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

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

  1. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    More or less. In the book Ho Jon is drafted into the South Korean army and gets wounded, but he recovers and then the doctors raise money to send him to college in the US. In the original screenplay for the film, Ho Jon is drafted, gets wounded, and dies. However, they dropped the scenes where he is wounded and dies, so the last we see of him in the film is when he's led off to serve in the army.
     
  2. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Second season, probably. Obviously, by the time of season 3 and episodes like "Private Charles Lamb" the kinder, gentler Radar is already well established.
    Man...I haven't seen the movie in about fifteen years. I should watch it again one o' these days when the kids aren't around (I'll let 'em watch the TV show but the movie's right out!)
     
  3. Splungeworthy

    Splungeworthy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jersey Shore
    THANK YOU for this thread!
    I agree that the only way to watch this is without the laugh track, which makes watching the butchered syndicated versions impossible for me now. The first few seasons were not my faves, but when you guys get to season 3, I'm in. And it will be hard to get me to shut up when we get to the Potter era.
     
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  4. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    We'll be taking our time with this one, probably a season a week, give or take. There's a few M*A*S*H aficionados here who I know have yet to chime in...
     
  5. It certainty starts at least by season 2 as Radar cuddles his Teddy Bear often in this season. I always thought that the TV Radar was a combination of the movie Radar and the sensitive Boone character from the movie -though obviously more broadly childlike in the show.
     
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  6. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    I don't recall what happened to Margaret in the book but after the shower scene, she completely softens in the film, has a relationship with Duke (while the film focuses on Hawkeye and Trapper's antics in Tokyo) and the turns into an airhead cheerleader during the football game.
     
  7. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Oh god, that's right:laugh:, like I said, I haven't seen the movie in years...but it's not unlike how Margaret completely morphed into a different human being on the TV show, either. "I know it's the same actress- she is playing the same character, right?" as my wife asked when we were watching the show a few years ago (she'd never seen M*A*S*H before)
     
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  8. Grand_Ennui

    Grand_Ennui Forum Resident

    Location:
    WI

    I'm the opposite: The first three years are the best for me personally... Four and Five are still pretty good, and from Six onwards, it gets sketchier as it goes on...
     
  9. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    That's one part of the film that really has not aged well at all. It's a grossly sexist, "taming of the shrew" type plot development. It was made up for the film, and there's nothing like it in the book (not that the books aren't extremely sexist in a lot of other ways). It is interesting that on the TV show the character is also changed, but in the completely opposite direction.
     
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  10. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Well-Known Member

    Radar was actually a combination of three characters, those two and Sergeant Vollmer from the movie. Vollmer's role was to report to Blake what had been going on while Blake was gone. On the TV show Radar did that, or Klinger if Burghoff was sitting out a particular episode. By the time Klinger took over as company clerk that sort of scene had mostly gone away, as the axis of conflict between Frank-Hotlips and Hawkeye-Trapper no longer existed.

    While I understand people liking the earlier Radar, from Burghoff's perspective, there was probably more room on the show to take Radar the innocent way, particularly after Klinger started filling the need for a scheming wiseacre.
     
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  11. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Well-Known Member

    I know there is a copy of the original script out there, but I wouldn't discount Altman's influence. MASH was Altman's most commercially successful film because it was right in his wheelhouse - episodic storytelling, and all of the characters were jerks. Never got why Altman was so loved. I guess he catered to the actors more than most directors.
     
  12. Splungeworthy

    Splungeworthy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jersey Shore
    And I think you are in the majority feeling this way. I think for me the Blake character was never as rich as Potter, and I think Harry Morgan was a better actor.
     
  13. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    I can't stand how the Hot Lips character was altered into one-of-the-boys "Margaret". One of many things that ruin the later shows, although this process actually began during the early golden age. Sensitive guy Alda couldn't stand that the only female on the show being unsympathetic (allegedly Swit -- who I don't really care for under any circumstances -- tried to block the addition of another nurse character).
     
  14. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    Just like w/The Godfather, if you're interested in the adaptation, you should read the novel. It has a curious emphasis on religion (at one point Trapper John poses on a cross and photos of this are sold to Koreans as religious relics). Bowel resections -- a then new surgical technique? -- are a recurring theme. One thing that fascinated me was how Hawkeye, once he learns he is going home, constantly rebuffs people's suggestions to get together later after the war, saying he needs to get settled etc etc etc... The implication is he doesn't really want to see any of these people again. Is it really that way for returning combat vets?

    You have to do some research to really see it, but MASH is one of the most heavily re-edited films ever. The original script by Ring Lardner was fairly straightforward. However Altman went in and eventually cut it apart, completely rearranging the chronology. I've read that if you pay close enough attention you can see characters in scenes before they've been introduced.

    The most obvious example of this recutting is Duke's fantasy of meeting his family at the Atlanta airport after learning he's going home. This originally was not a fantasy at all, but a "real" scene set after he and Hawkeye return to the States. Altman threw out the entire homecoming section of the film, aside from these insert "fantasy" shots.

    FWIW Hawkeye also had a homecoming scene in the original script: He sees his wife (yes he's married in the novel) waiting for him inside the airport, then the screen goes out of focus just before they meet and the film ends. I don't know if this scene was shot -- but if Duke's homecoming was, I presume Hawkeye's was too.

    Lardner, incidentally, was furious when he saw Altman's final cut and disowned the film. He changed his mind a bit when he won the Oscar for best adapted screenplay.
     
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  15. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    IMHO Henry Blake is one of the great supporting characters in sitcom history, along w/Ed Norton, Ted Baxter, Latka and Reverend Jim. Stevenson perfectly captures the in-over-his-head, mid-level executive. I like Morgan in his classic era roles, but he was never perfect.
     
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  16. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Yes, I knew there was at least one more great line that I had forgotten! :biglaugh:
     
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  17. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    We're getting ahead of ourselves, but I don't like how the Potter character changed the fundamental nature of the show. Meaning, MASH as conceived by Hornberger was not anti-war, it was anti-authority. Hawkeye was a character who broke the rules and challenged the accepted ways of doing things, and the Army was the primary source of authority against which he rebelled. For the first three seasons the TV show reflected that sensibility, with every source of Army authority being depicted as either idiotic, malevolent, or hapless. Potter changed all that. He was the first authority figure to be shown as competent, intelligent, and well-meaning, and in doing so he kind of undercut the satirical premise of the show. After that, the anti-army aspects of the show gradually receded, and the anti-war elements moved to the forefront, and satire gradually was replaced by preaching. Not all Potter's fault, but he was one of the key elements in the move in that direction.
     
  18. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes, and he's someone who doesn't want to be an authority, forced to be in charge of a group of people who don't want supervision... a rich premise which I find more complex and interesting than the fairly straightforward Potter.
     
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  19. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Trouble is, Margaret's "reinvention" is pretty much unbelievable- over the course of an eleven year TV show? Sure. Over the course of a three year war? I doubt it very much...nobody can change that drastically in such a short period of time, you really have to suspend yer disbelief when it comes to Margaret in the later seasons IMO.
    Whoo boy, it's probably been as long since I've read the book as it has been since I last saw the film version, about fifteen years, give or take.
    I've got a book at home called Watching M*A*S*H, Watching America that talks about the cultural/societal influences the show had, and the book pretty much says the same thing. In the first three seasons just about every "authority figure" they encounter on the show -be it a General or a supply sergeant- is a blithering idiot. Clearly they couldn't continue that kind of portrayal on a regular basis when Potter came on board. They still dealt with the occasional buffoon, but not as many as when Henry Blake was in charge. As for Henry...
    "The leader who doesn't want to lead", sorta like Jerry Garcia:laugh:
     
  20. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    Dr. Richard Hornberger in Korea

    [​IMG]

    Note the "anti-evil eye" symbol on the door, taken from the frontspiece of Maugham's novel The Razor's Edge.
     
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  21. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    Far too much time in the film is spent on the football game (which could have come from many a loud comedy film before and after) and Hawkeye and Trapper in Tokyo - though I guess that set up the idea that they were the two main characters, whereas Duke is one of them in the book.
     
  22. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    I never liked the football game sequence, even as a kid, it seemed gratuitous IMO. I admit I have a feeling that if I were to watch the movie again (which I plan to do at some point) I probably won't like it as much as I used to.

    I do believe some of the season 1 episodes were a conscious effort to capture the zaniness of the movie- "Henry Please Come Home" is an episode that always comes to mind to me for that.
     
  23. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yet the odd thing is that in the sequel (MASH Goes to Maine), he completely reverses course, enacting elaborate plans to lure all three of the other Swampmen to Crabapple Cove to establish a surgical practice with him. The sequel is an odd amalgam... I get the impression that the stuff about his own medical career and surgical experiences is probably autobiographical, but the stuff about reuniting with the Swampmen and engaging in further exploits with them is probably pure fiction.
     
  24. czeskleba

    czeskleba Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle
    Potter was also the beginning of the decline of the Frank character, emasculating him from being any viable adversary or threat to the Swampmen. In the first three seasons Frank and Margaret represent Army authority, and to some degree they are able to navigate the system, go over Henry's head, and create problems for Hawkeye and Trapper. When Potter arrives, he becomes the one who represents Army authority, and he can and does easily push Frank aside. To make matters worse, Margaret respects him, which also upsets the adversarial dynamic. I kind of wish they'd left Frank in charge longer than just two episodes at the start of season 4, because there are comic possibilities there that they missed out on.
     
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  25. ohnothimagen

    ohnothimagen PORKCHOPS! Productions Thread Starter

    Potter 'emasculating' Frank almost seems like an understatement- Potter seemed to have about as much respect for Frank Burns as Hawkeye Pierce did...which is to say, not very much respect at all. And right from the beginning, no less. Potter could be downright nasty to Burns, and you'd think that a Regular Army guy like Sherman Potter would have been above that kind of thing, maybe. I've said it before: given Hawk, BJ, Potter and eventually Margaret's systematic abuse of Frank -outright bullying, not to put too fine a point on it- Frank's mental breakdown almost seemed inevitable. It's like the four of them made a conscious decision to push Frank over the edge, and it worked. Sure, Frank Burns was a bonehead- a hypocrite, racist, unfaithful to his wife, mediocre surgeon, a plethora of other negative character traits- but as bad as he was, the treatment he got by the rest of the officers at the 4077 was a bit over the top. In retrospect, especially come Margaret's engagement in season 5, it's not hard to actually feel a little sorry for Frank.

    But we are really getting ahead of ourselves here:laugh::laugh::laugh:
     
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