M*A*S*H- a season by season discussion!

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by ohnothimagen, Dec 1, 2017.

  1. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    Larry Linville must have known that they'd never make Frank commanding officer of the 4077 forever...
    Interesting. Maybe it would have been more plausible if the plane had just crashed as opposed to being "shot down". Even in a time of war, shooting down an airliner would have made for quite the international incident...
    30th Anniversary Special, I think that was. In those days, the only absentees were Linville and Stevenson...fifteen years later, Alda, Farrell, Swit, Farr and Burghoff are the only lead actors left standing.
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  2. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    There was no table read. The script was written and given to the cast with the final page omitted. After filming the bulk of the episode, they were called back to film the last scene, and at that point they were given the final page. According to Gelbart, it was upon reading this page that Linville made his comment, and Burghoff added that he thought Stevenson would win an Emmy for the episode. They then proceeded to shoot immediately, and did the scene in two takes.

    Gelbart denies they had any malice toward Stevenson in their decision to kill Blake. But I do agree with Rogers that the whole secrecy thing was unnecessary and did insult them as actors. And Stevenson said later he was so upset he hadn't been told in advance that he left without attending the wrap party.
  3. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    David Ogden Stiers is still with us too.
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  4. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    Oh Christ yes, forgot about him...it's been a long day:laugh:
  5. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    I am assuming Henry would have been on an Army plane at least to Tokyo.

    A regular plane crash would have been eminently plausible in the 1950s. That death would have been ironic. But the writers wanted Henry to die a war-related death.

    They also didn't want Henry to actually die in a situation of regular peril, like at the MASH, where it's somewhat plausible. It's interesting in retrospect that the show treated the occasional potential for violence the way they did, either for laughs or pacifism. Being that close to the lines, something could always happen.

    But in that war, Henry's death the way it was written basically could not have happened. I looked up all of the naval battles of the war, and every single bit of damage to UN ships was due to mines or shore batteries in North Korea waters. North Korea had NO ability to go to sea and inflict any damage whatsoever. So it's ridiculous that North Korea is going to send planes out in the Sea Of Japan with no cover whatsoever, nearly sure to be shot down by UN warships or air superiority, seeking to go far into UN airspace on basically a fishing expedition.

    If North Korea could shoot down Henry's plane, they could shoot down MacArthur's plane. Think about that. The UN controlled the air and the sea anyway, and had every incentive to make all of the transports to and from Japan as safe as possible, so they didn't have to do escorts every time.

    I'm fine with writing a death that way; Sands Of Iwo Jima, Mister Roberts, and The Dirty Dozen all wrote in ironic war time deaths. They just needed to write it more plausibly. There WERE black surgeons in Korea, and there WERE NOT transports from Seoul to Tokyo shot down in the Sea Of Japan!
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  6. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    Exactly- like I said, if North Korea shot down a plane full of people (Army plane or not) it would have sparked one helluva international incident. Think of the Soviets shooting down that Korean Airlines plane back in the 80's...I was just a kid then but I remember it was quite the diplomatic kerfuffle, to say the least.
  7. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    Any more thoughts on season three before we move on to the next era of the show?
  8. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Gelbart used Henry's death to make a point about the war - a point he's making all along, but this one brought it home to the audience. Aside from the politics of Stevenson leaving (and I cannot believe - even in the first series - that he thought he would feature as much as Hawkeye and Trapper) and presumably wanting to headline a show of his own (which, of course, tanked, so there's another perspective) and the way Gelbart treated the cast, it was tremendously effective in a sit-com that was trying to stretch what was commonly achieved in the genre. It might not be historically accurate but few shows/movies are.

    One thing for sure, the show would never achieve the level of consistency it did during these three series. It would be nice to think that had Trapper and Henry stayed, the writing would have been as good, but I don't think the evidence bears that out. They'd gone about as far as they could with Frank, who becomes increasingly silly, and arguably with Margaret too. I would, however, have far preferred to watch Hawkeye/Trapper/Henry than Hawkeye/BJ/Potter - and I think a lot of that has to do with Stevenson's performance. When I first saw the show, his was by far my favourite character.
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  9. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    And on that note...

    The fourth season of M*A*S*H aired Fridays at 8:30–9:00 pm from September 12 to November 28, 1975 and Tuesdays at 9:00–9:30 pm from December 2, 1975 to February 24, 1976 on CBS.

    Alan Alda Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
    Mike Farrell Capt. B.J. Hunnicut
    Harry Morgan Col. Sherman T. Potter
    Loretta Swit Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan
    Larry Linville Maj. Frank Burns
    Gary Burghoff Cpl. Walter "Radar" O'Reilly
    Jamie Farr Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger
    12 "Welcome to Korea" Gene Reynolds Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell and Larry Gelbart September 12, 1975 G-504G-506
    While on R&R, Hawkeye misses Trapper John's discharge, and tries to say goodbye but misses him by 10 minutes, but he meets his new ally in Captain B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell). First appearance of Harry Morgan as Colonel Sherman Potter. Gene Reynolds won the Primetime Emmy Award for directing this episode while Fred W. Berger and Stanford Tischler won for editing. Everett Greenbaum, Jim Fritzell and Larry Gelbart won the Writers Guild Award.
    75 3 "Change of Command" Gene Reynolds Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum September 19, 1975 G-501
    When Frank learns he's going to be replaced he throws a tantrum, and goes AWOL. Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan) assumes command of the 4077th, and orders Klinger to get into uniform, Hawkeye tells him to wear a slip. Col. Potter, Hawkeye, and B.J. drink and sing songs. Col. Potter compliments Klinger on his Shirley Temple dress. First mention of Jamie Farr at beginning of opening credits.
    76 4 "It Happened One Night" Gene Reynolds Story by : Gene Reynolds
    Teleplay by : Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner September 26, 1975 G-502
    The 4077th is shaken up by heavy artillery during a long, cold night. Frank ransacks Hotlips' tent. Klinger tries to catch pneumonia. B.J. has to open up his patient again.
    77 5 "The Late Captain Pierce" Alan Alda Glen Charles & Les Charles October 3, 1975 G-507
    B.J. gets a call from Hawkeye's father-- the Army mistakenly lists Hawkeye as dead. Hawkeye tries to take advantage of the situation, but it isn't as good as he thinks. He can't receive any pay, send out or receive any mail, telegrams, or phone calls. As a last resort, Hawkeye attempts to go AWOL.

    Note – Gary Burghoff does not appear in this episode.
    78 6 "Hey, Doc" William Jurgensen Rick Mittleman October 10, 1975 G-510
    Father Mulcahy, Radar and Klinger are trapped in the showers when a sniper starts shooting. The 4077th receives special requests from British and American officers. An ingrown toenail and a VD problem, and Frank destroys the camp with a tank.
    79 7 "The Bus" Gene Reynolds John D. Hess October 17, 1975 G-512
    Hawkeye, B.J. Hunnicutt, Frank Burns, Col. Potter, and Radar are stranded in unfamiliar territory when their bus breaks down on the way back from a medical conference. A Korean soldier fixes the bus engine and Hawkeye and B.J. play a practical joke on Frank. Note: This episode has no laugh track.
    80 8 "Dear Mildred" Alan Alda Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell October 24, 1975 G-505
    While Col. Potter writes to his wife Mildred on their 27th anniversary, Frank and Margaret seek a proper gift from a local artist and Radar saves the best for last. A 4 year old horse whom the Colonel names Sophie.
    81 9 "The Kids" Alan Alda Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum October 31, 1975 G-511
    The 4077th cares for Korean orphans at Christmastime when Meg Cratty arrives. B.J. delivers a baby and treats the wounded mother. Alan Alda received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for directing this episode.
    82 10 "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?" Larry Gelbart Burt Prelutsky November 7, 1975 G-513
    A wounded bombardier (Alan Fudge) believes he's Jesus Christ, which brings him to the attention of both Colonel Flagg (Edward Winter) and Dr. Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus). Note: This episode has no laugh track.
    83 11 "Dear Peggy" Burt Metcalfe Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum November 14, 1975 G-509
    B.J. writes to his wife Peggy about life at the 4077th. Episode features Ned Beatty as a visiting senior chaplain.
    84 12 "Of Moose and Men" John Erman Jay Folb November 21, 1975 G-503
    A colonel (Tim O'Connor) goes after Hawkeye, while B.J. learns what a "moose" means in Korea.
    85 13 "Soldier of the Month" Gene Reynolds Linda Bloodworth November 28, 1975 G-514
    Potter announces a Soldier of the Month contest, while Frank gets delirious from Hemorrhagic Fever.
    86 14 "The Gun" Burt Metcalfe Larry Gelbart & Gene Reynolds December 2, 1975 G-517
    Frank steals the rare gun of a wounded colonel (Warren Stevens), and lets Radar take the fall when the gun is discovered missing.
    87 15 "Mail Call...Again" George Tyne Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum December 9, 1975 G-518
    A batch of mail from home brings news that Col. Potter will be a grandfather and Frank's wife has discovered his affair with Margaret.
    88 16 "The Price of Tomato Juice" Gene Reynolds Larry Gelbart & Gene Reynolds December 16, 1975 G-519
    In his ongoing efforts to please Col. Potter, Radar does everything he can to obtain a supply of tomato juice.
    89 17 "Dear Ma" Alan Alda Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell December 23, 1975 G-515
    Radar writes to his mother about the 4077th's monthly foot inspection and the various related incidents.
    90 18 "Der Tag" Gene Reynolds Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell January 6, 1976 G-522
    Potter asks Hawkeye and B.J. to be nice to Frank while Margaret's in Tokyo. The three go out drinking.
    91 19 "Hawkeye" Larry Gelbart Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner January 13, 1976 G-520
    Hawkeye gets a concussion in a jeep accident and finds shelter in a Korean farmer's home, where he talks nonstop to maintain consciousness. Note: Alda is the only regular cast member to appear in this episode.
    92 20 "Some 38th Parallels" Burt Metcalfe Regier & Markowitz[a] January 20, 1976 G-521
    Radar bonds with a patient, Hawkeye is unable to bond with a nurse, and Frank decides the camp's garbage could be as valuable as war bonds.
    93 21 "The Novocaine Mutiny" Harry Morgan Burt Prelutsky January 27, 1976 G-523
    Frank charges Hawkeye with mutiny, but they have different views of the circumstances leading to the court martial.
    94 22 "Smilin' Jack" Charles Dubin Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner February 3, 1976 G-508
    A helicopter pilot with diabetes (Robert J. Hogan) doesn't want to give up flying.
    95 23 "The More I See You" Gene Reynolds Larry Gelbart & Gene Reynolds February 10, 1976 G-524
    One of Hawkeye's old flames (Blythe Danner) is assigned to the 4077th, and old tensions rise.
    96 24 "Deluge" William Jurgensen Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner February 17, 1976 G-516
    The 4077th is overrun with casualties from an unexpected offensive.
    97 25 "The Interview" Larry Gelbart Larry Gelbart February 24, 1976 G-525
    A news correspondent (Clete Roberts) visits the 4077th to get their feelings about the war. Note: This episode was filmed in black and white and was the final episode for series developer Larry Gelbart. Loretta Swit does not appear.

    In 1997, TV Guide ranked this episode #80 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes.[1]
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  10. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    It goes without saying that season 4 was a major turning point for the series. Looking at the actual episodes, season 4 seems about on par with season 3 as far as consistency goes. Aside from "Welcome To Korea" and "Change Of Command", which are indeed classics for the way they introduce the Hunnicut and Potter characters, my favourites are probably "Hey Doc" (who can forget Frank driving that tank and whispering "Boom!":laugh:), "Some 38th Parallels" and "Smilin' Jack".
  11. The Novacain Mutiny is a great Rashamon episode and seriously funny.

    The first episode - or part 2 where Frank is introduced to Potter and Margaret blurts out "just friends" after Potter say "Major Burns" is a riot.
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  12. adm62

    adm62 Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    It's a TV show. The Korean war didn't last 11 years so not everything has to be true to life. I did not know the fatal twist at the end of the episode when I first saw it and found it believable and moving.
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  13. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    "Change Of Command" is another episode that gets absolutely butchered in syndication. For one thing, you never see Frank come back to camp after he has his little hissy fit- you just see him finally reporting for duty to Potter with a big old shiner during the finale. The scene where he berates Igor over the way he serves the food (which is a hoot) is missing as well. Hawkeye, BJ and Potter's little session in the Swamp is also noticeably scarred on TV (and badly edited, at that). It was one of the episodes where, when I first saw it uncut on DVD really made me shake my head- "Why did they cut this out?":shake:
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  14. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Don't agree that this season is as good overall as two or three, but there are plenty of gems: Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?, The Interview, The Late Captain Pierce, It Happened One Night, Welcome to Korea, Some 38th Parallels, Change of Command, Dear Peggy, The More I See You and The Novocaine Mutiny come to mind.
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  15. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    Hot Lips is missing from a quite a few episodes:

    The Late Captain Pierce
    The Bus (also no Klinger in this episode)
    Hawkeye (all of the main cast except Alda gone)
    Some 38th Parallels
    The Novocaine Mutiny
    The More I See You (Frank is also missing from this episode)
    The Interview

    Klinger is also not present in Of Moose And Men and Smilin' Jack.

    I know Loretta did a play late in that season, which explains the last four. The producers were certainly being generous in letting her have the time off. The Novocaine Mutiny would need to be rewritten were Hot Lips in it, and her absence from The Interview is a loss.

    IMDb ratings for the episodes:

    Welcome To Korea - 8.6
    Change Of Command - 8.4
    It Happened One Night - 7.6
    The Late Captain Pierce - 8.2
    Hey, Doc - 7.4
    The Bus - 8.1
    Dear Mildred - 8.0
    The Kids - 7.5
    Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler - 8.1
    Dear Peggy - 7.4
    Of Moose And Men - 7.2
    Soldier Of The Month - 7.7
    The Gun - 7.5
    Mail Call, Again - 7.9
    The Price Of Tomato Juice - 7.7
    Dear Ma - 7.6
    Der Tag - 7.9
    Hawkeye - 7.0
    Some 38th Parallels - 7.6
    The Novocaine Mutiny - 8.0
    Smilin' Jack - 7.4
    The More I See You - 7.2
    Deluge - 7.9
    The Interview - 8.2

    No big surprise to see Hawkeye as the worst rated. That has never seemed to be a fan favorite. Seems indulgent to Alda and it pretty much is.

    Elsewhere I saw an interesting observation about The Bus. Potter, Hawkeye, BJ, Frank are all going to a conference. Who's running the camp? Even Radar, seemingly unneeded at the conference, is on the bus. Maybe that was the time the infamous second shift, run by "George", took over the camp.

    Overall, this is a good season. Little if any falloff from Season 3. Potter and BJ are written much better in this season than they ever would be later. Big falloff coming in Season 5 with Gelbart's departure.
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  16. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    The series seemed infallible and indestructible in the fourth season for those of us watching it week to week on CBS. Here they'd lost two major actor/characters, yet they didn't miss a beat in keeping the show in top form.

    I still remember watching "Welcome To Korea" as it aired in September of 75. My Dad, who loved the show, seemed to be just a tad disappointed early on in the hour-long episode. He particularly had a problem with the jeep ride from the 4077th to Kempo where Hawkeye's driving and Radar is hooting and hollering. That scene seemed to him like it went on way too long. I've always noticed how "jerky" the motion is in that scene, wondering if they sped up the film to make it seem like Hawkeye was driving faster than he really was.

    Once things got to Kempo, the comedy returned and a seemingly likable B.J. is introduced. The second half largely brought the war back into focus with B.J.'s introduction to the way war really was and then had him getting drunk at Rosie's and calling Frank Ferret Face. The remainder with Potter was really just a shortened promo of what was to follow in the next week.

    I enjoyed the episode - still do - but hearing Dad put down the jeep ride for being too long was my first hint that M*A*S*H was indeed changing.

    I thought the rest of the season was largely fine, even admiring the chutzpah of having Alda do a monologue, introducing a character who thought he was Jesus Christ with no laugh track, and the producers doing an episode in black & white. Those all seemed classy - and different from all of television at the time.
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  17. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    As I noted earlier, the introduction of Potter really undercuts the effectiveness of Frank and Hot Lips as adversaries for Hawkeye and his sidekick. Prior to that, they represented Army authority, the primary thing Hawkeye and Trapper were rebelling against. Since Henry was a reluctant and hapless authority figure, Frank and Hot Lips were sometimes able to circumvent him and cause real problems for Hawkeye and Trapper. But Potter was a competent and effective authority, so it was not possible for them to go over his head or assert authority in any meaningful way... he would immediately put a stop to their schemes. As a result, Frank becomes more a punching bag than an adversary in his final two seasons. He still has some great comic moments, but it's pretty much the beginning of the end for his character the moment Potter shows up. Hot Lips also hits a dead end as a character, but in her case they respond by changing her into "Margaret" who is essentially a completely new character in the guise of an old one. With the arrival of Potter, Hawkeye's clear "enemy" is no longer authority (or the army) but the War.

    That said, there are still some fine episodes. "The Late Captain Pierce" and "The Novocaine Mutiny" would number among my personal top ten.
  18. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    The B.J. Hunnicutt character.

    While M*A*S*H aired on CBS and for several runs in syndication, I rather enjoyed the B.J. Hunnicutt character and thought he was a great replacement for Trapper John. But about five years or so ago, I began to notice a couple of things that others apparently picked up on a lot earlier than me. B.J. was actually rather annoying, constantly moping at the latest "letter from Peg". But that wasn't all - he now seemed to be very much in an antagonistic role with Hawkeye. For two such great friends, they seemed at odds in many of the later years - arguing not just for Frank's birthday, but really all of the time.

    Yet on original run, I never noticed any of that and I can't imagine why.
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  19. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    I forget about the infamous "Hawkeye" episode 'cos I never watch it, never liked it. "Self indulgent" is like an understatement...the most amazing thing about that episode is that Alda didn't write it!

    The best part about the ride to Kimpo is when Hawkeye runs the roadblock and then gets stopped again, laying some b.s. story on the MP's about Radar having some rare contagious disease:laugh:
    Frank being a punching bag isn't quite as obvious in season 4 as it would be in season 5 but it's more obvious that they were writing the character for cheap laughs than anything at that point. It's easy to see why Larry Linville reckoned he and the writers had taken the Frank Burns character as far as they could- Frank became more caricature than character at that point.
    Glad to see I'm not the only one who noticed how antagonistic BJ becomes towards Hawkeye over time. They remind me of House and Wilson on House more than anything.
  20. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    It was definitely something that happened gradually over time, rather than an abrupt change. I remember being annoyed by it during the series' first run. To some degree, everyone becomes more antagonistic in the later years, but in the case of BJ it made me wonder how they could be such great friends if they couldn't get along on a basic level. I imagine the writers thought it was more realistic to have the characters act bitchy towards each other, but it also gave rise to the gratuitous use of yelling which I've bitched about already... in the final seasons, it would be an effective drinking game to imbibe every time one character goes off on someone.
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  21. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    Some of those later episodes, you'd need more than one bottle close at hand for that kind of drinking game!:D
  22. torcan

    torcan Forum Resident

    The fourth season...I still think overall it was pretty strong. We had some really good episodes, including another Col. Flagg episode, but you could see the change of direction to a more serious tone as there were several episodes without laugh tracks. For me, the slow start of the downturn.

    I'm not sure who wrote this description but this is NOT a Christmas episode. I just re-watched it and there's no mention on Christmas anywhere.
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  23. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Hmmm, there is a later Charles episode with orphans set at Christmas
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  24. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    A number of folks in this thread and others mention the change in M*A*S*H from laugh-out-loud funny to dramatic, and of course that change is obvious. That fact never bothered me at the time - in fact, I thought it was brilliant for essentially a comedy show to have achieved such heights of drama. Perhaps it was a bit melodramatic at times, but I still followed the series along for whatever ride it wanted to take me on. So I'm not one to criticize too much about the change to more dramatics, but I certainly noticed the change. It became even more obvious when M*A*S*H went into its first syndication run.

    After adjusting to the change to less comedy, it was almost a shock to see the early episodes which have been described as "hi jinx at the front" in juxtaposition with what was running on Monday nights on CBS. Those funny episodes are "really" funny, and the change to heartwarming stories was really noticeable at that point in time.
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  25. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen I don't suffer fools or trolls gladly... Thread Starter

    The heartwarming stories I can abide, the hypersentimentality that permeates some of the later episodes -say, "Old Soldiers" from season 8- is a bit too much IMO.

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