M*A*S*H (TV series)

Last updated
M*A*S*H
M*A*S*H TV title screen.jpg
Genre
Based on
Developed by Larry Gelbart
Starring
Theme music composer Johnny Mandel
(written for the film)
Opening theme"Suicide Is Painless" (Instrumental)
Ending theme"Suicide Is Painless" (Big Band Version)
Country of origin United States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons11
No. of episodes256 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Production locations Los Angeles County, California (Century City, Malibu Creek State Park)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time25-26 minutes; except "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" (2 hours)
Production company 20th Century Fox Television
Distributor 20th Television
Release
Original network CBS
Audio format Mono
Original releaseSeptember 17, 1972 (1972-09-17) 
February 28, 1983 (1983-02-28)
Chronology
Preceded by
Followed by
Related Trapper John, M.D.

M*A*S*H (an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital)is an American war comedy-drama television series that aired on CBS from September 17, 1972 to February 28, 1983. It was developed by Larry Gelbart as the first original spin-off series adapted from the 1970 feature film M*A*S*H , which, in turn, was based on Richard Hooker's 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors . The series, which was produced with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS, follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the "4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital" in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War (1950–53).

Contents

The ensemble cast originally featured Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers as surgeons Benjamin "Hawkeye" Pierce and "Trapper" John McIntyre, the protagonists of the show, joined by Larry Linville as surgeon Frank Burns, Loretta Swit as head nurse Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, McLean Stevenson as company commander Henry Blake, Gary Burghoff as company clerk Walter "Radar" O'Reilly, Jamie Farr as orderly Maxwell Klinger, and William Christopher as the chaplain, Father John Mulcahy. Over the run of the show, several members of the main cast were replaced: Wayne Rogers was replaced by Mike Farrell as B. J. Hunnicutt, McLean Stevenson was replaced by Harry Morgan as Sherman Potter, Larry Linville was replaced by David Ogden Stiers as Charles Emerson Winchester III, and when Gary Burghoff left the show, the Maxwell Klinger character moved into the company clerk role. Longtime supporting cast members included Kellye Nakahara, Jeff Maxwell, Allan Arbus, and Edward Winter.

The series varied in style and tone – including broad comedy and tragic drama – which can be attributed to fluctuating writing staff over the life of the show, and the variety of sources contributing to the stories, such as actor Alan Alda and surgeons who served in the Korean War. [1] The show's title sequence features an instrumental version of "Suicide Is Painless," the original film's theme song. [2]

The show was created after an attempt to film the original book's sequel, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine , failed. The television series is the best-known of the M*A*S*H works, and one of the highest-rated shows in U.S. television history. Its final episode, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", was the most-watched television broadcast in American history from 1983 until 2010, [3] and remains both the most-watched finale of any television series and the most-watched episode of a scripted series. [4]

Premise

M*A*S*H aired weekly on CBS, with most episodes being a half-hour in length. The series is usually categorized as a situation comedy, though it has also been described as a "dark comedy" or a "dramedy" because of the often dramatic subject matter. [upper-alpha 1]

The show is an ensemble piece revolving around key personnel in a United States Army Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in the Korean War (1950–53). The "4077th MASH" was one of several surgical units in Korea. The asterisks in the name are not part of military nomenclature and were creatively introduced in the novel and used in only the posters for the movie version, not the actual movie.

Early seasons aired on network prime time while the Vietnam War was still ongoing; the show was forced to walk the fine line of commenting on that war while at the same time not seeming to protest against it. The show's discourse, under the cover of comedy, often questioned, mocked, and grappled with America's role in the Cold War.

Episodes were both plot- and character-driven, with several narrated by one of the show's characters as the contents of a letter home. The show's tone could move from silly to sobering from one episode to the next, with dramatic tension often occurring between the unwilling civilian draftees of 4077th – Hawkeye, Trapper John, and B.J. Hunnicutt, for example – and the "regular Army" characters, such as Margaret Houlihan and Colonel Potter, who enlisted voluntarily. Other characters, such as Lt. Col. Blake, Maj. Winchester, and Cpl. Klinger, help demonstrate various American civilian attitudes toward Army life, while guest characters played by such actors as Eldon Quick, Herb Voland, Mary Wickes, and Tim O'Connor also help further the show's discussion of America's place as Cold War participant and peace maker.

Characters

Main cast

Through changes of personnel M*A*S*H maintained a relatively constant ensemble cast, with four characters – Hawkeye, Father Mulcahy, Margaret Houlihan, and Maxwell Klinger – on the show for all 11 seasons. Several other main characters departed or joined the program during its run, and numerous guest actors and recurring characters were used. The writers found creating so many names difficult, and used names from elsewhere; for example, characters on the seventh season were named after the 1978 Los Angeles Dodgers. [5]

CharacterActor/actressRankRoleAppearances
Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce Alan Alda Captain Chief surgeon 256
Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Penobscott) Loretta Swit Major Head Nurse 239
Maxwell Q. Klinger
(Recurring seasons 1–3, regular 4–11)
Jamie Farr Corporal,
later Sergeant
Combat Medic,
later Company Clerk
217
Father John Patrick Francis Mulcahy
(recurring seasons 1–4, regular 5–11)
George Morgan (pilot episode),
replaced by William Christopher
First Lieutenant,
later Captain
Chaplain 213
Trapper John McIntyre
(seasons 1–3)
Wayne Rogers CaptainSurgeon72
Henry Blake
(seasons 1–3)
McLean Stevenson Lieutenant Colonel Commanding officer,
Surgeon
70
Frank Burns
(seasons 1–5)
Larry Linville Major,
later Lieutenant Colonel
Surgeon118
Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly
(seasons 1–8)
Gary Burghoff Corporal,
briefly Second Lieutenant
Company clerk,
bugler
156
B. J. Hunnicutt
(replaced Trapper; seasons 4–11)
Mike Farrell CaptainSurgeon183
Sherman T. Potter
(replaced Henry Blake; seasons 4–11)
Harry Morgan Colonel Commanding Officer (after Lt. Col. Blake),
Surgeon
182
Charles Emerson Winchester III
(replaced Frank Burns; seasons 6–11)
David Ogden Stiers MajorSurgeon133

    Main character timeline

    For the first three seasons, the show's ensemble cast included Alan Alda as surgeon Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, Wayne Rogers as surgeon Captain Trapper John McIntyre, McLean Stevenson as company commander Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, Loretta Swit as head nurse Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, Larry Linville as surgeon Major Frank Burns, Gary Burghoff as company clerk Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly, Jamie Farr as combat medic Corporal Maxwell Klinger, and William Christopher as chaplain 1st Lieutenant Father John Patrick Francis Mulcahy. At the end of the third season, Rogers and Stevenson left the show, with their characters written out, and they were replaced by Mike Farrell as surgeon Captain B. J. Hunnicutt and Harry Morgan as surgeon Colonel Sherman T. Potter as the new commanding officer. After season five, Linville left to be replaced by David Ogden Stiers as surgeon Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. Early in season eight, Burghoff left the show; Klinger (Farr) was moved to company clerk to replace Radar, while G. W. Bailey joined the cast to play Staff Sergeant Luther Rizzo, the unit's motor pool sergeant. Other long-serving actors on the show include Kellye Nakahara as Nurse Kellye, Jeff Maxwell as Private Igor Straminsky, Johnny Haymer as Sergeant Zelmo Zale, the supply sergeant, Allan Arbus as psychiatrist Major Sidney Freedman, and Edward Winter as intelligence officer Colonel Sam Flagg.

    M*A*S*H (TV series)

    Production

    Writing

    As the series progressed, it made a significant shift from being primarily a comedy with dramatic undertones to a drama with comedic overtones. This was a result of changes in writing and production staff. Series co-creator and comedy writer Larry Gelbart departed after Season 4. Executive Producer Gene Reynolds departed at the conclusion of Season 5 in 1977, resulting in M*A*S*H being fully stripped of its original comedic foundation by the beginning of Season 6. [1]

    Whereas Gelbart and Reynolds were the comedic voice of M*A*S*H for the show's first five seasons (1972–1977), Alan Alda and newly promoted Executive Producer Burt Metcalfe became the new dramatic voice of M*A*S*H for Seasons 6–11. By the start of Season 8 (1979–1980), the writing staff had been completely overhauled, and with the departure of cast members McLean Stevenson, Larry Linville, Wayne Rogers and Gary Burghoff, M*A*S*H displayed a distinctively different feel, consciously moving between comedy and drama.

    The end of the Vietnam War in 1975 was a significant factor as to why storylines become less political in nature and more character driven. Several episodes experimented by going outside the sitcom format:

    Another change was the infusion of story lines based on actual events and medical developments that materialized during the Korean War. Considerable research was done by the producers, including interviews with actual MASH surgeons and personnel to develop story lines rooted in the war itself. Such early 1950s events as the McCarthy era, various sporting events, and the stardom of Marilyn Monroe were all incorporated into various episodes, a trend that continued until the end of the series. [1]

    While the series remained popular through these changes, it eventually began to run out of creative steam. Korean War doctors regularly contacted producers with experiences that they thought might make for a good storyline, only to learn the idea had previously been used. Harry Morgan admitted that he felt "the cracks were starting to show" by season 9 (1980–1981). [1] Alda wished to make season 10 (1981–1982) M*A*S*H's last, but was persuaded by CBS to produce a slightly shortened 11th season, coupled with a farewell movie finale, at CBS' request. In the end, season 11 had 15 episodes (although six had been filmed during season 10 and held over) and a 2+12-hour movie, which was treated as five episodes and was filmed before the nine remaining episodes. The final episode produced was the penultimately aired episode "As Time Goes By". The series finale movie, titled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", became the most watched U.S. television broadcast in history at that time, with 106 million viewers. [1]

    Set and filming

    M*A*S*H site in Malibu Creek State Park. Burnt-out Dodge WC54 ambulance used in filming. A replica of the iconic M*A*S*H signpost was installed on the site in 2008. MASH site - Malibu Creek State Park - 2 January 2010.jpg
    M*A*S*H site in Malibu Creek State Park. Burnt-out Dodge WC54 ambulance used in filming. A replica of the iconic M*A*S*H signpost was installed on the site in 2008.

    The 4077th consisted of two separate sets. An outdoor set in the mountains near Malibu (Calabasas, Los Angeles County, California) ( 34°5′47.55″N118°44′41.24″W / 34.0965417°N 118.7447889°W / 34.0965417; -118.7447889 ) was used for most exterior and tent scenes for every season. This was the same location used to shoot the movie, although the number of tents was reduced and there were changes made to the positions of several tents for the TV show. The indoor set, on Stage 09 at Fox Studios in Century City, was used for the indoor scenes for the run of the series. Later, after the indoor set was renovated to permit many of the "outdoor" scenes to be filmed there, both sets were used for exterior shooting as script requirements dictated (e.g., night scenes were far easier to film on the sound stage, but scenes at the helicopter pad required using the ranch).

    Just as the series was wrapping production, a brush fire destroyed most of the outdoor set on October 9, 1982. The fire was written into the final episode "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" as a forest fire caused by enemy incendiary bombs that forced the 4077th to move out.

    The Malibu location is today known as Malibu Creek State Park. Formerly called the Century Ranch and owned by 20th Century Fox Studios until the 1980s, the site today is returning to a natural state, and is marked by a rusted Jeep and a Dodge ambulance used in the show. Through the 1990s, the area was occasionally used for television commercial production.

    On February 23, 2008, series stars Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit and William Christopher (along with producers Gene Reynolds and Burt Metcalfe and M*A*S*H director Charles S. Dubin) reunited at the set to celebrate its partial restoration. The rebuilt signpost is now displayed on weekends, along with tent markers and maps and photos of the set. The state park is open to the public. It was also the location where the film How Green Was My Valley (1941) and the Planet of the Apes television series (1974) were filmed, among many other productions. Much of this location, including the signpost and markers, was thought to have been destroyed in the 2018 Woolsey Fire [6] but subsequently was determined to have survived the fire. [7]

    The operating room set on display in the National Museum of American History as part of the "MASH: Binding Up the Wounds" exhibit in 1983. MASH Operating Room in the National Museum of American History.jpg
    The operating room set on display in the National Museum of American History as part of the "MASH: Binding Up the Wounds" exhibit in 1983.

    The exhibit M*A*S*H: Binding Up the Wounds was at the National Museum of American History from July 30, 1983, through February 3, 1985. The exhibit was extremely popular, drawing more than 17,000 in a single week, a record for any Smithsonian display. [8]

    On exhibit were The Swamp and Operating Room sets, one of the show's 14 Emmy Awards, early drafts of the pilot script, costumes from the show and other memorabilia. Sets were decorated with props from the show including the iconic signpost, Hawkeye's still and Major Winchester's Webcor tape recorder and phonograph. The exhibit also encouraged visitors to compare the show to real Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals of the Korean and the Vietnam Wars. [9] [10]

    Laugh track

    Series creators Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds wanted M*A*S*H broadcast without a laugh track. Though CBS initially rejected the idea, a compromise was reached that allowed for omitting the laughter during operating room scenes if desired. "We told the network that under no circumstances would we ever can laughter during an OR scene when the doctors were working," said Gelbart in 1998. "It's hard to imagine that 300 people were in there laughing at somebody's guts being sewn up." [11]

    Seasons 1–5 utilized a more invasive laugh track; a more subdued audience was employed for Seasons 6–11 when the series shifted from sitcom to comedy drama with the departure of Gelbart and Reynolds. Several episodes ("O.R.", "The Bus", "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", "The Interview", "Point of View", and "Dreams" among them) omitted the laugh track altogether; as did almost all of Season 11, including the 135-minute series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen". [12] The laugh track is also omitted from some international and syndicated airings of the show; on one occasion during an airing on BBC2, the laugh track was accidentally left on, and viewers expressed their displeasure, an apology from the network for the "technical difficulty" was later released, as during its original run on BBC2 in the UK, it was shown without the laugh track. UK DVD critics speak poorly of the laugh track, stating "canned laughter is intrusive at the best of times, but with a programme like M*A*S*H, it's downright unbearable." [13]

    On all released DVDs, both in Region 1 (including the US and Canada) and Region 2 (Europe, including the UK), an option is given to watch the show with or without the laugh track. [14] [15]

    "They're a lie," said Gelbart in a 1992 interview. "You're telling an engineer when to push a button to produce a laugh from people who don't exist. It's just so dishonest. The biggest shows when we were on the air were All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show both of which were taped before a live studio audience where laughter made sense," continued Gelbart. "But our show was a film show – supposedly shot in the middle of Korea. So the question I always asked the network was, 'Who are these laughing people? Where did they come from?'" Gelbart persuaded CBS to test the show in private screenings with and without the laugh track. The results showed no measurable difference in the audience's enjoyment. "So you know what they said?" Gelbart said. "'Since there's no difference, let's leave it alone!' The people who defend laugh tracks have no sense of humor." [12] Gelbart summed up the situation by saying, "I always thought it cheapened the show. The network got their way. They were paying for dinner." [16]

    Content

    M*A*S*H was one of the first network series to feature brief partial nudity (notably Gary Burghoff's buttocks in "The Sniper", Hawkeye in "Dear Dad Again" and "An Eye for a Tooth").[ citation needed ]

    In his blog, writer Ken Levine revealed that on one occasion, when the cast offered too many nitpicking "notes" on a script, his writing partner and he changed the script to a "cold show" – one set during the frigid Korean winter. The cast then had to stand around barrel fires in parkas at the Malibu ranch when the temperatures neared 100 °F (38 °C). Levine says, "This happened maybe twice, and we never got a ticky-tack note again." [17]

    Jackie Cooper wrote that Alan Alda whom Cooper directed in several episodes during the first two seasons concealed what Cooper felt was a lot of hostility toward him, and the two barely spoke to each other by the time Cooper's tenure on the show ended. [18]

    Episodes

    Episode list

    SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRank [19] Rating [19]
    First airedLast aired
    1 24September 17, 1972 (1972-09-17)March 25, 1973 (1973-03-25)4617.5
    2 24September 15, 1973 (1973-09-15)March 2, 1974 (1974-03-02)425.7
    3 24September 10, 1974 (1974-09-10)March 18, 1975 (1975-03-18)527.4
    4 25September 12, 1975 (1975-09-12)February 24, 1976 (1976-02-24)1422.9
    5 25September 21, 1976 (1976-09-21)March 15, 1977 (1977-03-15)425.9
    6 25September 20, 1977 (1977-09-20)March 27, 1978 (1978-03-27)823.2
    7 26September 18, 1978 (1978-09-18)March 12, 1979 (1979-03-12)725.4
    8 25September 17, 1979 (1979-09-17)March 24, 1980 (1980-03-24)425.3
    9 20November 17, 1980 (1980-11-17)May 4, 1981 (1981-05-04)425.7
    10 22October 26, 1981 (1981-10-26)April 12, 1982 (1982-04-12)922.3
    11 16October 25, 1982 (1982-10-25)February 28, 1983 (1983-02-28)322.6

    Final episode: "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"

    "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was the final episode of M*A*S*H. Special television sets were placed in PX parking lots, auditoriums and day rooms of the U.S. Army in Korea so that military personnel could watch that episode, in spite of 14 hours' time-zone difference with the East Coast of the US. The episode aired on February 28, 1983, and was 212 hours long. The episode got a Nielsen rating of 60.2 and 77 share [20] and according to a New York Times article from 1983, the final episode of M*A*S*H had 125 million viewers. [21]

    When the M*A*S*H finale aired in 1983, more than 83.3 million homes in the United States had televisions, compared to almost 115 million in February 2010. [22]

    "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" broke the record for the highest percentage of homes with television sets to watch a television series. Stories persist that the episode was seen by so many people that the New York City Sanitation/Public Works Department reported the plumbing systems broke down in some parts of the city from so many New Yorkers waiting until the end to use the toilet. Articles copied into Alan Alda's book The Last Days of M*A*S*H include interviews with New York City Sanitation workers citing the spike in water use on that night. According to the interviews at 11:03 pm, EST New York City public works noted the highest water usage at one given time in the city's history. They attributed this to the fact that in the three minutes after the finale ended, around 77 percent of the people of New York City flushed their toilets. [23] These stories have all since been identified as part of an urban legend dating back to the days of the Amos and Andy radio program in the 1930s. [24]

    Reception

    Ratings and recognition

    The series premiered in the US on September 17, 1972, and ended on February 28, 1983, with the finale, showcased as a television film, titled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", becoming the most-watched and highest-rated single television episode in US television history at the time, with a record-breaking 125 million viewers (60.2 rating and 77 share), [25] according to the New York Times. [21] It had struggled in its first season and was at risk of being cancelled. [26] In season two, M*A*S*H was placed in a better time slot by CBS (airing after the popular All in the Family ); the show then became one of the top 10 programs of the year and stayed in the top 20 programs for the rest of its run. [26] It is still broadcast in syndication on various television stations. The series, which depicted events occurring during a three-year war, spanned 256 episodes and lasted 11 seasons. The Korean War lasted 1,128 days, meaning each episode of the series would have averaged almost four and a half days of real time. Many of the stories in the early seasons are based on tales told by real MASH surgeons who were interviewed by the production team. Like the movie, the series was as much an allegory about the Vietnam War (still in progress when the show began) as it was about the Korean War. [27]

    The episodes "Abyssinia, Henry" and "The Interview" were ranked number 20 and number 80, respectively, on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time in 1997. [28] In 2002, M*A*S*H was ranked number 25 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. [29] In February 2008, the series was named the number-one smartest TV show of all time by Jim Werdell, chairman of Mensa International, who said that it "had smart repartee and was so much more than a comedy". [30] In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the fifth-best written TV series ever [31] and TV Guide ranked it as the eighth-greatest show of all time. [32] In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked it as the 16th-greatest TV show. [33]

    Season ratings

    SeasonEp #Time slot (ET)Season PremiereSeason FinaleNielsen Ratings
    RankViewers
    (in millions)
    Rating
    1 1972–73 24Sunday at 8:00 pmSeptember 17, 1972March 25, 1973#46 [34] 17.4
    2 1973–74 24Saturday at 8:30 pmSeptember 15, 1973March 2, 1974#4 [35] 17.02 [35] 25.7
    3 1974–75 24Tuesday at 8:30 pmSeptember 10, 1974March 18, 1975#5 [36] 18.76 [36] 27.4
    4 1975–76 25Friday at 8:00 pm (Episode 1)
    Friday at 8:30 pm (Episodes 2–13)
    Tuesday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 14–25)
    September 12, 1975February 24, 1976#15 [37] 15.93 [37] 22.9
    5 1976–77 25Tuesday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1, 3–25)
    Tuesday at 9:30 pm (Episode 2)
    September 21, 1976March 15, 1977#4 [38] 18.44 [38] 25.9
    6 1977–78 25Tuesday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1, 3–19)
    Tuesday at 9:30 pm (Episode 2)
    Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 20–25)
    September 20, 1977March 27, 1978#9 [39] 16.91 [39] 23.2
    7 1978–79 26Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1–4, 6–26)
    Monday at 9:30 pm (Episode 5)
    September 18, 1978March 12, 1979#7 [40] 18.92 [40] 25.4
    8 1979–80 25Monday at 9:00 pmSeptember 17, 1979March 24, 1980#5 [41] 19.30 [41] 25.3
    9 1980–81 20November 17, 1980May 4, 1981#4 [42] 20.53 [42] 25.7
    10 1981–82 22Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1, 3–22)
    Monday at 9:30 pm (Episode 2)
    October 26, 1981April 12, 1982#9 [43] 18.17 [43] 22.3
    11 1982–83 16Monday at 9:00 pm (Episodes 1–15)
    Monday at 8:30 pm (Episode 16)
    October 25, 1982February 28, 1983#3 [44] 18.82 [44] 22.6

    Awards

    M*A*S*H was nominated for over 100 Emmy Awards during its 11-year run, winning 14:

    The show won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series (Musical or Comedy) in 1981. Alan Alda won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series (Musical or Comedy) six times: in 1975, 1976, 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983. McLean Stevenson won the award for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series in 1974.

    The series earned the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Comedy Series seven times: 1973 (Gene Reynolds), 1974 (Reynolds), 1975 (Hy Averback), 1976 (Averback), 1977 (Alan Alda), 1982 (Alda), 1983 (Alda).

    The show was honored with a Peabody Award in 1975 "for the depth of its humor and the manner in which comedy is used to lift the spirit and, as well, to offer a profound statement on the nature of war." M*A*S*H was cited as "an example of television of high purpose that reveals in universal terms a time and place with such affecting clarity." [45]

    Writers for the show received several Humanitas Prize nominations, with Larry Gelbart winning in 1976, Alan Alda winning in 1980, and the team of David Pollock and Elias Davis winning twice in 1982 and 1983.

    The series received 28 Writers Guild of America Award nominations – 26 for Episodic Comedy and two for Episodic Drama. Seven episodes won for Episodic Comedy in 1973, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, and 1981.

    Other media

    20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD in Region 1 and Region 2.

    DVD titleEp No.Release dates
    Region 1Region 2
    M*A*S*H Season 124January 8, 2002May 19, 2003
    M*A*S*H Season 224July 23, 2002October 13, 2003
    M*A*S*H Season 324February 18, 2003March 15, 2004
    M*A*S*H Seasons 1–372N/AOctober 31, 2005
    M*A*S*H Season 424July 15, 2003June 14, 2004
    M*A*S*H Seasons 1–496December 2, 2003N/A
    M*A*S*H Season 524December 9, 2003January 17, 2005
    M*A*S*H Season 624June 8, 2004March 28, 2005
    M*A*S*H Season 725December 7, 2004May 30, 2005
    M*A*S*H Season 825May 24, 2005August 15, 2005
    M*A*S*H Season 920December 6, 2005January 9, 2006
    M*A*S*H Seasons 1–9214December 6, 2005N/A
    M*A*S*H Season 1022May 23, 2006April 17, 2006
    M*A*S*H Season 1116November 7, 2006May 29, 2006
    Martinis and Medicine Collection
    (Complete Series, including the Original Movie)
    256November 7, 2006October 30, 2006
    Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen Collector's Edition1May 15, 2007N/A

    In January 2015, it was announced that the first five seasons of M*A*S*H would be available on Netflix's instant streaming service beginning February 1, 2015. This marked the first time the series was made available on an internet platform. As of July 1, 2015, all 11 seasons were available; syndicated versions of hour-long episodes were utilized for streaming, splitting these shows into two parts. [46] In contrast to the DVD sets, the Netflix streams did not have an option for disabling the laugh track on the soundtrack. On April 1, 2016, Netflix' contract to stream the series expired and M*A*S*H was removed from the platform. [47]

    In July 2017, it was announced that Hulu had acquired online streaming rights for the entire run of M*A*S*H, along with several other 20th Century Fox-owned TV programs. [48] All 256 episodes were added to Hulu beginning June 29, 2018. All episodes were scanned in 1080 HD from the original 35mm negatives and are presented in 16:9 widescreen by cropping the top and bottom off the original 4:3 aspect ratio. [49]

    Spin-offs and reunion specials

    The two-season spin-off AfterMASH (1983–1985) inherited the parent show's Monday night time slot and featured several of its main characters reunited in a Midwestern hospital after the war. [50] The more successful Trapper John, M.D. (1979–1986) took place nearly three decades after the events of M*A*S*H and depicted Trapper John McIntyre as chief of surgery at a San Francisco hospital; [51] its producers argued successfully in court that it was based on the earlier movie rather than the TV series. [52] In an unpurchased television pilot, W*A*L*T*E*R (1984), Walter "Radar" O'Reilly joins the St. Louis police force after his farm fails following his return to the U.S.

    Making M*A*S*H, a documentary special narrated by Mary Tyler Moore that takes viewers behind the production of the season 8 episodes "Old Soldiers" and "Lend a Hand", was produced for PBS airing on January 21, 1981. The special was later included in the syndicated rerun package, with new narration by producer Michael Hirsch. [53]

    Three retrospective specials were produced to commemorate the show's 20th, 30th and 50th anniversaries:

    Memories of M*A*S*H and M*A*S*H: 30th Anniversary Reunion are included as bonuses on the Collector's Edition DVD of "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen". Also included is "M*A*S*H: Television's Serious Sitcom," a 2002 episode of A&E channel's Biography program that detailed the show's history.

    In the late 1980s, the cast had a partial reunion in a series of commercials for IBM products, including personal computers and the AS/400 system. All of the front-billed regulars (with the exceptions of Farrell and Stevenson) appeared in the spots over time. [54] [55]

    See also

    Related Research Articles

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Larry Gelbart</span> American comedy writer and playwright (1928–2009)

    Larry Simon Gelbart was an American television writer, playwright, screenwriter, director and author, most famous as a creator and producer of the television series M*A*S*H, and as co-writer of the Broadway musicals A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and City of Angels.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Loretta Swit</span> American actress

    Loretta Jane Swit is an American stage and television actress known for her character roles. Swit is best known for her portrayal of Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on M*A*S*H, for which she won two Emmy Awards.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Gary Burghoff</span> American actor

    Gary Rich Burghoff is an American actor who is known for originating the role of Charlie Brown in the 1967 Off-Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and the character Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly in the film M*A*S*H, as well as the TV series. He was a regular on television game show Match Game from 1974 to 1975 for 140 episodes, standing in for Charles Nelson Reilly, who was in New York doing a Broadway play, and continued to make recurring appearances afterwards.

    <i>M*A*S*H</i> Franchise of book, film, and TV series

    M*A*S*H is an American media franchise consisting of a series of novels, a film, several television series, plays, and other properties, and based on the semi-autobiographical fiction of Richard Hooker.

    <i>AfterMASH</i> 1980s American comedy TV series; sequel to M*A*S*H

    AfterMASH is an American sitcom television series produced as the first spin-off and a continuation of M*A*S*H that aired on CBS from September 26, 1983 to May 31, 1985. It was developed as the sequel series as it takes place immediately following the end of the Korean War and chronicles the postwar adventures of three main characters from the original series: Colonel Sherman T. Potter, Sergeant Maxwell Klinger and Father John Mulcahy. M*A*S*H supporting cast-member Kellye Nakahara joined them, albeit off-camera, as the voice of the hospital's public address system. Rosalind Chao rounded out the starring cast as Soon-Lee Klinger, a Korean refugee whom Klinger met, fell in love with, and married in the M*A*S*H series finale "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen".

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Larry Linville</span> American actor

    Lawrence Lavon Linville was an American actor known for his portrayal of the surgeon Major Frank Burns on the television series M*A*S*H.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">McLean Stevenson</span> American actor

    Edgar "Mac" McLean Stevenson Jr. was an American actor and comedian. He is best known for his role as Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake in the television series M*A*S*H, which earned him a Golden Globe Award in 1974. Stevenson also appeared on a number of television series, notably The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and The Doris Day Show.

    Jeff Maxwell is an American film and television actor. He is perhaps best known for playing Pvt. Igor Straminsky, a recurring character in the television series M*A*S*H. He appeared in 83 episodes of the classic CBS comedy from 1973 to 1983, including the series finale Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, which aired February 28, 1983, and became the most-watched scripted broadcast in American history with over 121.6 million viewers and 50.1 million households tuning in.

    "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" is a television film that served as the series finale of the American television series M*A*S*H. Closing out the series' 11th season, the 2 1⁄2-hour episode first aired on CBS on February 28, 1983, ending the series' original run. The episode was written by eight collaborators, including series star Alan Alda, who also directed.

    "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" is episode #17 of the first season of the TV series M*A*S*H, originally airing on January 28, 1973. This is the first episode in which the medical staff failed to save a wounded soldier, and one of the first episodes of the series showing a member of the hospital staff truly affected by death.

    "Abyssinia, Henry" is the 72nd episode of the M*A*S*H television series, and the final episode of the series' third season. It was written by Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, and first aired on March 18, 1975. The episode is notable for its shocking ending, in which the unit's amiable commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake receives an honorable discharge and leaves for home, but in the final scene is reported killed by enemy fire. This ending prompted more than 1,000 letters to series producers Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbart, and drew fire from both CBS and 20th Century Fox.

    "Welcome to Korea" was a 2-episode story arc, the 73rd and 74th episodes of the M*A*S*H television series, and first two episodes of the fourth season of the series. First aired on September 12, 1975, the series' first 60 minute episode was most notable for its off-screen departure of the character of Captain Trapper John McIntyre, and his replacement by the freshly drafted Captain B.J. Hunnicutt.

    "Good Bye, Radar" is a two-part episode of the television series M*A*S*H that served as the fourth and fifth episodes of the show's eighth season and the 177th and 178th episodes of the series. Part 1 aired on October 8, 1979, with Part 2 airing one week later. The two episodes aired as a one-hour special during off-season reruns on May 12, 1980. As the title of the episode implies, these were the final two episodes to feature Gary Burghoff in his role as Corporal Radar O'Reilly.

    "The Consultant" is the 17th episode in the third season of the television series M*A*S*H. It originally aired on January 17, 1975. It was written by Robert Klane, from a story by Larry Gelbart, and was directed by Gene Reynolds.

    "Aid Station" is the 19th episode of the third season of M*A*S*H. It was originally broadcast on February 11, 1975.

    <span class="mw-page-title-main">Alan Alda</span> American actor (born 1936)

    Alan Alda is an American actor, screenwriter, and director. A six-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award winner, he is best known for playing Captain Benjamin "Hawkeye" Pierce in the war comedy-drama television series M*A*S*H (1972–1983). He also wrote and directed numerous episodes of the series.

    "Dear Sigmund" is the 7th episode of the fifth season of the television series M*A*S*H. It first aired on CBS on September 18, 1976. The episode was conceived, written and directed by cast member Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye Pierce on the show.

    "The Interview" was the twenty-fifth and final episode of the fourth season of the TV series M*A*S*H. The 97th episode overall, it first aired in the United States on February 24, 1976.

    References

    Informational notes

    1. The term "dramedy" (drama + comedy), although coined in 1978, was not in common usage until after M*A*S*H had gone off the air.

    Citations

    1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Kalter, Suzy (1984). The Complete Book of M*A*S*H. New York: Abradale Press, Harry M. Abrahams, Inc. ISBN   0-8109-8083-5.
    2. M*A*S*H* - movie theme song - opening, archived from the original on 2021-12-11, retrieved 2021-04-07
    3. Gardner, Tim (February 8, 2010). "Saints' win over Colts in Super Bowl XLIV is most-watched television program ever". USA Today . Retrieved May 28, 2021.
    4. Porter, Rick (February 5, 2018). "TV Ratings Sunday: Super Bowl LII smallest since 2009, still massive; 'This Is Us' scores big [Updated]". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on February 5, 2018. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
    5. Levine, Ken (2011-01-30). "Naming characters on TV shows". kenlevine.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
    6. Woolsey fire destroys historic ranches, movie sets and open spaces in Santa Monica Mountains Retrieved November 11, 2018
    7. "MASH Set at Malibu Creek State Park Survives the Woolsey Fire". Conejo Valley Guide | Conejo Valley Events. Retrieved 2018-12-28.
    8. "M*A*S*H Again a Hit – At the Smithsonian". The New York Times. 12 August 1983.
    9. "M*A*S*H: Binding Up the Wounds | Smithsonian". Smithsonian Institution.
    10. PIANTADOS, ROGER (July 29, 1983). "MASH Lives, At the Smithsonian". The Washington Post .
    11. Gelbart, Larry (May 26, 1998). Emmy TV Legends: Larry Gelbart Interview (Interview with Dan Harrison). Los Angeles, California: Archive for American Television.
    12. 1 2 Seibel, Deborah Starr (April 16, 1992). "Funny Business: TV Laugh Tracks Can Still Cause Frowns, But The Studios Feel A Need To Be Humored". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2014-01-27.
    13. "Myreviewer.com/Review of MASH Season 3 DVD Review". Myreviewer.com. 2004-03-20. Retrieved 2013-07-09.
    14. "DVD Review: M*A*S*H – Season Three (Collector's Edition)". AVRev.com. 2003-02-18. Archived from the original on November 3, 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
    15. "Another MASH DVD review mentioning audio choices". Dvd.reviewer.co.uk. 2010-10-03. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
    16. Greene, Nick (May 19, 2014). "Why Did M*A*S*H Have A Laugh Track?". mental floss.com. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
    17. Ken Levine (October 18, 2007). "Charles Emerson Winchester". ... by Ken Levine. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
    18. Jackie Cooper, Please Don't Shoot My Dog, p. 290, William Morrow & Company, 1981
    19. 1 2 "M*A*S*H Ratings & Rankings". MASH4077TV.com.
    20. "Saints'". USA Today . 2010-02-08. Retrieved 2010-02-11.
    21. 1 2 "Finale Of M*A*S*H Draws Record Number Of Viewers". The New York Times. March 3, 1983.
    22. Flint, Joe (2010-02-09). "Super Bowl XLIV game a ratings winner". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved 2010-02-11.
    23. Alda, Arlene, and Alan Alda. The Last Days of MASH. n.p.: Unicorn House, 1983. Print.
    24. snopes (5 March 2016). "Super Bowl Flushing Breaks Sewage Systems: snopes.com". snopes. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
    25. Hyatt, Wesley (2012). Television's Top 100. US: McFarland. p. 171. ISBN   978-0-7864-4891-3. Archived from the original on 2011-03-26.
    26. 1 2 "M*A*S*H". Tv.com. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
    27. Schochet, Stephen. "The Ironies of MASH Archived April 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine ." hollywoodstories.com, 2007. The show's producers have said that it was about war and bureaucracy in general.
    28. "Special Collector's Issue: 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time". TV Guide . No. June 28 – July 4, 1997.
    29. "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". CBS News . 26 April 2002. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
    30. "Mensa Picks 10 Smartest TV Shows of All Time". Fox News . February 19, 2008. Archived from the original on February 23, 2021.
    31. "101 Best Written TV Series List". Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
    32. Fretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt. "The Greatest Shows on Earth". TV Guide. Vol. 61, no. 3194–3195. pp. 16–19.
    33. "100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2016-09-21. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
    34. "M*A*S*H: Television's Serious Sitcom". Biography . July 10, 2003. A&E. Although the cast was beginning to think that M*A*S*H was about to hit its stride, the series was still attracting a very small audience and it ranked 46 in the ratings.
    35. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1973–1974". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    36. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1974–1975". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    37. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1975–1976". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    38. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1976–1977". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    39. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1977–1978". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    40. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1978–1979". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    41. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1979–1980". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    42. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1980–1981". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    43. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1981–1982". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    44. 1 2 "TV Ratings: 1982–1983". ClassicTVHits.com. Retrieved 2010-01-09.
    45. "The Peabody Awards | An International Competition for Electronic Media, honoring achievement in Television, Radio, Cable and the Web | Administered by University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication". Peabody.uga.edu. Archived from the original on 2012-02-03. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
    46. "Netflix". The Huffington Post . 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
    47. Cobb, Kayla (March 23, 2016). "Netflix's Expiring Movies and Shows: A Complete List of What's Leaving on April 1". decider.com.
    48. Spangler, Todd (July 19, 2017). "Hulu to Add All Episodes of 'How I Met Your Mother,' 'Glee,' 'Bones,' 'M*A*S*H' and More in Mammoth 20th Century Fox TV Deal". Variety. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
    49. Bouma, Luke (June 29, 2018). "Hulu Just Added All 256 Episodes of M*A*S*H". Cord Cutters News. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
    50. "Here Comes the Fall!". People. Retrieved 2018-09-13.
    51. Ostherr, Kirsten (2013-04-11). Medical Visions: Producing the Patient Through Film, Television, and Imaging Technologies. Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780199737246.
    52. "7 weird spin-offs that were nothing like the originals". Digital Spy . 2017-11-28.
    53. "MASH4077TV.com". MASH4077tv.com. 2005-01-02. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
    54. Wollenberg, Skip (April 3, 1987). "IBM Ads Reunite Seven 'MASH' Actors". APNews.com. Retrieved November 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
    55. "Alda Reunited with Other Ex-M-A-S-H Stars in New IBM Ads". APNews.com. June 22, 1988. Retrieved November 28, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

    Further reading