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... that day in 1975, when we were watching our favourite TV
"M*A*S*H", "we" being big brother -- that's me! -- and little brother.
"M*A*S*H" had always been our favourite, probably because it seemed so
grown-up, but also because it was so irreverent (a word we wouldn't have
used back then) and smart-alecky (a word we would have). And so funny. It
was tough to say which was the top episode. The one with the wounded
Luxembourg soldier? (And the crazy Turk, of course.) One of the ones
mentioning our very own Canadian troops? Maybe the one about Capt. Tuttle,
graduate of the Berlinisches Polyteschnicum, and the best friend Maj.
Burns had ever had? Or possibly any episode even alluding to the
Anyway, this was an important day because Col. Henry Blake had received orders to ship back home to the States. We were feeling pretty sad; we really loved Henry. Hawkeye and Trapper were always putting things over on poor Henry, but Henry always took it with good humour. And probably a little wisdom, and common sense. So Henry had been sent home. The show went to commercial. We were both feeling a little glum. We were sitting quite close to the television; you had to adjust the controls by hand in those days. The show came back from commercial. Radar came into the operating room. "The plane containing Col. Henry Blake", if I may paraphrase from memory, "was shot down over the Sea of Japan. There were no survivors." My brother was to my left. We just sat there with our mouths open. Then we ran to tell our parents what had just happened. I can still get a little choked up thinking about it 25 years later. That was the first death I ever experienced in my "family"; the show seemed that real to us at the time.
I've found many of the comments about this series to be quite amusing,
particularly the ones bashing it for "shoving" a liberal agenda down viewers
throats. Given it's success for 11 years, I don't think the audience seemed
to agree with that assessment. Quite simply, the show was one of the best
written, best acted, and most entertaining shows in television history.
Yes, it wore out its welcome in the end; but, it is a masterpiece that later
shows rarely measured up to.
I have no great preference for one season's cast over another. Each character was unique and had something to contribute. When we lost the bumbling, but loveable Henry Blake, we got the stern but loving Sherman Potter. Both were the C.O., but each was a different person, a smart move by the creators. The same is true for Frank Burns and Charles Emerson Winchester III. Burns was a neurotic, vindictive, childish fool; while Winchester was an arrogant blowhard, but one who could hold his own with Hawkeye. Burns was incompetent, while Winchester was an outstanding surgeon; just ask him. Characters were missed when they left; but, they were not replaced with doppelgangers. That is part of the reason this show lasted so long.
The show did take on a more serious tone in the later seasons, but not entirely. There are plenty of laughs right up to the end. Those serious shows were often some of the most memorable, and they kept the series from becoming stale. With that said, they did tend to resort to Hawkeye's mental problems a bit too much, especially in the farewell. You can argue that a character like Hawkeye, with his passion for preserving life, was ripe for mental breakdowns; but, in reality, he probably would have been shipped home by the second breakdown.
The show is not perfect (it lasted 8 years longer than the actual war) but it comes far closer than most. It seems to be fashionable to bash popular shows and movies after their days is over. Part of this is a new generation trying to establish their own identity and dominance. Well, I didn't like my parent's movies, shows and music when I was younger; until I actually watched them and listened to them. Some of it turned out to be quite good, some not. Real quality stands the test of time. MASH will be around far longer than most of what I see on tv today.
Without any doubt, this is the best show ever made. The writing is
incredible, and the plots are very relevant to any society. Showing the
worst of man to the very best of man, this show very well described the
human condition. With deep drama, and good comedy, this show takes the
audience through the ups and downs of life, while showing us the horror of
war, yet leaving us with hope, knowing that there is good in humanity after
all. The interaction between the characters is amazing, everyone becoming
family, and something wonderful being birthed in the midst of something
horrible: war. Yet, even with the anti-war message, they refrain from
bashing on soldiers (as most anti-war people tend to do) and they express
pride in the bravery of them, while hating the need to
All in all, this is the best show ever made, and I am deeply sorry that it did not run a few years longer.
In the UK the MASH series has been released on DVD.
I know that this is just opionon but I think that the show was and still is just amazing. So many times people in the UK think that Amercian comedy is to sweet and syrupy.
If that is the case MASH is the one that proves them all wrong. I used to watch the show as a teenager and loved it. At the end of series 3 Henry leaves and that is just so well written and well acted. That is one of the best testaments I could ever give to a TV show, you grow to love the character and personally I cried the first time and I cried again when I say it today.
It is a totaly fantastic show and it is clear why it ran for so long. I doubt that anything like this will ever be seen again.
Of all the sitcoms made, this still stands out as the greatest. Maybe it's because it's so different from every other comedy that makes it so awesome. Instead being stupid to get it's laughs, it instead uses black humor and sarcasm, but it also showed the effects of war not only on those fighting, but those that repaired the ones who were fighting. The whole cast, even after the cast changes, was simply wonderful, something to be marveled at. As good as "The Drew Carey Show" is, every sitcom pales in comparison to this. One thing that makes it really great was the casting of Jamie Farr, who was from Ohio, both in real life and the show, and always talked about going home to Toledo, so it also hits close to home. Our local FOX station currently shows re-runs at midnight, and watching it alone, the experience is stunning. An added bonus is it isn't like modern sitcoms one bit. This show tries and does get a point across about how horrible war is, which is something modern sitcoms wouldn't even come close to doing as effectively even if they tried. This is the greatest sitcom of all time, there will never be another like it, ever.
This is still one of the funniest shows on television, especially the first four seasons when they still had a broad sense of humor. To me the glory days of M*A*S*H ended with the departure of Larry Linville (Major Frank Burns). After his departure, especially in the final three years, the show became more and more issue oriented and pretty much lost me until the classic finale. Other than that, it was still a great show.
M*A*S*H is truly a one of a kind show. It combines both comedy and drama to form a rare type of show that comes along maybe once or twice every decade. You know, the ironic thing is that the series itself lasted more than three times as long as the actual war. M*A*S*H will always have a life in reruns.
The TV show M*A*S*H proves that laughter really is the best medicine to cure any wounds. This movie provided humorous insight to an otherwise overlooked time in American society. Every character provided a different perspective on the evils of war with their uses of satire. The script writers use satire to provide a look at the evils of war. I have seen the re-runs of this American classic series and I still find them hilarious to this day. I am so pleased that television stations decided to re air this otherwise forgotten show. I am glad that the directors and producers of this show depicted an otherwise forgotten time in American history. And I am sure that the veterans of the Korean War are happy that this show was made to show their experiences in this war and made their trials known to the public.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My comments are borderline spoilers, so I thought I would put that in
there for safety's sake.
It gets *better* with age.
M.A.S.H. was spectacular, in part, because it did come in on the tails of the factual war the show's fictional setting was supposed to precede...but, there was more to it.
The characters were, in fact a good mix overall. Of course, this is where the scotch point gets brought up. It got better the longer it went.
I liked Larry Linville, and I'm sure it was a blast to work with him, but as far as replacements go, I preferred Stiers overall. Mostly because of the differences in the characters. Frank was funny mostly because he was such a loser (and his play with Loretta Swit) and he made us laugh with that idiocy. Stiers created a whole different dynamic with the group. He was something Hawkeye and B.J. could play with -- because he would play back in his own way. Frank could never do that. He would just come back with some stupid comment in which he would mix his metaphors and Hawkeye and Trapper (or B.J.) would laugh at him.
This, of course, brings us to the changeover from Wayne Rogers to Mike Farrell. It, admittedly, wasn't a very smooth transition and was rather obvious but...Trapper and Hawkeye were too much alike (in my opinion) so there really wasn't a straight man, per se. B.J. provided a kind of balance that Trapper never could. Of course, B.J. had his own kind of fun, but in a much more subtle (and in my opinion, fun) way. Whenever Hawk would play a prank, you would *know* it was him. Whenever B.J. would prank it would start out as Hawkeye's fault, but then he would get pranked and suddenly everything was thrown out of whack. Which made life fun.
I have no complaints of either McLean Stevenson or Harry Morgan -- I liked them both and they both fit in -- I didn't see either as a mistake, nor did I particularly prefer one over the other. They were too different to even begin to compare.
And Radar...I'm not sure how to feel about Radar. It was funny that, when you watch the reruns, in the beginning Radar would get a lot of the jokes that Hawkeye and Trapper would pass back and forth. He just ignored them or acted offended...and then it seemed that, as time moved forward, he seemed to get *more* naive, not less. You didn't really notice it when it was running but when you watch the reruns...it becomes far more clear.
In the end, my general rule of thumb is...watch 'em and figure it out for yourself who and what you like best. I happen to like Farrell better than Rogers, and Stiers better than Linville...and I have a penchant for Morgan, for now. Tomorrow, I might like Stevenson better, so I reserve judgment.
I like them, all eleven great years of it. Some were better than others...some were funnier, some touched you more. In addition, I didn't know a lot about the Korean War, like most people, I brushed it off as a non-war; a 'Police Action.' Then, when I first started watching M.A.S.H. it made me look deeper and I started to research it. It was a war; people died, countries fought, men were lost. It was a war. I never would have ever done that had it not been for this show.
But mostly, I watched (and still do watch) this show because it made me laugh.
This is surely one of the most popular TV series of all time and
deserving of every bit of its popularity. Set at the 4077th MASH unit
during the Korean War, it chronicles the assorted ill adventures,
wisecracks & pranks, and touching relationships between the surgeons,
nurses, and various support personnel.
The comedy revolves around the wise cracking but compassionate surgeon, Captain Benjamin Franklin ('Hawkeye') Pierce. His original surgical colleague buddy and partner in pranks, Trapper John McIntyre, is later replaced by Captain BJ Hunnicut. Fellow surgeon, Major Frank Burns, is a neurotic idiot and the usual butt of their jokes. The married Frank is carrying on a torrid affair with Major Margaret Hoolihan (Hot Lips), the unit's Head Nurse. Frank is later succeeded by Major Charles Winchester III, a pompous & arrogant snob from a wealthy, aristocratic old Boston family. The commanding officer of this wacky but competent surgical unit is the rather indecisive but affable Colonel Henry Blake, who is killed en route home to the States when his chopper is tragically shot down. He is succeeded by Colonel Sherman Potter, a strict but lovable father figure with a penchant for horses. Other regulars include the boyish & lovable Corporal Radar O'Reilley, the company clerk with a sixth sense for choppers bringing in wounded, Corporal (later Sergeant) Maxwell Klinger, who, desperate for a military mental discharge, dresses in assorted women's fashions to prove his insanity, and Father Francis Mulcahy, the quiet, kind, & rather bumbling Catholic priest and company chaplain.
The jokes are endless with constant banter between the various characters. Klinger's fashions always elicit laughs, as he sports his legendary extensive ladies' wardrobe of evening gowns, nun's habits, peasant skirts, even an elaborate Statue of Liberty costume...all in combination with his hairy face and legs. Radar is warm, fuzzy, and adorable, everyone's favourite innocent young kid brother, as he sleeps with his Teddy Bear, misses his mom & Uncle Ed back on the farm in Iowa, is delightfully naive about relationships with women (i.e. sex), and sips grape knee highs while his colleagues all prefer stronger brew (sometimes from the officers' own personal still in their tent). As for Father Mulcahy, it is heartwarming to view a clergyman cast in such a kind, caring, unselfish, and totally sympathetic light. Although always devout and noble, this priest nevertheless experiences his own inner conflicts.
However, Hawkeye is the real star of the show, absolutely charismatic and appealing with such a kind heart beneath that witty & cynical exterior, as he womanizes practically every nurse within sight. As the series progresses, he experiences his own personal dramas, which include coming to grips with his own alcoholism. The episode is extremely moving when Radar berates Hawkeye (his idol) for being drunk during surgery.
I definitely prefer the later seasons with the more highly developed three dimensional characters, BJ, Potter, and Charles as opposed to the earlier shows with Trapper, Henry, and Frank. Trapper is a one dimensional adulterous trickster; I actually find his character tedious and unsympathetic. By contrast, BJ is totally endearing with his determination (despite temptations) to remain faithful to his distant San Franciscan wife, while also acutely missing being part of his little girl's early years. Henry is lovably incompetent but interesting only from the point of view of his touching relationship with Radar. On the other hand, Colonel Potter is a real leader, army strict but fatherly and with a heart of gold. Also, the insufferably pompous yet actually very human, insecure, & rather lonely Charles is so much more interesting than the idiotic, adulterous Frank. Frank's character grows boring after a handful of episodes.
Furthermore, Margaret's character is much better developed in the later episodes after she dumps Frank, when she becomes a more three dimensional individual herself. I love the episode where she longs to feel accepted by her nurses and included as one of the group with their bull sessions and illicit fudge making antics; it really shows Margaret's vulnerability. Also, some interesting chemistry develops periodically between Hawkeye and Margaret during the later seasons.
A tip of my hat to every single one of the magnificent stars...McLean Stevenson (Henry), Wayne Rogers (Trapper), Mike Farrell (BJ), Henry Morgan (Potter), Larry Linville (Frank), Loretta Swit (Margaret / Hot Lips), David Ogden Stiers (Charles), Gary Burghoff (Radar), Jamie Farr (Klinger), William Christopher (Father Mulcahy), and especially Alan Alda (Hawkeye).
Of course, despite the almost non stop laughs, the series features by sharp contrast, an ongoing deadly serious theme revolving around the horrors of war. The medical personnel constantly quip and play tricks so that they can cope with the horrific injuries and deaths they are forced witness on a daily basis. It's a message that is brought home in every episode, but through the clever use of humour. Thus it comes across as an extremely well crafted serio-comedic series.
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