42nd Anniversary of M*A*S*H

Fans of Douglas Adams may consider today a particularly important anniversary for M*A*S*H, which premiered on CBS 42 years ago. Critics were for the most part positive in their reviews of the first episode, although Tony Lacamera of the Boston Herald-Traveler-Record American called Hawkeye and Trapper “so overwhelmingly fun-loving, so unceasingly wise-guyish and, yes, so generally obnoxious that I almost found myself rooting for Larry Linville’s officious executive officer.” Yikes.

You can read more reviews of “M*A*S*H — The Pilot” here. Also, you can watch the original CBS fall preview and, while you’re at it, take a look at some early promotional images and press releases for the series.

If you were watching M*A*S*H when it premiered more than four decades ago, hit the comments with your recollections.

9 Comments

  • Seoul City Sue says:

    Wow, 42 years and still the greatest show ever!!

  • Crabapple Cove says:

    Sorry, although I’m nearly old enough, I. didn’t see much or any of the first season (except in re-runs).

    Great Douglas Adams reference! He was really on to something — 42 seems to pop up frequently in nature and pop culture.

    Happy Birthday M*A*S*H and thanks for all the fish!

  • This Is Me says:

    I watched this episode this evening. I had forgotten how the opening scenes were segued into the credits sequence that were to become the start of the show for all future episodes.

    It was also interesting to see the genesis of some of the “formula” of the series, contrasted with things that were obviously abandoned.

    • RJ says:

      I watched the first episode yesterday (the first time I think I have watched it on the anniversary) and agree that it is an interesting look at what could have been for the series. I particularly wonder what the show would have been like had Lt. Dish had more of a role during the first season.

  • Somebody says:

    Were overdue discussing last motnh’s poll.

  • Kenneth Phillips says:

    To me, “The Pilot” was an excellent episode. However I thought that this episode did have some of the same spirit of the 1970 feature and Richard Hooker’s novel. As the series progressed, it managed to gain its own identity and left the movie / novel feeling.. I think the original airing / DVD versions are WAY better than the syndication version…there are some scenes cut for syndication.

  • David G. says:

    Only 36 years to go until the opening text line finally makes sense!

  • Larry P. says:

    (A little late, I know…)

    I really enjoy the pilot; there’s a number of very funny moments, and the entire party scene is a gem, especially when General Hammond shows up. And Hawkeye’s “It’s a prayer come true!” when he pulls Fr. Mulcahy’s name in the raffle is a riot (does George Morgan’s Fr. Mulcahy have ANY lines at all in the pilot? None that I can recall…). There’s even a touch of drama, albeit a very small touch, when Hawkeye mentions that the Canadian soldiers “went to a different kind of part tonight.”

    That said, it’s clear that the pilot was trying to be like the movie, though obviously watered down for TV. It’s understandable; that and the book is what they had to go from, but starting with second episode, M*A*S*H began cutting its own path, which was (needless to say) for the best. Ho-Jon, Ugly John, Cross-Action/”Put in a fix!”, “Finest kind!”, the Painless Pole mention, all had roots in the movie & book, and they’d all gradually be phased out throughout the first season, give or take a few exceptions (Ugly John lasted until the end of season one, I think “put in a fix” was uttered early in the second season IIRC, and “Finest kind” popped up randomly a handful of times in the following years, again IIRC).

    I guess what I’m saying is that the pilot is good, very, very good in fact, but M*A*S*H would only get better from there on out.

  • Ben Streett says:

    I remember the ads leading up to the first season, with Alan Alda explaining the title M*A*S*H (M-star-A-star-S-star-H). It was intriguing and watching the first episode fertilized the embryo in my mind that I one day would become a combat medic.

    The Pilot was very well written and showed the borderline slapstick humor that caused me to fall in love with the series. The only thing that I never really understood was why the Pilot “Father Mulcahey” (George) was passed over for William Christopher, but I think they made an excellent choice.

    One episode and I was hooked. My wife and I now watch an average of two episodes every night on DVD, and it never, ever gets old!

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