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

    Definitely. Season 6 is a transitional season because it combines the humour of the earlier seasons with the melodrama that would permeate the later years.
     
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  2. dirwuf

    dirwuf Raccoon of the Year

    Location:
    Fairfield, CT
    Although transitional, season six still feels like part of the same universe as what's come before...it's not until the following year that things feel really different.

    One change that is not widely known is that the stock laughter used for the laugh-track was changed for season six....the longtime hearty laughs (which were decades old) were replaced by a library of more subtle reactions. More info here.... The Laugh Track - M*A*S*H4077TV.com Forums
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  3. ohnothimagen

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

    Season 6 is also the first season to use less "bumper music" than before, something that is eliminated entirely within the next couple of seasons. S6 is also notable for being the first season where the tag ends on a freeze frame instead of a cold ending (therefore it's the first season where some of the tags aren't edited out in syndication). Actually, save for a handful of episodes there are generally less syndication cuts from S6 onwards when watching the show on TV. That said, though, some of the episodes are really butchered, "Last Laugh" being a prime example: in syndication, save for the scene at the beginning of the second act where Klinger is cleaning up the mess his camel made in Potter's office, the entire subplot involving Klinger and his imaginary camel discharge scam is edited out. When I first saw the episode uncut on the DVD I was shocked...the Klinger/camel subplot is hilarious!:laugh:
     
  4. Luke The Drifter

    Luke The Drifter Forum Resident

    Location:
    United States
    I am not sure how the series could have progressed without the changes. It seems like three seasons pretty much covered what they could in that format. There is enough to like about the later series to be glad it exists. But in an alternate universe they could have done what the Beatles did after season 3, and we would be talking about this legendary show that should have given us "one more season".

    I actually really like through Season 7, so maybe that would have been a good way to evolve the show, but still quit soon enough. Seasons 1-7 and Goodbye, Farewell, Amen. THAT is some great television.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  5. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes, definitely a transitional year. Season six has several very funny episodes/moments, but as noted there are also several melodramatic plotlines and turning point episodes that notably alter things. I've gone on (and on and on) about my dislike for "Fallen Idol" already. It's my JTS episode, because it really sets the template for so many future episodes, with its heavy-handed melodrama and general angriness. From here on, all the characters become significantly angrier as the series progresses, and yell at each other with increasing regularity. It's also a major stepping stone in the debasement of the Hawkeye character. "Images" is of course step two in the "we have to make Margaret more likeable" campaign, and employs the time-honored tear-jerking device of a dead dog to get the point across. And of course then we have "Comrades in Arms" which permanently alters the Hawkeye/Margaret dynamic and is the final step in the permanent alteration of the Hot Lips character.

    As much as I miss Frank, Charles injects an interesting new dynamic into things. "Major Topper" is probably my favorite from this season, with both plotlines being clever and the a-plot really striking the right balance between humor and seriousness.
     
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  6. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I don't agree with that premise. There's no reason the tone had to change so much. The series always had a balance between humor and drama, and I don't see any reason that couldn't have continued that way. Look at something like Barney Miller... they made it eight seasons without needing to radically change the tone.

    The ratio of drama to comedy does change in the later seasons, but I think what really makes that stand out to me is that the drama becomes more heavy-handed and angrier. It's far more "in your face" than it had been in earlier years. Meanwhile, the comedy becomes cornier and duller, and the satiric edge diminishes. So it's not just that there's a change in tone, but also that the writing (both comedy and drama) is weaker. But to me, that becomes really notable around season eight, so I'm getting ahead of things.
     
  7. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    I could quibble about the seasons, but yeah, 1-7 were all in the ballpark as an excellent show. Season 8 and on... not.

    The Jump The Shark moment for me was when they had a whole episode about a letter from Radar. Other cast members left, they'd replaced them, moved on, tried something new. But here the show had spent so much time on Radar's departure and they were still looking backward. The show had seen its better days.
     
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  8. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    There were a lot of changes to the look and feel of the show; film stock, musical scoring, and the freeze frame as you mentioned. I generally prefer the earlier years in that regard. The later years were different film stock and/or lit differently and I don't like the look as much.

    The freeze frame ending... why did the show need to become more like "CHiPs"? Kind of limited to the 'zinger' approach. Why do all of these fine dramatic moments we supposedly got in the later years need to end on a zinger?

    Apparently the freeze frame was only added so the show could cram a couple more credits onto the episodes. Wasn't an artistic decision. What an odd decision from the viewpoint of 2017, when shows have done a 180 on theme music and credits. Adding more of the same?

    Lest I bash too much, there was one very effective use of the ending freeze frame zinger. You can see it here.
     
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  9. Some great episodes in this season. I like Major Topper,Fade Out, Fade In, Tea and Empathy, and I like Last Laugh.
     
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  10. torcan

    torcan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Wow...I didn't realize Gary Burghoff missed so many episodes this season. How did the 4077th ever get along without their company clerk for so long?
     
  11. HGN2001

    HGN2001 Mystery Picture Member

    If I counted correctly, he missed ten episodes.
     
  12. RayS

    RayS Paying attention like a rattlesnake does

    I may be drifting off a bit tangentially, but I have distinct memories of Gary Burghoff being a dud on "Match Game" just at the time that he was trying to move beyond Radar. This may have even been the time when daytime MASH reruns and "Match Game" aired back-to-back on CBS (or at least that's how I remember it). I remember thinking that he didn't have much charisma or likability when he was just being Gary.
     
  13. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yep. In season four he missed two episodes. In season five he missed three. Then in season six he missed ten. In season seven he missed six, but in several of those episodes he only appeared in one scene, so it appears he didn't necessarily work any more than he had in season six, they simply spread out his appearances so he could make a token showing in more episodes.
     
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  14. ohnothimagen

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

    And by the time her old friend calls her out in "Temporary Duty" and Margaret finds herself willing to hang out and befriend the doctors, the change is 100% complete.
    Absolutely. Frank Burns had worn out his welcome by the time he left the show. IMO bringing in a character like Winchester was necessary to suit the changing feel of the series. What I like most about Charles is he had a sense of humanity that even Hawkeye and BJ lacked.
    IMO M*A*S*H jumped the shark long before that episode...
     
  15. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    While agreeing that it had lost a lot of its stylish wit and anger, I think the show was still generally worth watching well after that
     
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  16. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    My understanding is that a Jump the Shark moment isn't the point at which a decline begins, but the point at which the decline has become pronounced and substantial, to a degree that the fundamental nature of the show has changed. To me the loss of Linville and Gene Reynolds, the turn towards melodrama and yelling, and the culmination of Margaret's personality change make season six it for me, and I like to tee off on "Fallen Idol" specifically because I dislike it so much. But that said, there's still a lot of good episodes after that point, and I continued to watch and enjoy the show on a different level all the way to the end.
     
  17. ohnothimagen

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

    Oh for sure, the "jump the shark" one way or another probably can be traced to season 6, which is a lot earlier than "The Foresight Saga" (season 9) that Jay Z cited.
     
  18. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Oh, my bad. For some reason I mistakenly thought you were disagreeing with my JTS choice (Fallen Idol) and saying the show had jumped "long before" that. I see now that I misread...
     
  19. ohnothimagen

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

    The show might not necessarily have jumped with "Fallen Idol" IMO but they had definitely put the ol' waterskis on at that point.
     
  20. RayS

    RayS Paying attention like a rattlesnake does

    I don't understand all the nostalgic longing for "Hot Lips", which was a one dimensional character who dd the same handful of things (and was part of the same handful of routines) for two and a half seasons. Last night I saw "Aid Station" from Season 3, where she starts to become a full-dimensional human being and the thaw with Hawkeye begins. IMO, it was a GOOD thing folks. I do feel bad for her with father dying and undying all the time - that would put substantial stress on anyone.
     
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  21. ohnothimagen

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

    :laugh::laugh::laugh:
    Like Hawkeye having a sister every now and then?:p

    Many inconsistencies with this kind of stuff...I put it down to having too many writers over the years not comparing notes.
     
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  22. dirwuf

    dirwuf Raccoon of the Year

    Location:
    Fairfield, CT
    True, but for the most part their best work was being done in dramatic episodes like "Life Time"...it seemed like the harder they tried to do pure 'funny', the more they failed.
     
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  23. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    Yeah, I'd go for that. For me, the stronger episodes were often the dramatic episodes throughout the run, though the earlier series managed to mix drama and wit more effectively and in the later episodes (especially the last couple of series), wit is often replaced by loud, bad punning
     
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  24. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    The original Hot Lips character was written for the satirical style and tone of the series at the time, and worked well in that context. Did you ever wish to see Ted Baxter written as a more well-rounded or multi-dimensional character? Hot Lips and Frank functioned in a similar manner. I'm curious... as you watched MASH during its original run, did you perceive the Henry, Margaret or Frank characters as becoming tired and played-out at the time (during season 3) or is that something that you only see now, watching retrospectively?

    It's also worth noting that a big part of my objection to the changes or added complexities in her personality is that they were largely inconsistent with how she had behaved earlier, so what emerges is not necessarily a well-rounded character but an inconsistent mish-mash. I think it would have been possible to make her fit into dramatic situations without altering her personality so much. Tom Simon's blog analyzes this far better than I could, but I agree with much of what he says. He concludes by noting:
    "Hot Lips Houlihan began as a cartoon figures, but she was at least a consistent cartoon: a comic-opera martinet tangled up in an adulterous love-affair with the equally cartoonish Frank Burns. She ended, not as a rounded character, but as two separate cartoon figures, the stock Women’s Libber perpetually warring with the stock Damsel in Distress."
     
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  25. They should have left her character as-is and just introduced a new female cast member with the character traits of "Margaret". I liked the original Hot Lips and it would have been interesting had they left at least one, tough, barely sympathetic, character in the cast for the later seasons.
     

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