|“I pity the fool…”
A catchphrase as instantly recognizable as the man behind it. Big, tough, Mohawk-sporting (the haircut was technically a Mandinkan, to the purists), and decked out in over $300,000 worth of gold chains and earrings, Mr. T entered the ring as the unstoppable Clubber Lang in Rocky III, then shot to instant stardom as mechanic/tough guy B.A. Barracus on NBC’s wildly popular The A-Team.
Eager to expand Mr. T‘s already huge fan following among youngsters, the network commissioned Ruby-Spears to create a Saturday morning series around their golden boy, with the former Laurence Tureaud (he changed his name so everyone would have to call him “Mister”) himself to star. After a guest-starring launch on the premiere of Ruby-Spears’ Alvin and the Chipmunks, Mr. T got his own, self-titled program, an animated half-hour framed by live-action inserts.
In the show, T ran a gymnasium, where a rainbow coalition of young gymnasts came to practice: Kim, Woody, Jeff, Sky, Vinnie, Courtney, Garcia, Robin, and Robin’s little brother Jeff, a wannabe tough who copied his idol to a “T.” Together with Miss Bisby and T’s bulldog, Spike (same haircut, same attitude), the group spent their off hours finding trouble and fixing it.
Mr. T provided the voice of his own character and appeared in the opening and closing segments, which provided the moral of the day’s adventures: don’t ride with strangers, never be afraid to walk away from a fight, etc.
The show lasted three seasons and thirty episodes, ending shortly before the final primetime season of The A-Team.