M*A*S*H 1972-1975

As I was sidelined…I drug out my Mash episodes and started to watch them in order. I got to the 5th season and then started to jump around. I also like the movie but I’ll concentrate on the TV show for these three days of posts.

Mash was one of the best-written tv shows ever. It’s hard to do a simple one page on this show because it lasted eleven seasons on a war that lasted a little over three years.

It seems everyone has their own favorite era of the show. For me, I have always liked the irrelevant feeling of the original cast. I never watched it in real-time between 72-75 because I would have been too young to get it then… I started to watch it around 1977 but after watching in syndication I liked the Henry Blake, Trapper John, and Frank Burns era.

This show was different than many other comedies. It was funny but also could turn serious.

I’ve always divided M*a*s*h up in three sections… Original cast 72-75 (S 1-3), Radar leaving 76-79 (S 4-8), and the end… 80-83 (S 9-11). The atmosphere changed in every section. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Mclean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers would have stayed a couple of more years…how that would have changed how it evolved. I’ll be posting on these sections in the next few days.

Characters from the first 3 years.

Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – Alan Alda – This character may have installed my love of the Marx Brothers. Alda followed Groucho’s template of sardonic humor.

Trapper John McIntyre – Wayne Rogers – I think Trapper John was Hawkeye’s best partner. They were just different enough to work. Like Henry, he left way too soon. 

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake – McClean Stevenson – Henry wasn’t much of a leader but he was fun to have around. He really emphasized having Doctors running an Army camp. What he lacked as a leader he made up for with compassion and care for his people…

Major Frank Burns – Larry Linville – Maybe the most annoying whiny character on any show.  When I was younger I hated Frank Burns…but later on, I saw how vital he was to the show. The show really missed him when he quit…still it would terrible to meet a live Frank Burns.

Major Margaret Hot Lips” Houlihan – Loretta Swit – Of all of the characters that changed as the show progressed…Margaret changed most of all. She was still an army brat here but she could match Frank in being military and paranoid. Margaret and Frank would be an item until the 5th season.

Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly – Gary BurghoffThe most important member of the 4077… He made that camp run while representing the childlike qualities of a kid from Ottumwa, Iowa.

Francis John Patrick Mulcahy – William Christopher – William did a great job of representing Father Mulcahy. He was totally believable as the friendly priest of the 4077.

Maxwell Klinger – Jamie Farr – Corporal Klinger would go to great lengths to get out of the Army…wearing women’s clothing (in the 50s), reporting relatives dying (the same ones over and over), and even eating a jeep. Also trying to escape with a glider with pink house shoes…he looked like a big red bird with fuzzy pink feet. 

Episodes that stand out are

Sometimes You Hear a Bullet – This one gets serious when a friend of Hawkeye’s is writing a book about the war and is hit on the battlefield and Hawkeye cannot save him. A young Ron Howard is in this one playing a kid who lied about his age to get in the army just to impress a girl. Hawkeye was going to keep it a secret but eventually turns him in when he sees his friend die.

“Abyssinia, Henry” – Probably my favorite Mash episode ever. They do something that just wasn’t done back then…kill a character off in a comedy. McClean Stevenson wanted off the show (a move he would regret) after three seasons and Henry Blake gets his papers to go home. He tells everyone goodbye and at the end, Radar comes in the operating room to say that Henry’s plane was shot down with no survivors.

Trapper: Klinger is not a pervert.
Frank: How do you know?
Trapper: because I’m one and he’s never at the meetings.

Frank: Your conduct in there was not only unbecoming in an officer, it was equally reprehensible as a medical man!
Hawkeye: Frank, I happen to be an officer only because I foolishly opened an invitation from President Truman to come to this costume party. And as for my ability as a doctor, if you seriously question that, I’m afraid I’ll just have to challenge you to a duel.
Trapper: Swords or pistols?
Hawkeye: I was thinking specimen bottles at 20 paces.
Frank: There are ladies present.
Hawkeye: Oh. (to Margaret) Sorry, baby.
Margaret: “Major” to you!
Hawkeye: Sorry, Major, baby.

Frank: All right, McIntyre! Time for your checkup. Into your birthday suit.
Trapper: Take a walk, Frank.
Frank: This is the army.
Trapper: Then take a hike!
Frank: Are you refusing to take your physical from a superior officer?
Trapper: No, I’m refusing to take my physical from an inferior doctor.
Hawkeye: (entering the Swamp) What’s all the adrenaline for?
Frank: McIntyre’s refused to take his clothes off for me.
Hawkeye: Well, not everybody is Major Houlihan, Frank.
Trapper: Which is a relief to us all. Out, Frank.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “M*A*S*H 1972-1975”

  1. My favorite memory of MASH- the last episode. I had a college night class and everyone either wanted to see it- or at least pretended to want to see it- and the professor let us out early so we could watch it. Never a favorite but it was OK. Watching re-runs of it today Hawkeye annoys me. An extremely popular show though- I have a friend and a co-worker- who tells me their favorite show is MASH. My favorite characters- Radar and Klinger.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The last episode was a must watch because everyone else was watching it. I just noticed how much the characters changed and you are right Hawkeye became a chatty Cathy doll… I say that in the last post exactly that. He went from a skirt chasing doctor to a sensitive preachy guy.
      I do like the first three seasons.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. After watching it lately again…early on was some really good writing and the timing was really good but they should have quit much earlier.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 11 seasons is a long run. Maybe a few years too long. But nearly 40 years since the end it is still all over the television.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yes it was and still is part of the culture. You mentioned the last episode…It still holds the record for the most watch tv show of a series.

        To me, when Frank left it really changed. But watching it now…it was a different show at the end than it was in the beginning.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Hawkeye and Alda both became pretty full of themselves. I don’t know if it was the success of the show or what. I liked the more minor characters in the show- he got too much of the focus.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A classic show. I watched at times as a kid, probably mid-era, and of course watched the last episode. Revolutionary for its time, as was ‘All in the Family’, taking the classic sitcom but introducing more real characters and tough storylines too. I think two of the most essential shows that got us to the modern age of TV.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I need to watch the series again, as an adult. I do remember hating Frank Burns and Hot Lips and their sneaking around and Burns reminding me of Dr. Smith on Lost in Space. I loved Radar and Hawkeye and liked Harry Morgan as the Maclean replacement.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES… Dr Smith is a good comparison…except Frank wasn’t evil…he was just plain stupid lol. The show started great and I like the middle years also with Morgan…the end though…well I’ll be posting it. I split it up to 3 posts…probably too many but it was a huge show.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The first 3 seasons were the best – I was big on it from day one, it had that hippie challenging of authority that had been big in youth culture, the ongoing idiocy of the VietNam war (which it what it was really about), and yes Groucho Marx was very big at that time too, his reputation being pushed by folk like Alda. I was mad on both MASH and the Marx Brothers, especially Groucho, even though I was 14 and Groucho was very old by then – The Marx’s also had a total disregard and disrespect for authority.

    Some of the events, like Henry’s death, were genuinely shocking – it was a like a bolt out of the blue, a blow! Later seasons got far too gooey and overly-sentimental, and forgot the more caustic side in favour of emotional manipulation, though the character changes helped sustain it’s run, most probably, especially Klinger and Hotlips and bringing in Harry Morgan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with everything you said. The first three seasons were magical. “Overly-sentimental”…perfect way to describe the last 3 seasons. The middle had a little of both good and bad.

      Alan Alda turned into a Chatty Cathy Doll toward the end and the writers tamed his character.

      I was really young but I barely remember the Marx Brothers boom. They are some of my heros. I remember on the news reading about colleges showing Marx Brother movies and lines being wrapped around the block.

      Henry dying still gets to me. Just thinking of the shock it had to give people.


    1. I do like the movie. I just saw it again the other night. I like how everyone is talking over the other…he did that on purpose and the studio didn’t like it until people started to praise it.


      1. I love staying up late but I had to do something today so that made it hard. I stay up way too late usually but I love it.


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