Celebrating 17+ Years Online


Longtime readers of my blog may remember that I consider April 1999 to be the “birth month” of my M*A*S*H website, which means this month I’m celebrating 17 years writing about our favorite TV show. Honestly, I don’t know when the website was launched. But the earliest files I can find on my computer–transferred from various other computers over the years–are from April 1999.

Over the past month, I’ve thought a lot about what it was like being a M*A*S*H fan in 1999. Those of us who started watching M*A*S*H on FX in the late 1990s weren’t seeing complete episodes. Several minutes were cut from each episode to fit more commercials into each half-hour. Of course, we didn’t know what we were missing, never having seen the full episodes.

(The first season of M*A*S*H wasn’t released on DVD until January 2002, so in 1999 the only way to watch the show uncut was to collect the Columbia House VHS tapes, which cost $19.95 and contained just three episodes. Even if you bought all 71 tapes–which stopped being sold in 1998–you only owned 207 episodes.)

I still have episodes on VHS taped off of FX and they don’t look good. Watching M*A*S*H on DVD means uncut episodes, no laugh track, and improved audio and video quality. Believe it or not, I’m pretty sure there are still some episodes I’ve never seen uncut despite owning the Martinis & Medicine Collection since 2006. It’s actually nice to know there are bits and pieces of M*A*S*H I’ve yet to watch and enjoy.

Earlier this month, countless M*A*S*H fans were outraged when the series was removed from Netflix. Could any of us in 1999 have imagined binge watching on laptops and tablets and smart TVs? I’ve mentioned before I was upset to see M*A*S*H leave Netflix because it was easier to use Netflix than to deal with my DVDs. It could be worse. I could still be stuck watching M*A*S*H on FX.

(Also, Netflix didn’t offer the option to watch without the laugh track, which is how I prefer to watch M*A*S*H. And I’m concerned that some of my DVDs are getting a little scratched from too much use.)

It’s probably fair to say that fans who only know M*A*S*H from Netflix or DVDs have a different relationship with the series than fans who were introduced to it in local or cable syndication. Likewise, fans who first saw M*A*S*H in syndication have a different relationship with the series than those who watched it on prime time in CBS from 1972 to 1983. I wasn’t alive during M*A*S*H‘s original network run. That may explain why I’ve always been fascinated with what it was like to watch M*A*S*H on CBS.

I recently revised my Watching M*A*S*H in the 1970s feature to include the original CBS closing credits to “Commander Pierce,” the Season 7 premiere broadcast on Monday, September 18th, 1978 from 9-9:30PM. There’s a voiceover for three other CBS shows: The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, One Day at a Time. I think this sort of thing is interesting. Others may not.

I don’t know what the future holds for M*A*S*H. Maybe it will return to Netflix one day. Or maybe it will end up on another streaming service like Hulu or Amazon Prime. Maybe it the series will be remastered in HD and released on Blu-ray. Or maybe not.

Nor do I know what the future holds for this website. Earlier this week I posted my 172nd Episode Spotlight review. The remaining 79 episodes will take another year and a half to review and then there’s AfterMASH to tackle. I have a handful of projects I’m either slowly trying to complete or eager to start but very little time to work on them. There’s music to analyze , books to review, outtakes to dissect, and so much more. I no longer make any promises about producing new content here at MASH4077TV.com because I can’t keep them. I’ve spent 17 years working on my website about M*A*S*H and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.

12 Replies to “Celebrating 17+ Years Online”

  1. Well done on 17 fantastic years!

    However, if my maths are correct, 3 episodes x 71 tapes doesn’t equal 207, it equals 213. Were there some tapes with only 2 on them? As a boy from the naughties, I’m still trying to understand VHS.

    May there be 17+ more years!

    1. There were four tapes with two episodes (an hour-long episode plus a half-hour episode) as well as one tape with just the series finale. The only hour-long episode not to be released by Columbia House in the United States was “That’s Show Biz” from Season 10.

  2. I can’t thank you enough for your wonderful website! The content here is so useful and I’m sure it helps tremendously to attract new fans to the series who may stumble upon a re-run on ME TV (or who started watching when it was on Netflix). Memory fails as to how I first stumbled upon MASH4077TV.COM but I am very glad that I did, I think it may have been 10 years ago or more since I first visited the site.

    I have mentioned before that I have been watching M*A*S*H since it’s original run. I’m pretty sure that I saw at least some of the Trapper/Blake episodes in their first run, but I definitely was watching syndicated re-runs from the mid-70’s until today.

    I agree with you that it is easy to take for granted the availability of content today (whether via cable, DVD, Netflix and the like, or other web resources). It is very easy to forget how great we have it now. I am big baseball fan and when I was a kid we got one national ‘Game of the Week’ carried by NBC on Saturday afternoon’s, today I have the MLB TV package and can watch just about every single big league game from spring training through the playoffs on a variety of devices.

  3. “I’ve spent 17 years working on my website about M*A*S*H, and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.”

    And for this, we thank you from the bottom of our bomb craters.

  4. Say, Arj, I must admit that I kind of miss that visual timeline you used to have on the site that showed us the evolution of whole site and the various different themes and incarnations it went through over the years. Any chance you’ll share this piece of visual history with us again sometime in the future?

    1. It took longer than I wanted it to, but I was able to dig up the images of what the site used to look like and added a few more. You can find them all at the About page.

  5. I started watching M*A*S*H towards the end of its network run and, therefore, in the hayday of it in TV syndication. And then FX. And I started collecting M*A*S*H. I owe the show a huge debt for the influence it has had on me personally. I really enjoy that in 2016, this site exists and I can dip into it and get a fix that there are other people with a similar passion and interest, all these years later. Thank you very much.

  6. I still have the finale on VHS when it ran the second time around in September 1983 (complete with commercials) on the original videocassette I recorded it on. Trouble is finding a VCR these days to play it, or the money in transferring it to DVD. Yes, it would be nice to have the series on Blu-ray. Personally, what would be even better is to have 20th Century Fox release the whole series of AfterMASH in one whole package. There were just enough episodes to put them all in one package. Has anyone ever contacted Fox about this?

  7. I started watching MASH when it was shown at 9pm on Wednesdays on BBC2 over here in the UK. This was back when I was growing up, early 1980s. We used to watch DALLAS at 8pm on BBC1, then we’d switch over for MASH. It was something that I shared with my beloved grandmother (love you, Nan, wherever you are) and I still love both shows because of the bond that we shared over watching them.

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