Minority of M*A*S*H Fans Refuse to Watch Certain Episodes

More than 300 votes were cast in last month’s poll. That’s the most votes since the “Favorite Commanding Officer” poll which ran from August to November 2013. I’m guessing a few of the angry Netflix viewers who found MASH4077TV.com took the time to cast a vote.

The poll last month asked “Are there any M*A*S*H episodes you refuse to watch?” Almost 75% of those voting said no. Here are the full results:

No (72%, 220 Votes)
Yes (28%, 86 Votes)

Total Voters: 306

I voted no, but I don’t watch M*A*S*H the way a lot of fans do. For the past few years, I’ve usually only had time to watch one episode a week and that’s the episode I’m reviewing for my Episode Spotlight every Monday. Back when I used to watch M*A*S*H on FX, I don’t recall avoiding certain episodes, even after I discovered the FX website and its schedule of upcoming episodes. I watched whatever episode(s) I could.

If I ever do get back to watching M*A*S*H just for fun without having to review episodes, I probably won’t be sitting down to watch “Our Finest Hour,” “Hawkeye,” or “Dreams” but I’m not totally opposed to those episodes.

If you’re one of the 86 people who said they do refuse to watch episodes of M*A*S*H, hit the comments with any examples and/or explanation you’d like to offer. If you’re a fan of the first three seasons, do you watch those exclusively and ignore the rest of the series? If you prefer the later years, do you refuse to watch the Trapper/Henry seasons? Or are there just a few episodes here and there that you just don’t like?

32 Comments

  • Father Angus says:

    The only episode I refuse to watch is “Hawkeye”. It is just too self-centered. It is also boring, and although I understand it was an experiment by Larry Gelbart, it wasn’t necessary.

  • BDOR says:

    I generally try to avoid any episode from Seasons 8-11.

    A lot of people automatically assume it’s because of Radar’s departure, and while that does play a contributing factor in why I dislike those seasons, it’s not the only reason. Really, the main reason, as a number of people have complained about, is how dark and preachy the show had gotten by then; comedy took a serious backseat to the melodramatic “this damn war” mentality, and the elimination of any music scoring (even the buttons in and out of act breaks) and serious scaling back of the laugh track gives the show a ghastly and empty feel to it. In addition to losing Radar, having Klinger stop running around in dresses and becoming a regular guy took away from the fun of the character.

    I’ll watch GFA from time to time, and there are some episodes from 8-11 I can tolerate, such as “No Sweat” and “Twas the Day After Christmas,” but I otherwise avoid those seasons altogether.

    • RJ says:

      The lack of music in the later seasons is jarring once you realize it isn’t there. The same goes for the reduced role of people and action in the background during most scenes outdoors. Or indoors, for that matter. It really makes the 4077th seem empty.

    • Crabapple Cove says:

      I am in a similar camp to you BDOR. I am a Season 1-3 fan in both tone and cast, the further the seasons go on, the less I find to enjoy. I appreciate BJ, Potter, Winchester, etc but I always prefer Trapper, Blake, Burns.

      “Dreams” is the one episode that I definitely refuse to watch again (worst of the entire 11 seasons in my opinion), but there are plenty of later season episodes that I don’t care whether I ever see again or not (“Inga” is just one example — not only do I not care for the storyline but I was never impressed with Mariette Hartley. In my opinion she couldn’t act her way out a wet paper bag).

      Overall, I don’t watch sitcoms to be preached at (I actually watch them for laughs and escapism– crazy, right?). Apparently many people enjoy watching sitcoms that tell them how to live their lives or what to think about a particular issue. I have never turned to Television for such ‘answers’.

      • BDOR says:

        @Crabapple Cove I’m somewhat reverse of you: I like Seasons 1-3 pretty well (3 is perhaps the best of that era), but I love 4-7; it took me a while to get used to B.J. and Potter (Potter moreso took time to grow on me), but in retrospect, I don’t believe the writers missed a beat with the cast changes, and the writing continued to remain solid through that era. Not to mention, I find that there was a better balance of both comedy and drama – network meddling during 1-3 resulted in some rather over-the-top, silly episodes.

        And I agree with you on sitcoms. That’s one of the reasons those outlandish/fantasy sitcoms on the 60s were so popular: at a time where you had the Civil Rights movement, the war in Vietnam, youth bucking the establishment, neo-hippy terrorist groups and such, shows like BEWITCHED, I DREAM OF JEANNIES, and others offered people a chance to escape from everyday life. And you’re also right about sitcoms today: networks call more shots than they ever did in the past, and nowadays, they say sitcoms need to reflect people’s lives so they’ll relate to what they see on the screen . . . they also say that unlikeable, jerkass characters are “more realistic.”

      • Father Angus says:

        And I’m in a boat all of my own: I prefer episodes from seasons 6-9. Sure, I’ll watch episodes from other seasons gladly, but I like seasons 6-9 best.
        This topic could go on for days and days, and it probably will.

  • Doc Funnypants says:

    One episode I try to avoid is “Run For the Money”. I think Margaret was especially mean-spirited in this episode. Not even Charles showing a glint of compassion for Private Palmer could save this episode. Lastly, there was too much laugh track in my opinion.

  • Kenneth Phillips says:

    Even though I like to watch the whole series, my sister and brother-in-law will refuse to watch the episode “Dreams”…claiming that episode is way too dark for them.

  • Seoul City Sue says:

    The two episodes that make me cringe when I watch them (which is almost never) are ‘Bless You, Hawkeye’ and ‘Inga.’

    Alan’s scenery chewing during the ‘He pushed me!!’ monologue, and the so fake sneezing just makes me uncomfortable to watch.

    ‘Inga’ may have been relevant to the time period it was filmed and aired in (when women were going into the workforce in droves), but having to listen to the sexist comments made by both Hawkeye and Charles sets my teeth on edge.

  • TWoods says:

    @Father Angus – I totally agree. This could go on for a while. I’m very interested to see what everyone has to say….

    So, for me – I like every season. There are, of course, some episodes that are just “meh” episodes, like “Inga” for example. “Bless You, Hawkeye” and “Hawkeye” are somewhat painful to watch…..but, I’ll still watch ’em. I’ll watch GFA, but only if I begin it with a really good mood! 🙂 It took me a while to take a liking to “Dreams”, but I don’t mind watching that one. I really don’t like watching the episode where BJ has his affair (the episode name escapes me) – that’s one I normally skip. And the one that is painful for me to watch is “Fallen Idol” – watching the confrontational scene between Hawkeye and Radar is one I do not like at all.

    • BDOR says:

      Are you thinking of the one where B.J. tries to comfort a nurse who received a Dear Jane letter from her husband, or the one where the lady war co-respondent comes to camp and they both have mutual feelings for each other? If the latter, that episode is an absolute trainwreck: Mike wrote and directed that one, and it’s clear he was trying way too hard to do a B.J. is a human being capable of mistakes episode, it almost feels like a vehicle Mike did for B.J.

      • TWoods says:

        I’m pretty sure that it is the first one you mentioned, the one with Blythe Danner….I forgot about the war co-respondent episode. That one ranks up there too – it’s another “meh” episode for me and one I don’t mind skipping.

      • Jon says:

        The episode where B.J. spent the night with a nurse was in Season 5 and called “Hanky Panky”. Ann Sweeny played nurse Carrie Donovan in that one. Blythe Danner was in Season 4’s “The More I See You” as a nurse with whom Hawkeye had a relationship back in the U.S., and then he saw her again at the 4077th.
        As far as “War Co-respondent” goes, I got the feeling that Maggie O’Shea was pushing more for something with B.J. than he was, as he’d already learned his lesson with Carrie Donovan.

    • Father Angus says:

      @TWoods – I agree that it will be interesting, and it definitely is already interesting. Let the story telling continue!

      • TWoods says:

        Agreed! Let’s keep this going somehow – very interesting reading, for sure!

  • David G. says:

    “Edwina.” Not because of the plot, which is the reason everyone else hates this episode. No, it’s entirely because of the scene where she has that glop of food stuck below her lip, and we just …. keep …. on …. seeing …. it. That scene is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me.

    Please have George Lucas do a special edition of that episode and take out that part with CGI effects.

  • Jonathan Edney says:

    There may be some episodes that make me slightly cringe but to be honest, they come from some of the earlier seasons, where the characterisation of Margaret takes some getting used to again once you’ve seen the entire series and there are some episodes that are just a bit too silly but there aren’t any I would actively avoid if I was doing a run through all of them while there are many that I would always watch if I just fancied putting an episode on. I’m surprised to see so much dislike for ‘Dreams’ here, I’ve always loved that episode, at the end of the day, M*A*S*H became more than just a sitcom and episodes like ‘Dreams’ as well as ‘Point of View’ were bold and innovative, pushing the boundaries of what could be done on TV and in a sitcom. The fact that M*A*S*H was a sitcom set during wartime already made it unique and while the message ‘war is bad’ is there, I think people exaggerate how much that alone is the point being made. Across the whole series, you see the people of the 4077th showing compassion to those around them and experiencing the terrible effect of war but also taking comfort in the relationships they had with each other and in the later seasons, you see a maturity in those relationships that you never quite got with the early seasons. That is why the final part of GFA really gets me because some of those people have been together since the very beginning of the war/show. My favourite season overall is 4 as I think it achieves a strong balance between what came before and what comes later.

    • jgf says:

      “…the earlier seasons, where the characterisation of Margaret takes some getting used to …”

      I actually liked her better in the early seasons where at least her characterization was consistent. In later seasons she vacillated between an obsequious bootlicker and a shrill, shrieking, harridan.

  • kevin says:

    I love them all. I know I may be all by myself. But I prefer 8-11 .

  • AK-11 says:

    I don’t really have any I refuse to watch…but I tend to watch the first 5 seasons the most..but I can watch the other ones too…just simply not as often…

  • Cynthia says:

    I’m a huge fan, but I always skip Hawkeye, because it’s one big boring episode. Dreams is too dark, too much over the top, it’s one I like to skip too.

    For me, seasons 5+ are the best. The first seasons were sometimes very amateuristic, like Edwina. No real plot, while I like the heavier episodes with a real story.

    GFA is the best, but Abyssinia Henry brought me to tears, several times!

  • jgf says:

    As others have mentioned, I look to MASH as a sitcom first, so in general don’t care for any episode in which drama takes precedence.

    “Hawkeye” isn’t comedy, it isn’t drama, it isn’t poignant, it isn’t …anything.

    “Dreams” is too surreal to fit a sitcom. MASH meets Night Gallery.

    Any “sanctimonious Hawkeye” episode can be, if not skipped entirely, fast forwarded past holy Hawkeye and his anachronistic antics.

    As to which seasons I prefer, had I responded fifteen years ago it would be completely different – first the Henry Blake years, second the Potter/Radar years, everything else a distant third. But today it isn’t so clear cut, there are more distinctions.

    As with many sitcoms I don’t care for the first episodes; the characters usually aren’t yet fleshed out, the actors haven’t settled into the roles, and they are often jarringly different from the rest of the series. There may be very funny scenes but in general these episodes aren’t very satisfying. How many major characters in those first episodes of MASH just disappeared? They weren’t written out – not sent home, not transferred, not killed – they were there one episode and gone the next. The humor was more slapstick, which made many episodes seem more like embellished memories than actual events, and Radar was more mature in the first season than any later ones (he smokes cigars, yet years later when Potter teaches him to smoke a cigar, he hates it). But by mid-season the cast had stabilized, the characterizations established, and the show hit its stride.

    My assessment now is the early Col. Potter years (up to the departure of Major Burns) first, with the Col. Blake years (minus those first episodes) a close second. The deciding factor being that while Frank Burns increasingly became a caricature rather than a character, many performances in the Blake years were guilty of this. At this time Potter was a down to earth character who greatly affected the overall atmosphere of the show.

    Third easily goes to those episodes from the appearance of Winchester to the departure of Radar. Both of these characters often seemed to be at sea as to how they would/should be played. Just how self-centered, pompous, and elitist or how human and caring was Winchester to be? Just how mature and confident or immature and neurotic was Radar? (Compare the nervous, frantic, obsessive Radar in “The Party” with the Radar in other “bug-out” episodes.)

    The major downside to the Col. Potter years is the ill-conceived and executed Donald Penobscott storyline. Not only must we deal with two completely different characterizations of the part due to different actors playing it, we must endure some of the most irritating and infuriating behaviour from Margaret in the entire series. I find myself frequently fast forwarding through these scenes.

    Finally, the post Radar years. The decline of the show. Klinger goes from a sympathetic character to an obsessive gambler, a cut-rate Sgt Bilko with none of the charm of Phil Silvers. Margaret alternates between a screaming harpy and a sycophantic brass polisher. Potter becomes a grumpy cowboy spouting an endless stream of alliterative epithets. Hawkeye’s halo needs two interns to support it. BJ and Charles are chameleons – whatever that episode’s plot requires. Plots are too often stale sitcom staples, scarcely relevant to the original premise of the show, and could often have been dropped verbatim into any sitcom (an office, a farm, a school). So I find it odd that some of my favorite episodes come from these years (“War For All Seasons”, “Yalu Brick Road”, “Dear Comrade”, “Foreign Affairs”).

    Someone has posted that, judging from my posts, I do not like MASH. I think the weakest episodes of MASH are a magnitude above the best episodes of most other sitcoms. The likes of “Doogie Howser”, “Laverne and Squirrely”, “Everybody Loathes Raymond” can be dismissed as mindless crap; but MASH gets critique.

  • Monica says:

    I don’t dislike any particular season of MASH, it’s certain episodes that I can’t stand. The dream sequences are just too too. I agree with others who said that the show eventually circled the bowl with its preachy, macabre, depressing feel. I still will never know why Henry had to die. WHY?! Not because I was heartbroken, although I was, but what point did it have? I’m sure you die-hards on here know this but the announcement of Blake’s plane spinning out was added post-script distribution so that they’d get genuine emotion from the actors.

    I was born in ’71 so obviously MASH has been on my…er….radar (sorry), but I’m just discovering how much I absolutely love this show. You’ll forgive my pedestrian outbursts of “new” revelations and information please? For example, WOW Alan Alda has an ego!

  • Morty says:

    While seasons 1-3 have plenty of funny episodes, I thought they sometimes bordered on silly…which isn’t as funny. My favorite seasons are numbers four and five. Potter and B.J. just arrived, and Frank was a punching bag for everybody. It was still a show that focused mostly on laughs and the writing, I thought, took a big step up from the earlier years. The dialogue was sharp and witty, and painful puns were part of everyday conversation.

    What nobody mentions, and a huge turn-off for me, was the change in Potter’s character over time. He was a fiery regular army officer upon his arrival, but became more and more like Hawkeye as the seasons progressed. Give me a break. Here was a guy who told proudly told tales of his days in the cavalry and WWI, and now he’s a simpering wimp who bloviates on the horrors of war, death and destruction. Alan “creative consultant” Alda’s fingerprints were clearly all over Potter’s transformation. Ugh.

  • 007 says:

    Back when I would watch the show on TV, I would watch just about any episode, because I didn’t have much of a choice. I didn’t particularly enjoy some episodes, such as Hawkeye, Dreams, Bless You, Hawkeye, Joker is Wild and others, but I’d generally watch them.

    Now that I have it on DVD and have burnt the entire thing to a flash drive, I can pick and choose the episodes I watch. I find myself almost never going above season 7, unless it’s the few good ones in there like No Sweat, Life Time, Death Takes a Holiday, War for All Seasons (on New Years), Sons and Bowlers, and As Time Goes By.

  • Rosemarie says:

    I can’t bring myself to watch Sometimes You Hear the Bullet. It’s a good episode but I just find it hard to watch. I also don’t like to watch the end of Abyssinia, Henry, for much the same reason. For some reason I have no problem with Dreams

  • TNoon says:

    Later years were preachy and anything with BJ suuked. The episodes where they had to try and make a rhyme out of every sentence was abysmal…

  • Aquamarine says:

    Always loved M*A*S*H seasons 1 – 3. The worst episode was “Abyssinia Henry”. Killing off Henry Blake wasn’t really necessary. Guess it was more so for ratings I guess. My favorite episode of all would have to be “Five O’clock Charlie”. After Blake, Trapper, and Burns left. I think the show went down hill after that. The show whould had been canceled after season 10. Season 11 was the worst. Episodes such as “Dreams” and “Hawkeye” are the worst episodes ever! I liked B.J. before he grew that ugly mustache.

  • Pingdanny says:

    “Dreams”, “point of view” and “bless you Hawkeye” are horrible episodes

  • Lady, You ARE APiece of Cornbread says:

    My Dad really hated the episode “Hawkeye”…. After he saw a newspaper listing that identified the sneezing episode by name “Bless you, Hawkeye” he’d always refer to “Hawkeye” as “Shut up, Hawkeye”.

  • Mark Pierce says:

    After Maclean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers left, the show was never the same. In addition to the added sanctimonious preachiness, I really never liked the Hunnicutt or Winchester characters (Potter was OK, though I much preferred Blake).
    There are a few early episodes I turn off: any with Loudon Wainwright (singing guitar guy).

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