Discuss: Do You Enjoy the Hour-Long Episodes of M*A*S*H?


Monday M*A*S*H Discussions offers fans the opportunity to offer their opinions on a wide variety of topics relating to M*A*S*H. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. My hope is these discussion posts will continue to elicit comments in the weeks and months after they’re initially published. Have a suggestion about something you think might be worth discussing? Let me know and maybe it will become my next Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topic.

Today’s topic: Do you enjoy the hour-long episodes of M*A*S*H?

Is an Hour Too Long?

CBS broadcast five hour-long episodes of M*A*S*H between 1975 and 1981. Here’s a list, for those who don’t have every episode memorized, with links to my Episode Spotlight reviews for these episodes:

In syndication, the hour-long episodes are split and broadcast as two half-hour episodes. So, it might be tough to form an opinion on these episodes if you’ve only seen them in syndication. Also, it’s probably best to exclude “Our Finest Hour” from this discussion. It’s a clip show, with limited interview segments featuring new material.

Are the four other hour-long episodes twice as good as regular half-hour episodes because they’re twice as long? The more, the merrier, in other words? Or do they suffer from being padded to fill an hour-long time slot?

Let’s Discuss

Personally, I think “Welcome to Korea” and “Fade Out, Fade In” are solid, enjoyable episodes. Neither feel like they’re filled with unnecessary scenes and dialogue.

“Bug Out” and “That’s Show Biz,” on the other hand, are both weak episodes. “Bug Out” feels stretched to fit an hour, particularly during the first half of the episode. Things pick up once the bug out actually begins. IN a half-hour time slot, the episode would probably work better. “That’s Show Biz” has too many characters and storylines, even with an extra 30 minutes to play with. Cutting out a few characters and trimming a few scenes might improve the episode.

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

5 Replies to “Discuss: Do You Enjoy the Hour-Long Episodes of M*A*S*H?”

  1. I think the first three hour-long episodes were all great, and make very good use of the extended screen time. “Our Finest Hour” is much less enjoyable to me, though that has less to do with the extended time, and more to do with the nature of the episode itself. During my last rewatch of the series, I’ll admit that I enjoyed “That’s Show Biz” more than I thought I would, but I do agree it suffers from inconsistencies, in part due to the extended screen time.

  2. I’ll agree about “Bug Out,” and it’s interesting how so much from the first half of the episode is actually cut from the first part in syndication – almost feeling like the syndication market was actually trying to cut that episode down to fit everything into a half hour, but just couldn’t quite do it.

  3. I absolutely love “Welcome to Korea.” It is easily and without a doubt my favorite hour-long episode. As the first phase of the transition from the Trapper/Henry era to the BJ/Potter era, it’s amazing how well they nailed it. But then, seasons three & four were, in my opinion, M*A*S*H at its absolute zenith, so if they had to go through such major changes (and obviously they did), better they went through them then. Potter’s debut the following episode is also terrific, but to me, it’s tough to top the perfection that was BJ’s initial outing. There are any number of memorable scenes here: Hawkeye’s return from R&R and subsequent speeding off to catch Trapper, the entire sequence in the officer’s club, stealing the jeep, BJ’s first experience with warzone atrocities, and of course, “What say you, Ferret Face?”

    “Fade Out, Fade in” is also a very good introduction to Winchester. As a double-length episode, it does a good job demonstrating just how different AND similar he was when compared to Frank, though he’d eventually attain a friendship with Hawkeye and BJ that Frank never did. Speaking of Frank, his off-screen departure is funny, but to me, it never seemed to work QUITE as well as Trapper’s off-screen exit did, though I’d be hard-pressed to explain why. Maybe it’s because Frank’s flipping out and then not only getting the charges dropped but also being promoted just seems so unfair, though obviously that was the point.

    “Bug Out” is a very good episode as well, one I don’t revisit THAT often but always enjoy when I do.

    “That’s Show Biz,” on the other hand, I’ve never felt was very good at all. Like any episode, it has its moments, but to me, it’s just not that great. And “Our Finest Hour” I don’t even really count; I’m not a clip show fan, and besides, it’s just a poor imitation of “The Interview.”

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