M*A*S*HCast #1 – M*A*S*H The Pilot

M*A*S*HCast #1 –  Season 1, Episode 1: M*A*S*H The Pilot

For the debut episode of M*A*S*HCast, Rob welcomes fellow mega-M*A*S*H fan Russell Burbage (Legion of Super-Bloggers) to discuss the very first episode, M*A*S*H The Pilot!

Air Date: September 17, 1972

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Theme music by Johnny Mandel

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36 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #1 – M*A*S*H The Pilot

  1. Congrats on the new show! I’m teaching a course on “Television as Popular Culture” this semester and will definitely be covering MASH in class within the next few weeks. I have a lecture called “The Sitcom Revolution” where we cover the groundbreaking programs of the 1970s that reflected the era’s changing cultural attitudes (All in the Family, Mary Tyler Moore, MASH, Good Times, Maude, etc) The famous line on TV’s dramatic evolution that came from comedian Pat Buttram (Green Acres) was that “CBS cancelled everything with a tree in it.” All the broad rural-based shows that the network had been running to great profits in the 1960s were replaced by programs that now skewed to a younger, more urban,and educated demographic. Although it was set in the 1950s, MASH is very much a series about the 1970s.

    In anticipation of the podcast, I purchased the DVD set of the entire series so now I can watch along with you and reacquaint myself with the series. It now sits next to my All in the Family box sex (I wish there was a podcast for that sitcom).

    Finally, MASH fans may want to check out the wonderful “Archive of American Television” website for in-depth video interviews with many of the key MASH alums.


  2. Great to have the show out! I added it to my podcast app once the rss feed was announce and kept watching the icon to see a 1 appear in the corner to let me know that the first episode had dropped. I later heard it would be the 28th though I didn’t realize the significance of the date. MASH has always been very important to me. I grew up watching it in reruns every weekday night during the summers. It was on back to back with Hogan’s Heroes so that was my nightly military hour of television. For a while I even thought I’d go into the military because of the two shows. Another big connection for MASH for me was that in 1983 I was going through a period of depression and watching MASH was one of the bright spots for me and so when I watched the final episode and was saying goodbye to those characters that was really sad for me. I vividly remember being really emotional at the end when the chopper lifts off and we see the GOODBYE in the rocks. I look forward to all of the episodes to come. So glad you finally got to doing the show.

  3. Congrats on the launch Rob! Always a pleasure to hear Russell, and I can’t believe you two hadn’t podcasted together before!

    MASH was always on in my house. I was probably a bit too young to “get it” in first run, but it was still just a familiar part of my childhood, and I remember the whole family sat down and watched the final episode. Then it was everywhere in syndication for the next decade. I still catch reruns on MeTV from time-to-time, as it has a nice timeslot of 7 PM on weeknights for a full hour.

    Looking forward to following along with the podcast and hearing about the evolution of the characters. I recently caught a later Andy Griffith Show episode (also on MeTV) where William Christopher played the new town doctor in Mayberry. So now we know where he shipped out from! 😉


    1. I love MeTV for all those little nuggets that pop up! Who can forget the time Jack Nicholson was put on trial in Mayberry?

  4. Looking forward to this!
    A few minutes in. It’s entirely possible I saw the pilot first-run in its ill-fated Sunday timeslot. But, most likely, it was during the afternoon run at 3:30 on CBS that began in September 1978.

    1. Fun Pilot Facts:
      Original CBS airdates: 9/17/72, 4/1/72, 8/5/73 (all in original Sunday slot before moving to Saturdays after All in the Family in 9/73.)
      CBS late night: mid 70s
      CBS daytime premiere: 9/4/78
      Syndication premiere: 9/79

  5. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the reason we hear Japanese tunes on the show is because they’re getting their radio from Japan, no? The countries are close enough for that to happen, the Americans have bases there, and I don’t know what the state of radio was in war-torn Korea. Anyone have specific knowledge of this?

    1. I always assumed it was the adoption of American culture during the post-war occupation of Japan gave rise to a lot of home-grown recordings of western songs by Japanese artists. Much as Nagasaki became the home to American jazz bars in the late 1940s.

    2. I am certainly have no expertise on the subject, but I do know that as soon as the conflict in Korea stared in 1950, Army broadcasters set up shop and broadcast from Seoul. There were a number of other mobile broadcasting posts that popped up and followed combat units. It has been my understanding that these stations along with others eventually blossomed into a broadcasting network.

      I guess one could hypothesize that the 4077th was getting transmissions from one of the mobile broadcasting posts that followed the combat units. I imagine they would play music from wherever they could get it, Japan or otherwise.

  6. Yeah, Siskoid, you beat me to the punch: I always assumed that they picked up radio from Tokyo or maybe Seoul. But if not, they probably picked these records up while on R&R. I doubt it was a rights thing.

    Great show guys! MASH was huge to me in my formative years, watching it simultaneously in syndication on Channel 5 in NYC and in first run on CBS.

  7. Thank you, Rob, for listening to the masses and starting this M*A*S*H podcast. I have been enjoying many of the fine podcasts on the Fire and Water Network, but this is the one I was most excited about. A friend of mine recently asked on Facebook what his friends’ favorite television shows were. While I am a comic book and science fiction fan first and foremost, the show to top my list was M*A*S*H.
    Like Rob, I also was 12 when the final episode aired. My parents and sister liked the show well enough, but they were watching something else upstairs (did anything else air that night?!?). About 30 minutes before it came on, I grabbed some snacks and a soda, went downstairs to our finished basement, and plopped myself down in Dad’s recliner to watch the last show. I wasn’t quite 2 when M*A*S*H aired its pilot episode so, as far as I knew, it was always around. I probably didn’t start really watching until season 7. By that time though, the first seasons were in syndication and I know I was watching those after school.
    It was interesting learn why the show was moved on the schedule to pair it with CBS’ bigger shows. I am sooo glad it did. While I enjoy it now, I can definitely see why the first season was not as popular. For the same reason, I am sure I would not have been as big a fan if I had not started with episodes from later seasons. It took a couple seasons for M*A*S*H to find its voice. All of the elements were there from the beginning. They just didn’t gel,or me at least, in that first season (maybe two?).
    During that brief period it was on Netflix, I binge watched the entire series over the course of about 4 months. My wife and teenage children would watch occasional episodes with me and I was pleasantly surprised to find my children enjoyed the show. It is nice to know that a show from 46-35 years ago (or is that 100) still has the ability to entertain new viewers.
    One episode per podcast…one podcast per month…that should take you through January 2039. And then begins…AfterM*A*S*HCast!

  8. Congratulations, Rob. I’ve been looking forward to this show ever since you started to muse on it on Facebook. You did not disappoint. By the way, those with American Movie Channel – AMC – MASH is appearing sporadically on weekends in the wee hours. Best just adjust your DVR, and it will pick them up.

    I watched the pilot the night it aired on the CBC – probably in synch with CBS’ debut, and it’s never been out of my life- since I was 9. I didn’t know it was nearly cancelled, because everyone I know, even my school chums were talking about it, though we could not possibly have gotten all of the jokes – which just made it all the more funny once we discovered sex. The gags in fact, are timeless. I literally grew up with the show, and was a young adult when the final show aired- still on the CBC, which has stopped showing American shows at all ever since.

    One thing I can recall is that when the party breaks up in the Pilot for the first surgical scene, Hawkeye mentions that they will be working on a regiment of Canadians that had taken fire. That speaks to the writers often recognizing that other UN nations – Britain, Sweden, India, Canada, France, Turkey, even Luxembourg, were in on that “Police Action”. I can remember studying in High School about the role of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Korea- and on MASH, one night, Klinger’s Canadian counterpart, Colin Turnbull, shows up to swap supplies with him–and he was a Princess Pat. The writers, even though the timelines were wonky, as you observed, got at least the semblance of history correct. In comparison, Hogan’s Heroes’ Stalag 13 should have been lousy with captured Canadian airmen, but all we ever saw were Yanks, and a small smattering of Brits.

    Will look forward to more episodes, and eternally in reruns.

  9. M*A*S*H is probably on more channels now than ever before: MeTV, AMC, Sundance, WGN, TV Land and some others that I am forgetting.

    1. You were a great first guest! And you had lines!! I know Rob doesn’t have a shortage of volunteers to discuss M*A*S*H with, but I doubt you will be re-cast and will be back on in a recurring role.

  10. The Linton family bleeds gin and olive drab. MASH on MeTV is required evening viewing at our house. My wife falls asleep every night watching episodes from her prized Martinis and Medicine DVD collection. One of the severest punishments we can inflict on our 8 year old daughter is to send her to bed before MASH comes on. Also, thanks to the magnanimous Mr. Kelly, she’s probably the only kid in town with her own collection of MASH action figures. Even our cat smiles when MASH is on TV, at least according to my wife and daughter, I can never tell when he’s smiling. Suffice it to say, I’ve really been looking forward to the debut of this podcast. Bring on the jocularity!

  11. I was thinking I was going to just listen and not watch each episode, as I’ve seen them multiple times, but at the pace your going to go, I can manage that. So I just ordered season 1.

  12. Great kickoff episode gentleman!!

    You guys both obviously have great passion and love for M*A*S*H and it shines through here.

    I have always considered “The Pilot” as a so-so episode of the show at best and a recent re-watch didn’t really change my opinion. There were a few funny lines, but it certainly was not, for me at least, representative of what the show would become. I did like that it addressed the fact that in spite of their antics Hawkeye and Trapper were critical to the real mission of the 4077th – saving the lives of injured soldiers. Although others certainly would have been treated more harshly for acting in a similar fashion, to use a sports analogy, there are different rules for the best players. Like it or not, it seems to be truth. And like Rob said, on the tv show, the antics never seemed to quite rise to a level that made me feel they were being especially and intentionally cruel as they did in the movie. Some exceptions may apply. Depends on your perspective I guess.

    Frank’s more “religious” characterization here, as you mentioned, was downplayed later on in the show. As you guys also pointed out, his real “religiosity” was displayed while reading from the bible and playing footsy with Hot-Lips at the same time. There was also another quick line from Hawkeye that did the same thing but I don’t think you mentioned it. In another bit of throwback comedy as Rob referred to it, Hawkeye at one point referred to Frank as Elmer Gantry. Elmer Gantry refers to the title character from a 1927 Sinclair Lewis book (and later a 1960 movie) who was a religious hypocrite. Calling someone “Elmer Gantry” became a well known jab indicating that even though someone may try to project themselves as being religious they are in fact no such thing and behave in the opposite way. Frank wasn’t fooling anyone.

    Anywho, thanks for a great first episode of M*A*S*HCast. And please don’t “George Morgan” Russell. I certainly want to hear from him again!

  13. Late to responding but tickled that this exists.

    MASH was a staple in my house growing up, on reruns at 5p and practically mandatory watching before dinner with the whole family. I’ve seen them all, still use lines from episodes. And still laugh with my siblings about these episodes.

    But I have to admit, I haven’t seen them in years. Hearing you guys talk about this bright back all the memories! Ahhh … nurse Dish!

    Can’t wait to hear you talk about my favorite episodes. Adams Ribs! You didn’t order slaw!!

  14. Good first episode.

    On a sad note towards the show David Ogden Stier who played Major Winchester just passed away.

  15. I realized, before I listened to the podcast, that I had never seen the pilot despite catching the series in reruns for a couple of decades. I found it an interesting footnote in the series history and can definitely see why critics panned it so hard at the time. However, all the pieces for a great series were there from the beginning.

    Looking forward to following along with this podcast series.

  16. Just finished listening to the episode — great debut!

    I won’t go on about my history with MASH other than watching the show on reruns on FX in college was an everyday routine for a while. My friend Rett actually coded, but never launched, a MASH MUSH — an online, text-based, multiplayer role playing game set in the 4077th.

    Very much looking forward to hearing more of the show.

  17. I really have to thank you for this show. Sorry to get too personal here but I can’t help it. I recently lost my mother. She always humored me like the wonderful person she was as far as my nerdy pop culture interests went. Normally it was not her thing. But one of the few things that I knew she really enjoyed was MASH. She really loved the show and I recall watching it with her when I was little. I’ve been rewatching it a lot lately so I was especially happy when this episode appeared. I am really looking forward to listening.

  18. I know I’ve seen the Pilot’s opening but can’t recall when. It suffered from the typical problem with TV pilots: trying too hard: it tried too hard to be like the movie; to have the same characters; to keep the characters the same; to do stories; to have lots of sets; to create character conflict. The first episode is rarely the best, and what a shame if it was. For a show to literally go downhill from the beginning, those shows don’t last. But the pieces were all there, waiting to be refined and polished into the M*A*S*H we came to love. We’re all so lucky a pushy wife came to its rescue!

    Oh that crazy Japanese version of American music, in spite of Korea and Japan having very rocky relations (to put it mildly). Maybe the music director thought no one would notice in the 70s US audience, probably a fair assumption. Maybe it was a sly dig at the military, a M*A*S*H staple, where the camp was directed to have American music, but the only records to be found were from Japan, and thus the military “close enough” mentality. Maybe this was bootleg music, only found by Radar’s resourcefulness. So much fun to consider.

    Thank you Rob for starting this podcast. I’m glad the community pushed you to do it. Off to a great start.

  19. Good stuff! I’ve been a second generation M*A*S*H fan ever since I can remember. My dad would always have the television channel switched to TV Land while it was airing reruns of the first few seasons and I would reluctantly be stuck without my Spongebob fix (probably for the best in the long run). That opening music always gives me nostalgia as I recall the long and difficult journey of all of the characters from episode to episode. I’ll be sure to follow along with this series throughout its length. Additionally, I will be using this Podcast as a source in a paper I’m writing about Alan Alda and the show as a whole. Hope to see more soon.

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