The long-running Us television comedy M*A*S*H, set during the Korean war, was often perceived as an allegorical look at the Vietnam war, which was still being fought when it began in 1972. But the television show focused less on the specific mindsets of Vietnam which had driven the nihilistic Robert Altman film on which it was based, and in tone was much closer to Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22, with its comedic take on the intrinsic absurdity of war.
No character brought that home more clearly than Major Sidney Freedman, the psychiatrist who appeared in 12 episodes over the show's 11-year run. Freedman was played by Allan Arbus, who has died aged 95. His approach to the mental health of the soldiers, and medics, at the 4077th mobile army surgical hospital unit relied