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

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

  1. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    I watched The Late Captian Pierce last night. Regardless of his anti-authority disposition and what had happened in the episode, I don't think the 'old' Hawkeye would ever have walked away from treating wounded
     
  2. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Happy new year, everybody! Time for some catchup:
    "The Price" was my grandmother's favourite episode, but she always had a thing for horses (I imagine she'd probably rank "Dear Mildred" pretty high up there as well)
    I almost have the impression that in the later seasons they weren't necessarily looking for "comedy" writers, just writers. And it shows IMO. At least Levine and Issacs went out with some class ("Goodbye Radar").
    I'd be brazen to say we'd all have differing opinions on when exactly the show changed/"jumped the shark". Personally, I don't think it was as early as you say, though the seeds were definitely sown. No question, though, by around season 7 the differences are too hard to ignore.
    I remember reading some post somewhere -the old defunct IMDB forums, I think- positing the theory that Hawk and Trap's actions in "Henry Please Come Home" inadvertently resulted in Henry's death. As in, if Henry had stayed in Tokyo, he likely would have been rotated home faster and therefore would have missed his date with fate on the airplane when leaving the 4077. Interesting theory, I suppose, but I don't really buy it...
    You are correct- "Alcoholics Unanimous", from season 3- a very funny episode.
    I think it's safe to say that Hawkeye and Trapper would not have gotten away with all the shenanigans they pulled on Frank in real life. Given "The Novocaine Mutiny" episode in season 4, it's surprising it took Frank that long to make those sorts of accusations- they were trying to usurp what authority Frank had from day one...aided and abetted by the commanding officer, no less.
    I think Charles just got to a point, somewhere in season 7 probably, where once he realized Potter wasn't going to bend and send him back to Tokyo where he decided, "Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." But we're getting ahead of ourselves here:laugh:
    I think it was more of a case of, having been declared dead due to an Army snafu so soon after losing Henry and Trapper just caused Hawkeye to temporarily say the hell with it (literally, as I recall, I haven't seen that episode in a while). He would have come to his senses -that treating patients was his life- even without BJ prodding him (guilt tripping him, not to put too fine a point on it, and not for the last time, either...)
     
  3. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    Yeah... I don't buy the Sea Of Japan bit any more, but Henry was clearly in some danger being at the MASH. That had some plausibility.

    They got away with more in the movie. They were skilled specialists who were hard to replace. As long as they could do their jobs, the Army was probably willing to look the other way a lot. Now Frank was a surgeon as well, and in real life the situation probably would have been resolved one way or another, sooner rather than later. Frank would have transferred or something else. The show had to continue the relationship.

    I would have like to have seen another doctor be incompetent besides Frank. There was the Edward Herrmann character, but that was a breakdown, not incompetence. It was a real life issue. There were doctors and surgeons who could make it in civilian life, but not on that fast track. They would get shipped out of the units. This is one area where the movie was more true to real life than the TV show.
     
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  4. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Indeed- even the Pilot episode made that painfully obvious. Or as Henry told Hawkeye and Trapper more than once (paraphrasing) "If you two weren't two of the finest cutters in Southeast Asia, yer butts would have been in a sling a long time ago!"

    Again, and not to belabour my comparisons with House, but Greg House almost literally got away with murder at Princeton Plainsboro due to his abilities as a doctor/diagnostician. To the point where the Dean of medicine actually committed perjury on the stand to protect House when he was busted for possession of Vicodin in season 3. How many times did Potter, in particular, come to Hawkeye's rescue when he managed to piss off one higher ranking officer or another? I'll cite the colonel Hawkeye splattered mud on in "Of Moose And Men" as one example- the guy was ready to bust Pierce even after Pierce saved his life, until the timely intervention of Potter.
     
  5. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    The Herrmann character would have been much more effective had he been introduced as a new member of the team and had his disintegration been followed through a number of episodes so the audience could get to know him, like him and then be appalled at what happened - and maybe see the effect on the other characters. I guess that might not have mixed too well with the shouting and silliness of some of the episodes around it and, more obviously, the show didn't do story arcs. It's one of the better S8 episodes and iirc there is a character late in the novel who undergoes something similar. Herrmann's such a good actor that he could have easily carried this off.
     
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  6. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Oh I dunno, I think they did a pretty good job just within that 24 minute episode. You got to meet the character, like him and feel empathy for him when he cracks up. I believe the Dr Newsome character was actually based on a real doctor (the "Pusan Perimeter" Newsome mentions to Hawkeye and BJ was real as well)- probably more information gleaned from the interviews with Korean War veterans etc Gelbart and Reynolds did.
    That is true. Margaret's engagement throughout season 5 is probably the closest they really came to a "story arc" in the traditional sense. Story arcs are great and all, but admittedly one of the things I like about M*A*S*H is that you don't have to watch the show from the beginning (or beginning of a season for the most part) to know what the hell's going on.
     
  7. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    Damn, I've just checked the novel and it's nowhere near as effective. It's a Captain Pinkham who has to go hime because his wife goes has a breakdown.
     
  8. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Pretty sure it's been even longer since I read the book than it has since I've seen the movie:laugh: At least fifteen years for either, give or take...
     
  9. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    Same for me for the film. I'd hate to think how long it is since I read the book. The fact I still have it has more to do with the TV show. It's no Catch 22 (but then what is, I hear Mr Heller asking from beyond...)
     
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  10. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Been even longer since I read/viewed Catch 22:laugh:

    Anyway, this morning while waiting for the delivery of our new washing machine, based on some of the comments in this thread I watched "The Late Captain Pierce" and "Of Moose And Men". The main thing I took away from those episodes was that these are two season 4 eps that could easily have been written while the Trapper character was still on board, and then reworked to fit BJ. It's not hard to imagine Trapper talking to Hawkeye on Digger's hearse bus or writing Sgt Zale's letter to his wife.
     
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  11. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    In the novel both Major Hobson and Captain Burns (who were combined into Major Burns in the movie) get transferred out of the unit, in large part due to their conflicts with Hawkeye and Duke. The book is at least loosely based on fact, so it seems likely those characters are based on real people and it was not uncommon for people to be transferred out by the CO like that.
     
  12. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    I actually caught the movie version on one of the movie channels on TV on Friday night. The main thing I took from it was how Hawkeye, Trapper and Duke deliberately pushed Frank over the edge (I can't believe I forgot Robert Duvall played Frank in the movie:laugh:) just like they do on the TV show.

    My favourite part of the movie was when Hawkeye and Trapper wreaked havoc in Tokyo. I called it a night when the football game sequence started (that part annoyed me even as a kid).
     
  13. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Anyway, speaking of pushing Frank Burns over the edge, on to season 5:

    The fifth season of M*A*S*H aired Tuesdays at 9:00–9:30 pm on CBS.
    Cast
    Actor
    Role
    Alan Alda Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
    Mike Farrell Capt. B.J. Hunnicut
    Harry Morgan Col. Sherman T. Potter
    Loretta Swit Maj. Margaret Houlihan
    Larry Linville Maj. Frank Burns
    Gary Burghoff Cpl. Walter "Radar" O'Reilly
    Jamie Farr Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger
    William Christopher Father Francis Mulcahy
    Episodes

    98
    99
    12 "Bug Out" Gene Reynolds Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum September 21, 1976 U-801U-802
    The 4077th bugs out in fear of a Chinese advance, but Hawkeye, Margaret and Radar must stay behind with a patient who can't be moved.
    100 3 "Margaret's Engagement" Alan Alda Gary Markowitz September 28, 1976 U-803
    Margaret gets engaged in Tokyo while on temporary duty and the surgeons brace themselves for Frank's reaction.
    101 4 "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" Gene Reynolds Ken Levine & David Isaacs October 5, 1976 U-806
    An explosion causes Hawkeye to go blind.
    Tom Sullivan makes his television debut as a patient who lost his sight in combat.
    Able is played by Judy Farrell, Mike Farrell's wife at the time this episode aired.
    102 5 "Lt. Radar O'Reilly" Alan Rafkin Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell October 12, 1976 U-805
    Hawkeye and B.J. arrange a promotion for Radar to lieutenant, but Radar realizes he feels better as a corporal.
    Alan Rafkin received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for directing this episode.
    103 6 "The Nurses" Joan Darling Linda Bloodworth October 19, 1976 U-809
    A feud between Margaret and the nurses jeopardizes Nurse Baker's overdue honeymoon. Gregory Harrison, who later starred in Trapper John, M.D., guest stars as Baker's husband Tony.
    Joan Darling received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for directing this episode.
    104 7 "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan" Gene Reynolds Story by : Gene Reynolds
    Teleplay by : Allan Katz & Don Reo October 26, 1976 U-808
    Colonel Flagg shows up when it seems that Margaret's been abducted while on a mission of mercy.
    105 8 "Dear Sigmund" Alan Alda Alan Alda November 9, 1976 U-810
    Feeling depressed, Sidney Freeman writes to Sigmund Freud about the craziness of the 4077th.
    Alan Alda won the Primetime Emmy and Directors Guild Awards for this episode. Alda also received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for writing, while William Jurgensen was nominated for cinematography.
    106 9 "Mulcahy's War" George Tyne Richard Cogan November 16, 1976 U-812
    After failing to communicate with a patient who shot himself, Father Mulcahy decides to experience life on the front lines.
    107 10 "The Korean Surgeon" Gene Reynolds Bill Idelson November 23, 1976 U-814
    Hawkeye feels a North Korean POW who is an American-trained MD would be a fine addition to the 4077th's surgical staff.
    108 11 "Hawkeye Get Your Gun" William Jurgensen Story by : Gene Reynolds & Jay Folb
    Teleplay by : Jay Folb November 30, 1976 U-813
    Hawkeye and Potter must assist a Korean hospital near the front.
    Jay Folb and Gene Reynolds received a Writers Guild Award nomination for this episode.
    Note – Gary Burghoff does not appear in this episode.
    109 12 "The Colonel's Horse" Burt Metcalfe Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum December 7, 1976 U-811
    While Potter's in Tokyo, both his mare and Margaret get sick. B.J. calls his father-in-law to ask for advice, for Potter's mare, and Hawkeye operates on Margaret who has appendicitis.
    110 13 "Exorcism" Alan Alda Story by : Gene Reynolds & Jay Folb
    Teleplay by : Jay Folb December 14, 1976 U-815
    Potter orders the removal of a post that Koreans believe keeps away evil spirits – then strange things start happening all over the camp.
    111 14 "Hawk's Nightmare" Burt Metcalfe Burt Prelutsky December 21, 1976 U-804
    Sidney returns to the 4077th when Hawkeye starts having nightmares.
    112 15 "The Most Unforgettable Characters" Burt Metcalfe Ken Levine & David Isaacs January 4, 1977 U-818
    Radar takes a correspondence course in creative writing.
    113 16 "38 Across" Burt Metcalfe Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum January 11, 1977 U-821
    Hawkeye calls a Navy buddy for help in finishing a crossword puzzle.
    114 17 "Ping Pong" William Jurgensen Sid Dorfman January 18, 1977 U-817
    Hawkeye and B.J. support a Korean ping-pong champion. The staff arranges a wedding for him and his fiancée, which everyone attends. Burns doesn't approve and threatens them with General Harrelson, but Margaret tells him to shut up.
    115 18 "End Run" Harry Morgan John D. Hess January 25, 1977 U-816
    Radar tries to help a former college football star deal with the loss of his leg.
    116 19 "Hanky Panky" Gene Reynolds Gene Reynolds February 1, 1977 U-822
    Margaret worries for her hospitalized fiancé, while B.J. gets close to a nurse who just received a "Dear Jane" letter.
    117 20 "Hepatitis" Alan Alda Alan Alda February 8, 1977 U-823
    The 4077th springs into action when Father Mulcahy has a case of hepatitis, while Hawkeye develops a backache after receiving news about a doctor from back home.
    118 21 "The General's Practitioner" Alan Rafkin Burt Prelutsky February 15, 1977 U-807
    A general makes a reluctant Hawkeye his personal physician while a GI asks Radar for a big favor.
    119 22 "Movie Tonight" Burt Metcalfe Gene Reynolds, Don Reo, Allan Katz and Jay Folb February 22, 1977 U-824
    Potter presents My Darling Clementine, a 1946 Western film, to boost morale at the 4077th, but the audience proves to be rowdier than the cowboys in the movie. The staff has a sing-a-long to "Gee, Mom, I Wanna Go Home" during a break in the film.
    120 23 "Souvenirs" Joshua Shelley Story by : Burt Prelutsky and Reinhold Weege
    Teleplay by : Burt Prelutsky March 1, 1977 U-819
    Hawkeye and B.J. conspire against a helicopter pilot who's selling souvenirs at the expense of Korean children. Featuring Brian Dennehy as an M.P.
    Note – Gary Burghoff does not appear in this episode.
    121 24 "Post Op" Gene Reynolds Story by : Gene Reynolds & Jay Folb
    Teleplay by : Ken Levine & David Isaacs March 8, 1977 U-825
    The post-op ward fills up with increasing casualties causing a shortage of blood.

    Note – Gary Burghoff does not appear in this episode.
    122 25 "Margaret's Marriage" Gene Reynolds Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell March 15, 1977 U-820
    Margaret feels eight months is long enough to be engaged so she and Donald decide to get married right away. This was Larry Linville's final episode.
     
  14. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    In spite of how annoying Margaret can get rubbing her engagement in everybody's face -Frank's particularly- I quite like season 5. My favourite eps are probably "Dear Sigmund", "The Colonel's Horse", "Hepatitis" and "Post Op". But how can we forget about IMO the mother of all Colonel Flagg episodes, "The Abduction Of Margaret Houlihan"...so many great lines in that episode!

    Frank: Colonel, I think the North Koreans have abducted Major Houlihan!
    Potter: I see. So naturally you shot Captain Hunnicut.
    :laugh::laugh::laugh:
     
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  15. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    Less sure about this season, but I recall liking Movie Tonight, Hanky-Panky, The Most Unforgettable Characters, Dear Sigmund, Post-Op, The Korean Surgeon and The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan. I remember disliking Bug Out (both parts), Exorcism, Mulchay's War, Ping Pong, Hawkeye Get Your Gun
     
  16. Grand_Ennui

    Grand_Ennui Forum Resident

    Location:
    WI

    I'd tend to agree, those are pretty weak episodes, although I don't think I dislike "Bug-Out" quite as much as the others... Another one on my dislike list, and I alluded to it earlier in this thread, is "The Nurses".
     
  17. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    I get the same sense from watching "Movie Tonight" that I do watching "Bulletin Board" from season 3- consciously or not it's as though they were saying goodbye to an era with those episodes (Trapper and Henry in "Bulletin Board", and Frank in "Movie Tonight") with the whole M*A*S*H gang together and having fun one last time. "A Night At Rosies" from season 7 has a similar vibe for me (the last episode where Radar isn't a total crank who doesn't want to be there anymore)
    "The Nurses" is significant because it is one of the first signs of Margaret Houlihan changing from the "regular Army clown" of the early seasons into a regular human being (before they went too over the top with the changes in her character, that is)...even if her nurses have to force her into doing it. That said, it is also one of the first eps where over the top melodrama really rears its ugly head.
     
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  18. Grand_Ennui

    Grand_Ennui Forum Resident

    Location:
    WI

    You got that right!
     
  19. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Yes. I know that folks like @czeskleba like to cite episodes like "Fallen Idol" as the beginning of the end (which we'll get to soon enough), but the seeds were sown with "The Nurses" IMO.
     
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  20. Some good episodes in this season include Bug-Out, Lt. O'Reilly, The Abduction of Margaret and Margaret's Engagement. But this season BJ becomes insufferable -both because of his "practical jokes" and his unbelievable interactions with the nurses; his loyalty to Peg stretches all credulity under the circumstances. Larry Linville was sorely missed by me.

    The episode where Hawkeye loses his sight is a particular low-light of this season, and of course the infamous "Nurses" episode where we finally lose Hot Lips for good as a character and get in her place "Margaret".
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  21. RayS

    RayS Forum Resident

    I am massively behind, having recently finished season 2. I watched the episode "Kim", where Trapper is such a good guy for wanting to adopt an apparently-orphaned Korean boy. His wonderful wife agrees to his plan and is excited to have him in the family. Trapper comments on how great she is. Of course Kim goes back to his mother, and within the first 2 minutes of the following episode, Trapper cracks a joke about infidelity as he heads off to resume cheating on his wife. Big yucks. No wonder I was happy to have BJ.
     
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  22. I like the Kim episode too. It may be hard to believe that a "good guy" can also be cheating on his wife while at war, but having witnessed this phenomenon first hand I have no problem understanding and sympathizing with Trapper and Henry. Others may not share my sympathy for these characters, and I understand and respect that.
     
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  23. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    I like a lot of Season Five episodes. I'd have to say my favorite is "Movie Tonight". For years, I'd watch that episode when it came on and start getting involved in MY DARLING CLEMENTINE, the movie. The opening scene that's chopped up, and the one in the hotel lobby where Henry Fonda informs Walter Brennan that he's staying on as the Marshal. Both scenes just sucked me right in, so much so that about a decade ago, I finally went out and bought the DVD of MY DARLING CLEMENTINE to finally see the whole movie.

    I love the hour-long opening, "Bug Out" ("Hear me O Lord....hear me O Lord....hear me O lord...). My wife adores "Dear Sigmund" and I find it quite funny too (Tens...and boxer shorts). I really like most of the season. If I have to pick some I don't really care for they would be:

    "Mulcahy's War" - okay episode, but just not in the normal league
    "Hawkeye Get Your Gun" - sort of a one-joke show, with Hawkeye and his gun phobia
    "Souvenirs" - I'm not fond of this one, even though the guy selling the souvenirs turned up on the pilot of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION as Groppler Zorn. He's unlikable in this episode.

    We were, I suppose, given some clues that Gary Burghoff was about to bolt the show with his absences this season.
     
  24. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    We've talked a lot about Frank already, and as has been noted, season five is kind of the final nail in his coffin. Having lost any semblance of authority with the arrival of Potter, he now loses his only ally in the camp. He is reduced to a punching bag, and this season he's getting it from all sides. One can see why Larry Linville felt he'd been written into a corner and decided to leave.

    I watched MASH first run when I was a kid... I was a kindergartner when it debuted, and a fifth grader when Linville left. Like everyone else, I hated Frank Burns and loved to see him mocked. It was only as an adult many years later that I came to realize what a fantastic job Larry Linville did. It takes a special kind of actor to be able to make us laugh as he is abused without arousing undue sympathy that might undercut the humor. In that respect Linville is up there with greats like Margaret Dumont, Chris Barrie, and Daffy Duck. Groucho may have preferred working with Thelma Todd, but he was never funnier than when he was bouncing off Dumont, and in the same way MASH (and Hawkeye in particular) lose a lot of their ability to be funny when Linville departs.

    In season five, Linville also manages to make us sympathize with him a little despite his situation, which is pretty remarkable. Frank Burns is a man who has been cheating on his wife unrepentantly, and is upset and jealous because his mistress has broken off their affair. Yet somehow in his interactions with Margaret we almost feel sorry for him at times. Among the bucketloads of Emmys the series received, in retrospect it seems amazing to me that Linville was never even nominated for an award, which underscores how the type of work he did is chronically underappreciated.

    I like that episode actually, primarily for the b-plot which is absolutely hilarious and features some of Frank's finest moments on the series. The a-plot has some melodrama but also has some genuinely funny jokes which leaven that, something that was lost in the melodramatic episodes of later seasons. No argument about "The Nurses" though. "Fallen Idol" is my jump-the-shark episode, but with the "The Nurses" they are definitely strapping on the water-skis and getting ready to go.
     
  25. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Trapper may be less sympathetic in that regard, but he's far more realistic. Good people of course can do bad things, particularly in situations like wartime.
     

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