Frankie Santana joined the team in the fifth season to draw in new viewers, but his character combined all the worst parts of the other four. He was a mechanic like Baracus but not very good at it; he had a screw loose like Murdock but not enough to make him crazy awesome.
He has a casanova-like face but without the charisma, and he was willing to put himself in harm’s way like Hannibal but lacked the tactical ability to make it work. His character minimized the others, and since he had no combat experience, he couldn’t help in firefights. It’s likely his addition had the opposite effect and turned viewers away.
What Could Have Been
Numerous actors were considered for the major roles. James Coburn and Robert Conrad were both options for Hannibal. Tia Carrere, who played the daughter of General Fulbright (who was also named Tia), was supposed to join the main cast in the fifth season but couldn't get out of her contract to "General Hospital."
Hulk Hogan was going to appear more than just once but was too busy with his wrestling. A big idea Dwight Schultz had for the finale was that, for once, a plan doesn't come together, and the members of the team fall one-by-one, with Hannibal the last member in a desperate and futile fight for his life. It didn't take.
Just the Right Amount of Over the Top
Howlin' Mad Murdock was almost written out of the show before it aired, as the NBC executives found him too “over the top.” However, fans and test audiences loved the character, and the execs had no choice but to listen to the will of the people. We're all glad he stayed on.
Murdock's full name is H.M. Murdock, and no, we don't ever find out what the H stands for. What's more, Schultz had a direct hand in his character's look and feel. Those funny t-shirts that Murdock wears in every episode? Designed by Schultz himself.
While the show was well-liked in the United States, a pair of countries in Europe love it even more, including to this day. Belgium and the Netherlands both loved the show while it was airing in unprecedented numbers. Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict are still going across the pond to conduct interviews and appear at conventions, just because of this show.
The show was also a hit in the United Kingdom and even contributed to the decline of "Doctor Who's" popularity. Mr. T is beloved in the country, and the show still frequently airs in long three-to-four episode blocks on the weekend.
Some Things Might Not Fly Today
There are plenty of moments in the show that wouldn't make it in today's television world. Hannibal's near-constant smoking is just the beginning.
The characters make numerous chauvinist comments – Murdock even gooses a nurse in one episode and then blames it on another patient. There were jokes or comments about the LGBT+ community and threats made to villainous women, which are better not repeated. Thankfully, these practices are making their way out of modern television.