Time sure flies. It was forty years ago today that CBS first broadcast “Abyssinia, Henry” and wrapped up the third season of M*A*S*H. It originally aired on Tuesday, March 18th, 1975.It was a milestone episode for the series and for television history.
I imagine most everyone visiting MASH4077TV.com already knows what happened during the episode but if you don’t for some reason, this would be a good time to stop reading and go watch it.
I’ve written a lot about “Abyssinia, Henry” over the years. In December 2013 I reviewed the episode for my Episode Spotlight initiative, criticizing only the length of the party scene (too long) and Henry’s final review of the troops (too short).
In July 2011, I attempted to determine whether the shocking ending of the episode was a tightly kept secret or spoiled by the media. It was well known prior to the episode airing that Stevenson was leaving the series and there is evidence to suggest that if you were reading the right newspaper columns and/or entertainment magazines in late 1974 or early 1975, you may have known what was going to happen at the end of the episode.
In June 2011, I took a look at the urban legend that says McLean Stevenson appeared on a raft in an episode of The Carol Burnett Show shortly after “Abyssinia, Henry” was aired. So far, no conclusive proof has been found that the cameo appearance actually occurred, although a number of people recall seeing such a scene.
Finally, in October 2010 I ran through all of the music heard in “Abyssinia, Henry” including the solemn version of “Suicide is Painless” played over a montage of scenes featuring Henry right prior to the closing credits.
If you were watching “Abyssinia, Henry” four decades ago, hit the comments with your thoughts. Was it a huge shock? Was it all everyone talked about around the water cooler the next day?