Last week’s inaugural Monday M*A*S*H Discussion was a huge success. Who knew M*A*S*H fans are so passionate about music heard on the series? More than 20 comments have been left so far. If you haven’t yet shared your opinion, don’t worry, there’s still time.
Today’s topic is one of the first I thought of when I was thinking about starting a weekly discussion post: What if Wayne Rogers never left M*A*S*H?
Welcome to Korea–Colonel Potter
Unlike the other actors who left the series, we actually know a little bit about what M*A*S*H would’ve been like had Wayne Rogers stuck around. His departure took place during the hiatus between Season 3 and Season 4. The producers and writers were forced to start breaking stories for Season 4 without knowing whether they’d be writing dialogue for Trapper or some other character.
If Rogers had stayed with the series, Season 4 would’ve started with “Change of Command” and the introduction of Colonel Potter as Colonel Blake’s replacement. It’s not hard to imagine Trapper’s reaction to Frank as temporary commanding officer of the 4077th, prior to Potter’s arrival. Perhaps he and Hawkeye would pull some pranks on Frank. Perhaps “Change of Command” would include an additional scene or two in which the characters mourn Henry.
The remainder of Season 4 would play out the way it did, except with Trapper instead of B.J. I think “The Late Captain Pierce” would be more amusing with Trapper. Hawkeye’s “Wherever they come from, they’ll never run out” quote would need to be altered if Trapper didn’t go home. Instead of “Dear Peggy” perhaps Season 4 would include a “Dear Louise” episode in which Trapper wrote his wife.
We don’t have to speculate about Trapper and “The Interview” at the end of Season 4. Larry Gelbart wrote a lengthy interview for Trapper back in February 2006.
If Wayne Rogers never left, how would M*A*S*H be different? Many episodes that worked with B.J. wouldn’t work with Trapper. Others might, with some tweaks. “Period of Adjustment,” for example, could work with Trapper.
Would the character evolve as the series progressed? Would he continue to clown around with Hawkeye or grow bitter as the war dragged on? Consider how Trapper acted in “Radar’s Report” when he considering killing the North Korean POW. If Trapper had to cut a rope while in a chopper, condemning a wounded soldier to death–the way B.J. did in “Bombshells”–it might send him over the edge.
Do you think Trapper would continue cheating on his wife? Perhaps he and Margaret would have a fling. After all, we know Margaret found him attractive. Or maybe the presence of Colonel Potter would make Trapper think twice about his marriage and change his womanizing ways.
How would Trapper react to Frank’s departure? To the arrival of Charles? To Radar leaving the 4077th? Would he grow a mustache the way B.J. did? How would he say goodbye to Hawkeye when the Korean War finally ended?
Hit the comments with your thoughts.