Press Release for 1973 Move to Saturdays


Ever wonder why “Divided We Stand,” the Season Two premiere, feels like a premiere episode for a new show rather than the season premiere for a returning series? Because in many ways it was an attempt at a new premiere episode. And here’s the proof: a two page press release announcing M*A*S*H‘s upcoming move to Saturdays at 8:30PM for the 1973-1974 season, currently listed on eBay for $14.95 with free shipping. I often browse eBay looking for interesting M*A*S*H items and I came across this press release the other night (I have no connection to the seller).

1973 Press Release

1973 Press Release Heralding Move to Saturdays

Only the first page was scanned for the eBay listing and it is a little small so I’ve transcribed it:

(TIME VALUE: Sept. 15)

August 27, 1973

“M*A*S*H” Move Is Almost Like Starting New

The madcap “M*A*SH*” show is on the move this fall and it promises to provide more of its inimitable brand of absurd humor in its new time period Saturdays (8:30-9:00 PM, EDT) on the CBS Television Network.

Co-producer Gene Reynolds, enthusiastically embracing the switch to Saturdays, following “All in the Family,” another pioneer of comedy form on the Network, reports a new excitement among the cast and crew.

“It’s almost like going on the air for the first time,” he says. “Alan Alda, the other actors, the entire staff and myself are very excited about the change. We feel we will be reaching a larger and somewhat different audience. It’s very stimulating.”

In line with this feeling of reaching many unfamiliar viewers, co-producer Larry Gelbart has written a premiere episode, to be seen Saturday, Sept. 15, which will serve to reintroduce the bizarre inhabitants of the 4077th M*A*S*H unit.

The story’s premise has the commanding general worried about a possible psychological breakdown of the unit. Consequently, he assigns a psychiatrist to examine the personnel, to determine individual fitness. Thus, something is revealed about each of the zany “M*A*S*H” principals, from the rebellious Hawkeye (Alda) to the mentally suspect Klinger (Jamie Farr), whose penchant for feminine attire unnerves the psychiatrist.



7 Replies to “Press Release for 1973 Move to Saturdays”

  1. This is the kind of thing I would love to have for my M*A*S*H collection. I tend to collect the unusual item related to M*A*S*H (scripts, props, wardrobe, etc).

    I think it is really cool and I wish we could see the second page!

      1. Glad I could help point this towards a good home. And I hope the second page actually has something worth reading.

  2. This is interesting to know, especially considering it’s common knowledge amongst most M*A*S*Hers that Larry Gelbart intentionally wrote “Divided We Stand” (2×01) as if it were a second pilot to re-introduce the audience to the characters and their interactions, since the first season failed and hardly anybody watched it.

    1. I have not watched “Divided We Stand” in a while but to be honest I have always felt it tried a little too hard to introduce the characters and situation of the series. Almost forced in some ways.

  3. BDOR- I believe Gelbart talks about this episode in his memoir.

    I really liked the document because it is a piece of M*A*S*H’s history. It is an attempt by CBS to drum up support for the show after the first season. Their language is very telling in the first part of the release with it being “almost like going on the air for the first time.” Also being sure they point out the show will be on after All in the Family. They are spelling out how they are planning to make M*A*S*H work in its second season.

    As a historian, I felt this is important because it is the primary source that confirms the story all M*A*S*Hers know. I could not pass that up!!

  4. I received the letter in the mail today. While the second page does not add much (only about 1/4 of the page), it is the last line that seems interesting. The series was a comedy to begin with, but became a drama. At this point, CBS is really stressing the comedy side of M*A*S*H. Here is the text:

    “Contributing to the off-beat “M*A*S*H” kind of comedy in the premier episode is the direction of Jackie Cooper, an old hand at service humor from his experience with the “Hennessey” Navy series.

    Much of “M*A*S*H” is straight comedy. But, as Reynolds points out, the show will have its serious moments. Last season, for instance, a major character died in an episode in which Hawkeye unsuccessfully tried to save a childhood friend.

    Mostly, however, “M*A*S*H” is just madcap fun.”

    The reference to “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet” is important because it was that episode, many argue, that caught the public’s attention. How could a comedy be serious? While season 2 was heavy on comedy, we began to see a few more serious storylines. I am glad I chose to purchase this document because it shows CBS’s opinion on M*A*S*H and how they put effort into ensuring its success. If M*A*S*H had been unsuccessful with the changes and new time slot, its cancelation would have been guaranteed. CBS really gambled with M*A*S*H after its dismal first season, but I am grateful they gave it a second chance!

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