MASH4077TV.com is celebrating its 16th anniversary this month. It’s not a milestone anniversary like last year’s 15th anniversary. For those who don’t know, April 1999 has always been used as the launch date for the site because I actually don’t remember when it went online. You can read more about the history of the site in my 14th anniversary post from 2013.
From 2006-2009, visitors to this site could e-mail me their “My First M*A*S*H” stories (you can find them here; feel free to add your own in the comments) but I’ve never shared the story of the first time I watched an episode of M*A*S*H until now.
I suspect it will surprise most people reading this to learn that I never watched M*A*S*H during its original CBS run between 1972 and 1983. The series had actually been off the air for several years when I was born.
The way I remember it, I was in my early teens when I stumbled across an episode of M*A*S*H while channel surfing one Sunday morning in late 1998. I don’t know what month it was. FX started airing the series on Sunday, September 6th, 1998 so that’s the very earliest it could have been. I want to say it was the famous shot of the choppers in the opening credits that caught my attention. But it might actually have been the closing credits of an episode that I saw first, followed immediately by the opening credits to the next episode.
So what episode was it I watched that morning that hooked me on M*A*S*H? “Cementing Relationships” from Season 9. I don’t know what it was exactly that drew me in. The storyline? The characters? Whatever it was, I started watching M*A*S*H at every opportunity. Luckily for me, FX aired it all the time.
A few of my friends at school were also M*A*S*H fans. One in particular loved it nearly as much as I did. He was the one who learned that FX had a schedule on its website. Before that, I was watching blindly, tuning in whenever possible hoping it was an episode I hadn’t seen before.
Before long, a competition materialized to see which of us could watch all 251 episodes first. I printed out a complete list and checked off each episode as I saw it. I kept careful track of the FX schedule, watching or taping the episodes I hadn’t yet seen. I think I won. Although I know that “Cementing Relationships” was the first episode I ever watched, I can’t recall what the last episode I needed to see to finish watching them all was.
(To be totally honest, I’m sure there are some episodes I’ve never seen uncut despite having owned the complete series on DVD for over a decade.)
I launched the first version of this website shortly after I started watching M*A*S*H, either in very late 1998 or early 1999. As I have discussed before the earliest files I can find are from April 1999 but there is some evidence to suggest that the site may have been online in late 1998. Years ago I decided to start using April 1999 as the launch date and it stuck.
At first, I hesitated to talk about when I started watching M*A*S*H because I was young and everyone always told me you weren’t supposed to tell people your real age online. Obviously I’m quite a bit older now. I also worried that people wouldn’t take me seriously if they knew how old I was and that I haven’t been watching M*A*S*H since the 1970s. I’d like to think that’s not going to be an issue.
So that’s the story of my first M*A*S*H. I’ve been watching and writing about M*A*S*H for more than half my life and there’s no reason suspect I’ll stop anytime soon.