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.
Doug suggested today’s topic: How would M*A*S*H be viewed if it hadn’t run 11 seasons?
Mostly Forgotten? Fondly Remembered?
We’ve already discussed whether or not M*A*S*H should’ve ended before Season 11. Today, we’re tackling a related topic, one I’ll let Doug explain:
How would MASH be viewed had it not run its actual 11 seasons? It was much more of a screwball comedy with some dark moments for the first three seasons, then it was still comedic, but edging more toward the dramatic in seasons 4 and 5. Once Frank Burns left, the show took a far more serious turn. What if MASH had ended when McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers departed? Or, what if it ended when Larry Linville left? Compared to sitcoms of its era, like All In The Family or Mary Tyler Moore, or even later greats like Cheers or Seinfeld
M*A*S*H is widely considered a television classic, one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. How many of the iconic, critically acclaimed, or memorable moments and episodes took place after Season 1? After Season 3? After Season 5? This is an interesting topic that like so many can’t truly be answered. I think most fans will agree, however, that had CBS cancelled M*A*S*H after its first season, the show would likely be just another forgotten sitcom from the 1970s. Gone too soon, perhaps. Like most failed TV shows, there would be those viewers who loved M*A*S*H and remembered it fondly. But that’s about it.
But what if CBS decided to call it quits after Season 3, unwilling to give the producers the chance to replace two members of the cast? Three seasons is a decent run. Gilligan’s Island only ran three seasons. So did the original Star Trek. It’s possible 20th Century Fox would’ve had success selling those three seasons into local syndication, allowing new generations of fans to discover the show. As Doug points out, the first three seasons are the most sitcom-y. There were dramatic and somber moments, true, but nothing compared to the last three or four seasons. Would TV critics consider M*A*S*H a bold attempt to combine comedy and drama, one that ultimately failed?
Continue on down the line, asking yourself how history would remember M*A*S*H if it ended after Season 6, or Season 7, or Season 10. Or jump back to Season 2 or Season 4. End M*A*S*H at any point during its run and consider the consequences. What would M*A*S*H be without “Abyssinia, Henry” or “Hawkeye” or “The Interview” or “Movie Tonight” or “Old Soldiers” or “Death Takes a Holiday” or “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”? Without B.J. or Colonel Potter or Charles?
Hit the comments with your thoughts.