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Topic: Colonel Decker (The A-Team) Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 04 September 2018 at 8:28am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I've been watching THE A-TEAM on Blu-ray recently. I never tire of the show!

Lance LeGault, who appeared in many classic shows, and had a unique voice, plays Colonel Roderick Decker in the series, one of the many senior officers who, with the military police, pursued the A-Team.

What a character. I was saddened to learn recently that LeGault passed away a few years ago.

We live in an era where quite a few supporting characters get some sort of character development. The nature of 80s TV means that character development opportunities were few and far between. There were bits and pieces (anecdotal), but there wasn't really the time to explore the characters in depth. Despite that, LeGault made Colonel Decker a memorable character.

Decker, active during the Korean and Vietnam wars, had been shuffled off to somewhere quiet due to extreme political pressure dating back to his days as a troubleshooter in Vietnam. In the second episode "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?", Decker is given the assignment of capturing the A-Team, who have been on the run for over ten years. The army general assigning Decker the task compliments Decker. This is Decker's response after the general tells him he was the best troubleshooter of the past two wars:

"Until extreme political pressures knocked the hat off my career, and any possibility of furthering my rank. It seems the very methods that made me, eh, an embarassment, and shuffled me off to the side, are the exact reasons I'm being considered the best man for this job."

I can't do justice to that quote by posting it, but delivered by LeGault, it's a really powerful moment, given his unorthodox methods are both what led him to be sidelined and then given the task of capturing the A-Team.

Whilst there wasn't character development for him (not much), we got to know a little. He had blown up hospitals in Vietnam. Apparently, some senior officers disapproved of him. In some ways, though, he seemed a decent but flawed person. He didn't hesitate to pick up any criminals that he came across during his pursuit of the A-Team.

In one episode ("There'll Always Be A Catch"), the A-Team take on a protection racket who are threatening fisherman. They are (briefly) captured by the military police, but Decker warns the protection racket that he will run them in unless they get out of town. He (off-screen) does that at the end when the A-Team defeat the bad guys.

I liked one scene ("Curtain Call") where Decker arrives with his military police NCOs at the scene of the A-Team's latest mission. The bad guys are badly beaten and on the ground. Decker, knowing he has to pick up the A-Team's trail, looks dismissively down at the bad guys and says this to his NCO:

"Have the sheriff pick up this garbage - and get them out of here, will you, Sarge?"

Gotta love 80s dialogue!

Decker's final appearance came during the fifth season "Court Martial" trilogy. There, he is called to give evidence against the A-Team. Whilst he does criticise them heavily during his testimony, there is a very, very subtle acknowledgement from him that they helped many ordinary people during their "career". I think Decker did have a certain amount of respect for the A-Team, and it's a shame we couldn't have explored his character more.

There were four senior officers who pursued the A-Team during the series. Colonel Lynch, the commander of the military prison the A-Team broke out of, was mainly played for comic relief; as was Brigadier General Fulbright, who appeared in the fourth season; and there was Colonel Briggs, who appeared in one episode only. And the aforementioned Decker.

I miss LeGault's presence on our TV screens. He had a voice that was captivating. From playing a corrupt sheriff in AIRWOLF to his role as Decker, he's one of those characters that you just had to take notice of. I am sure 99% of folk (who enjoyed the show) had a lot of respect for him.
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Laren Farmer
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Posted: 04 September 2018 at 9:41am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

LeGault played a bounty hunter, "Alamo Joe", pursuing the main character on the short-lived FOX series WEREWOLF.  He often acted as the narrator of each episode...narrating from his character's point of view. 

Well over a decade after that show had last aired, my cousin and I would quote some of his narration lines on an almost daily basis. 

His performance was that memorable.


Edited by Laren Farmer on 04 September 2018 at 9:50am
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Doug Centers
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Posted: 04 September 2018 at 10:47am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Yeah, good actor.
He had a recurring role on MAGNUM P.I. as another colonel. Buck Greene.

Loved his Decker role. I watched the episode "Body Slam" a couple of days ago, he told an FBI agent something like "You're going to spend the next 10 years chasing stolen cars in Natchez, Mississippi!". Like Robbie said it's his delivery that sells it.


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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 04 September 2018 at 10:51am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

The dialogue just stays with you.

In the aforementioned "There'll Always Be A Catch", the main villain, running the protection racket, calls the military police when he spots the A-Team. As the A-Team are arrested, the main guy, Garber, starts to gloat. Decker gives him a mouthful:

Decker:  Cut it, Garber! If you hadn't cooperated with me, I'd turn you over to the police, the FBI, anybody who'd have you!
Garber: We sure do get holy after we get what we want, don't we?!
Decker: I never do agree with Colonel Smith, but your little protection scam cuts about as much ice with me as it does with him! Now pull up your last load of traps and get out of this town before I run ya in!
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 04 September 2018 at 11:17am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Well, Doug, it's a shame we couldn't have had that spin-off featuring an FBI agent dealing with auto theft in Natchez, Mississippi! ;-)

The character could have risked being a caricature in a lesser actor's hands, but LeGault made it work.

He seemed to have that talent. He played corrupt sheriff D. Bogan in the AIRWOLF episode "Sweet Britches". He was mistreating prisoners and using them as prey on a hunting range. Again, could have been a caricature, but with his menacing tones, he made it work.
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