M*A*S*H (TV series)

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M*A*S*H
M*A*S*H title screen
Starring Alan Alda
Wayne Rogers
McLean Stevenson
Loretta Swit
Larry Linville
Gary Burghoff
Mike Farrell
Harry Morgan
Jamie Farr
William Christopher
David Ogden Stiers
Theme music composer Johnny Mandel (written for the film)
Opening theme "Suicide Is Painless"
Ending theme "Suicide Is Painless"
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 11
No. of episodes 256 (List of episodes)
Production
Location(s) Los Angeles County, California (Century City and the Malibu Creek area)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 24–25 minutes (per episode)
Production company(s) 20th Century Fox Television
Distributor 20th Television
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run September 17, 1972 (1972-09-17) – February 28, 1983 (1983-02-28)
Chronology
Followed by AfterMASH
W*A*L*T*E*R
Related shows Trapper John, M.D.

M*A*S*H is an American television series developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970 feature film MASH (which was itself based on the 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, by Richard Hooker). The series, which was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS, follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the "4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital" in Uijeongbu, South Korea during the Korean War. The show's title sequence features an instrumental version of "Suicide Is Painless", the theme song from the original film. The show was created after an attempt to film the original book's sequel, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, failed. The T.V show version of MASH is the most well known version of the M*A*S*H works, and one of the highest rated shows in U.S. television history.

The series premiered in the U.S. on September 17, 1972, and ended February 28, 1983, with the finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", becoming the most watched television episode in U.S. television history at the time, with a record-breaking 125 million viewers (60.2 Rating and 77 Share),[1] according to the New York Times.[2] It had struggled in its first season and was at risk of being cancelled.[3] Season two of M*A*S*H placed it in a better time slot (airing after the popular All in the Family); the show became one of the top ten programs of the year and stayed in the top twenty programs for the rest of its eleven-season run.[3] It is still broadcast in syndication on various television stations. The series, which depicted a three-year military conflict, spanned 256 episodes and lasted eleven seasons.

Many of the stories in the early seasons are based on tales told by real MASH surgeons who were interviewed by the production team. Like the movie, the series was as much an allegory about the Vietnam War (still in progress when the show began) as it was about the Korean War.[4]

In 1997, the episodes "Abyssinia, Henry" and "The Interview" were respectively ranked number 20 and number 80 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.[5] In 2002, M*A*S*H was ranked number 25 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.[6] In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the fifth best written TV series ever[7] and TV Guide ranked it as the eighth greatest show of all time.[8]

Synopsis[edit]

M*A*S*H aired weekly on CBS, with most episodes being a half-hour in length. The series is usually categorized as a situation comedy, though it is sometimes also described as a "dark comedy" or a "dramedy" because of the dramatic subject material often presented.[9] The show was an ensemble piece revolving around key personnel in a United States Army Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in the Korean War (1950–1953). (The asterisks in the name are not part of military nomenclature and were creatively introduced in the novel and was only used in the posters for the movie version, not the actual movie.) The "4077th MASH" was one of several surgical units in Korea. As the show developed, the writing took on more of a moralistic tone. Richard Hooker, who wrote the book on which the television and film versions were based, noted that Hawkeye's character was far more liberal in the show than on the page (in one of the MASH books, Hawkeye makes reference to "kicking the bejesus out of lefties just to stay in shape"). While the show is traditionally viewed as a comedy, there were many episodes of a more serious tone. Airing on network primetime while the Vietnam War was still ongoing, the show was forced to walk the fine line of commenting on that war while at the same time not seeming to protest against it. For this reason, the show's discourse, under the cover of comedy, often questioned, mocked and grappled with America's role in the Cold War. Episodes were both plot- and character-driven, with several episodes being narrated by one of the show's characters as the contents of a letter home. The show's tone could move from silly to sobering from one episode to the next, with dramatic tension often occurring between the civilian draftees of 4077th—Hawkeye, Trapper John, B.J. Hunnicutt, for example—who are forced to leave their homes to tend the wounded and dying of the war, and the "regular Army" characters, like Margaret Houlihan and Colonel Potter, who tend to represent ideas of patriotism and duty (though Houlihan and Potter could represent the other perspective at times as well). Other characters, like Col. Blake, Maj. Winchester, and Cpl. Klinger, help demonstrate various American civilian attitudes toward army life, while guest characters played by such actors as Eldon Quick, Herb Voland, Mary Wickes, and Tim O'Connor also help further the show's discussion of America's place as Cold War war-maker and peacemaker.

Characters[edit]

M*A*S*H maintained a relatively constant ensemble cast, with four characters--Hawkeye, Father Mulcahy, Margaret Houlihan, and Max Klinger--on the show for all eleven seasons. Several other main characters left or joined the show midway through its run. There were also numerous guest actors and recurring characters. The writers found creating so many names difficult, and used names from elsewhere; for example, characters on the seventh season were named after the 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers.[10]

  • Note: Character appearances include double-length episodes as two appearances, making 260 in total.
The cast of M*A*S*H from Season 2, 1974 (clockwise from left): Loretta Swit, Larry Linville, Wayne Rogers, Gary Burghoff, McLean Stevenson, and Alan Alda)
The cast of M*A*S*H from Season 8 onwards (clockwise from left): Mike Farrell, William Christopher, Jamie Farr, David Ogden Stiers, Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, Harry Morgan.
Character Actor/Actress Rank Role Appearances
Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
(Seasons 1–11)
Alan Alda Captain Chief Surgeon 260
Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan
(Seasons 1–11)
Loretta Swit Major Head Nurse,
Temporary Adjutant
243
Maxwell Q. Klinger
(Seasons 1–11)
Jamie Farr Corporal,
later Sergeant
Corpsman,
later Company Clerk
219
John Patrick Francis Mulcahy
(Seasons 1–11)
George Morgan (Pilot Episode), replaced by William Christopher First Lieutenant,
later Captain
Chaplain 218
John Francis Xavier "Trapper John" McIntyre
(Seasons 1–3)
Wayne Rogers Captain Surgeon 74
Henry Braymore Blake
(Seasons 1–3)
McLean Stevenson Lieutenant Colonel Commanding Officer,
Surgeon
70
Franklin Marion "Frank" Burns
(Seasons 1–5)
Larry Linville Major,
later Lieutenant Colonel (off-screen)
Surgeon, Executive Officer
Temporary Commanding Officer (following the discharge of Henry Blake)
118
Walter Eugene "Radar" O’Reilly
(Seasons 1–8)
Gary Burghoff Corporal
(one episode as Second Lieutenant)
(one episode ("Welcome to Korea") as the made up rank of Corporal Captain)
Company Clerk,
Bugler
156
B. J. Hunnicutt
(replaced Trapper;
Seasons 4–11)
Mike Farrell Captain Surgeon 187
Sherman Tecumseh Potter
(replaced Henry Blake;
Seasons 4–11)
Harry Morgan Colonel Commanding Officer (after Lt. Col. Blake),
Surgeon
188
Charles Emerson Winchester III
(replaced Frank Burns;
Seasons 6–11)
David Ogden Stiers Major Surgeon, Executive Officer (after Major Burns)
137

Recurring characters[edit]

Alan and Robert Alda in 1975.
  • Nurse Kealani Kellye, a recurring character in the 4077th (appearing in 164 episodes), played by Kellye Nakahara. A warm character, she had more to say than the other nurses. She is often seen dancing with Radar, and later, Charles. The first name "Kealani" was never used in the series. On several occasions, David Ogden Stiers and Loretta Swit have referred to her as "Nurse Nakahara" and "Lieutenant Nakahara", respectively.
  • Jeff Maxwell appeared as the bumbling Pvt. Igor Straminsky in 75 episodes. In his earlier appearances, he was the camp cook's aide, complaining that, despite not cooking the food (SSG Pernelli was the cook, not revealed until Season 9 as described below), he still had to listen to everyone's gripes about it. He was often the target of Hawkeye's wrath because of the terrible food, and the recipient of his "river of liver and ocean of fish" rant in "Adam's Ribs". His bumbling even gained the ire of Father Mulcahy, when he creamed the fresh corn Mulcahy grew in "A War for All Seasons". In at least two episodes, he was called a sergeant by Major Burns because of his hatred of enlisted staff. In another episode, Burns asks his name and he replies "Maxwell", the actor's actual surname, Burns then replies with that name.
  • Roy Goldman appeared in 35 episodes as Corpsman Roy Goldman.
  • Odessa Cleveland appeared in 29 episodes as Lt. Ginger Bayliss, one of the nurses.
  • Rita Wilson appeared in 2 episodes as Nurse Lacey.
  • Johnny Haymer played Staff Sgt. Zelmo Zale, supply sergeant for the 4077th, in 20 episodes. He made his first appearance in the Season 2 episode "For Want of a Boot", and his final appearance in the Season 8 episode "Good-Bye, Radar". Zale's name is mentioned for the final time in "Yessir, That's Our Baby".
  • G. W. Bailey played the perpetually lazy Staff Sgt. Luther Rizzo, who headed the camp motor pool, in 14 episodes.
  • Enid Kent played Nurse Peggy Bigelow in 14 episodes. She was quite often the target of Hawkeye's flirtations. In "They Call the Wind Korea", she gets injured by a falling water tower and is treated by the 4077th. In "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", when various members of the 4077th announce post-war plans, she blandly recounts her days as a nurse both in World War II and in Korea and simply says, "I've had it."
  • Dr. Sidney Freedman, Major, a psychiatrist, was played by Allan Arbus, who appeared 12 times. In his first appearance his name was Dr. Milton Freedman, but was subsequently changed.
  • Lieutenant Colonel/Colonel (Sam) Flagg, a paranoid and jingoistic counterintelligence officer prone to using aliases, was played by Edward Winter. He appeared six times (and the actor appeared once as a very similar Intelligence officer named Halloran).
  • Marcia Strassman played nurse Margie Cutler six times during the show's first season. Her last appearance was in the episode "Ceasefire".
  • Herb Voland appeared seven times as Henry Blake's commander, Brigadier General Crandall Clayton.
  • G. Wood appeared three times as Brigadier General Hammond, the same role he played in the movie.
  • Robert Gooden appeared three times as Private Lorenzo Boone.
  • Robert F. Simon appeared three times as Major General Mitchell.
  • Loudon Wainwright III appeared three times as Captain Calvin Spalding, who was usually seen playing his guitar and singing.
  • Eldon Quick appeared three times as two nearly identical characters, Capt. Sloan and Capt. Pratt, officers who were dedicated to paperwork and bureaucracy.
  • Sergeant (later Pvt) Jack Scully, played by Joshua Bryant, appeared in three episodes as a love interest of Margaret Houlihan.
  • Pat Morita appeared twice as Capt. Sam Pak of the Republic of Korea Army.
  • Karen Philipp appeared twice as Lt. Maria 'Dish' Schneider during the first season.
  • Sorrell Booke appeared twice as Brigadier General Bradley Barker. Booke was an actual Korean War veteran.
  • Robert Symonds appeared twice as Col/Lt Col. Horace Baldwin.
  • Robert Alda, Alan Alda's father, appeared twice as Maj. Borelli, a visiting surgeon.
  • Catherine Bergstrom appeared twice as Peg Hunnicutt, B.J.'s wife, back in the US.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscot appeared twice (played by two different actors), In "Margaret's Marriage" (#5.24), Penobscot was played by Beeson Carrol, and was her fiancé at the time (they were married during the episode). In "The M*A*S*H* Olympics" (#6.10), he appears as her husband, he takes part in a M*A*S*H Olympics and is played by Mike Henry.
  • Staff Sgt. "Sparky" Pryor, a friend of Radar and Klinger, was the telephone operator usually called by the 4077th MASH. He was seen only once, played by Dennis Fimple, in Tuttle (Season 1, Episode 15), but was sometimes faintly heard on the phone when he yelled.
  • Sal Viscuso and Todd Susman played the camp's anonymous P.A. system announcer throughout the series. This character (who is never seen on camera) broke the fourth wall only once, in the episode "Welcome to Korea" (4.1) when introducing the regular cast members. Both Viscuso and Susman appeared onscreen as other characters in at least one episode each.
  • Eileen Saki appeared in seven episodes as Rosie, the owner and head bartender at Rosie's Bar, which was frequented by the regular characters. Her first appearance on the show, however, was as the madam of a brothel which was occupying a much-needed hut in the episode "Bug Out". Rosie had previously been played by Shizuko Hoshi (in "Mad Dogs and Servicemen") and Frances Fong (in "Bug Out" and "Fallen Idol") before Saki assumed the role.
  • Timothy Brown appeared as Capt. Oliver Harmon 'Spearchucker' Jones in 6 Season 1 episodes as a captain who lived with Pierce, Burns, and McIntyre in the "swamp".
  • Val Bisoglio appeared in three episodes as Staff Sergeant Salvatore Pernelli, the actual mess cook for the 4077th. His first appearance was in Season 9's "The Life You Save", followed by two appearances in Season 10, "Twas the Day After Christmas" and "A Holy Mess".
  • Nurse Shari appeared in 15 episodes during the last 4 seasons, played by Shari Saba.[11]
  • John Orchard as Ugly John, an anesthesiologist, later as "Muldoon" in "Rosie's Pub"

Actors with multiple roles[edit]

Several guest stars made appearances as multiple characters:

  • Hamilton Camp appeared twice, first as the insane Cpl. "Boots" Miller in "Major Topper" (episode 6.25), and again as a film distributor named Frankenheimer in "The Moon is Not Blue" (11.8).
  • Dennis Dugan appeared twice; as O.R. orderly Pvt. McShane in 3.20, "Love and Marriage", and again in 11.11, "Strange Bedfellows", as Col. Potter's philandering son-in-law, Robert "Bob" Wilson.
  • Gary Burghoff was the only actor to ever appear simultaneously on the show with himself. He played Radar O'Reilly throughout the show, and in episode 4.15 "Mail Call... Again", he watched a home movie sent to him in Korea in which he played his own mother. Father Mulcahy remarks, "Radar certainly bears a striking resemblance to his mother!"
  • Tim O'Connor appeared as wounded artillery officer Col. Spiker in "Of Moose and Men" (4.12), and as visiting surgeon Norm Traeger in "Operation Friendship" (9.10). Both characters were noticeably at odds with Hawkeye.
  • Dick O'Neill appeared three times (each time in a different U.S. service branch): as Navy Rear Admiral Cox, as Army Brigadier General Prescott, and as Marine Colonel Pitts.
  • Harry Morgan played both the 4077th's second beloved C.O. (Col. Sherman T. Potter) and the mentally unstable Major Gen. Bartford Hamilton Steele in the show's third season, in the episode "The General Flipped at Dawn". This last character was a reprise of his role as Major Pott in the 1966 movie, "What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?"
  • Soon-Tek Oh appeared five times: twice as North Korean POWs (in 4.7, "The Bus", and 8.10, "The Yalu Brick Road"); once as a North Korean doctor (5.10, "The Korean Surgeon"); once as O.R. orderly Mr. Kwang (3.20, "Love and Marriage"); and once as a South Korean interpreter who poses as a North Korean POW (11.3, "Foreign Affairs").
  • Philip Ahn appeared three times: Episodes 4.19 ("Hawkeye"), 5.13 ("Exorcism"), and 6.9 ("Change Day"). Like Soon-Tek Oh Ahn was one of the few Korean actors to play a Korean on M*A*S*H; most of the other "Korean" characters were played by either Japanese, Chinese or Vietnamese ethnic actors. Ironically, Ahn played Japanese villains in World War II movies and Chinese characters on Bonanza and Kung Fu!
  • Robert Karnes appeared twice: once as a Colonel in 4.1 ("Welcome to Korea") and as a General in 6.4 ("Last Laugh").
  • Clyde Kusatsu appeared four times: twice as a Korean bartender in the Officers' Club, once as a Chinese-American soldier, and once as a Japanese-American surgeon.
  • Robert Ito played a hood who works for the black market in 1.2, "To Market, To Market", and a North Korean soldier disguised as a South Korean looking for supplies, in 5.10, "The Korean Surgeon".
  • Keye Luke appeared three times. In “Patent 4077” (6.17), he played Mr. Shin, a local jewelry maker hired by the surgeons to make a new surgical clamp; in “A Night at Rosie’s” (7.24), he played Cho Kim, who ran a crooked craps game in the back room at Rosie’s Bar; and in “Death Takes a Holiday” (9.5), he played the headmaster of a local orphanage.
  • Mako appeared four times; once as a Chinese doctor (3.2, "Rainbow Bridge"), once as a South Korean doctor (5.11, "Hawkeye Get Your Gun"), once as a South Korean officer (8.3, "Guerilla My Dreams"), and once as a North Korean soldier (9.1, "The Best of Enemies").
  • Jerry Fujikawa appeared as crooked Korean matchmaker Dr. Pak in "Love and Marriage"; as Trapper John's tailor in 3.3, "Officer of the Day"; as an acupuncturist named Wu in 8.24, "Back Pay"; as the Uijeongbu Chief of Police in "Rally Round the Flagg, Boys"; and as "Whiplash Wang" in "Deal Me Out".
  • John Orchard starred as Australian anesthetist Ugly John in the first season, and later appeared in 8.13 as disgruntled and drunken Australian MP Muldoon, who has an arrangement with Rosie the barkeeper: he takes bribes (in the form of liquor in his "coffee" mug) to "look the other way." Orchard was actually English so adopted an Australian accent and some Australian colloquialisms for his persona. He also normally wore an Australian-style "slouch" hat.
  • Richard Lee Sung appeared ten times as a local Korean who often had merchandise (and in one case, real estate) he wished to sell to the hospital staff; he once sold a backwards-running watch to Major Burns and he also tried to help cost Corporal Klinger his money in a game of craps in A Night at Rosie's.
  • Jack Soo, known for his role as Barney Miller's Sgt. Nick Yemana, appeared twice; once as black market boss Charlie Lee, with whom Hawkeye and Trapper made a trade for supplies in "To Market, To Market" (1.2); and in "Payday" (3.22) as a peddler who sold Frank two sets of pearls: one real, the other fake.
  • Ted Gehring appeared twice: in 2.12, as moronic Supply Officer Major Morris, who refuses to let the MASH doctors have a badly needed incubator, and in 7.6, as corrupt supply NCO Sgt. Rhoden.
  • Eldon Quick appeared three times, once as a finance officer and twice as Captain Sloan.
  • Edward Winter appeared as an Intelligence Officer named "Halloran" in 2.13, and in six episodes as Colonel Flagg (although Halloran may have been one of Flagg's numerous and often mid-episode-changing aliases). Given a comment he makes to Sidney Freedman about the two playing poker together (a reference to Winter's appearance as Halloran) this seems to be likely.
  • Shizuko Hoshi appeared at least twice: once as "Rosie" of "Rosie's Bar" in episode 3.13, "Mad Dogs and Servicemen"; and once in 4.18, "Hawkeye", as the mother in a Korean family.
  • John Fujioka, who played the uncredited role of a Japanese Golf Pro in the movie, appeared three times in the series. The first time was in "Dear Ma" (1975) as Colonel Kim; the second time was in "The Tooth Shall Set You Free" (1982) as Duc Phon Jong; and the last time, he played a peasant in "Picture This" (1982).
  • Stuart Margolin appeared twice, first as psychiatrist Capt. Phillip Sherman in Season 1's "Bananas, Crackers and Nuts" (1.07), and again as plastic surgeon Major Stanley "Stosh" Robbins in Season 2's "Operation Noselift" (2.18).
  • Oliver Clark appeared twice. In "38 Across" (5.16) he played the part of Hawkeye's crossword loving friend Lt. Tippy Brooks. In "Mail Call Three" (6.21) he played the part of 'the other' Captain Ben Pierce.
  • Jeanne Schulherr appeared in season 3's "There Is Nothing Like a Nurse" as Frank Burns's wife, Louise (in a home movie), and in two other season 3 episodes as an unnamed nurse.
  • Charles Frank appeared in Season 5 as Capt. Hathaway in "Dear Sigmund" a pilot who admitted to not knowing the victims of his bombings from his plane, and appeared in Season 6 as Lieutenant Martinson in "What's Up, Doc?" a troubled Yale graduate who finds himself in the infantry and holds Maj. Winchester Hostage at gunpoint.
  • Kevin Hagen appeared twice. In "Some 38th Parallels" (4.20, 1976) he played the part of Colonel Coner, on whom Hawkeye drops garbage from an airborne helicopter. In "Peace On Us" (7.2, 1978) he played the part of red-haired Major Goss, sent to warn Hawkeye to stay away from the peace talks.
  • Yuki Shimoda appeared three times. In "The Price" (7.18, 1979), he played the part of Cho Pak, a farmer who was a former Korean cavalry officer who steals Col. Potter's horse Sophie only because he is dying and wants one final chance to remember his military days. In "Yessir, That's Our Baby" (8.15), he plays a Korean consulate who advises Hawkeye and B.J. that to allow an abandoned Amerasian infant to live in Korea would result in dire consequences. And, in "Oh, How We Danced" (9.14, which aired almost two months before his death in 1981), he plays the grandfather of a child patient of the 4077th who is a skilled harmonica player.
  • James Carroll appeared twice, as an orderly in "Bug Out" and as a jeep driver who brought Major Winchester to the 4077th in "Fade Out, Fade In".

Character names[edit]

  • Throughout the series, Klinger frequently introduces himself by his full name, Maxwell Q. Klinger, but never says what the Q. stands for.
  • B.J.'s real name is the subject of an episode's secondary plot line. Hawkeye goes to extreme lengths to learn what "B.J." stands for, but all official paperwork concerning his friend indicates that B.J. really is his first name. Toward the end of the episode, B.J. (in explaining who gave him his name) says, "My mother, Bea Hunnicut, and my father, Jay Hunnicut." A recurring joke in that episode is that upon being asked what B.J. stands for, B.J. merely replies, "Anything you want."
  • Frank Burns had four different middle names during his time on the show: W. (on the punching bag in "Requiem for a Lightweight"), D., X., and Marion.
  • Radar's first name is stated as Walter, and once (in "Fade Out, Fade In"), he introduces himself by his full name to Charles Emerson Winchester III as "Walter Eugene O'Reilly". The book says his name is J. Robespierre, and his first name is not revealed in the film.
  • In the finale ("Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"), Father Mulcahy tells Klinger that his full name is Francis John Patrick Mulcahy, in case Klinger might want to name any of his children after him. Also, in the eighth season episode "Nurse Doctor", he gives his full name as Francis John Patrick Mulcahy. Yet, in all other episodes, his name was John Patrick Francis Mulcahy, and he just wanted others to call him by his confirmation name, Francis.

Notable actors and actor information[edit]

  • Antony Alda, Alan Alda's half-brother, appeared in one episode ("Lend a Hand") as Corporal Jarvis alongside both his brother and father (Robert).
  • Robert Alda, Alan Alda's father, had guest appearances in two episodes, "The Consultant" and "Lend a Hand", the latter written by Alda himself. According to Alda, "Lend a Hand" was his way of reconciling with his father. He was always giving suggestions to Robert for their vaudeville act, and in "Lend a Hand", Robert's character was always giving Hawkeye suggestions. It was Robert's idea for the doctors to cooperate as "Dr. Right" and "Dr. Left" at the end of that episode, signifying both a reconciliation of their characters, and in real life as well.
  • While most of the characters from the movie carried over to the series, only four actors appeared in both: Gary Burghoff (Radar O'Reilly) and G. Wood (General Hammond) reprised their movie roles in the series, though Wood appeared in only three episodes. Timothy Brown (credited as "Tim Brown") played "Cpl. Judson" in the movie and "Spearchucker Jones" in the series. Corey Fischer played Capt. Bandini in the film and was the guitar-playing dentist "Cardozo" in the episode "Five O'Clock Charlie".
  • Two of the cast members, Jamie Farr (Klinger) and Alan Alda (Hawkeye Pierce), served in the U.S. Army in Korea in the 1950s after the Korean War, Alda as a junior officer, Farr as enlisted. The dog tags Farr wears on the show are his actual dog tags. Farr served as part of a USO tour with Red Skelton. Furthermore, Wayne Rogers served as a Naval Reserve Officer in the mid-1950s after the end of Korean War, and Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut) served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a younger man from 1957-1960.
  • Gary Burghoff's left hand is slightly deformed, with three smaller than normal fingers and slight syndactyly between the fourth and fifth digits, and he took great pains to hide or de-emphasize it during filming. He did this by always holding something (like a clipboard) or keeping that hand in his pocket. Burghoff later commented that his (Radar's) deformity would have made it impossible for him to be involved in active service. The deformity can be clearly seen at the very beginning of the pilot episode, when he is holding the football just before announcing the arrival of choppers. It is also visible at the end of "Images" (Season 6, Episode 9), when he is trying to lift weights.
  • Most of the M*A*S*H main cast guest-starred on Murder She Wrote (with the exceptions of Alan Alda, McLean Stevenson, and Gary Burghoff). Wayne Rogers made five appearances as roguish private investigator Charlie Garrat. David Ogden Stiers appeared three times as a Civil War-infused college lecturer and once as a classical music radio host. G.W. Bailey appeared twice as a New York City police officer. Larry Linville made two appearances as a police officer who was sure that Jessica was in the CIA. Harry Morgan appeared once in a cleverly cut episode that mixed with the 1949 film Strange Bargain that Morgan had starred in. William Christopher made an appearance as a murderous bird watcher. Jamie Farr appeared in two episodes, once as a hopeful new publisher for Jessica Fletcher, and again with Loretta Swit (she played a modern artist framed for murder). Mike Farrell appeared as a Senate hopeful.
  • Through the series, several actresses play characters named Nurse Able or Nurse Baker, with widely varying personalities/roles. The characters' names were based on the old military phonetic alphabet. Able and Baker have since been changed to Alpha and Bravo.
  • Sorrell Booke guest-starred as Brigadier General Barker in the episodes "Requiem for a Lightweight" and "Chief Surgeon Who?". Booke was a Korean War veteran who achieved greater fame as Boss Hogg in the Dukes of Hazzard television series.
  • Ron Howard guest-starred as Marine Private Walter/Wendell Peterson in the episode "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet". He is discovered to be underage and using his brother Wendell's identification, having come to Korea to impress his girlfriend. Hawkeye first gives the young soldier some sage advice about women, and then essentially lets him decide for himself whether he wants to go back to the States or stay in Korea. After losing his best friend Tommy Gillis, Hawkeye immediately reports the young soldier to the MPs, sending him back to America and to safety - with the Purple Heart Frank Burns put in for after his back pain.
  • Leslie Nielsen guest-starred as Colonel Buzz Brighton in the episode "The Ringbanger". Because of his high casualty record, Hawkeye and Trapper try to get him sent back to America by convincing him that he is insane.
  • Sal Viscuso is often credited as the sole PA announcer for the television series and even the film. Though he did serve as the voice of the PA announcer for a time, Todd Susman had the longest tenure. Neither actor's voice was heard in the film. Both actors appeared as other characters in various episodes.
  • Art LaFleur appeared in one episode in season 9 ("Father’s Day") as an MP looking for the person(s) responsible for a stolen side of beef.
  • Patrick Swayze appeared in one episode ("Blood Brothers") as Gary Sturgis, an injured soldier with a broken arm who is diagnosed with leukemia.
  • John Ritter was in one episode ("Deal Me Out") early in his career, as a "shellshocked" soldier.
Guest star Alex Karras, 1974.
  • Football player Alex Karras was in one episode ("Springtime") serving as Hawkeye's bodyguard after the doctor saves his life.
  • Bruno Kirby (When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers) played Boone in the first episode. He can be seen tossing a football with Radar, and later helping to carry a drugged-out Major Frank Burns to a bed in post-op.
  • Richard Herd appears in the Season 9 episode called "Back Pay".
  • Laurence Fishburne (CSI, The Matrix) appeared in the season-ten episode "The Tooth Shall Set You Free", in which Hawkeye and B.J. encounter a racist commander who is sending his African-American soldiers into dangerous duty. He also appeared in an episode of Trapper John, M.D. (the year before appearing on M*A*S*H). His Matrix costar, Joe Pantoliano, also appeared both on M*A*S*H and Trapper John, M.D. He appeared in the M*A*S*H episode "Identity Crisis" (also season ten), about a soldier (Pantoliano) who had stolen a fallen friend's identity, as well as his discharge papers, to get out of the fighting.
  • Pat Morita, who was famous for his role as Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi on Happy Days and as Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid franchise, played Captain Sam Pak in season two's episode "Deal Me Out" (also with John Ritter) and again in season two's "The Chosen People".
  • Shelley Long played in the 1980 episode "Bottle Fatigue", as one of Hawkeye's would-be lady friends. She later played alongside Ted Danson in the hit television comedy Cheers as Diane Chambers.
  • George Wendt played in the 1982 episode "Trick or Treatment" as Private La Roche, a Marine treated by Charles Winchester because he had a pool ball stuck in his mouth. He later played alongside Ted Danson and Shelley Long in the hit television comedy Cheers.
  • Ed Begley, Jr., played in the 1979 episode "Too Many Cooks" as Private Paul Conway, a clumsy infantry soldier who turns out to be a gifted chef.
  • Blythe Danner played a nurse transferred to the 4077th, who happened to be Hawkeye's old college sweetheart, in the season 4 episode "The More I See You". Her presence stirs up old feelings between the two of them.
  • Teri Garr played a nurse in the season 2 episode "The Sniper".
  • Susan Saint James guest starred in the season 8 episode "War Co-Respondent".
  • Andrew Dice Clay played drunken Marine Cpl. Hrabosky in the season 11 episode "Trick or Treatment".

Changes[edit]

Character developments[edit]

Spearchucker Jones[edit]

During the first season, Hawkeye's, Trapper's and Frank's bunkmate was a black character called Spearchucker Jones, played by actor Timothy Brown. (Brown appeared in the film version as a corporal, while neurosurgeon Dr. Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones was played by former NFL player Fred Williamson.) The character disappeared after the episode "Germ Warfare" because there was, at the time, no record of black doctors serving in Korea during the Korean War.[12] According to the memoirs of Harold Secor, a doctor working at the 8055th MASH unit, on which M*A*S*H is based, at least one black doctor did serve in Korea during the Korean War.[13]

Father Francis Mulcahy[edit]

Chaplain of the 4077 unit, Father Mulcahy plays the piano and likes to feel needed. He is a fairly good amateur boxer and poker player, and at one stage takes up jogging. A recurring storyline throughout the series has him visiting and bringing supplies to local orphanages. An episode in Season 7, "Dear Sis", is filmed from his point of view, as he struggles with feeling useless at the 4077th. William Christopher plays Mulcahy, replacing actor George Morgan, who played Father Mulcahy in the pilot episode. Dago Red, Mulcahy's nickname from the book and film, was shortened to "Red" for television and used by Trapper John in the pilot episode and by Hawkeye in "Dear Dad."

Henry Blake[edit]

By Season 3 (1974–1975), McLean Stevenson had begun chafing at what he considered to be a supporting role to Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers. Midway through the season, he informed the producers that he wanted to leave M*A*S*H. With ample time to prepare a "Goodbye, Henry" show, it was decided that Henry Blake would be discharged and sent home for the Season 3 finale, which aired on Tuesday, March 18, 1975. In the final scene of his last episode ("Abyssinia, Henry"), Radar tearfully reports that Henry's plane has been shot down over the Sea of Japan, and no survivors were found among the wreckage. This part of the script was kept secret from the cast. The producers wanted the reaction to be as much as a surprise as possible. Originally, the episode was written with Henry making it home, but the writers wanted to show that it was war and people may not make it home.

Trapper John McIntyre[edit]

Wayne Rogers (Trapper John McIntyre) was planning to return for Season 4 but abruptly withdrew over a disagreement about his contract. Rogers had a dislike of having a supporting role for Alda, and had been threatening to leave since season one.[14] His departure was unexpected and, unlike that of McLean Stevenson, there was no onscreen farewell. Rogers felt his character was never given any real importance and that all the focus was on Alda's character, Hawkeye Pierce.

Rogers's replacement, Mike Farrell, was hastily recruited during the 1975 summer production hiatus. In the season's first episode, "Welcome to Korea", Hawkeye is informed by Radar that Trapper was discharged while Hawkeye was on leave, and B.J. Hunnicutt is Trapper's replacement. Trapper was described by Radar as being so jubilant over his release that "he got drunk for two days, took off all his clothes, and ran naked through the mess tent with no clothes on." He made Radar promise to give Hawkeye a kiss as a final farewell message.

Actor Pernell Roberts later played a middle-aged Trapper in the seven-year run of Trapper John, M.D.

Sherman T. Potter[edit]

In the third episode of the fourth season, "Change of Command", Col. Sherman T. Potter arrives at the unit to assume command, replacing Frank Burns, who had taken over as commander after Blake's departure (Season 3, episode 24). Harry Morgan, who played Potter, had previously guest-starred in a Season 3 episode as a crazy general.

Colonel Potter is a regular Army man, having served in both World War I and World War II, first in the cavalry and later as a doctor. He is passionate about horses, and keeps an old saddle in his office, which is later put to use when he acquires a horse, when Radar gives one to him for his wedding anniversary, after B.J. and Hawkeye are unable to catch it. This horse, which remained with Col. Potter until the end of the series, was referred to as a colt (Potter remarks, "He can't be more than four years old") in its first appearance, after which it is named "Sophie" and referred to as a mare. In his spare time, Potter also enjoys painting. The paintings seen in Potter's office were painted by Morgan himself.[15]

Margaret Houlihan[edit]

Margaret Houlihan's role continued to evolve during this time; she became much friendlier toward Hawkeye and B.J., and her subordinate nurses, and had a falling-out with Frank. She later married a fellow officer, Lt. Col. Donald Penobscot, but the union did not last long. The "Hot Lips" nickname was rarely used to describe her after about the midway point in the series. Loretta Swit wanted to leave the series in the eighth season to pursue other acting roles (most notably the part of Christine Cagney on Cagney & Lacey), but the producers refused to let her out of her contract. Swit originated the Cagney role in the made-for-TV movie that served as that pilot of the series.

Frank Burns[edit]

Larry Linville noted that his "Frank Burns" character was easier to make light of after head comedy writer Larry Gelbart departed after Season 4 and "Frank" and "Margaret" parted ways in Season 5. After Season 4, Linville realized that he had taken Frank Burns as far as he could, and he decided that since he had signed a five-year contract, he would leave the series after Season 5.[14] During the first episode of Season 6, "Fade Out, Fade In", Frank Burns (off camera) suffers a nervous breakdown due to Margaret's marriage and is held for psychiatric evaluation. Hawkeye offered a toast to Frank's departure, pausing only a moment, then stating "goodbye, Ferret Face." In an unexpected twist, Burns is transferred to an Indiana Veterans Administration hospital, near his home in Fort Wayne,[16] and is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel — in a sense, Frank's parting shot at Hawkeye. Unlike McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers, Linville had no regrets about leaving the series, saying, "I felt I had done everything possible with the character."[14] Linville was not alone when he left; Executive Producer Gene Reynolds left after the production of Season 5, and Burt Metcalfe and star Alan Alda took over the producing responsibilities. During Season 6, Alda and Metcalfe even consulted Reynolds once a week, mainly to obtain help with their jobs as Executive Producers. These two men remained as Executive Producers for the remaining six seasons.

Charles Emerson Winchester III[edit]

Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers) was brought in as an antagonist of sorts to the other surgeons, but his relationship with them was not as acrimonious, although he was a more able foil. Unlike Frank Burns, Winchester did not care for the Army. His resentment stemmed, in part, from the fact that he was transferred from Tokyo General Hospital to the 4077th thanks, in part, to a cribbage debt owed to him by his commanding officer, Lt. Col. Horace Baldwin. What set him apart from Burns as an antagonist for Hawkeye and B.J. was that Winchester was clearly an excellent, technically superior surgeon, although his work sometimes suffered from his excessive perfectionism when rapid "meatball surgery" was called for. As with many new MASH surgeons, Winchester took some time to wrap his head around the fact that faster, less precise work saved lives that more elegant, slower work might cost.

Winchester was respected by the others professionally, but at the same time, as a Boston blue blood, he was also snobbish, as when he stated in the scrub room, "I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then I move on," which drove much of his conflict with the other characters. Still, the show's writers occasionally allowed Winchester's humanity to shine through, such as in his dealings with a young piano player who had partially lost the use of his right hand; the protection of a stuttering soldier from the bullying of other soldiers (it is revealed later that Winchester's sister stutters); his keeping a vigil with Hawkeye when Hawkeye's father went into surgery back in the States; his willingness to be officer of the day for Hawkeye when Hawkeye was offered three days in Seoul; or his continuing a family tradition of anonymously giving Christmas treats to an orphanage. Winchester subjects himself to condemnation after realizing that "it is sadly inappropriate to offer dessert to a child who has had no meal." Isolating himself, he is saved by Klinger's own gift of understanding. Klinger scrapes together a Christmas dinner for Charles, with the provision that the source of the gift remain anonymous (Klinger had overheard Winchester's argument with the manager of the orphanage). For the final moment of the episode, the two are simply friends as Charles says, "Thank you, Max," and Klinger replies, "Merry Christmas, Charles."

Radar O'Reilly[edit]

Gary Burghoff (Walter "Radar" O'Reilly), one of only two cast members of the original 1970 film to play the same character in the TV series, had been growing restless in his role since at least Season 4. With each successive year, he appeared in fewer episodes; and by Season 7, Radar is barely in half of the shows. Burghoff planned to leave at the end of the seventh season (in 1979), but was convinced by producers Alda and Metcalfe to wait until the beginning of Season 8, when they filmed a two-part farewell episode, "Good-Bye, Radar", as well as a few short scenes that were inserted into episodes preceding it. The final nod to Radar came in the penultimate episode of the series, "As Time Goes By", when his iconic teddy bear (though it was a different bear than was used throughout the show) was included in a time capsule of the 4077th's instigated by Margaret, which Hawkeye says is a symbol of those who "came as boys and went home as men."

Max Klinger[edit]

Max Klinger also grew away from the cross-dressing reputation that overshadowed him. He dropped his Section 8 pursuit when taking over for Radar as company clerk. Both Farr and the producers felt that there was more to Klinger than a chiffon dress, and tried to develop the character more fully. In the role of company clerk, Klinger's personality turned more to the "wheeler-dealer" aspects of his personality developed in the streets of (Farr's actual hometown) Toledo, Ohio, using those skills to aid the 4077th. Farr stayed throughout the rest of the series. Klinger was later promoted from corporal to sergeant (he and Father Mulcahy were the only two characters to be promoted on screen in the entire series, Frank Burns received his promotion off-screen after having left the series). In the final episode, Klinger is, ironically, the only character who announces that he is staying in Korea. He wants to help his wife, Soon Lee, find her parents (he and Soon Lee marry at the end of the episode). When Klinger announces that he is staying in Korea, Hawkeye says, "You don't have to act crazy now. We're all getting out!" However, in the short-lived spin-off, AfterMASH, it becomes clear that soon after the end of the war, Klinger, with new wife Soon Lee (Rosalind Chao) returned to the United States. (After Soon Lee's being subjected to discrimination in Toledo, the Klingers moved to River Bend, Missouri and Max to a job very like that he had had as the 4077th's company clerk for Chief of Staff Dr. Sherman Potter, head of the General Pershing VA Hospital there.)

Change in tone[edit]

While the series remained popular through these changes, it eventually began to run out of creative steam. Korean War doctors regularly contacted producers with experiences that they thought might make for a good storyline, only to learn the idea had previously been used. Harry Morgan admitted that he felt "the cracks were starting to show" by Season Nine (1980–1981).[14] Alda wished to make Season Ten M*A*S*H's last, but was persuaded by CBS to produce a slightly shortened Eleventh season, coupled with a farewell movie finale, because CBS refused to let the show go away so easily. In the end, Season 11 had 15 episodes (although six had been filmed during Season 10 and held over) and a 2-1/2 hour movie, which was treated as five episodes and were filmed before the nine remaining episodes. The final episode ever produced was the penultimate episode "As Time Goes By." The series finale movie, entitled "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" became the most watched television broadcast in history, tallying a total of 125 million viewers.[14]

Production[edit]

Set location[edit]

The 4077th consisted of two separate sets. An outdoor set in the mountains near Malibu, California (Calabasas, Los Angeles County, California) was used for most exterior and tent scenes for every season. This was the same set used to shoot the movie. The indoor set, on a sound stage at Fox Studios in Century City, was used for the indoor scenes for the run of the series. Later, after the indoor set was renovated to permit many of the "outdoor" scenes to be filmed there, both sets were used for exterior shooting as script requirements dictated (e.g., night scenes were far easier to film on the sound stage, but scenes at the chopper pad required using the ranch).

Just as the series was wrapping production, a brush fire destroyed most of the outdoor set on October 9, 1982. The fire was written into the final episode as a forest fire caused by enemy incendiary bombs.

The Malibu location is today known as Malibu Creek State Park. Formerly called the Century Ranch and owned by 20th Century Fox Studios until the 1980s, the site today is returning to a natural state, and is marked by a rusted Jeep and an ambulance used in the show. Through the 1990s, the area was occasionally used for television commercial production.

On February 23, 2008, series stars Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit and William Christopher (along with producers Gene Reynolds and Burt Metcalfe and M*A*S*H director Charles S. Dubin) reunited at the set to celebrate its partial restoration. The rebuilt signpost is now displayed on weekends, along with tent markers and maps and photos of the set. The state park is open to the public. It was also the location where the film How Green Was My Valley (1941) and the Planet of the Apes television series (1974) were filmed, among other productions.

When M*A*S*H was filming its last episode, the producers were contacted by the Smithsonian Institution, which asked to be given a part of the set. The producers quickly agreed and sent the tent, signposts, and contents of "The Swamp", which was home to Hawkeye, Trapper, Frank, Spearchucker, B.J. and Charles during the course of the show.[17] Originally found on the Ranch, Radar's teddy bear, once housed at the Smithsonian, was sold at auction on July 29, 2005 for $11,800.

Content[edit]

M*A*S*H was the first American network series to use the phrase "son of a bitch" (in the 8th-season episode "Guerilla My Dreams"), and there was brief partial nudity in the series (notably Gary Burghoff's buttocks in "The Sniper" and Hawkeye in one of the "Dear Dad" episodes). A different innovation was the show's producers' not wanting a laugh track, as the network did. They compromised with a "chuckle track", played only occasionally and omitted entirely in the operating room. (DVD releases of the series allow viewers a no-laugh-track option.)

In his blog, writer Ken Levine revealed that on one occasion, when the cast offered too many nitpicking "notes" on a script, he and his writing partner changed the script to a "cold show"—one set during the frigid Korean winter. The cast then had to stand around barrel fires in parkas at the Malibu ranch when the temperatures neared 100 degrees. Levine says, "This happened maybe twice, and we never got a ticky-tack note again."

Jackie Cooper wrote that Alan Alda, whom Cooper directed in several episodes during the first two seasons, concealed a lot of hostility beneath the surface, and that the two of them barely spoke to each other by the time Cooper’s tenure on the show ended.[18]

Character information[edit]

Throughout the run of the series, any "generic" nurses (those who had a line or two but were minor supporting characters otherwise) were generally given the names "Nurse Able", "Nurse Baker", or "Nurse Charlie". During the Korean War, the letters A, B, and C in the phonetic alphabet were Able, Baker, and Charlie (since then, the standard has been updated; A and B are now Alpha and Bravo). In later seasons, it became more common for a real character name to be created, especially as several of the nurse actresses became semi-regulars. For example, Kellye Nakahara played both "Able" and "Charlie" characters in Season 3 before becoming the semi-regular "Nurse Kellye"; on the other hand, Judy Farrell (then Mrs. Mike Farrell) played Nurse Able in eight episodes, including the series finale.

By the time the series ended, three of the regulars had been promoted. Klinger (Jamie Farr) went from corporal to sergeant, and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) from lieutenant to captain. Frank Burns (Larry Linville) was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel off screen when he was shipped back to the U.S. following Margaret's marriage. (Farr and Christopher also saw their names move from the closing credits of the show to the opening credits.) Radar O'Reilly was fraudulently "promoted" for a short time (through a machination of Hawkeye and B.J.) to second lieutenant, but discovered he disliked officers' duties and asked them to "bust" him back to corporal.

Mike Farrell asked that his character's daughter's name be Erin, after his real-life daughter (the character's name was originally going to be Melissa). When B.J. spoke on the telephone on-camera, Erin or his then-wife Judy were on the other end.

Character injuries[edit]

Three MASH 4077 staff members suffered fatalities on the show: Lieutenant Colonel Blake, when the plane taking him back to the States was shot down over the Sea of Japan; an ambulance driver, O'Donnell, in a traffic accident; and a nurse, Millie Carpenter, by a land mine. "Capt. Tuttle", an imaginary person made up by Hawkeye to provide money for Sister Teresa's orphanage, was said to have died when he jumped from a helicopter without a parachute; Hawkeye gave him an ironic eulogy.

Among those wounded were Hawkeye Pierce ("Hawkeye"; "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"; "Comrades in Arms [Part I]"; "Good-Bye, Radar [Part I]"; and "Lend a Hand"), Radar O'Reilly ("Fallen Idol"), B.J. Hunnicutt ("The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan" and "Operation Friendship"), Max Klinger ("It Happened One Night"; "Baby, It's Cold Outside"; and "Operation Friendship"), Father Mulcahy ("Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" and "Bombed"), and Sherman Potter ("Dear Ma"). Henry Blake was injured four times: once by a disgruntled chopper pilot ("Cowboy"); once by friendly fire ("The Army-Navy Game"); and in season 3, episode 15 ("Bombed"), Henry is injured when the latrine he is in is blown up. (The gag of Blake's being caught in an exploding latrine is also in the episode "Cowboy".) Henry is also injured when the latrine catches fire. Father Mulcahy is concussed on two separate occasions - first in the episode "Bombed", where he is in the latrine stall next to Blake when it is blown up; and again in "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" when he is knocked out by mortar fire which strikes close by him; he also suffers severe hearing loss as a result of this incident. Frank Burns is twice awarded Purple Hearts for spurious injuries: throwing his back out after he gave Margaret a dip and could not move - which was later covered up with a story that he slipped on the way to the showers ("Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", 1.17), and getting an egg-shell fragment in the eye ("The Kids", 4.8). Burns' Purple Heart medals were then given to more deserving people: a GI who was admitted with appendicitis and a Korean newborn infant who was hit by a bullet in utero.

At least two permanent 4077 personnel suffered emotional breakdowns: Hawkeye Pierce ("Goodbye, Farewell and Amen") and Frank Burns ("Fade Out, Fade In [Part 1]" and "Fade Out, Fade In [Part 2]").

Vehicles[edit]

The helicopters used on the series were model H-13 Sioux (military designation and nickname of the Bell 47 civilian model). As in the film, some care seems to have been taken to use the correct model of the long-lived Bell 47 series. In the opening credits and many of the episodes, Korean War vintage H-13Ds and Es (Bell 47D-1s) were used complete with period-correct external litters. A later (1954–73) 47G occasionally made an appearance. The helicopters are similar in appearance (with the later "G" models having larger two-piece fuel tanks, a slightly revised cabin as well as other changes) with differences noticeable only to a serious helicopter fan. In the pilot episode, a later Bell 47J (production began in 1957) was shown flying Henry Blake to Seoul, en route to a meeting with General Hammond in Tokyo.[19] A Sud Aviation Allouette II helicopter was also shown transporting Henry Blake to the 4077th in the episode "Henry, Please Come Home".

The Jeeps used were 1953 military M38 or civil CJ2A Willys Jeeps and also World War II Ford GPWs and Willys MB's. Two of the ambulances were WC-54 Dodges and one was a WC-27. A WC-54 ambulance remains at the site and was burned in the Malibu fires on October 9, 1982 while a second WC-27 survives at a South El Monte museum without any markings. The bus used to transport the wounded was a 1954 Ford model. In the last season an M43 ambulance from the Korean War era also was used in conjunction with the WC-54s and WC-27.

Laugh track[edit]

Series creators Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds wanted M*A*S*H broadcast without a laugh track ("Just like the actual Korean War", Gelbart remarked dryly), but CBS rejected the idea. By season two, a compromise had been reached, whereby the producers were allowed to omit the laugh track during operating room scenes if they wished. As a result, few scenes in the operating room contain laughter. Certain episodes omitted the laugh track completely ("O.R.", "The Bus", "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", "The Interview", "Life Time", "Dreams", "Point of View", "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen") as did some international and syndicated airings of the show. The first five seasons used a more intrusive laugh track, similar to other laugh-tracked sitcoms of the period; by Season Six, newer, significantly quieter laughs were recorded and employed. In the United Kingdom, where the show was broadcast by the BBC (and therefore also without advertising breaks), the laugh track was entirely absent from all episodes.

On all released DVDs, both in Region 2 (Europe, including the UK) and Region 1 (including the U.S. and Canada), there is an option to watch the show with or without the laugh track.[20][21]

Apart from the pilot, episodes were aired without a teaser, straight into the opening theme and credits.

Broadcast history[edit]

NOTE: The most frequent time slot for the series is in bold text.

  • Sunday at 8:00-8:30 PM on CBS: September 17, 1972—March 25, 1973
  • Saturday at 8:30-9:00 PM on CBS: September 15, 1973—March 2, 1974
  • Tuesday at 8:30-9:00 PM on CBS: September 10, 1974—March 18, 1975
  • Friday at 8:30-9:00 PM on CBS: September 12—November 28, 1975
  • Tuesday at 9:00-9:30 PM on CBS: December 2, 1975—January 24, 1978
  • Monday at 9:00-9:30 PM on CBS: January 30, 1978—February 28, 1983

The show also aired in daytime reruns from September 1978-September 1979 on CBS at 3:30 p.m. (ET).

Episodes[edit]

Final episode: "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"[edit]

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was the final episode of M*A*S*H. Special television sets were placed in PX parking lots, auditoriums, and dayrooms of the US Army in Korea so that military personnel could watch that episode; this in spite of 14 hours' time zone difference with the east coast of the US. The episode aired on February 28, 1983, and was 2½ hours long. The episode got a Nielsen rating of 60.2 and 77 share[22] and according to a New York Times article from 1983, the final episode of M*A*S*H had 125 million viewers.[2]

When the M*A*S*H finale aired in 1983, there were 83.3 million television homes in the United States, compared to almost 115 million in February 2010.[23]

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" broke the record for the highest percentage of homes with television sets to watch a television series. Stories persist that the episode was seen by so many people that the New York City Sanitation/Public Works Department reported the plumbing systems broke down in some parts of the city from so many New Yorkers waiting until the end to use the toilet. Articles copied into Alan Alda's "The Last Days of MASH" include interviews with New York City Sanitation workers citing the spike in water use on that night.[24]

Spinoffs and specials[edit]

M*A*S*H had two spinoff shows. The short-lived AfterMASH (1983–85) inherited the parent show's Monday night time slot and featured several of its characters reunited in a Midwestern hospital after the war. The more successful Trapper John, M.D. (1979–86) took place nearly three decades after the events of M*A*S*H and depicted Trapper John McIntyre as Chief of Surgery at a San Francisco hospital. There was also an unpurchased television pilot, W*A*L*T*E*R (1984), in which Walter "Radar" O’Reilly joins the St. Louis police force after his farm fails following his return to the U.S.

A documentary special titled Making M*A*S*H, narrated by Mary Tyler Moore and taking viewers behind the production of the Season 8 episodes "Old Soldiers" and "Lend a Hand", was produced for PBS in 1981. The special was later included in the syndicated rerun package, with new narration by producer Michael Hirsch.[25]

Two retrospective specials were produced to commemorate the show's 20th and 30th anniversaries. Memories of M*A*S*H, hosted by Shelley Long and featuring clips from the series and interviews with cast members, was aired by CBS on November 25, 1991. A 30th Anniversary Reunion special, in which the surviving cast members and producers gathered to reminisce, aired on the Fox network on May 17, 2002. The two-hour broadcast was hosted by Mike Farrell, who also got to interact with the actor he replaced, Wayne Rogers; previously filmed interviews with McLean Stevenson and Larry Linville (who had died in 1996 and 2000, respectively) were featured as well. The two specials are included as bonuses on the Collector's Edition DVD of "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen". Also included is "M*A*S*H: Television's Serious Sitcom", a 2002 episode of the A&E cable channel's Biography program that detailed the history of the show.

In the late 1980s, the cast had a partial reunion in a series of commercials for IBM personal computers. All of the front-billed regulars (with the two exceptions of Mike Farrell and McLean Stevenson) appeared in the spots over time.

Review[edit]

Season ratings[edit]

Season Ep # Season Premiere Season Finale Ranking Viewers
(Households in millions)
Rating
Season 1 24 September 17, 1972 March 25, 1973 #46[26] N/A N/A
Season 2 24 September 15, 1973 March 2, 1974 #4[27] 17.02[27] 25.7
Season 3 24 September 10, 1974 March 18, 1975 #5[28] 18.76[28] 27.4
Season 4 24 September 12, 1975 February 24, 1976 #15[29] 15.93[29] 22.9
Season 5 24 September 21, 1976 March 15, 1977 #4[30] 18.44[30] 25.9
Season 6 24 September 20, 1977 March 27, 1978 #9[31] 16.91[31] 23.2
Season 7 25 September 18, 1978 March 12, 1979 #7[32] 18.92[32] 25.4
Season 8 25 September 17, 1979 March 24, 1980 #5[33] 19.30[33] 25.3
Season 9 20 November 17, 1980 May 4, 1981 #4[34] 20.53[34] 25.7
Season 10 21 October 26, 1981 April 12, 1982 #9[35] 18.17[35] 22.3
Season 11 16 October 25, 1982 February 28, 1983 #3[36] 18.82[36] 22.6

As a Top 20 series, M*A*S*H has an average rating of 24.6.

Awards[edit]

M*A*S*H won a total of 14 Emmy Awards during its eleven-year run:

  • 1974 — Outstanding Comedy Series – M*A*S*H; Larry Gelbart, Gene Reynolds (Producers)
  • 1974 — Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Alan Alda
  • 1974 — Best Directing in Comedy – Jackie Cooper: "Carry On, Hawkeye"
  • 1974 — Actor of the Year, Series – Alan Alda
  • 1975 — Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series – Gene Reynolds: "O.R."
  • 1976 — Outstanding Film Editing for Entertainment Programming – Fred W. Berger and Stanford Tischler: "Welcome to Korea"
  • 1976 — Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series – Gene Reynolds: "Welcome to Korea"
  • 1977 — Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series – Alan Alda: "Dear Sigmund"
  • 1977 — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series – Gary Burghoff
  • 1979 — Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Series – Alan Alda: "Inga"
  • 1980 — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series – Loretta Swit
  • 1980 — Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series – Harry Morgan
  • 1982 — Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series – Alan Alda
  • 1982 — Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series – Loretta Swit

The show won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series (Musical or Comedy) in 1981. Alan Alda won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series (Musical or Comedy) six times: in 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983. McLean Stevenson won the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series in 1974.

The series earned the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series seven times: 1973 (Gene Reynolds), 1974 (Reynolds), 1975 (Hy Averbeck), 1976 (Averbeck), 1977 (Alan Alda), 1982 (Alda), 1983 (Alda).

The show was honored with a Peabody Award in 1976 "for the depth of its humor and the manner in which comedy is used to lift the spirit and, as well, to offer a profound statement on the nature of war." M*A*S*H was cited as "an example of television of high purpose that reveals in universal terms a time and place with such affecting clarity."[37]

Writers for the show received several Humanitas Prize nominations, with Larry Gelbart winning in 1976, Alan Alda winning in 1980, and the team of David Pollock and Elias Davis winning twice in 1982 and 1983.

The series received 28 Writers Guild of America Award nominations - 26 for Episodic Comedy and two for Episodic Drama. Seven episodes won for Episodic Comedy in 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981.

DVD releases[edit]

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD in Region 1 and Region 2.

DVD title Ep No. Release dates
Region 1 Region 2
M*A*S*H Season 1 24 January 8, 2002 May 19, 2003
M*A*S*H Season 2 24 July 23, 2002 October 13, 2003
M*A*S*H Season 3 24 February 18, 2003 March 15, 2004
M*A*S*H Seasons 1–3 72 N/A October 31, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 4 24 July 15, 2003 June 14, 2004
M*A*S*H Seasons 1–4 96 December 2, 2003 N/A
M*A*S*H Season 5 24 December 9, 2003 January 17, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 6 24 June 8, 2004 March 28, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 7 25 December 7, 2004 May 30, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 8 25 May 24, 2005 August 15, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 9 20 December 6, 2005 January 9, 2006
M*A*S*H Seasons 1–9 214 December 6, 2005 N/A
M*A*S*H Season 10 21 May 23, 2006 April 17, 2006
M*A*S*H Season 11 16 November 7, 2006 May 29, 2006
Martinis and Medicine Collection
(Complete Series including the Original Movie)
256 November 7, 2006 October 30, 2006
Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen Collector's Edition 1 May 15, 2007 N/A

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (2012). Television's Top 100. US: McFarland. p. 171. ISBN 978-0-7864-4891-3. 
  2. ^ a b "Finale Of M*A*S*H Draws Record Number Of Viewers". The New York Times. March 3, 1983. 
  3. ^ a b "Tv.com". Tv.com. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  4. ^ Schochet, Stephen. "The Ironies of MASH". hollywoodstories.com, 2007. The show's producers have said that it was about war and bureaucracy in general.
  5. ^ "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide (June 28-July 4). 1997. 
  6. ^ TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows
  7. ^ 101 Best Written TV Series List
  8. ^ Fretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt. "The Greatest Shows on Earth". TV Guide Magazine 61 (3194-3195): 16–19. 
  9. ^ The term "dramedy", although coined in 1978, was not in common usage until after M*A*S*H had gone off the air
  10. ^ Levine, Ken (2011-01-30). "Naming characters on TV shows". kenlevine.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30. 
  11. ^ Shari Saba - IMDb
  12. ^ *Whitebols, James H. Watching M*A*S*H, Watching America: A Social History of the 1972-1983 Television Series, pg 17
  13. ^ Korean War Educator: Memoirs - Harold Secor
  14. ^ a b c d e Kalter, Suzy (1984). The Complete Book of M*A*S*H. New York: Abradale Press, Harry M. Abrahams, Inc. ISBN 0-8109-8083-5. 
  15. ^ Harry Morgan - Biography - IMDb
  16. ^ Season 5, Episode 13 - Hawk's Nightmare
  17. ^ 30th Anniversary Reunion Special
  18. ^ Jackie Cooper, Please Don’t Shoot My Dog, Page 290, William Morrow & Company, 1981
  19. ^ Day, Dwayne A. "MASH/Medevac Helicopters." Centennial of Flight, April 18, 2008.
  20. ^ "AVRev.com". AVRev.com. 2003-02-18. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  21. ^ "Another MASH DVD review mentioning audio choices". Dvd.reviewer.co.uk. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 
  22. ^ "Saints'". USA Today. 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  23. ^ Flint, Joe (2010-02-09). "Super Bowl XLIV game a ratings winner". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  24. ^ The Last Days of MASH
  25. ^ "MASH4077TV.com". MASH4077tv.com. 2005-01-02. Retrieved 2013-11-04. 
  26. ^ "M*A*S*H: Television's Serious Sitcom" (in English). Biography. July 10, 2003. A&E. "Although the cast was beginning to think that M*A*S*H was about to hit its stride, the series was still attracting a very small audience and it ranked 46 in the ratings."
  27. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1973–1974". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  28. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1974–1975". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  29. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1975–1976". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  30. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1976–1977". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  31. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1977–1978". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  32. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1978–1979". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  33. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1979–1980". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  34. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1980–1981". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  35. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1981–1982". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  36. ^ a b "TV Ratings: 1982–1983". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  37. ^ "The Peabody Awards | An International Competition for Electronic Media, honoring achievement in Television, Radio, Cable and the Web | Administered by University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication". Peabody.uga.edu. Retrieved 2011-05-17. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Gelbart, Larry. (1998). Laughing Matters: On Writing M*A*S*H, Tootsie, Oh, God!, and a Few Other Funny Things. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-679-42945-X.
  • Kalter, Suzy. (1985). The Complete Book of M*A*S*H. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-810-91319-4.
  • Reiss, David S. (1983). M*A*S*H: The Exclusive, Inside Story of TV's Most Popular Show (2nd ed.). New York: MacMillan. ISBN 0-672-52762-6.
  • Solomonson, Ed, and Mark O'Neill. (2009). TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book. Albany, GA: BearManor Media. ISBN 1-593-93501-3.
  • Wittebols, James. (1998). Watching M*A*S*H, Watching America: A Social History of the 1972-1983 Television Series. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-786-40457-4.

External links[edit]