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All About M*A*S*H Since 1999

Name That Episode III #170

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Seoul City Sue, who correctly identified “White Gold” from Season 3.

Name That Episode

Celebrating 17+ Years Online

Longtime readers of my blog may remember that I consider April 1999 to be the “birth month” of my M*A*S*H website, which means this month I’m celebrating 17 years writing about our favorite TV show. Honestly, I don’t know when the website was launched. But the earliest files I can find on my computer–transferred from various other computers over the years–are from April 1999.

Over the past month, I’ve thought a lot about what it was like being a M*A*S*H fan in 1999. Those of us who started watching M*A*S*H on FX in the late 1990s weren’t seeing complete episodes. Several minutes were cut from each episode to fit more commercials into each half-hour. Of course, we didn’t know what we were missing, never having seen the full episodes.

(The first season of M*A*S*H wasn’t released on DVD until January 2002, so in 1999 the only way to watch the show uncut was to collect the Columbia House VHS tapes, which cost $19.95 and contained just three episodes. Even if you bought all 71 tapes–which stopped being sold in 1998–you only owned 207 episodes.)

I still have episodes on VHS taped off of FX and they don’t look good. Watching M*A*S*H on DVD means uncut episodes, no laugh track, and improved audio and video quality. Believe it or not, I’m pretty sure there are still some episodes I’ve never seen uncut despite owning the Martinis & Medicine Collection since 2006. It’s actually nice to know there are bits and pieces of M*A*S*H I’ve yet to watch and enjoy.

Earlier this month, countless M*A*S*H fans were outraged when the series was removed from Netflix. Could any of us in 1999 have imagined binge watching on laptops and tablets and smart TVs? I’ve mentioned before I was upset to see M*A*S*H leave Netflix because it was easier to use Netflix than to deal with my DVDs. It could be worse. I could still be stuck watching M*A*S*H on FX.

(Also, Netflix didn’t offer the option to watch without the laugh track, which is how I prefer to watch M*A*S*H. And I’m concerned that some of my DVDs are getting a little scratched from too much use.)

It’s probably fair to say that fans who only know M*A*S*H from Netflix or DVDs have a different relationship with the series than fans who were introduced to it in local or cable syndication. Likewise, fans who first saw M*A*S*H in syndication have a different relationship with the series than those who watched it on prime time in CBS from 1972 to 1983. I wasn’t alive during M*A*S*H‘s original network run. That may explain why I’ve always been fascinated with what it was like to watch M*A*S*H on CBS.

I recently revised my Watching M*A*S*H in the 1970s feature to include the original CBS closing credits to “Commander Pierce,” the Season 7 premiere broadcast on Monday, September 18th, 1978 from 9-9:30PM. There’s a voiceover for three other CBS shows: The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, One Day at a Time. I think this sort of thing is interesting. Others may not.

I don’t know what the future holds for M*A*S*H. Maybe it will return to Netflix one day. Or maybe it will end up on another streaming service like Hulu or Amazon Prime. Maybe it the series will be remastered in HD and released on Blu-ray. Or maybe not.

Nor do I know what the future holds for this website. Earlier this week I posted my 172nd Episode Spotlight review. The remaining 79 episodes will take another year and a half to review and then there’s AfterMASH to tackle. I have a handful of projects I’m either slowly trying to complete or eager to start but very little time to work on them. There’s music to analyze , books to review, outtakes to dissect, and so much more. I no longer make any promises about producing new content here at MASH4077TV.com because I can’t keep them. I’ve spent 17 years working on my website about M*A*S*H and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

Name That Episode III #169

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

Note: I accidentally posted this earlier this month so I’ve swapped out the image so anyone who may have seen it isn’t at an advantage.

And the Winner Is: Father Angus, who correctly identified “B.J. Papa San” from Season 7.

Name That Episode

Episode Spotlight: For Want of a Boot

Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.

“For Want of a Boot” (#41, 2×17)
Originally Broadcast: Saturday, January 12th, 1974
Written by Sheldon Keller
Directed by Don Weis

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye is in desperate need of a new pair of boots but everybody wants something before they’ll help him.

I love this episode. It’s definitely silly, and reminiscent of Season 1’s “The Long-John Flap,” but I still enjoy how Hawkeye and Trapper get caught up in an increasingly complex web of wheeling and dealing that ultimately falls apart in spectacular fashion. I’d forgotten exactly why the plan to get the boots collapsed, which made rewatching the episode much more fun.

Am I the only one who feels a little bit sorry for Frank? Hawkeye stuffing Frank’s wife’s birthday card into his boot is actually a pretty awful thing to do. It’s also tough to hear Frank discussing how sad his birthday parties were when he was a kid. He’s just self-aware enough to recognize that people don’t like him but seemingly incapable of understanding why. At his surprise birthday party, he seems genuinely excited. He says its the happiest night of his life and even calls Hawkeye and Trapper his buddies just before the whole thing falls apart.

Later, while arguing with Margaret about cutting his birthday cake, Frank seems so pathetic. He whines and Margaret tells him to act like man and calls him a twit. It’s sad.

I can’t decide what my favorite bit of dialogue is. Margaret calling Henry “Colonel DrunkyJohn” is hilarious. So is Nurse Murphy’s response to Radar: “Only if you plug yourself in and blow on my hair.” Perhaps nothing tops Trapper’s defense of Klinger, however:

Frank: “Never! You’re asking me to let a pervert out of the army?”
Hawkeye: “Oh, right, Frank. By all means, let’s keep the perverts in the army.”
Trapper: “Anyway, Klinger’s not a pervert.”
Margaret: “How do you know?”
Trapper: “Because I’m one and he’s never at the meetings.”

And who could forget Klinger’s “Hey, she’s tearing up my crazy papers!”

Trapper has zipped his fly to new heights.

Suzanne Zenor’s name in the closing credits is unusually prominent and I’m not sure why. She doesn’t have a very big role.

There are plenty of familiar faces in the background at Frank’s party: Jeff Maxwell, Kellye Nakahara, Roy Goldman, Dennis Troy, and Sheila Lauritsen.

Lauritsen has just one line in the episode–“Hawkeye, is that your hand?”–but that’s enough to earn her a credit for her appearance. “For Want of a Boot” marks her last credited appearance but she’s seen in at least one additional episode.

Johnny Haymer makes his first guest appearance as Sgt. Zale in this episode. It’s also the first credited appearance for Patricia Stevens, although I believe she’s in a few earlier episodes uncredited.

Father Mulcahy is not in this episode.

Name That Episode III #168

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Seoul City Sue, who correctly identified “The Best of Enemies” from Season 9.

Name That Episode

New Book About M*A*S*H Out on April 26th

A new nonfiction book about the MASH franchise, including the TV show, is scheduled to be published on April 26th by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group. Written by Dale Sherman, MASH FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Best Care Anywhere runs more than 400 pages and covers the novel, the movie, the play, the TV show, its spin-offs, and more.

You should be able to buy MASH FAQ online and in stores starting next week. The suggested retail price is $19.99.

Cover to MASH FAQ

MASH FAQ (Courtesy of Applause Theatre & Cinema Books)

Here’s how the publisher describes MASH FAQ:

Here’s the lowdown on the unforgettable show about the Forgotten War. M*A*S*H began as a novel written by a surgeon who had been in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. After being rejected multiple times, the novel would go on to become a bestseller, leading to 14 sequels, an Oscar-winning movie that propelled its director and actors to stardom, and a multiple-Emmy-winning television series that lasted nearly four times the length of the war.

MASH FAQ looks at how the novel came to be, its follow-ups in literary form, the creation of the popular movie, and – most importantly – the television series that transformed comedy and television in the 1970s. Included are chapters on the top-20 pranks of M*A*S*H, the cast members’ careers before and after the television show, famous guest appearances, and movies shown in the mess hall.

Beyond the fiction, MASH FAQ also features a brief chapter to put the war into perspective for easy referral – and looks at what led to the Korean War, how such medical units functioned, and how M*A*S*H shaped our perception of the era.

An excerpt from MASH FAQ can be found here. Applause has published similiar books about Star Trek, Seinfeld, South Park, and Twin Peaks. And Dale Sherman has written other books in the Applause FAQ Series about about Quentin Tarantino and the rock band KISS.

I believe this is the most recent book to examine M*A*S*H since David Scott Diffrient’s book about M*A*S*H, published in September 2008 as part of the TV Milestones Series from the Wayne State University Press.

For the record, Dale Sherman and I exchanged a few e-mails last year while he was working on the book and I offered one or two suggestions that I hope were useful. Otherwise, I have no involvement or connection to MASH FAQ.

Name That Episode III #167

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Chauncey Uppercrust, who correctly identified “Quo Vadis Captain Chandler?” from Season 4.

Name That Episode

Episode Spotlight: Bug Out

Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.

“Bug Out” (#97, 5×01)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, September 21st, 1976
Written by Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum
Directed by Gene Reynolds

Capsule Summary: The 4077th is forced to bug out but Hawkeye, Margaret, and Radar stay behind to care for a wounded soldier who can’t be moved.

I’ve mentioned several times that I randomly pick an episode to review each week. In the past, whenever an hour-long episode was randomly chosen, I skipped it in favor of a regular episode. It’s often hard to find time to watch and review an episode each week, which means an hour-long episode would be even more difficult to fit into my schedule.

I decided to review an hour-long episode this week, however, and “Bug Out” was the episode randomly selected. It’s the second of five episodes that originally aired on CBS as hour-long specials and were later split in two for syndication. That’s how I originally saw the episode on FX back in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

I actually can’t remember whether or not I saw both parts of “Bug Out” on FX at the same time. It’s entirely possible that I saw Part 2 first and later caught Part 1. Perhaps I saw Part 1 first and then eventually managed to see Part 2. Or maybe I actually did see them both back-to-back.

While rewatching “Bug Out” on DVD, I noticed several scenes during the second half that didn’t seem as familiar as the rest of the episode. That suggests I may have seen Part 1 on FX more than I saw Part 2. Specifically, I don’t recall the lengthy scene involving the Korean women in the building and Klinger losing his entire collection of dresses. I’m guessing it was edited down for syndication.

Despite the fact that this is a double length episode, not all that much happens during “Bug Out.” I think a little too much time was spent on the bug out rumor rather than the bug out itself. It’s not until 14 minutes into the episode that the bug out starts. There’s a short but impressive sequence of tents being collapsed, equipment being loaded onto trucks, and patients being moved. I’d love to know more about how the scene was shot. Was it heavily choreographed? Were the tents collapsed more than once? The shot of the mess tent being collapsed involves at least a dozen people.

For all the work that went into the bug out, I’m curious exactly how the 4077th was supposed to set up a new camp when so much was left behind. From what I’ve read, real MASH units during the Korean War had to be able to break down and move out in just six hours. What did that mean? Did everything go? In “Bug Out,” we see the tents taken but none of the framing, the flags but not the flagpoles, the surgical tables from the OR but not the light fixtures. Of course, just because we don’t see truckloads of construction material and electrical equipment doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

(I’d also like to know how far the camp moved. Are we supposed to believe that Klinger ran behind his dresses for miles pulling Pokey the goat?)

Most of the episode and the bug out is played for laughs, despite the seriousness of the situation. Hawkeye and Margaret discuss their fears of encountering the enemy, a glimpse at how their relationship will develop. Watch Margaret’s face while Hawkeye and Radar leave for Rosie’s. They’re joking. She looks terrified.

Both B.J. and Colonel Potter expressed concern about Hawkeye staying behind but nobody said anything about Margaret or Radar. It’s odd that Frank didn’t put up a fight about Margaret being in danger. Or Colonel Potter, for that matter. Did anyone other than Klinger even notice that Radar ran back to join Hawkeye and Margaret when the convoy left?

Colonel Potter leading his troops.

These two episodes were the first produced during Season 5 which means they were the first episodes produced without Larry Gelbart, who departed M*A*S*H at the end of Season 4. Gene Reynolds took over as executive producer and was credited as such at the end of the opening credits throughout Season 5.

Also added to the opening credits starting with this episode was William Christopher.

Frances Fong played Rosie in this episode, taking over for Shizuko Hoshi who originated the role in “Mad Dogs and Servicemen” during Season 5. Fong returned in “Fallen Idol” during Season 6 before Eileen Saki took over as Rosie in “A Night at Rosie’s” during Season 7. Saki is also in “Bug Out,” credited as Korean Woman. She’s the madam who argues with Colonel Potter and B.J.

During the first scene, B.J. calls out to one of the men digging the latrine named Salkowitz. It looks to me like Jeff Maxwell nods in response. That means Igor had three different last names over the course of the series: Maxwell, Salkowitz, and Straminsky (which I believe was first used in “Depressing News” during Season 9).

Colonel Potter giving Margaret a ride on Sophie is a nice moment, even if they don’t go very far. Also, notice how Hawkeye ignores the jeep carrying B.J., Frank and Father Mulcahy in favor of a seat in the jeep filled with nurses.

Name That Episode III #166

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Crabapple Cove, who correctly identified “Lend a Hand” from Season 8.

Name That Episode

Name That Episode III #165

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: BDOR, who correctly identified “Your Hit Parade” from Season 6.

Name That Episode