which might've contributed to its lower ratings.

Either way, The A-Team proved that with creative original ideas, promotions, and a talented cast, going against top shows and having success is possible.



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84 Comments

JenniferMContino 18 months ago
Yeah not really a fair comparison when both popular ABC series were at their end.
Barry22 18 months ago
HD and L&S had also run it's course. Even though I might be in the minority, never cared for either of those shows, and with the exception of HDs first two seasons, hardly watched them.
Bricat2001 Barry22 18 months ago
Yeah never really liked how they depicted wisconsin, milwaukee is not brooklyn NY!
MichaelPowers Barry22 18 months ago
Both were what I call lowbrow comedies.
vinman63 18 months ago
I met Mr T at a comic book signing. I always picture him bigger but he was a nice guy.
SteveMcnary 18 months ago
I was working nights in the 80s & never saw The A-Team until this year on MeTV & I find it funny & entertaining. The 4 characters are played perfectly by the actors.
Barry22 SteveMcnary 18 months ago
Same deal with me, never watched it until many years later. Really like it.
Jon 18 months ago
THE A-TEAM got a huge boost for its premiere when NBC scheduled it following Super Bowl XVII. The show took it from there.
CoreyC 18 months ago
Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley ratings has been dropping like a rock years before The A-Team. That's where we got the term Jumping The Shark. The A-Team gave young males a show to watch. Fonzie can't compete with Mr. T.
mememememe66 18 months ago
Certainly not all together true.
The viewers that watched “ Laverne and Shirley “ we’re not the same viewers that were watching “The A-Team”.

Pacificsun mememememe66 18 months ago
Well, am sure, JMOE. However, the Nielsen Ratings demographics would be the source. Networks are very aware of where they place (or displace) various Shows.
BuckeyeBeth7 mememememe66 18 months ago
Not totally sure on that. I watched both Laverne & Shirley and the A-Team. I was also a big fan of Happy Days, that is of course until they brought all the new characters in at the last seasons. I kind of tolerated it with Roger but once Flip came in, I absolutely despise it. His character was probably only brought in to replace Chachi (who then of course came back to the show) and poorly written.

Maybe I’m in the minority, but my favorite TV shows/movies are either comedy or action adventure. It also didn’t hurt that I had a crush on Dirk Benedict since Battlestar Galactic but I probably would have still watched The A-Team even if they had stuck with that other original face-man actor. The show was just fun.
BuckeyeBeth7 17 months ago
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wallyandbagfan 17 months ago
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JHP 18 months ago
gee - were people getting sick and tired of spin-offs from sappy days?

I think so
Rob JHP 18 months ago
Yes, by 1983 Happy Days was well past it’s prime!
Jeffrey Rob 18 months ago
Yes, And so was M*A*S*H!
BrianMoore Rob 18 months ago
And Shirley left Laverne and Shirley
Pacificsun Jeffrey 18 months ago
Well, they were the exception, weren't they.
Pacificsun BrianMoore 18 months ago
And there were only so many times you could get stuck in a closest; aka a page from ILL plots. No worries; it's just about entertainment and good laughs! 🎄
JHP BrianMoore 18 months ago
ya know - believe me or not I met Cindy Williams in Casino Montreal in...1999 (98) maybe?

she looked very nice and proper and of course I had GB packer stuff on - it was a real nice time frozen in my heart
tootsieg 18 months ago
Love the A-Team. I hope the show stays on the schedule.
Pacificsun tootsieg 18 months ago
I second that vote for the A-Team.

Just in case they're counting the number of mentions (and they are).
StrayCat 18 months ago
The A Team. Never have there been so many automatic weapons firing so many rounds of ammo and so many explosions where no one ever got shot or killed.
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vinman63 StrayCat 18 months ago
There was one episode were Hanibal said they were low on ammo.I wonder why.
BuckeyeBeth7 StrayCat 18 months ago
The only people who got shot were either the people the team came to save or one of the four guys because they decided it was essential to the plot. Other than that you are absolutely correct that no one got hurt.

I’m also pretty sure shows like the A-Team are absolutely responsible for the fact that I thought for years that if you got a tire blowout at highway speeds your car would jerk to the side and flip over several times. I actually lived in fear of that happening. Not like an obsessive thing, but I did think blowout flips were a real thing lol
StrayCat BuckeyeBeth7 18 months ago
Don't forget many of their car crashes, some not all that severe, where the car always explodes into a fireball.
Moverfan StrayCat 13 months ago
Well, the guys could hit the broad side of a barn...maybe not anything smaller than that, but they COULD hit the broad side of a barn!
Runeshaper 18 months ago
All 3 were great shows. Sounds like healthy competition to me.
Pacificsun 18 months ago
A-Team is one of my favorites shows now, as it was before.

Please keep it in the line-up!
JHP Pacificsun 18 months ago
that is what Me-Tv lives for...shows you love and shows you hate...gee ( never went to college to figure that out)
cperrynaples 18 months ago
Interesting fact: For the fall of 1983, ABC made the poor decision to move Happy Days forward to 8:30 and gave the 8 o'clock slot to Just Our Luck, a horrible show with T.K. Carter as a genie! The best thing out of that was a promo in which Carter & Henry Winkler promised to shrink Mr. T to a mininature! Guess who got cut short at midseason...LOL!
Michael 18 months ago
There should be a story about TV critics. That's a disappearing job. Years ago the local paper had one, and it was his job. Now if there's news of tv, it comes from the chain.
Pacificsun Michael 18 months ago
Good thought. I miss (the original) TV Guide.

But we'll never, ever come across unbiased opinions again. For a lot of reasons, and regarding a lot of other circumstances.

Because everything is driven by profit and the network (and don't mean TV) of social opinion.

Besides, who among us needs to be told what's good or bad regarding programing. That MeTV exists, is proof enough.
Bricat2001 Pacificsun 18 months ago
I feel like movie critics are sort of disapearing as well. I feel like they are being payed by the major film companies to say stuff they want :P
LoveMETV22 Michael 18 months ago
Not really disappearing, just in a different format than what you describe. I would think on the TV side there would be a few more than Film, as it seems there are more changes in television than new films being released. Still though both (TV/Film) are somewhat opinion based.
ncadams27 Michael 18 months ago
Critics don’t even write stories. They send out a tweet and post responses as the story.
LoveMETV22 18 months ago
In a way, it's history repeating itself. With the addition of the A- Team on MeTV, it put Happy Days to rest.
However all happening on one network, so not a competition, just a schedule change.
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JHP Pacificsun 18 months ago
10-4 - waiting for the monster blueberry muffin with rock sugar and then the triple triple from timmy's (only kidding:))
Moverfan JHP 14 months ago
Well, if you're near my hometown of Royal Oak, Michigan, there's a Tim Horton's on East 11 Mile...and now I want a six-pack of doughnuts...and a box of Timbits...
JHP Moverfan 14 months ago
Well I reside on the other side of Lake Mich and here in Wis we do not have a Timmy's - miss it big time
JHP Pacificsun 14 months ago
Keerist that's looks like one of my fav BF's a close 2nd is Huevos Rancheros
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