FW Presents: M*A*S*H at 45


Attention all personnel! Rob welcomes back Zaki Hasan to talk about the TV series M*A*S*H, on the occasion of its 45th anniversary on September 17, 1972!

Have a question or comment? Looking for more great content?

Subscribe to FW PRESENTS on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/fw-presents/id1207382042

This podcast is a proud member of the FIRE AND WATER PODCAST NETWORK:

Thanks for listening! That is all!

30 responses to “FW Presents: M*A*S*H at 45

  1. Thank you thank you TAHNK YOU for this podcast!!!! After this, we NEED a regular MASH podcast! I didn’t want this episode to end. More thoughts to follow but thank you guys for talking about my favorite show of all time!

    1. Thanks Mike! I would love to do a regular MASH show for the network, I’m going to see what I can do in 2018. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for listening!

  2. Thanks for the informative episode. Every year I teach an undergrad coursew titled “Television as Popular Culture” which looks at the medium from its invention in the 1920s to the present. I always include a lecture on the “1970s sitcom revolution” which focuses on how shows like MASH reflected a greater maturity in subject matter. I think it’s best to think of MASH in relation to shows like All in the Family, Maude, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, Good TImes, etc that all reflected the networks’ desire for more targeted shows aimed at a more educated, urban, and wealthier demographic. Only a few years earlier, CBS was home to the rural comedies like Mayberry RFD, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres. In fact, the 1964 “Giant Jackrabbit” episode of the Beverly Hillbillies is still one of the most watched 1/2 hrs of entertainment programming in TV history. It has a rating of 65! And that’s with no special promotion, guest stars, or gimmicks.

    1. It’s amazing to think that CBS Sat nights in the early 70s consisted of ALL IN THE FAMILY, MASH, THE BOB NEWHART SHOW, and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. In terms of popularity and quality, I don’t think that’s a block of shows that has ever been equaled.

  3. Like you, Rob, I grew up with the show in syndication. It was either on during the day when I was home from school, or it was on in the afternoon/evening. It was one of those shows that if it was on, I was going to watch it. Most of the time it was funny, but sometimes it made you sit and think about what you just saw.

    To the question of a “preferred era” of the show, I like the period from when Winchester arrives to when Radar left. I liked the dynamic between Hawkeye, BJ, and Winchester, since they could possibly all work together, or two of them might gang up on the 3rd. I never liked the “Let’s pick on Frank” stuff, no matter how much he deserved it, because Larry Linville played Frank like he has some kind of mental disability. It just felt like they were picking on the guy because he couldn’t fight back.

    Plus, I like Potter being able to, somewhat, corral everyone as needed. Henry couldn’t do that. Then, once Radar left, some of that innocent quality was lost, from all of the characters. They no longer had a “little brother” to look after, and the dynamic suffered for it, in my opinion. Not that I have anything against giving Klinger a bigger part, but I liked Radar in that position better.

    1. I agree, I think Radar–at least the early interpretation of the character–was a big loss for the show. I can appreciate that Gary Burghoff was feeling tired of playing a man-boy, and it’s a shame the show couldn’t/wouldn’t find a way to develop the character more so he felt he could stretch a bit.

      The post-Radar era feels like a brief blip in the history of the show, and yet it lasted 3 1/2 seasons, a full 25% of the show’s entire run!

  4. Great show fellas. I grew up with MASH on. It was just a fixture. First run (I remember us all watching the finale together) and in syndication. It’s a show I really need to go back and re-watch more with adult eyes. I’ll occasionally catch an episode on MeTV and I’m reminded just how damn good it is. This made me want to do that on a regular basis.

    I remember After MASH. As spin-offs go, it wasn’t bad. There were far worse (Golden Hotel, anyone?). As for reunion movies…those are usually pretty bad. The only one I can think of that is actually good is Return to Mayberry, the reunion of the Andy Griffith Show. But I may be biased, because I think I love Andy ALMOST as much as Rob does MASH. Well, maybe not, but I still love it.


    1. As I said on the show, I think there was something there that could have been done with AfterMASH, but CBS basically just wanted a clone of the original show, so it was set up for failure. The best spin-offs (FRASIER usually being the prime example) find a way to be their own creative entity, so they can stand on their own. Maybe AfterMASH would have gotten there, but when the ratings weren’t immediately huge, they panicked and started messing with the show and only made it, IMO, worse. I’m still bitter that Potter, Mulcahy, and Klinger never got a final send off–the show was just yanked, and that was it.

  5. Great episode, gentlemen. Growing up, my parents (particularly my mom) watched MASH regularly, and, therefore, so did I. I even remember watching the final episode when it first aired. I was only 7 or 8 years old at the time, but realized what a big deal it was, even at that age. My favorite period is after Potter takes command, primarily, because that’s the era I remember watching as a kid. If you do start a regular (or even irregular) MASH podcast, then I’ll happily follow it.

    As an aside, I’m hoping to get my wife to listen to this episode. She’s never listened to a podcast before, but is a big MASH fan. Fingers crossed.

  6. Count me in as an eager listener for a MASH podcast. I’d love to talk some episodes too if you ever needed an academic guest.

    My motto: “Frank Burns eats worms.”

  7. Loved this tribute. MASH was a nightly regular at our house in the 1980’s in syndication. I loved the show. And I would love for you to do a MASH show-by-show podcast.

  8. This show has marked my life. I was just old enough to see the newspaper ads for the MASH movie, but of course, couldn’t have gotten into that movie if I’d tried. (I finally saw it at 11, on TV after the show was in its third season). But at the age of 9, this show appeared. Before this, if you wanted to marry the words “TV” “Comedy” and “War” – you would have gotten McHale’s Navy, Phil Silvers, Gomer Pyle, or Hogan’s Heroes (which in some small ways resembles MASH, at least in production values). But MASH was a huge gamble for networks, which may have at least seen from All in the Family’s success that the taboos were lifting. I’m sure i saw every episode in its original run, up to the end, and in syndication ever since.

    Among my personal milestones were the series’ “villains” Burns and Winchester. In watching it over, it’s somewhat disconcerting that the writers could allow so much growth in the characters, while Burns’ remained a rat fink to the end. As you discussed on the podcast, only in his last year did Frank show any cracks in the veneer, and even at that, Linville’s character remained two-dimensional. Winchester was introduced to be a villain, but grew immensely in the role. Even in pomposity, you couldn’t root against Charles. Had the writers given Linville as much to do as Stiers, Larry might have remained. Hard to say.

    I also wanted to comment on the varying styles of the Commanders – Henry Blake and Sherman Potter. I wish they somehow these character could have met, but it was fun to see the parallels after Harry Morgan joined the cast. As favorites, I still cite Col. Potter as my favorite character from the show. In style, comportment, and personality, Sherman reminded me of a cowboy uncle of mine. Compassionate but no-nonsense, he in many ways was a perfect boss – knowing when to allow the camp a lot of rope, and when to reel it back in. This is perfectly illustrated by his tolerance of Klinger, who most regular Army commanders would have gladly signed the Section 8 or thrown in the stockade. In a small way, Blake did meet him-at least the actor – as the wingy “General Steele” who Harry guest-starred as in Season Two.

    I’d support any MASH podcast you cared to do. I’m not much of a podcaster, but I am a good speaker, and I would volunteer myself as a guest if you cared to handle that.

    Thank you. That is all.

    1. I agree, Col. Potter was an ideal commander. I think Henry would be more fun, but I think if I had to be at the 4077, it would have been under Potter’s command.

  9. Great episode! The series had a tremendous impact on me growing up, as after parents divorced I kind of looked towards Hawkeye as a role model. One lesson I should have learned from that show but didn’t was that being a smartass doesn’t help your career, no matter how well you do your job.

    Rob, If you do a M*A*S*H podcast, I’m in as either a listener or guest.

  10. Since everyone else is offering their services as guests, let me also say I’m ready and willing when the call comes to talk for 3 or 4 hundred hours about the greatest show ever made!

      1. My brother lived in Toledo for a bit and I have eaten at Tony Packo. Can’t say I was that impressed but it was fun because of the Klinger (Farr) conection, also went over to 5/3 field since well couldn’t go over to Swayne Field (darn you Kroger).

  11. I didn’t think I needed a M*A*S*H podcast. Lord, was I wrong! This episode hit me right in the feels from start to finish.

    My parents watched most of the episodes as first runs, so I caught lots of them, but remember them better as re-runs. And i have fond memories of watching the finale with my family. Crazy story. My dad and I played in a community band that rehearsed on Monday nights. When the finale aired, we skipped rehearsal to watch it. (No VCR yet.) A couple of days later, a letter arrived from the band director, saying in essence, “M*A*S*H is over, but band isn’t. I better see you next week!” And it was a photocopied letter, so we probably weren’t the only members that missed practice.

    Another way to think about the MASH eras is “with laugh track” versus “no laugh track”. Once they made the change permanent to NLT, the storytelling of the show went to a whole ‘nother level. Still plenty of humor, but the drama of life in war, and living in war, powerful stuff.

    I also can’t give enough praise to the actors. So many scenes wearing surgical masks and they had to act through them or just with their eyes, and often those were the most emotional scenes. Which created even more empathy with us in the audience. Lacking their face, we fill in even more emotion from our imagination, making us participate in the scenes. With a less talented cast or directors, this would have fallen flat. But they pulled it off week after week after week. Simply amazing and I can’t think of any other show accomplishing this.

    So Rob, I know you mentioned a future podcast to get the listeners pushing you. Mission accomplished. I don’t know how I’d do as a guest, but it’d be fun to try!

    Thank you, Rob and Zaki. Well done. Now take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice.

  12. I used to catch M*A*S*H in syndication growing up as one of the last shows before bedtime, as it ran on a UHF station either in competition with or following the nightly news. I recall the hubbub about the finale, but never watched the show while it was still in first run. Oddly, I did catch an episode or two of After M*A*S*H, though I remember it best through the Mad parody. Are we certain in never got bundled into the syndication package? Anyway, I always respected and enjoyed M*A*S*H, but haven’t been compelled to revisit it as an adult. My last exposure was finally seeing the movie in the late ’90s, which is the same species of animal, but a different breed for sure. Liked both on their own terms, but prefer the show. To my hazy recollection, I wasn’t as into the McLean Stevenson/Larry Linville years. I preferred Winchester as the foil. I also have a gut level dislike of Wayne Rogers. My grandmother watched Trapper John, M.D., and I presume we both preferred Pernell Roberts. It wasn’t “really” M*A*S*H to me until Harry Morgan shows up (and he was essential to Dragnet for me, as well.) I never “got” Jamie Farr.

    1. Almost forgot– did anyone else have M*A*S*H action figures? As a poor kid, I was an easy mark for ill-considered toy tie-ins that got liquidated at deep discounts. I had B.J., Hot Lips and Hawkeye, probably purchased for $0.75 each. I lost them all to theft or the great storage unit payment defaulted purge of 1984.

  13. Hawkeye: I’ll carry your books, I’ll carry a torch, I’ll carry a tune, I’ll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash-and-carry, carry me back to Old Virginie, I’ll even ‘hari-kari’ if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun.

  14. Excellent! Really great Pod! Somehow, I believe I’ve seen every episode of M*A*S*H through the 70’s and in syndication in the 80’s. I could completely visualize every scene you guys described. Especially the Henry Blake death announcement in the OR. I can still hear the instrument clanging to the floor. This show too might have influenced and taught me a lot about life and helped to shape me morally and ethically. I’m like you Rob, I too can’t stand guns.

  15. You bastards. I’m finally getting around to finishing your “M*A*S*H at 45” episode. Excellent episode! I watched the show regularly in reruns when I was younger, but can’t really remember much details. When you two covered the part about Col Blake dying, it all came flooding back. Tears started rolling down my face as I remembered that powerful moment. I had to take a minute or two and sit down just now to finish getting the tears out. So thank you for making me feel something, you glorious bastards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *