Here we are at the start of another new year. That means it’s once again time for my annual Year in Review post. I’ve been writing these posts since 2002, but unfortunately those published prior to 2007 are missing. So here it is, a comprehensive look back at everything relating to M*A*S*H that took place in 2017: the anniversaries, the deaths, and all the news.
Farewell to Father Mulcahy
For the second year in a row, M*A*S*H fans woke up on January 1st to the sad news that a member of the M*A*S*H cast had died. William Christopher died on December 31st, 2016 at the age of 84, exactly a year after the death of Wayne Rogers on December 31st, 2015. It was a bitter start to 2017. Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, scriptwriter Ken Levine, and actor Jeff Maxwell all paid tribute to their friend and co-star.
On January 4th, MeTV aired two episodes of M*A*S*H (“Mulcahy’s War” and “A Holy Mess”) in honor of William Christopher.
There were several others deaths during 2017. Actor Kevin Geer, who played Sgt. Jerry Nielson in “The Billfold Syndrome,” died January 25th at the age of 64. Scriptwriter Bob Schiller, who helped write the script for the 1984 unsold pilot “W*A*L*T*E*R,” died October 10th at the age of 98. And actor Jack Blessing, who played Captain Rollins in “Snappier Judgement,” died November 14th at the age of 66.
M*A*S*H on AMC, TV Land, and WGN America
2017 saw M*A*S*H expand its footprint in syndication, with repeats airing on three different cable channels. The series began airing on AMC in January. On February 16th, M*A*S*H returned to TV Land after an almost four-year absence. TV Land aired a 9-hour marathon to celebrate. And on March 2nd, M*A*S*H made its debut on WGN America with a 15-hour marathon.
Books and Bears
New books from Loretta Swit and Alan Alda were published in 2017. Swit released a hardcover art book titled SwitHeart: The Watercolour Artistry & Animal Activism of Loretta Swit in January. Alda released If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look On My Face? in June.
In September, the original prop teddy bear seen on M*A*S*H as Radar’s unnamed bear was put up for sale on eBay. The list price of $32,000 was discounted to $24,000 and the bear has yet to sell.
Super Bowl LI took place on February 4th. The big game pushed “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” to ninth on the list of most-watched television broadcasts. Later that month, Scriptwriter Dan Wilcox received the 2017 Morgan Cox Award from the Writers Guild of America West. Wilcox and writing partner Thad Mumford helped write 17 episodes of M*A*S*H.
In July, various news reports claimed M*A*S*H was coming to streaming service Hulu by the end of the summer. But the series never materialized on Hulu, leaving fans confused and annoyed. In December, the Walt Disney Company announced plans to purchase much of 21st Century Fox–including, presumably, the rights to M*A*S*H (and AfterMASH). Does that mean M*A*S*H will show up on a streaming service Disney hopes to launch in 2019? We’ll have to wait and see.
Happy New Year
For more than a decade, I’ve ended my Year in Review posts with this quote from “A War For All Seasons”:
Colonel Potter: “Here’s to the new year. May she be a damn sight better than the old one, and may we may we all be home before she’s over.”
It’s such a depressing quote I’ve tried to find something more uplifting. But there simply weren’t many references to New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day on M*A*S*H. There was this bit of dialogue from “Hot Lips and Empty Arms” (Season 2):
Margaret: “Did either of you ever kiss Frank?”
Trapper: “Not me. How about you?”
Hawkeye: “I was hoping maybe this New Year’s Eve.
Margaret: “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but Frank Burns is a lipless wonder.”
Plus, there were jokes about New Year’s Eve or Day in “Yankee Doodle Doctor” (Season 1), “The Army-Navy Game” (Season 1), “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” (Season 5), “Your Hit Parade” (Season 6), and “Communications Breakdown” (Season 10).
Happy New Year, everyone. As has been the case for the past few years, I won’t promise new content in 2018. But if I have the time, I hope to revise and expand the Music of M*A*S*H section of MASH4077TV.com this year.