Discuss: Did M*A*S*H Jump the Shark?


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: Did M*A*S*H jump the shark?

Are There Sharks in Korea?

If you’re not familiar with the phrase “jump the shark,” it comes from a 1977 episode of Happy Days when Fonzie (played by Henry Winkler) literally jumps a shark while water skiing. Some fans consider this the point when Happy Days lost touch with its original premise and started to go downhill. Yet it remained on the air for another six seasons

“Jumping the shark” refers to either the moment when a TV show begins relying too heavily on gimmicks or, more generally, when it simply starts getting bad. Read more about the history of the term at Wikipedia.

Which Episode?

Fans of M*A*S*H have debated when (or if) the series began to decline in quality for decades. A previous Monday M*A*S*H Discussion asked whether the series should’ve ended before Season 11, prompting readers to share their opinions about the last “good” season.

But did M*A*S*H “jump the shark”? The series occasionally presented unusual episodes: “The Bus” and “The Interview” during Season 4, “Point of View” during Season 7, and “Life Time” during Season 8. Some might consider these gimmicks, but I don’t.

Many will agree that Radar’s departure during Season 8 marked a turning point for the series. Does that mean M*A*S*H “jumped the shark” with the two “Good-Bye Radar” episodes?

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

41 Replies to “Discuss: Did M*A*S*H Jump the Shark?”

  1. I will preface by saving I was an original ‘jump the shark’ viewer — that is, I watched Happy Days in first run (before ‘jumping the shark’ became a cultural phenomenon). The show lost me as a viewer with the ‘Jump the Shark’ episode. I was never a huge fan of Happy Days to begin with, but when they stooped to the level of a shark jumping gimmick I was done and never watched the show again, except for occasional re-runs of the early seasons. I think at the time the show’s producers (or more likely network honchos) were trying to capitalize on the shark frenzy in the U.S. that had been created by the Jaws film series.

    When it comes to M*A*S*H I am a fan of ‘descending levels’. Seasons 1-3 will always be my favorites. Each set of changes after that — departures of Henry & Trapper, changes to Margaret’s character, departure of Radar, etc took the show down another rung in my enjoyment. I still watched most of the seasons in first run, and have seen them all in re-runs multiple times, but it was just never quite the same after Season 3. So I guess I would put Abyssinia, Henry as that point for me.

    1. Hi there, nice page!
      I missed all mash series in the past, as this series was never really that popular in Germany and i was busy enough doing other things than watching Tv…
      (Except Magnum and Colt Seavers of course)
      Now with 46 I have just recovered M.A.S.H after i ordered season 1 (and season 2 some weeks later).
      We are loving it and we will order 3 too.
      But I can’t imagine to proceed knowing that Trapper and Henry would leave after that. The show without Radar and Frank some seasons later??? Those guys are superb and fit to each other. Hawkeye is fun to watch but it is hard to stand his disrespect of army and country. I got the impression that some guys were not too happy playing next to him?

      1. Tilll….Please keep reporting in as you proceed thru the series…it’s always interesting to hear the thoughts of someone watching for the first time.

    2. OMG…………….I thought I was the only person on earth that came to that assessment. BRAVO…….I own the first three seasons of MASH, and I came to the conclusion, that it was never funny or endearing after that. To replace Wayne Rogers (Trapper John) with the unfunny Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicut), coupled with the decision to put Harry Morgan (Col Potter), who was never funny or interesting, just old and stoic, to replace the unflappable, hilarious McClean Stevenson (Lt. Colonel Henry Blake) well to put it lightly, was the ultimate JUMP THE SHARK moment for this once iconic T.V. show

      1. Jumping into these comments with my own view.

        I was born 1980 and my dad watched plenty and plenty of MASH when I was growing up. I hated it as a kid as it’s just not the kind of thing that a kid would like.

        I loved with my parents until my mid-20s (Don’t judge lol; they were good roomies and rent was CHEAP), and near the end, my dad bought Season 7 of MASH on DVD. I ended up borrowing it for months and I feel asleep to it each night, and watched it maybe in total maybe 4-5 times. I then downloaded the entire series.

        At first, I hated the Trapper years. It just felt so different, the jokes are so slap sticky and over the top ridiculous and Trapper (and Blake for that matter) aren’t the best of humans to root for, at least compared to their less funny replacements. Also, when compared to Winchester, Burns is a childish annoying foil. Winchester is annoying in a different, more real, way and he’s actually intelligent and a great doctor. (I’m torn about Burns efficiency as a doctor.. while Hawkeye claims he’s awful, the 4077 still has an amazing record… even with sending only the easiest cases to Burns, he must have been a decently competent doctor).

        After watching the series many times now, I’ve come to appreciate the whole series – even the “bad” years (8-11). Usually when I binge, I just feel tired by season 10 or so. Like, they ran out of ideas, and the show was just running its course. While I still think Seasons 1-3 are too silly, they are fun and fantastic. Season 4-6 I also enjoy a ton. Yes, they were very different, but I actually prefer the show being more serious with jokes thrown in. Season 7 is actually my favorite season (I’m guessing since it’s my first). I really love so many Season 7 episodes and the tone of it in general.

        Season 8-9 were ok for me but definitely a downgrade. Seasons 10-11 were mostly forgettable for me, except for a few standout moments.

      2. As for my JTS moment in MASH, I don’t really think it had one. Sure, the quality went down over time and things changed but there wasn’t a drastic moment where it all went to crap. If you’re gonna allow for all the absolute ridiculous stuff that happens in the early seasons (Major Fred C Dobbs, Tuttle – which I love but come on, To market to market… there’s plenty more), then I don’t see how anyone can be overly critical about less silly/stupid stuff that happens later on.

      3. Danny, I agree with most of what you said, just not about seasons 8 & 9 being a downgrade or the quality going down; sure a few were not as good (just like in the earlier seasons). However, the talent of all involved continues to shine in so many ways throughout the series.

        My first couple times through the series I thought I was just missing Radar when it came to those seasons, I now realize I hadn’t necessarily missed him in seasons 6 & 7 (he was gone about half the time, plus a few in season 5). The big change isn’t the writing (or acting) it’s the increase of Klinger’s screen time and his character, I personally would prefer Klinger had remained the same as during Radar’s earlier absences (IMO he was more fun in smaller doses).

        The writers had an amazing talent for unfolding their stories with a perfect blend of comedy and drama, the actors had an amazing talent for delivery, and the rest of the crew did their jobs amazingly well, giving us amazing episodes … clear to the end.

        Next time you binge, try starting at season 9 and working your way to your favorite season.

        I don’t think there is a jump the shark episode, M*A*S*H stayed strong IMO.
        And since it was third in the ratings for the last season (pretty good during a time most homes only had one tv) I’d say more people think the same way.

      4. A friend has pointed out I am wrong about the number of episodes Burghoff was absent from in season 7, he’s in more than half.
        Sorry, I didn’t mean to share inaccurate information.

        In those three seasons (5, 6, & 7) there are 22 he isn’t in (plus his appearance is brief in several others).

        To me his absence is less noticeable in those seasons than after he leaves …. and the difference seems to be Klinger’s character changes and his increased screen time, not the writing style.

  2. Did M*A*S*H jump the shark? Yes. It’s called “Season 8.” Radar goes home, Klinger stops running around in dresses, Margaret radically changes her looks twice a season, Alan Alda and Burt Metcalfe overhauled the writing staff, the show became darker and preachier, the humor was toned way down, the drama was cranked way up, it wasn’t the same show anymore.

    1. I never had any problem with the ratio of drama to humor of the later era, my issue was that the humor just wasn’t funny….and the harder they tried (with practical joke eps, etc), the worse it got. The better eps of the last era are the serious ones (Life Time), and there are few which make me laugh….the only one I can think of that is top notch is “No Sweat”

      1. In real life Military at any given time, ANY humor was often a coping mechanism. Not that death and destruction are funny, quite the opposite, but humor was used from time to time to cope with everything that was going on around us.

      2. I thought the joking dialogue between Hawkeye, Trapper John and BJ was extremely unfunny! And later in the seasons, when they changed Margaret’s personality, I thought her acting was not good. But Frank Burns amused the hell out of me. I liked to call him a loveable A-hole. Loved Radar the most. And loved Klinger’s outfits.

        But the show had so much heart! Absolutely loved that part of it. Would miss it if there were no longer reruns.

  3. I agree with the above assessment that M*A*S*H did indeed “jump the shark” but for me it’s a very slow jump that starts after season 3, starts moving faster after season 5, and completes after season 7.

    I always look at M*A*S*H as having 4 “eras” throughout the shows run, with each era being worse than the previous one.

    The first era, I call the Trapper-Blake years. Season 1-3, and they’re basically perfection.

    The second era I call the Burns-Potter-BJ years, not because those three are most prominent, but because it’s the only years Potter and BJ are with Burns. IMO M*A*S*H was already irreparably damaged with the departure of Trapper and Blake, but it was still pretty strong in era 2. Era 2 also sees the departure of Larry at the end of season 4, and Gene at the end of season 5, along with Linville as well at the end of 5.

    The third era I call the Radar-Winchester years, for the same reasons as era 2’s name. I consider it to be seasons 6-7 only, as season 8 doesn’t really count for Radar. As much as I love Winchester as a character and DOS as an actor, he just couldn’t save the show with all the previous departures, but the show at least managed to pull out some decent episodes and kinda ride off of what Larry and Gene did for the first 5 seasons.

    The fourth era I call the Post-Radar years, and it’s all just crap. Seasons 8-11. Again I don’t count season 8 for Radar at all, because every scene he’s in is stock/pre-recorded footage, and his two parter is pretty terrible because of Gary’s attitude.

    So really as mentioned at the start, the show started the jump after season 3, was moving over the shark during 4 and 5, started the descent from the jump in season 6 and 7, and landed in season 8.

    If I had to pick ONE of those to be the “jump the shark” moment though, I’d probably have to go with the end of season 5, or maybe even the end of season 4 because of how terrible Margaret is in season 5.

    1. I’m the exact opposite, I feel M*A*S*H improved during the same period you felt it descended. I can see why a lot of people have a stronger preference for Seasons 1-3, and I’ll agree they’re great seasons, but the show struggled during that era – particularly the first couple of seasons in terms of trying the find the right tone, and the right amount of characters (main and recurring) – all of that seemed to finally solidify by Season 3. As I’ve also said, Trapper suffered from the writers not doing much with him beyond making him Hawkeye’s second banana. The problem with Seasons 4-5 was obviously Frank’s downfall and de-evolution into the pathological maniac he became. Aside from that, Seasons 4-5, brought us character development, and the humor matured a little; B.J. had the luxury of being a more rounded, fleshed-out character, and Potter eventually fit into the cast very well as the grandfatherly figure. 6-7 continued in the same path, and Charles added an interesting new dynamic to the group, even though he could be just as unlikable as Frank at times.

      But 8-11 . . . yeesh.

  4. Anyone who’s read my posts will not be surprised that my ‘jump-the-shark’ moment is a tie between Depressing News and The Foresight Saga.

    In Depressing News, the combination of Hawkeye’s sanctimony and Klinger’s ridiculous and amoral business shenanigans ruined the show for me.

    The Foresight Saga is simply a hot mess and all of the cast members are so out of character that irritates me to no end. Add to that the horrifically bad performance from the kid who played Park Suck and you have a death pit that the show never emerged fully from.

    I will still watch the show for the diamonds in the rough here and there, but the show never came back to the level of quality from the earlier seasons

  5. The “Jump The Shark” episode for me is “Peace On Us”….a premise that should result in a classic (Hawkeye invades the peace talks), but instead delivers a middling result with the all-time most cringeworthy ending, the red dye party….the can kicking scene was also a strong indication where the series was headed.

    Many performances become very self-aware and affected starting in season seven…particularly Alda, Swit and Morgan.

    To me, seasons 1-6 feel like part of the same universe, then seems strangely changed in season seven, thought still delivers several strong eps. By season 8, it’s a different show entirely….

    1. I’ve often said that Season 7 was the “transition season” of the show, it really does have a feel all its own, you can just sense there’s a change in the winds: not quite as humorous as 1-6 were, but certainly nowhere near as dark and depressing as 8-11 ended up being.

      But the red dye party, as ridiculous as it seems, was based on something that actually happened at the real-life 8055.

    2. The ridiculous part of “Peace On Us” was Pierce actually getting to the peace talks in the first place.
      THAT was truly a “jump the shark” moment.

  6. Per BDOR’s comment, I agree with him/her. I liked the earlier years with Trapper and Burns, but after Radar left and when Potter, Winchester and BJ came on board, the show took a more matured and better turn. Also having been in Iraq myself with the Army, there is really no “jumping the shark” because in real-life, what happened in the show also happened on base. Each and every day that I spent in Iraq was a different episode of new people flying in and out, meet and greet, while the main characters (my direct co-workers) pretty much stayed the same throughout my 12 months. After returning home I got a more deeper, profound view and respect for the show because I could actually relate in ways that I had taken for granted. The show never ages and the only thing that has changed are the uniforms and the war.

    1. Which is bemusing, because I remember Larry Gelbart once making the remark that the reason the show never ages is because, “The costumes never go out of style.” But they’ve had these pixelated camoflague uniforms for quite a while, haven’t they Scott?

  7. This was a tough question for me, because while I did feel that the show did jump the shark in a way, it’s hard for me to pinpoint specific moments where it did, and why. But I guess I’d agree with BDOR, that it was around season 8. I don’t quite agree that it became too serious overall, though season 8 specifically did rely a lot more heavily on dramatic episodes (they did ease it back in the last three seasons). But more often than in previous seasons, the comedy and drama seemed at odds with each other in certain episodes (see: “Morale Victory” and “The Life You Save”). And it doesn’t help that the comedy itself wasn’t as good as in the earlier seasons either. Though there were still very good comedy episodes in later seasons, and during my recent rewatch, I did enjoy some comedy episodes more than I had in the past (such as “Snap Judgement”/”Snappeir Judgement.”

    However, I will say that season 9 was the exception. I actually would put that season in my top 4 seasons of the show, along with 4, 6, and 7. And even with those other late-series seasons, I still liked them a lot, despite a growing number of issues.

  8. Unfortunately, M*A*S*H did jump the shark. I’d argue that the show as a whole was never unwatchable, but the latter seasons were far, far spottier than the earlier ones, sometimes painfully so.

    First off, I maintain that after the initial bumps in the road (in particular, the first half of the first season or so), M*A*S*H was and remains one of the best things to have ever crossed our television screens, with seasons 2 through 6 being overwhelmingly terrific, and the series at its zenith in seasons 3 and 4. Not EVERY episode was a 100% winner during that 2-6 peak, but the show was such a well-oiled machine at that point that even the ‘bad’ episodes were really only bad in a relative sense.

    That’s MY viewpoint though; your mileage may vary.

    To me, the series jumped the shark right from the start of season 7. That was the point where the more-balanced diet of comedy and drama began to tip more in the favor of the latter, and while that in and of itself wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, the fact that the series practically beat you over the head with whatever message they were trying to present each week was. Simply put, the writing became less smart, less clever and more in-your-face; overly-emotional. Even the characters became more like caricatures – Hawkeye was both a peace-crusader and a womanizer, Potter was cranky more often than he wasn’t, BJ was whinier, etc. etc. etc.

    The season opener of “Commander Pierce” is a good example, especially since it stands in stark contrast to when Hawkeye was placed in command earlier in the series, but a better example is “Peace on Us” right afterwards. (And yes, I know the production order was probably different from broadcast order; I’m going by how viewers originally saw these back in the day.) There were plenty of earlier occurrences that stretched credibility with their outlandishness, but they were (usually) written so well that it still somehow worked. Not here. Hawkeye throwing a tantrum, busting into the peace talks, and suffering no consequences whatsoever is the first instance in the series where I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, “that’s stupid.” And yes, I’ve seen “Major Fred C. Dobbs.”

    Most of the rest of the season ping-pongs between mediocre and comfortably good, but as a whole it’s far more uneven than even the somewhat-rocky first year. And, season 7 boasts the only episode of M*A*S*H that I refuse to watch again, such is my intense dislike of it: “Inga.” I *hate* this episode. The idea of a female doctor in the male-dominated early-1950s is a good one, but WOW does it beat you over the head with the message. Winchester incredulously sputtering “That…that WOMAN” and Margaret telling off Hawkeye and receiving rousing applause are two of the most embarrassing moments in the whole series.

    And just like it started, the year ended on a low-note, with “The Party,” which is just a terrible idea all-around, made all the worse by BJ’s zeal for the endeavor.

    Season 7 is by far my least favorite of the whole series; after season 6, M*A*S*H was never as consistent as it was before, but I still, I find more to like in seasons 8 through 11 than I do in 7.

    All IMO, of course.

    1. It’s strange that despite no cast or major production/writer changes, there is such a noticeable difference between seasons 6 and 7.

      By the way, it is obvious that “Peace On Us” was meant to be the season premiere…this is where BJ is shown actually growing his mustache and everyone reacts to it as seeing it for the first time. Perhaps after they saw the finished episode, they decided “Commander Pierce” was stronger, and slotted it into the season premiere spot.

  9. Season 7 for me. Everything kind of happened at once in that season; Hawkeye’s preaching, BJ’s mustache, Margaret’s screeching voice, Klinger’s lame business ventures. But, I will never not watch an episode when it airs. M*A*S*H and TAGS are my two favorite shows. Good or bad I watch them.

  10. Yes, by Season 8 the show had made its mark on television and should’ve ended. I feel season 8 with 12 episodes, including the finale, is a great place to say goodbye while the series still had a spark. Otherwise my favorite years are Seasons 1-8 in terms of the quality though i am not a fan of Frank de-evolving in mid Season 4 and all through Season 5. A lot of the later episodes were heavy handed. talked at the audience and were not well constructed.

  11. First, let me say I’d rather watch nearly any episode of “M*A*S*H” than just about anything that is being made nowadays. However, I do believe the program jumped the shark when they added Charles Emerson Winchester III. I didn’t particularly like Frank Burns, because he was supposed to be unlikable, but he was adorable when compared to Ego Winchester. His attitude, plus his ability to back it up with his surgical ability, made him a less satisfying foil for Hawkeye and B.J. While Colonel Potter and B.J. managed to become part of the fabric of the 4077th, Charles did not, which was how he was written, but for me, that made him a consistently sour note in the course of the show.

  12. As much as I enjoyed Colonel Potter, B.J. & Charles, MASH jumped the shark when Henry & Trapper departed. At least that’s when the jump started. The landing coincided with Frank’s departure, the ending of the Margaret-as-foil period.

  13. Yes it Jumped the Shark….turning Potter into a bad imitation of Blake; rewriting BJ into Trapper John; Winchester into a clone of Burns [by the way as long as Burns was part of the cast the show was funny] Klinger into Radar….How I would have had MASH:
    Houlihan gets killed off going onto her honeymoon -but not so…She was more popular than Blake……
    Burns goes off the deep end
    The last episode for me is the Swain song The late Captain Pierce..Hawkeye really does desert..20 years after the war the US Army concludes Pierce is still alive-hes given a choice either go Jail for desertation or work it off gratis….in a va Hospital where he has to work with avietnam war version of himself..along with Colonel Blake who is Not dead..but been picked up on a desert Island from 20 years from an island of women and alcohol….and the head of the administration is Frank Burns…..who has never forgotten every insult and mean joke Hawkeye played on him….

  14. Yeah for me the last good epeiode was The Late Captain Pierce-with one exception almost every episode “Jumped the Shark””Nuke the Fridge” espically the “A War for All seasons” in which Potter Rings in the New Year of 1951 and 1952…despite taking command of MASH Sept 19, 1952! As a matter of fact the old MASH went from 1950 to June 11, 1953 [My most unforgettable Characther-the date of Radar mornig report] meaning if MASH had stayed true to the Rea Korean War..Winchester would have been at MASH for 1 month..of course MASH really did “Nuke the Fridge” with its episode of Hawkeye as Santa Claus dropping into the front line Christmas 1950–which was actually one of the coldest winters on record….lastly the only episode I like after The Late Captain Pierce was “Morale Victory” In which Winchester shows himself to be a totally caring surgeon….

  15. Like most folks I’m particularly fond of Seasons 1-3. Unlike many, I find there to be plenty of funny moments over the next several seasons, albeit with a few clunker episodes thrown in. For me the jump took place in the middle of Season 8. While the comedy wasn’t as sharp there were still episodes that had some good laughs during the first part of Season 8, such as Private Finance and Mr. and Mrs. Who. And a couple of episodes early in Season 8 hit the mark for me in terms of compelling drama—specifically Life Time and Guerilla My Dreams. For me the single episode that marked the irreversible sinking into unfunny comedy, characters that became broad caricatures, and oppressive preachiness was Dear Uncle Abdul. The show became unwatchable from that episode forward as far as I’m concerned.

  16. One more observation that I think contributed to the decline of M.A.S.H is when the production moved nearly completely indoors to a sound stage. The scenes that were set outdoors never looked genuine in the sound stage. I surmise this was done as a cost savings to production, as exterior sets are more expensive to maintain and subject to weather changes and inconsistent lighting but to me the show didn’t have the same look when a matt painting was visible in the background.

  17. Been rewatching the seasons in order and I notice the start of bad changes in 5. Less of a laugh track, significantly. Hawkeye’s quips every few seconds really getting automatic & forced, mixed with his serious monologues that now feel preachy instead of realistic, especially the episodes Alda wrote & directed himself. BJ is even worse, he’s simply not funny like Trapper was, yet they give him the same types of endless one-liners. As others mentioned, they changed Houlihan, she’s no longer comedic Hot Lips and seems more like Loretta Swit trying to show off her acting ability, while Burns seems to be an awkward leftover from the first few seasons, still with the same types of lines & scenarios, but now on a more ‘serious’ show with more ‘dramatic’ actors. No wonder he left. The show’s attempts at maturity for these characters was too ham-handed at times, and too sudden. Maybe they didn’t jump the shark in 5, but they sure showed some bad omens of things to come. Farrell was the biggest miscast of the whole show and never really fit in, despite doing an acceptable job overall, and whenever I see any reruns with him in it, I know it’s kind of a different show than the 1st three seasons in various negative ways.

  18. For me M*A*S*H does not have a “jump the shark” episode, I could almost say after Radar left but there are too many great episodes after that (“Life Time”, “Heal Thyself”, “Dreams”, “April Fools”, “Letters”, “Death Takes a Holiday”, “Oh, How We Danced”, “A Holy Mess”, “The Tooth Shall Set You Free”, “Where There’s a Will, There’s a War”, “Identity Crisis”, “‘Twas the Day After Christmas”, “Bombshells“, “The Joker Is Wild”, “The Moon Is Not Blue”, “As Time Goes By”, and, of course, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” – probably others), and those that might not be great are still way above average in my book. Almost after Radar but not because it was bad, I just really missed Radar, and Klinger just didn’t fill that void.

    There are so many different things to love about the series, each episode is unique and special in its own way; I believe it was all a success, I love what it was in the beginning and love what it became. I think Henry & Trapper were great in the early seasons and Potter & B.J. great in the latter, the same for Charles and Frank. There are a few episodes that might not be as great, but they are still above average and better than almost anything else on tv.

    IMO they did just about everything amazingly well; it was incredible how well the show adapted to cast leaving, how it developed and matured yet managed to keep the humor and great fun lines (even in “Life Time” there were fun moments and lines). It was all done with sooooooo much talent, from the writers & actors to the cameramen & wardrobe!

  19. I’m a fan of seasons 1-3. It just seemed to have more atmospherics like the music of the early 50s either on the PA or in background. References to things of that period. Not everyday was dry and sunny like in the later seasons. You had the mud and yuck. And there was the guy on the PA with odd ball comments here and there that stopped after 3.
    Of course the departure of Trapper and Col. Blake were real blows.
    I really disliked the change in Margaret in later seasons. It was like taking Lucy from Peanuts and suddenly trying to make her likable and fun. I liked her as cranky.
    In the first few seasons Klinger was cool. I liked him. After Radar’s leaving he became annoying.
    Hawkeye was always making cracks and mouthy but, in later seasons he never shut up.
    The acting in later seasons – mid 7th season on – got more and more over the top and that is never good. It’s like going from a conversation to sustained yelling. There was no moderation.
    Potter’s manner got really silly rather then the tough old commander.
    I was never a fan of BJ. Compared to Trapper he was just too mild mannered.
    I missed the old Frank Burns and Winchester just was not a villian. Not fun to play off of. He was just a snob but, not a guy to play off of.
    Losing Gilbert at the end of 4 was a blow to the creativeness and 50s atmosphere.
    Mash in the later seasons of mid 7 thru 11 was still a superb program but, it just did not have that ‘it’ factor of the first 6 seasons – and especially 1 -3.

  20. For me, M*A*S*H, one of my favorite television series, jumped the shark with episode eleven, “Point of View”, from season seven. This is the episode in which the audience experiences the show from the point of a soldier with a throat wound. The dialogue is too evenly measured, delivered with a “I’ll say my lines, then you say your lines” sense. The entire episode is gimmicky, self aware, and ham fisted.

  21. Jumped the Shark after Season 3. Honeycutt was a Douche Bag….nowhere near Trapper. Margaret became a Joke with her looking like she came out of a Salon each Episode. Korean Conflict was only a few years and show was on for over 10. HOW MANY Christmas episodes can you have. I continue to only watch Seasons 1-3.

  22. Seasons 1-3 were mostly straight up comedy, with a dollop of drama here and there, but for me, Seasons 4-6 is the sweet spot, where they blended comedy and drama most skillfully (such as in Welcome to Korea, The Late Captain Pierce, Deluge and the brilliant Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler), but also maintained conflict (protagonists and antagonists) among the principal characters. While Season 7 still strives for, and often strides, the comedy/drama fine line of seasons past, it’s The Party, the Season 7 finale, that jumps the shark for me. All pretense of even slight animosity is lost as all the main characters are now one big happy family with their relatives’ reunion stateside (a preposterous idea even as fiction), cemented by Season 8 onward as the whole “gang” is usually involved in some caper, or a united cause to benefit all of humankind. So for me, the episodes with a non-mustachioed BJ signals the best that the series had to offer.

  23. I feel that MASH definitely evolved over seasons 1 to 7, and that is not a bad thing, but if I were to think about “jumping the sharK” I would think about the last few episodes of season 7 where Radar was absent, giving a foretelling of seasons 8 and 9. To me that is the moment.

    Interestingly, if I had to nominate a specific low point, I would say it is the two parter “That’s Showbiz”. Never have I seen a MASH episode(s) say so little of any interest. They are really hard to get through, only a sense of completeness gets me through them.

    One other thing that I think is relevant to this is the decision from season 8 onwards to minimise or avoid music and also to really play down the laughs track. The laugh track is so muted in the later years that it emphasises the poorer quality of the writing of the show, at least as far as comedy is concerned. After all, if the canned laugh machine has trouble finding it amusing …

    One final thing – I think it picks up again after season 10 to the point where I think season 11 is quite good. I think there is a noticeable drop after the end of season 7, if you then watch 8 and 9, but after season 9 one is I think more accustomed to the new style so seasons 10 and 11 become more entertaining (“Thats Showbiz” notwithstanding).


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