I, for one, am tired of "AfterMASH" being the TV industry joke; the joke being that a spin off of a popular series can't survive without major cast members. AfterMASH was a fine series, with Potter, Klinger, and Mulcahy dealing with issues which occur when the bullets stop flying. (Potter fighting the VA to provide disability for a cancer patient who was stationed at A-bomb tests, is just one example.) Viewers finally met Mildred Potter, and were introduced to Bob Scannell, who served with Potter in WWI. Jay O. Sanders (now a semi-big name in movies) played Gene Peiffer, a likable surgical resident whom Potter took under his wing. Mike D'Angelo (John Chappell) was the bumbling administrator, with his aide, Alma Cox (Brendis Kemp), who always locked horns with Klinger. AfterMASH ended it's 1st season ranked #15 in the ratings.
So why did this series fail? Two reasons in my opinion, for what it's worth. First, some genius at CBS decided to move the sitcom from MASH's old time slot of Mondays at 9:00, to Tuesdays at 8:00, where it went up against NBC's "The A-Team". AfterMASH didn't stand a chance. Second, the character of Gene Peiffer was written out (with no explanation), to be replaced by Dr. Boyer (played by David Ackroyd). Boyer, who didn't even have a first name, was handicapped, having lost his leg in the Korean War, and lashed out at everyone who thought less of him because of it, at least in his mind. Most viewer, I believe, want characters they can identify with or understand, and a brawling, self-pitying loner with a chip on his shoulder doesn't cut it. In reality, such a person couldn't remain employed in any hospital.
AfterMASH will never be a lost classic; rather, it's a what-might-have-been, and television's loaded with them. Still, the show comes up in any TV Guide fall preview that includes a spin-off, with the usual line, "Does anybody remember AfterMASH?"
Finally, if there's any spin-off that merits being the industry joke, it's "The Sanford Arms", NBC's ill-fated attempt in 1977 to continue "Sanford and Son" without Fred and Lamont. It ran for 4 episodes. At least AfterMASH made it to 30 before being axed in December, 1984.
Eventually, AfterMASH will be released on DVD. After all, shows with fewer episodes are. Glad I won't be trampled in the stampede to buy it.
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