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.
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.