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M*A*S*H Memories

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Wildest cat from montana, Oct 11, 2019.

  1. evillouie

    evillouie Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toledo
    I love this show. There was a time when I couldn't get enough of it, and I watched it so much that I still remember almost every line of dialogue.

    That being said, while there are good things to be found in almost every episode, there are a few that I don't like so much:

    1) The ones where something affects Potter - his marriage/retirement/loss of a friend/etc. so he takes it out on the whole camp by yelling at everybody.

    2) The ones where somebody in camp has something, and everybody else in camp is mad at them because they don't have it too, so everyone ends up yelling at everyone else for the entire episode.
     
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  2. smilin ed

    smilin ed Forum Resident

    Location:
    Durham
    Thank God.
     
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  3. Wildest cat from montana

    Wildest cat from montana Humble Reader Thread Starter

    BJ was the only main character who had a young child back home. His being upset is understandable but there must have been many secondary characters in a similar situation.
    I know it' s only a TV show...
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
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  4. Wildest cat from montana

    Wildest cat from montana Humble Reader Thread Starter

    Yes...
    The Rizzo character wore out his welcome almost immediately. Too cartoonish
     
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  5. Wildest cat from montana

    Wildest cat from montana Humble Reader Thread Starter

    [QUOTE="evillouie, post: 22329271, member: 75569"

    1) The ones where something affects Potter - his marriage/retirement/loss of a friend/etc. so he takes it out on the whole camp by yelling at everybody.
    [/QUOTE]
    He's old and cranky. I'm getting that way myself.
     
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  6. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    That's a myth that I've seen out there on the internet, but it's not true. For one thing, it doesn't fit the timeline because Klinger was put into the company clerk role on Radar's last episode (in season seven) and Rizzo did not begin appearing until season eight.

    The introduction of Rizzo was pure happenstance. Johnny Haymer's Sgt. Zale was a recurring character rather than a regular cast member, meaning he was not salaried but was paid only when he appeared. As such, he had to find other work besides MASH, and at the beginning of season eight they were shooting an episode that featured Zale but Haymer was unavailable since he was doing some other job. So they rewrote the Zale part and created Rizzo, and GW Bailey was cast in the role. It was intended to be a one-shot but the producers liked Bailey enough that they decided to bring him back and make him a recurring character, essentially ditching poor Haymer. Haymer's final appearance on the series just happened to be Burghoff's final episode, but that was pure coincidence.

    After his first season, Bailey approached the producers asking if he could become a regular salaried cast member, and was told they did not have the budget for that. Often with long-running series what happens is that the cast members receive salary bumps each year, making the show more and more expensive, particularly if there's a large cast. Presumably the producers viewed Burghoff's departure as a way to save money, and there was never any serious consideration of replacing him in the cast.
     
  7. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I don't view the series as growing so much as devolving. The show always was a combination of comedy and drama, but as it progressed the comedy became broader and cornier, and the drama became less subtle and more melodramatic. As to the characters, they didn't so much grow as change. Hawkeye is a much different character at the end than he was in the early seasons, and Margaret is arguably a completely different character than Hot Lips.

    Would the original cast have fit in with the changed tone of the series? I think the Blake character was far more nuanced than you give him credit for, and could be adapted just fine to the more serious and melodramatic tone of the later years. Frank Burns was cartoonish, but no more than Hot Lips was. Imagine if Loretta Swit had left after season three... people would probably be saying there's no way Hot Lips could have fit into the more serious later seasons. To make her fit they had to substantially alter the character, and theoretically they could have done the same to Frank.

    The changes in cast did give the series verisimilitude, but I don't think that was key to its success. The audience was happy to overlook lapses in realism on the show, such as the obvious passage of time and the continuity lapses. I don't think the changes in cast made a big difference in the long-term success of the show.
     
  8. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I disagree. I like Potter and BJ all right (and I think seasons four and five are great) but I can understand why some people only like the first three seasons, and I would not say they aren't MASH fans for that reason.
     
  9. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    I saw a TV interview with Bailey (who FWIW went to high school w/Janis Joplin) where he himself claimed Rizzo was intended to be the Co clerk. He didn't mention Alda.
     
  10. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Either you're misremembering or Bailey has told differing stories. In this interview he tells the story I recounted... that he was cast as a one-shot fill-in for Johnny Haymer, but it turned into a recurring role. He makes it clear he was not able to get them to make him a regular cast member after his first season, and there's no mention of his character ever being considered for the company clerk job. He does mention Burghoff, but it's only in the context of noting that CBS was not willing to pay for another regular cast member, not to suggest his character was intended to fill Radar's exact role on the show. As I noted, the timeline wouldn't fit, because Klinger was installed as company clerk on Radar's final episode, and the Rizzo character was not even created until later that season.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  11. JozefK

    JozefK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dixie
    TTBOMR the interview I saw on YT -- plugging the TV show he was a regular on a couple of years ago -- doesn't mention anything about Haymer, salaries or asking to be a made a regular. IIRC he says TPTB were going to make Rizzo the clerk but eventually decided on Klinger. This video interview is the only interview with Bailey I've ever seen.

    I believe he also said Rizzo was meant to be a Brooklyn Italian, but he impressed them so much in his audition they changed the character to a Southerner. But they never changed the name (yes I know there are Italians in the South).
     
  12. Bluesman Mark

    Bluesman Mark But I'm innocent! Swan stole my music & framed me!

    Location:
    Iowa
    First things first; you get major props from me for "verisimilitude", That's not a word one sees used often. In fact, I can't remember how long it's been since I've seen it used.

    I can't really argue with the idea of the characters changing rather than growing, but I still see the change as growth, because the longer the show went on & they kept going back to the well, they had to discover &/or create little different nuances for the characters, so to me that's growth. Good point on Hot Lips, but, even by season 3, they had begun to soften her up & expand the character beyond her somewhat cartoonish origins, albeit barely, so it was progressive even at the early stages with her. They never really attempted that with Frank, & I still feel that's due to the character itself, as it was so one dimensional in general. Part of that could be the difference between changing a female character vis-à-vis a male one, especially in the time period the show was based in. They may have seen Margaret's character has having a greater opportunity for change compared to Frank's.

    Blake I might have to give you, but for the fact that McLean Stevenson continued to play a somewhat bumbling type of character in both Hello Larry & The McLean Stevenson show, albeit not as sharply or as adroitly as on M*A*S*H, due to inferior writing. Given the actor in the role, (& this isn't a shade on Stevenson's acting abilities, just an observation on the general perception of him & the roles he often played), could the character have been changed enough? Like BJ or Charles, Potter was a blank slate to fill in & shade according to both Harry Morgan's acting & strengths, & how the writers & creative consultants could nuance Potter.

    One key takeaway with the three major cast changes on the show, is that though the new characters kept certain elements of the ones they replaced, they weren't carbon copies & were created & written to be different. That, along with the transition of the show certainly helped contribute to it's longevity. For the record, I personally prefer seasons 2-5, (with season 1 just behind), because they seemed to hit their stride & maintain a high level of quality those seasons. As much as I loved & still love the show, in retrospect, I think that 7-8 seasons for it would have been better than 11 of them.
     
  13. On a different front: MASH has yet to come out on BD, correct? If so it’d make a worthwhile investment.
     
  14. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I still disagree, though of course neither of us can be proven right here.

    Much is made of the fact that the new characters were written differently, but it's notable that in two of the three cases, the replacement characters filled the exact same role in the show despite the differences. BJ was faithful to his wife while Trapper cheated, but the main role of both characters was to be Hawkeye's sidekick and co-conspirator. And although Charles was intelligent and a good surgeon while Frank was dumb and a bad one, both of them were there to be an adversary for Hawkeye. So the structure of the show did not change even if the characters did, somewhat. It's similar to Cheers, where a dumb old guy (Coach) was replaced by a dumb young guy (Woody).

    Potter is the one exception... he did change the structure of the show, taking away the show's ability to be anti-Army and anti-authoritarian by presenting us with an Army authority figure who was competent and benign. As I noted before, his arrival caused collateral damage by making Frank's character less effective (and thus no longer a formidable adversary for Hawkeye).
     
  15. brew ziggins

    brew ziggins Forum Prisoner

    Location:
    The Village
    a lot of thoughtful commentary here. all I got is FRANK BURNS EATS WORMS!
     
  16. Dwight Fry

    Dwight Fry Forum Resident

    Location:
    Gulfport, Florida
    When I was in middle school/high school, M*A*S*H was on constantly, both on CBS and in local syndicated reruns. After it ended, I didn't watch it for another ten years or so, until I started seeing commercials for the digitally remastered VHS titles, and was amazed to seeing the show looking that good. 80's TV was anything but HD--I'd swear the early Trapper/Henry Blake episodes of M*A*S*H were beat-up 16mm prints.

    I do plan to someday give the series a complete screening--lets face it, I can probably pick up the entire run on DVD for $15 or so. The one thing I do remember finding annoying was how, as the series progressed, the dialogue began to sound more like vaudeville patter. Maybe I'm mis-remembering this...?

    I was once at Disney-MGM studios in Orlando back in 1991-92 or so, and McLain Stevenson was the celebrity for the day, appearing in a parade, taking audience questions, and then he was to put his footprints in cement out in front of the Great Movie Ride when he elected (likely without first clearing it with Disney) to sit in the cement--leaving a buttprint instead of footprints. I once had photos of this. I don't think Disney ever did put that slab of cement out for people to, um, view. Stevenson died only about 3-4 years later.

    Oh, and the uncensored M*A*S*H blooper reels on Youtube are priceless. Turns out that, out of the entire cast, Harry Morgan had the biggest pottymouth. Who knew?
     
  17. KevinP

    KevinP Forum introvert

    Location:
    Daejeon
    I've heard 'Skip any episode where BJ has a moustache'.

    I do think a lot of BJ's early lines sound like they were written for Trapper, and his character suffered for that.

    I liked the episode where Hawkeye tried to find out what 'BJ' stood for. My problem is that at the end, BJ says it's because his mother's name was Bea and his father's, Jay, which I thought made a lot of sense, but Hawkeye poo-poos it and we're supposed to accept that it wasn't true.

    Random thought on the final episode:
    There was an unnecessary subplot with Winchester wanting to get back a book which he'd lent to Margaret. I thought Margaret was being extremely unfair. It was a loaner, plus, as Charles said, it was part of a set which, lacking that volume, would look like a 'toothless smile'. Why should she just assume it's hers? In the end, though, he simply gives it back to her. The ending they should have used is for Charles to give her the whole set.
     
  18. lids3qy

    lids3qy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Some of my favorite lines:

    Klinger (singing in the OR as he works): "Nobody knows the trouble I've seen..."

    BJ: "I know."

    Klinger (singing): "Somebody knows the trouble I've seen..."
     
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  19. lids3qy

    lids3qy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Dictating a telegram to Radar:

    "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and I'll be home for christmas."
    "Sign it 'Your loving son, Queen Victoria'."

    (At least I think that's what it was)
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  20. Jay_Z

    Jay_Z Forum Resident

    Well, if you are a fan of all the MASHes, the original source material, Trapper and Blake were original characters. BJ and Potter were just for the TV show.

    The later years may have been more serious. But they were likely LESS realistic. The writer of the books, Hornberger/Hooker, was actually there. I am assuming he relayed his experience of the times with some degree of accuracy. The early years of the show were a better reflection of that then the later ones.

    Biggest thing that always has bugged me is that Blake and Potter were practicing surgeons. They are running a camp of 200. No actual camp would do that. I know they had to cut down on the number of speaking characters. Just a pet peeve of mine. Potter was frankly too old for that sort of duty.

    Blake, on the TV show, I can't figure out how he wound up with a command, and how he sidestepped WWII. He was clearly a few years older than the others, would have made sense that he would have been eligible for WWII. Never mentioned, somehow the presumptive draftee Blake was given command. Book and movie Blake was regular Army and not a practicing surgeon, which made a lot more sense.
     
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  21. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    Yeah, I think we discussed this already on another thread, didn't we? I agree with the above. For me the issue that takes me right out of the reality of the show (if I stop to think about it) is the fact that there are only four surgeons at the camp, and they are perpetually on-call 24/7. That being the case, it is extremely unethical for any of them to drink, ever, because there's always a possibility wounded could arrive when they are drunk. Amazingly, that somehow never happens during the entire run of the show, and only once is a character's drinking shown to affect his performance (the execrable "Fallen Idol" in which Hawkeye is excoriated by everyone for being hungover in the ER even though it's something that could just as easily have happened to any one of the other characters and only didn't through sheer luck). A real MASH unit had at least nine surgeons, enough to staff three shifts. Obviously both of these things were caused by a desire to keep the cast from being too large.

    As to age, Potter was too old, but Klinger is the one who really stands out to me as being far too old. During the Korean War the draft topped out at age 29, and even when the series debuted (and Jamie Farr was 38) it was a stretch to accept him as a guy in his late 20s. By the time the series ended he was quite obviously a middle-aged man trying to play a hapless draftee, and it seemed extremely silly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
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  22. Rob P S

    Rob P S Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
  23. Scooterpiety

    Scooterpiety Current operator of the Freedonia peanut stand

    Location:
    Oregon
    I hate that episode! In fact, I dislike just about every episode where Hawkeye runs into an old flame or romances women visiting the camp.
     
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  24. Scooterpiety

    Scooterpiety Current operator of the Freedonia peanut stand

    Location:
    Oregon
    Another one I also don't like. I tend to dislike most of the "gimmick" episodes: "Follies of the Living", "Point of View", etc. I also don't care much for the episodes where Hawkeye is blinded and keeps sneezing.
    If I had to pick a "worst" MASH episode, there are likely several from the last few years which may qualify, but the two that come to mind are when the goat eats the payroll and the tongue depressor episode.
     
  25. KevinP

    KevinP Forum introvert

    Location:
    Daejeon
    Don't like that one either, but her name, not an especially common name, was the same as my wife's.
     

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