M*A*S*H (TV series)
|Based on||MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors|
by Richard Hooker
|Developed by||Larry Gelbart|
|Theme music composer||Johnny Mandel|
(written for the film)
|Opening theme||"Suicide Is Painless" (Instrumental)|
|Ending theme||"Suicide Is Painless" (Big Band Version)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||11|
|No. of episodes||256 (list of episodes)|
|Production locations||Los Angeles County, California (Century City, Malibu Creek State Park)|
|Running time||30 minutes; except "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" (2 hours)|
|Production company||20th Century Fox Television|
|Original release||September 17, 1972 –|
February 28, 1983
|Related shows||Trapper John, M.D.|
M*A*S*H (an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) is an American war comedy-drama television series that aired on CBS from 1972 to 1983. It was developed by Larry Gelbart as the first original spin-off series adapted from the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H, which, in turn, was based on Richard Hooker's 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. The series, which was produced 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 (1950–53).
For the first three seasons, the show's ensemble cast included Alan Alda as surgeon Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, Loretta Swit as head nurse Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, Jamie Farr as corpsman Maxwell Klinger, William Christopher as chaplain Father John Patrick Francis Mulcahy, Wayne Rogers as surgeon Trapper John McIntyre, McLean Stevenson as company commander Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, Larry Linville as surgeon Major Frank Burns and Gary Burghoff as company clerk Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly. At the end of third season, Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson left the show, with their characters written out, and they were replaced respectively by Mike Farrell as Captain B. J. Hunnicutt, Harry Morgan as Colonel Sherman T. Potter. After season five, Larry Linville left, to be replaced by David Ogden Stiers as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. Early in season eight, Gary Burghoff left the show; Max Klinger (Farr) was moved to company clerk to replace Radar, while G. W. Bailey joined the cast that season to play Staff Sergeant Luther Rizzo. Other long-serving actors on the show include Kellye Nakahara as Nurse Kellye, Jeff Maxwell as Private Igor Straminsky, Allan Arbus as the psychiatrist Major Sidney Freedman, and Edward Winter as intelligence officer Colonel Sam Flagg.
The show's title sequence features an instrumental-only version of "Suicide Is Painless," the original film's theme song. The show was created after an attempt to film the original book's sequel, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, failed. The television series is the best-known of the M*A*S*H works, and one of the highest-rated shows in U.S. television history. Its final episode, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", was the most-watched television broadcast in American history from 1983 until 2010, and remains both the most-watched finale of any television series and the most-watched episode.
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 has also been described as a "dark comedy" or a "dramedy" because of the often dramatic subject matter.[A]
The show is an ensemble piece revolving around key personnel in a United States Army Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in the Korean War (1950–53). The asterisks in the name are not part of military nomenclature and were creatively introduced in the novel and used in only the posters for the movie version, not the actual movie. The "4077th MASH" was one of several surgical units in Korea.
Early seasons aired on network prime time 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. 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 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, and 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, such as Margaret Houlihan and Colonel Potter, who tend to represent patriotism and duty (though Houlihan and Potter could also represent the other perspective at times). Other characters, such as Lt. 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 participant and peace maker.
Through changes of personnel M*A*S*H maintained a relatively constant ensemble cast, with four characters – Hawkeye, Father Mulcahy, Margaret Houlihan, and Maxwell Klinger – on the show for all 11 seasons. Several other main characters departed or joined the program during its run, and numerous guest actors and recurring characters were used. 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.
|Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce||Alan Alda||Captain||Chief surgeon||256|
|Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Penobscott)||Loretta Swit||Major||Head Nurse||239|
|Maxwell Q. Klinger
(Recurring seasons 1–3, regular 4–11)
later Company Clerk
|Father John Patrick Francis Mulcahy
(recurring seasons 1–4, regular 5–11)
|George Morgan (pilot episode),
replaced by William Christopher
|Trapper John McIntyre
|McLean Stevenson||Lieutenant Colonel||Commanding officer,
later Lieutenant Colonel (off-screen)
|Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly
briefly Second Lieutenant
|B. J. Hunnicutt
(replaced Trapper; seasons 4–11)
|Sherman T. Potter
(replaced Henry Blake; seasons 4–11)
|Harry Morgan||Colonel||Commanding Officer (after Lt. Col. Blake),
|Charles Emerson Winchester III
(replaced Frank Burns; seasons 6–11)
|David Ogden Stiers||Major||Surgeon||133|
- Plus 1 uncredited voiceover ("Welcome to Korea")
Main character timeline
As the series progressed, it made a significant shift from being primarily a comedy with dramatic undertones to a drama with comedic undertones. This was a result of changes in writing and production staff, rather than the cast defections of McLean Stevenson, Larry Linville, Wayne Rogers and Gary Burghoff. Series co-creator and comedy writer Larry Gelbart departed after Season 4, the first featuring Mike Farrell and Harry Morgan. This resulted in Farrell and Morgan having only a single season reading scripts featuring Gelbart's comic timing, which defined the feel and rhythm of Seasons 1–4 featuring predecessors Rogers and Stevenson, respectively. Larry Linville (the show's comic foil) and Executive Producer Gene Reynolds both departed at the conclusion of Season 5 in 1977, resulting in M*A*S*H being fully stripped of its original comedic foundation by the beginning of Season 6 — the debut of the Charles Winchester era.
Whereas Gelbart and Reynolds were the comedic voice of M*A*S*H for the show's first five seasons (1972–1977), Alan Alda and newly promoted Executive Producer Burt Metcalfe became the new dramatic voice of M*A*S*H for Seasons 6–11. By the start of Season 8 (1979–1980), the writing staff had been completely overhauled, and with the departure of Gary Burghoff, M*A*S*H displayed a distinctively different feel, consciously moving between comedy and drama.
The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 was a significant factor as to why storylines become less political in nature and more character driven. Several episodes experimented by going outside the sitcom format:
- "Point of View" – shown from the perspective of a soldier with a throat wound
- "Dreams" – an idea of Alda's, where during a deluge of casualties, members of the 4077 take naps on a rotation basis, allowing the viewer to see the simultaneously lyrical and disturbing dreams
- "A War For All Seasons" – features a story line that takes place over the course of 1951
- "Life Time" – a precursor to the American television series 24, it utilizes the real time method of narration
Another change was the infusion of story lines based on actual events and medical developments that materialized during the Korean War. Considerable research was done by the producers, including interviews with actual MASH surgeons and personnel to develop story lines rooted in the war itself. Such early 1950s events as the McCarthy era, various sporting events, and the stardom of Marilyn Monroe were all incorporated into various episodes, a trend that continued until the end of the series.
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 9 (1980–1981). Alda wished to make season 10 (1981-1982) M*A*S*H's last, but was persuaded by CBS to produce a slightly shortened 11th season, coupled with a farewell movie finale, at CBS' request. 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 was filmed before the nine remaining episodes. The final episode produced was the penultimately aired episode "As Time Goes By". The series finale movie, titled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", became the most watched U.S. television broadcast in history at that time, with 106 million viewers.
The 4077th consisted of two separate sets. An outdoor set in the mountains near Malibu (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, although there were changes made to the positions of several tents for the TV show. 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 helicopter 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 "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" as a forest fire caused by enemy incendiary bombs that forced the 4077th to move out.
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 a Dodge 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 many other productions. Much of this location, including the signpost and markers, was thought to have been destroyed in the 2018 Woolsey Fire but subsequently was determined to have survived the fire.
The exhibit M*A*S*H: Binding Up the Wounds was at the National Museum of American History from July 30, 1983 through February 3, 1985. The exhibit was extremely popular, drawing more than 17,000 in a single week, a record for any Smithsonian display.
On exhibit were The Swamp and Operating Room sets, one of the show's 14 Emmy Awards, early drafts of the pilot script, costumes from the show and other memorabilia. Sets were decorated with props from the show including the iconic signpost, Hawkeye's still and Major Winchester's Webcor tape recorder and phonograph. The exhibit also encouraged visitors to compare the show to real Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals of the Korean and the Vietnam Wars. 
Radar's teddy bear, originally found at the ranch set, was never on display at the Smithsonian. Following completion of production, the prop was kept by the show's set designer. It was sold several times including to Burghoff himself. It was sold at auction on July 29, 2005 for $11,800, it sold again on March 27, 2015 for $14,307.50 after 19 bids.
M*A*S*H was one of the first network series to feature brief partial nudity (notably Gary Burghoff's buttocks in "The Sniper" and Hawkeye in one of the "Dear Dad" episodes). A different innovation was based on the show's producers' desire not to have a laugh track, contrary to the network's desire to have one. They compromised by omitting laughter in the scenes set in the operating room. The DVD releases of the series allow viewers to select an audio version with no laugh track.
In his blog, writer Ken Levine revealed that on one occasion, when the cast offered too many nitpicking "notes" on a script, his writing partner and he 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 °F (38 °C). 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 the two of them barely spoke to each other by the time Cooper's tenure on the show ended.
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, and 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. 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 episodes featured the M38A1 Jeep, one of which was stolen from a General by Radar and Hawkeye after their Jeep was stolen. 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.
Series creators Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds wanted M*A*S*H broadcast without a laugh track. Though CBS initially rejected the idea, a compromise was reached that allowed for omitting the laughter during operating room scenes if desired. "We told the network that under no circumstances would we ever can laughter during an OR scene when the doctors were working," said Gelbart in 1998. "It's hard to imagine that 300 people were in there laughing at somebody's guts being sewn up."
Seasons 1–5 utilized a more invasive laugh track; a more subdued audience was employed for Seasons 6–11 when the series shifted from sitcom to comedy-drama with the departure of Gelbart and Reynolds. Several episodes ("O.R.", "The Bus", "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", "The Interview", "Point of View", and "Dreams" among them) omitted the laugh track altogether; as did almost all of Season 11, including the 135-minute series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen". The laugh track is also omitted from some international and syndicated airings of the show; on one occasion during an airing on BBC2, the laugh track was accidentally left on, and viewers expressed their displeasure, an apology from the network for the "technical difficulty" was later released, as during its original run on BBC2 in the UK, it was shown without the laugh track. UK DVD critics speak poorly of the laugh track, stating "canned laughter is intrusive at the best of times, but with a programme like M*A*S*H, it's downright unbearable."
"They're a lie," said Gelbart in a 1992 interview. "You're telling an engineer when to push a button to produce a laugh from people who don't exist. It's just so dishonest. The biggest shows when we were on the air were All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show both of which were taped before a live studio audience where laughter made sense," continued Gelbart. "But our show was a film show – supposedly shot in the middle of Korea. So the question I always asked the network was, 'Who are these laughing people? Where did they come from?'" Gelbart persuaded CBS to test the show in private screenings with and without the laugh track. The results showed no measurable difference in the audience's enjoyment. "So you know what they said?" Gelbart said. "'Since there's no difference, let's leave it alone!' The people who defend laugh tracks have no sense of humor." Gelbart summed up the situation by saying, "I always thought it cheapened the show. The network got their way. They were paying for dinner."
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||24||September 17, 1972||March 25, 1973||46||17.5|
|2||24||September 15, 1973||March 2, 1974||4||25.7|
|3||24||September 10, 1974||March 18, 1975||5||27.4|
|4||25||September 12, 1975||February 24, 1976||14||22.9[a]|
|5||25||September 21, 1976||March 15, 1977||4||25.9|
|6||25||September 20, 1977||March 27, 1978||8||23.2[b]|
|7||26||September 18, 1978||March 12, 1979||7||25.4|
|8||25||September 17, 1979||March 24, 1980||4||25.3[b]|
|9||20||November 17, 1980||May 4, 1981||4||25.7|
|10||22||October 26, 1981||April 12, 1982||9||22.3|
|11||16||October 25, 1982||February 28, 1983||3||22.6[c]|
Final episode: "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"
"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was the final episode of M*A*S*H. Special television sets were placed in PX parking lots, auditoriums and day rooms of the U.S. Army in Korea so that military personnel could watch that episode, in spite of 14 hours' time-zone difference with the East Coast of the US. The episode aired on February 28, 1983, and was 21⁄2 hours long. The episode got a Nielsen rating of 60.2 and 77 share and according to a New York Times article from 1983, the final episode of M*A*S*H had 125 million viewers.
When the M*A*S*H finale aired in 1983, more than 83.3 million homes in the United States had televisions, compared to almost 115 million in February 2010.
"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 book The Last Days of M*A*S*H include interviews with New York City Sanitation workers citing the spike in water use on that night. According to the interviews at 11:03 pm, EST New York City public works noted the highest water usage at one given time in the City's history. They attributed this to the fact that in the three minutes after the finale ended, around 77 percent of the people of New York City flushed their toilets. These stories have all since been identified as part of an urban legend dating back to the days of the Amos and Andy radio program in the 1930s.
Ratings and recognition
The series premiered in the US on September 17, 1972, and ended on February 28, 1983, with the finale, showcased as a television film, titled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", becoming the most-watched and highest-rated single television episode in US television history at the time, with a record-breaking 125 million viewers (60.2 rating and 77 share), according to the New York Times. It had struggled in its first season and was at risk of being cancelled. In season two, M*A*S*H was placed in a better time slot by CBS (airing after the popular All in the Family); the show then became one of the top 10 programs of the year and stayed in the top 20 programs for the rest of its run. It is still broadcast in syndication on various television stations. The series, which depicted events occurring during a three-year war, spanned 256 episodes and lasted 11 seasons. The Korean War lasted 1,128 days, meaning each episode of the series would have averaged almost four and a half days of real time. 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.
The episodes "Abyssinia, Henry" and "The Interview" were ranked number 20 and number 80, respectively, on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time in 1997. In 2002, M*A*S*H was ranked number 25 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In February 2008, the series was named the number-one smartest TV show of all time by Jim Werdell, chairman of Mensa International, who said that it "had smart repartee and was so much more than a comedy". In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the fifth-best written TV series ever and TV Guide ranked it as the eighth-greatest show of all time. In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked it as the 16th-greatest TV show.
|Season||Ep #||Time slot (ET)||Season Premiere||Season Finale||Nielsen Ratings|
|1||1972–73||24||Sunday at 8:00 pm||September 17, 1972||March 25, 1973||#46||N/A||17.4|
|2||1973–74||24||Saturday at 8:30 pm||September 15, 1973||March 2, 1974||#4||17.02||25.7|
|3||1974–75||24||Tuesday at 8:30 pm||September 10, 1974||March 18, 1975||#5||18.76||27.4|
|4||1975–76||25||Friday at 8:00 pm (Episode 1)
Friday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 2–13)
Tuesday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 14–25)
|September 12, 1975||February 24, 1976||#15||15.93||22.9|
|5||1976–77||25||Tuesday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1, 3–25)
Tuesday at 9:30 pm (Episode 2)
|September 21, 1976||March 15, 1977||#4||18.44||25.9|
|6||1977–78||25||Tuesday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1, 3–19)
Tuesday at 9:30 pm (Episode 2)
Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 20–25)
|September 20, 1977||March 27, 1978||#9||16.91||23.2|
|7||1978–79||26||Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1–4, 6–26)
Monday at 9:30 pm (Episode 5)
|September 18, 1978||March 12, 1979||#7||18.92||25.4|
|8||1979–80||25||Monday at 9:00 pm||September 17, 1979||March 24, 1980||#5||19.30||25.3|
|9||1980–81||20||November 17, 1980||May 4, 1981||#4||20.53||25.7|
|10||1981–82||22||Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1, 3–22)
Monday at 9:30 pm (Episode 2)
|October 26, 1981||April 12, 1982||#9||18.17||22.3|
|11||1982–83||16||Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1–15)
Monday at 8:30 pm (Episode 16)
|October 25, 1982||February 28, 1983||#3||18.82||22.6|
M*A*S*H was nominated for over 100 Emmy Awards during its 11-year run, winning 14:
- 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 Averback), 1976 (Averback), 1977 (Alan Alda), 1982 (Alda), 1983 (Alda).
The show was honored with a Peabody Award in 1975 "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."
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 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||22||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|
In January 2015, it was announced that the first five seasons of M*A*S*H would be available on Netflix's instant streaming service beginning February 1, 2015. This marked the first time the series was made available on an internet platform. As of July 1, 2015, all 11 seasons were available; syndicated versions of hour-long episodes were utilized for streaming, splitting these shows into two parts. In contrast to the DVD sets, the Netflix streams did not have an option for disabling the laugh track on the soundtrack. On April 1, 2016, Netflix' contract to stream the series expired and M*A*S*H was removed from the platform.
In July 2017, it was announced that Hulu had acquired online streaming rights for the entire run of M*A*S*H, along with several other 20th Century Fox-owned TV programs. All 256 episodes were added to Hulu beginning June 29, 2018. All episodes were scanned in 1080 HD from the original 35mm negatives and are presented in 16:9 widescreen by cropping the top and bottom off the original.
Spin-offs and specials
The two-season spin-off AfterMASH (1983–1985) 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. (1979–1986) 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; its producers argued successfully in court that it was based on the earlier movie rather than the TV series. In an unpurchased television pilot, W*A*L*T*E*R (1984), Walter "Radar" O'Reilly joins the St. Louis police force after his farm fails following his return to the U.S.
Making M*A*S*H, a documentary special narrated by Mary Tyler Moore that takes 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.
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.
- M*A*S*H: 30th Anniversary Reunion, in which the surviving cast members and producers gathered to reminisce, aired on Fox 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 also featured.
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 A&E channel's Biography program that detailed the show's history.
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 exceptions of Farrell, Stiers, and Stevenson) appeared in the spots over time.
- The term "dramedy" (drama + comedy), although coined in 1978, was not in common usage until after M*A*S*H had gone off the air.
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