2017 Year in Review

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.

Anniversaries

“Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” celebrated its 34th anniversary last February. In September, M*A*S*H turned 45 years old.

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.

Other News

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.

7 Comments

  • DHLA says:

    Whatever content you provide, it is a joy to know this site is out there.

  • dirwuf says:

    I hope the new year finally brings us M*A*S*H in new HD transfers…..perhaps that is what is delaying the Hulu premiere. Though some might disagree, I think it would be great for Hulu to stream it without laugh track..and maybe even in widescreen.

    • BDOR says:

      Widescreen sucks. You lose 25% of the picture when it’s cropped at the top and bottom. Why would you want to do that to M*A*S*H?

      • David G. says:

        What BDOR said.

        “M*A*S*H” wasn’t done in widescreen. Ever watch programs on the Antenna TV channel, where they do a width that’s midway between widescreen and the originally-created aspect ratio? The entire show looks ill composed. Sometimes we’re missing the top of Johnny Carson’s head during those “Tonight Show” reruns.

        Ever see the later release of HBO’s “From The Earth To the Moon” mini-series? They lopped off the tops and bottoms of that one in order to make consumers think that one was in wide screen, too. I’ve got a DVD set of a spectacular historical series where I’m missing 1/4 of the original image.

        Heck, let’s make “M*A*S*H” available in a round circle so it looks like it was done on a submarine’s periscope while we’re at it.

        I’d go for HD transfers if they can (a) finally clean up the “dark/dirty” shot problem that occurs with each episode’s opening and closing titles and (b) re-create the full version of “Our Finest Hour” like they should’ve spent a good work day doing for the DVDs in the first place.

  • dirwuf says:

    I’ve seen it well done when they take the time to repo each shot (Seinfeld)….besides, the original frame is actually somewhat wider than what was aired, so it may not be that drastic. Anyhow, I’d like to see them at least give it a try and see if it works.

  • RJ says:

    I have no problem with an HD remaster but I agree with BDOR. I don’t want to see the series in widescreen. Even done carefully and respectfully, it wouldn’t reflect how the series was framed and shot by the directors and cinematographers.

  • Aaron Handy III says:

    Here’s to The New Year; may She be a damned sight better than the old one, and may we all be home before She’s over.

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