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

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

  1. questrider

    questrider Forum Resident

    Middle, Nowhere
    Still, it has one of the top 50 funniest lines of the whole series.

    "And you wouldn't believe what—how funny it is to hear someone slip and fall in the mud. I bet—it had to be Burns."

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  2. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    Bug Out 8.1 (247)
    Margaret's Engagement 7.9 (220)
    Out of Sight, Out of Mind 7.8 (230)
    Lt. Radar O'Reilly 7.3 (220)
    The Nurses 7.7 (246)
    The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan 7.9 (244)
    Dear Sigmund 8.4 (305)
    Mulcahy's War 7.8 (223)
    The Korean Surgeon 7.8 (227)
    Hawkeye Get Your Gun 7.8 (219)
    The Colonel's Horse 7.5 (219)
    Exorcism 7.0 (223)
    Hawk's Nightmare 7.5 (226)
    The Most Unforgettable Characters 7.5 (202)
    38 Across 7.6 (209)
    Ping Pong 7.3 (206)
    End Run 7.5 (206)
    Hanky Panky 6.9 (224)
    Hepatitis 7.2 (202)
    The General's Practitioner 7.4 (220)
    Movie Tonight 8.2 (280)
    Souvenirs 7.2 (213)
    Post Op 7.4 (217)
    Margaret's Marriage 7.9 (227)

    Hanky Panky... the Beej hate is strong! I'd go for Exorcism as worst of the season. Kind of a garden variety boring episode. The age of the show starting to show a bit.

    Little surprised End Run doesn't rate higher. It was a chance for Radar to be featured in a way that wasn't cliched.

    Larry Gelbart's loss is felt. The show never really ran as smoothly again. His departure was more significant than any of the cast changes.

    What did Penobscot see in Hot Lips? In retrospect that thing made no sense. I know they were working on the fly, as Loretta Swit decided she didn't want Hot Lips to be married and the producers went along with it. But if Penobscot wanted to mess around on his wife, he could have married before the war and made it much easier. They weren't going to live close to each other for whatever reason, didn't seem on track to having kids, so what was the point of the marriage from his side of it? Realistically, Hot Lips could have gotten a transfer from the 4077th without too much trouble, I'm guessing.
  3. Had the pleasure of meeting Larry Linville in the mid 80's when he was doing speaking tour around colleges. His talk was engaging and terrific with lots of great stories. He was very proud of his acceptance to RADA and his work on MASH. There really was a little of Frank Burns in him, but in a good way. He showed his final MASH episode and said it was his favorite. After the presentation he took time to meet with everyone, answer questions and sign autographs. I still have mine. I always liked Frank but agree that his character had gone as far as it could. I also liked Winchester, except in the final years when he became "nice". To me he became boring. Can you imagine Burns in the final years? Nope. I miss Larry Linville.

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  4. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    I really like to imagine the concept of Burns in the final seasons, because it's a fascinating thought experiment to ponder what they would have done with him if he hadn't left the show. The satirical, cartoony nature of his character would have made it very difficult for them to go full-bore into melodrama in the way they eventually did. Would his continued presence have prevented the tone of the show from changing so dramatically? Would he have been able to balance out some of the seriousness?

    Or on the flipside, would they have rewritten him in a largely different character as they did with Margaret, so he would fit with the new tone? If so, how would they have done that? Would they have tried to make him more sympathetic as was teased in a few season five instances in which he buddied up with Hawkeye and BJ against Margaret? Or perhaps they would have made him meaner, but in a less ineffectual and more destructive way? Most importantly, would there have been a hilarious Frank Burns b-plot in "Fallen Idol"?
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  5. ohnothimagen

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

    And yet...it may seem like heresy but I've always reckoned BJ was a more interesting character than Trapper. There's a bit more depth to the Hunnicut character, even if they did tend to overplay his homesickness etc in later seasons. And I loved how they developed the character in a way that he antagonized Hawkeye from time to time. Don't get me wrong, Trapper's awesome but he seemed a bit one dimensional to me. The "Kim" episode probably is his his best, and to be fair the writers etc had a lot more time to develop Hunnicut's character than they did McIntyre's. Mind ya, I suppose it also didn't help that Trapper seemed fairly marginalized on the show (which of course was one of Wayne Rogers' grievances).
    Radar's absences became more apparent in the fourth season. I think Gary Burghoff had it written into his contract that he was only required to appear in so many episodes per season starting with season 4.
    Yes- one does get the impression (not merely based on Linville's own comments once he left the series) that Linville wasn't too happy with the way they made Frank into such a punching bag. I can't say that I blame him, to be honest. Especially having rewatched the movie a couple of days ago, I didn't really like how they made such a concerted effort to push Frank over the edge- not to say that he didn't deserve some of it but it's out and out bullying, especially when watching the show/film from a 2018 perspective.
    I totally feel sorry for Frank in season 5. Yes, he was a hypocrite (especially as far as marital fidelity went), racist, a mediocre surgeon and all sorts of other unpleasant things but he didn't deserve the kind of treatment he got from the rest of the gang. As I believe you have mentioned before, it's surprising that Potter actually let Hawkeye, BJ and Margaret in particular get away with it. Instead, Potter joined in the abuse. IMO plausibility gets a little bit stretched there...
    I actually watched "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" this morning, and, yeah, the b-plot totally makes the show. As for the a-plot, well, you just knew that they weren't going to make Hawkeye blind forever.

    Fun fact: "Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind" was the first Ken Levine/David Issacs penned episode. Not a bad start, I'd say.
    Indeed...and I'm not gonna lie, I actually find "The Nurses" more cringeworthy than "Fallen Idol". (Yeah...I know:laugh:)
    I would concur with those stats. "Dear Sigmund" is a classic, no question, and I've never liked "Hanky Panky"- yes, I get that they were trying to add a bit more depth to BJ here but it just doesn't work for me. As far as the "BJ being tempted by another woman" scenario goes the "War Co-Respondent" episode from season 8 seems more plausible IMO.
    The whole "Margaret getting married" scenario would be an interesting thing to ask Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum about (I have no idea if they're still around or not) since they wrote the marriage and subsequent marriage falling apart episodes. I suspect that the writers/producers and possibly even Loretta Swit thought it would be neat idea to switch things up a bit and have Margaret get hitched but I think they decided not long after that it would make a more interesting story for her to get married and then have it all go to hell in a handbasket in a big hurry (on the honeymoon, no less!) with the general message being that, as Margaret herself pointed out, "a war is no place for a marriage." As for the Donald Penobscot character himself he always struck me as being a bit of a dipstick anyway:laugh:
    Some of the early season 6 episodes, it seems obvious that they were originally written with Frank in mind and then hastily re-written for Winchester ("Change Day" is one that always comes to mind) Can you imagine "Comrades In Arms" if Frank was still around?:laugh:
    I imagine they would have mellowed Frank's character, and it would have been just as unrealistic as how they changed Margaret into a completely different person.

    Would there have been a hilarious Frank subplot in "Fallen Idol"? Probably not...as I recall Winchester is only in a couple of scenes (such as the OR scene when Hawkeye runs out to barf on Ouijambou).
    Nah, Frank would have just gotten in the queue behind Potter, Margaret and Mulcahy to yell at Hawkeye- wouldn't you have loved that? More yelling!:p
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  6. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    You're probably right, but it's hard to imagine a mellower Frank, or a less adversarial one. That would be weird, especially since if anything most of the characters seem to get angrier as the series goes on (particularly Radar, BJ and Potter). The more I think about it, I think the best way to make Frank fit the tone of the later years would have been to change him from being comically nasty to genuinely, maliciously nasty... someone who deliberately does cruel things and actually has the ability to really hurt people. They would have to make him a little smarter to make that work, but it wouldn't be any more unrealistic than the changes made in Radar early on, or Margaret later.

    Of course, Frank is the one character who is supposed to yell at Hawkeye, so he probably wouldn't have on that episode. I imagine Alda would have written it so Frank made a few snarky remarks and then chuckled his little Frank Burns laugh, and Hawkeye would have been helpless to say anything in comeback, since he would know Frank was right. That would have really emphasized the debasement of Hawkeye that Alda seemed intent on pursuing on that episode.

    I just had a weird thought. I wonder if they considered trying to get Larry Linville to do AfterMASH? Or Wayne Rogers, for that matter? If they'd gotten those two, they might have had a show.
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  7. ohnothimagen

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

    In other words, make Frank more like he was in the movie than on the TV show. He is a genuine s.o.b. in the movie ("It's too late, Boone, you've killed him" etc). I wonder if Linville would have gone along with it...
    You know, I have yet to actually watch an episode of AfterM*A*S*H...I have no excuse, there's a ton of the eps available on You Tube (including the ill-fated Walter pilot), I just haven't psyched myself up to take the plunge yet. I have a feeling I'll be seriously disappointed in the show, just like my parents were back in the day:laugh:
  8. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    You should check it out. If you keep your expectations realistically low you won't be too disappointed. AfterMASH was not a badly-written show. I mean, Gelbart was the showrunner and Everett Greenbaum plus Levine and Isaacs were on staff. From a comedy standpoint, I'd say it was actually better-written than the final few seasons of MASH. The problem is that it was like a doughnut... a show built around three fairly one-dimensional supporting characters, none of whom had the charisma or potential for fleshing out in a manner that could carry a series. There's no star, no focus, nothing in the center.

    MASH was originally conceived as anti-authoritarian, and as it progressed it shifted to being anti-war. Since the war was over, AfterMASH would have been best served by returning to the anti-authority roots of the book and first few years of the series, but the problem was that two of the stars were authority figures, which made that difficult. For most of the first season they stringently avoided introducing any characters that remotely resembled Hawkeye, Trapper, or BJ, but the problem was that such a character really was needed to make the anti-authority core of MASH function correctly. They eventually seemed to realize this and towards the end of season one they introduced a character called Dr. Boyer who was similar to later-years Hawkeye, only angrier and more bitter. The episodes on which he appears work much better, but I think they would have been better served by creating a character who was more like the humorous early-years Hawkeye rather than the serious later-years guy. At any rate, the introduction of the Boyer character was too little too late.
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  9. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    Was there ever any other strong candidate for casting Hawkeye initially? Besides Stevenson reading for it. I know Wayne Rogers turned it down, preferred Trapper. Was there ever anyone else mentioned.

    This is one case where I definitely think someone else could have played the part. Alda had the star power for TV and ability to be a leading man, but he never came that close to the book or movie version of Hawkeye. It was definitely an Aldaized performance. So someone else potentially could have gotten closer to that. Any thoughts? Anyone you'd like to have seen give it a try?
  10. adm62

    adm62 Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    My goodness. Alda turned Hawkeye into one of the all time great characters in TV history. I am beginning to think that hardly anyone on this thread actually likes the show!
  11. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    I really like what Alda did with the character in the early years. He was adept at humor, and brought in the Groucho influence to the character that worked well. The film version of the character was not at all likeable, which would not have worked for a TV series. I would not have wanted to see Alda replaced, and I disagree with the notion that the series might have worked as well or better with someone else. In fact, one of the reasons I'm so critical of the later years is because of how much I liked the original conception of the character, and in the later years Alda seemed determine to alter and deconstruct that character, making him angrier, less confident, and more self righteous, to the detriment of the series.
  12. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    I think Alda deserved to be the head of a series, and if it hadn't been M*A*S*H it would have been something else. He had lead experience, comic acting experience. Was able to deliver dialogue at a rapid fire pace in the Gelbart years.

    Alda was not convincing in being from Maine. I think the book and movie Hawkeye were a little more laid back. It allowed more room for Trapper and the other characters. Alda had too dominant a personality at times. Rogers eventually left because of the lack of opportunity. Which hurt the show, because even though BJ was a more clearly contrasting character, as I have mentioned, I think Rogers worked better as a partner to Alda in terms of temperament contrast. I also think Rogers was a better actor than Farrell, so that's another thing. A more laid back, cooler Hawkeye would have made it easier to spread things around.

    I agree that the TV characters had to be a lot more likable than the movie.

    I will throw out a name. Jim Hutton. I think Jim Hutton could have played Hawkeye closer to the movie. I wonder if he was considered.
  13. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    I think if you had to do it over again, you'd introduce some sort of neophyte character in the waning days of M*A*S*H. That younger character becomes the lead of AfterMASH. Maybe a new doctor or specialist or some such. New energy. I don't think the plans for AfterMASH were laid until the original series was over, so it didn't happen, but that would be the way I would go given the constraints of continuing to employ the three M*A*S*H regulars.
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  14. ohnothimagen

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

    Yeah, I probably should check out at least an episode or two (from what I saw on You Tube it seems to be mainly season 1 episodes they have online)...what the hell, I have three hours in the morning to kill before my kid comes home from preschool, lately I've been rewatching some of the original series for the purposes of this discussion.
    When I was watching the movie on Friday night my wife sat down and watched about fifteen minutes or so- she could not wrap her head around somebody other than Alan Alda playing Hawkeye. Mind ya, I think she had the idea that it was the same cast from the TV show starring in the movie, which other than Radar it isn't, of course. I do think Alda did a better job of the character than Donald Sutherland did, though. There does seem to be a certain contingent of "Alda-bashers" out there -I'm not one of them. He made that character his own, in spite of the fact that he essentially turned Hawkeye Pierce into his own alter ego. And, on top of that, it occurred to me this morning, actually, while watching the show that when it comes to the later seasons in particular, he wrote some of the best episodes (or at the very least some of my favourite episodes...) I definitely have to give Alda credit for that.
    At least Donald Sutherland is from New Brunswick, which is right next door to Maine!
    Yes...the characters in the movie aren't very likeable at all, I found. Trapper, for example: on the show, Wayne Rogers' portrayal made him a fairly laidback, relaxed kind of guy- confident in his abilities as a doctor, but not arrogant. Elliot Gould's Trapper is an arrogant prick for the most part IMO. Sutherland's Hawkeye is decidedly sleazy. I wonder, had he made it to the TV series, how the Duke character would have been portrayed. I bet Tom Skerrit's good ol' boy persona in the film would have been watered down considerably.
  15. Grand_Ennui

    Grand_Ennui Forum Resident


    I remember seeing a few episodes of AfterM*A*S*H when it originally aired... I remember thinking it was okay and if by chance they'd ever release the complete series on DVD, I'd probably buy it.
  16. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Always thought Alda was a more convincing Maine man than Rogers was a Bostonian!
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  17. RayS

    RayS Paying attention like a rattlesnake does

    [QUOTE="ohnothimagen, post: 17877072, member: 27948" There does seem to be a certain contingent of "Alda-bashers" out there -I'm not one of them. [/QUOTE]

    Change "out there" to "in here" and you've got it right. :)
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  18. ohnothimagen

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

    How 'bout both? Seems applicable...although to be fair the amount of Alda-bashing in this discussion seems pretty minimal compared to, say, the old days of the IMDB forum's M*A*S*H section.
  19. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Reminds me of the ELO threads - they all love ELO but Jeff Lynne... Mmm, not so much...
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  20. RayS

    RayS Paying attention like a rattlesnake does

    I heard a rumor that when Fox airs the show very late at night on the Fox News Channel they cut out Alda entirely. :)
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  21. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    It won't be long...
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  22. I agree. I like Alda in comic mode -the guy has serious good timing and delivery, but it's when he gets sanctimonious in some episodes that I begin to cringe. Some of his dramatic work is fine too.
  23. adm62

    adm62 Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    So did Alan Alda ruin everybody's childhood/student years/early middle age * by realising a farcical type comedy had run it's course and that it would prove to be a better show with more longevity by embracing wider issues?
    * delete where appropriate
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  24. vinnie

    vinnie Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    If it bends it's funny, if it breaks it's not.
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  25. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    I liked "Exorcism". There are some interesting and funny comments in that one.

    Mulcahy: "Sort of a cross between a bishop and a bullfighter..."
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