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This series brought the character of "Trapper John" from M*A*S*H in as the Chief of Surgery at San Francisco Memorial Hospital. Joining him on the surgical staff was a brilliant young surgeon, G. Alonzo "Gonzo" Gates, who had also served in a MASH unit - in Vietnam. The show covered standard medical stories, but it also took chances with such subjects as AIDS, the Epstein-Barr Virus, and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Written by
Linda Adams <Garridon@aol.com>
Medical dramas never go out of style. There's one or two for every generation from Drs Kildare and Christian on the big screen to House in this new 21st century. A really good one debuted in 1979 with its lead character borrowed from another medical drama that was on both the big screen and the small. MASH's Trapper John character left the show in the middle of its run and then popped up in his own series almost thirty years after war service in Korea. And of course Wayne Rogers became Pernell Roberts.
I'm sure I'll hear from someone who will know the answer. But I don't ever recall why Dr. John McIntyre was ever given the nickname of Trapper. Not on MASH and not on Trapper John. But apparently it is the culture to give medical personnel who did war service nicknames. Trapper's protégé Gregory Harrison was Gonzo, Brian Mitchell was Jackpot and in that very first season nurse Mary McCarty was Starch. Sadly McCarty died right after the first season. She was replaced by Madge Sinclair as a senior nurse on the show. Sad that she died, she had an interesting character developing.
The shared war experience between Roberts and Harrison is a lot of what drove the show. These two had a bond that no one else had and the others in the show knew and respected it. Other than a mention of Hawkeye and Radar in the pilot episode there was no reference at all to MASH. Both Trapper and Gonzo had a lot of contemporary medical issues to deal with to wax nostalgic about their wars neither of which was anything glorious.
Roberts of course was Adam Cartwright in Bonanza and he left mid point in that show, dissatisfied with his character's development and the trend of the show. No complaints about him were ever uttered about Trapper John. What I always found interesting was that Roberts who was a good guy in both of his successful television series played some really bad dudes on the big screen and small in between. A tribute to him as an actor.
Trapper John, MD always stood on its own as a medical series with no reference to MASH. Had there not been a connection it still was fine television drama.
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