Why Triple A stopped working on The A-Team
Melinda Culea and Stephen J. Cannell did not see the character the same way.
Although Amy Amanda Allen — better known as Triple A — was never an official part of The A-Team, she proved herself tough enough to earn a place.
Just watch the first season episode "A Nice Place to Visit," where Triple A must defend her ground in a farmhouse, managing to survive all alone through an intense shoot-out.
Playing Triple A was Melinda Culea, a model who had been struggling to make it as an actor for years.
She was stoked when Stephen J. Cannell and his team cast her on The A-Team, and as the only woman on the cast, she frequently gained attention from reporters who asked her what she thought about her character and where it might be going.
During these interviews, Culea often spoke of how The A-Team focused much of the action on the men, but that she saw Triple A as a character that was just as strong an individual as all the real A-Team members.
"The ’80s is the decade of the individual; we are just beginning to peak on it, and I mean in the purest sense of the word," Culea told the Herald and Review in 1983. "It’s a very new concept, which combines the conscious, the unconscious and the superconscious. On the show, we are all such ridiculous individuals. It’s holding the mirror up to nature in a humorous way – the best way to teach humans anything."
In Culea’s eyes, The A-Team was focusing more on the male characters to establish the main action on the show, but she expected that, eventually, Triple A would get more screentime as viewers became more interested in her character.
"Now that we’re established, we’ve talked about my character and where she’s going, and I have faith in the writers," Culea told The Sheboygan Press in 1983. "It’s a natural progression, and two things I’ve learned from it are humility and patience."
But producers had already lost patience with Culea. As these interviews were being published, behind the scenes of The A-Team, producers had made the decision to go in the opposite direction — and fire Culea.
TV Guide reported in 1983 that they decided to cut her character, and Cannell told The Philadelphia Inquirer that year that writers never intended to make anything more out of the Triple A character.
"It didn’t work out the way we or she intended," Cannell said. "There were misunderstandings regarding the size of her role and the sorts of things her character would be doing."
Before the second season ended, Triple A was evacuated from the show, leaving for a reporting trip and never coming back.
Culea had been so sure that The A-Team was going to keep her on, she bought a house after the first season ratings were so high.
After she was fired for what Cannell said was her own dissatisfaction with the role, Culea continued acting through 2001.
She featured on shows like Family Ties, St. Elsewhere and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
In the mid-1990s, she joined another TV cast on a sitcom called Brotherly Love.
When she left The A-Team, producers tried to replace Triple A with a new female character Tawnia Baker.
Played by Marla Heasley, Tawnia lasted even fewer episodes than Triple A.
This time, producers didn’t bother to bring in a new female character, happy to let the men of The A-Team hold the show down on their own for the rest of the series.