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 is: Do you have a favorite M*A*S*H scriptwriter?
Gelbart, Marks, Alda, Levine, Hall, Prelutsky?
I’m very interested in reading responses to this week’s topic. I’ve never given much, if any, thought in the past to whether there are certain M*A*S*H scriptwriters whose episodes I enjoy more than others. With few exceptions, I don’t know off the top of my head who wrote specific episodes.
Most people have favorite singers or bands, favorite actors and actresses, maybe a favorite writer (fiction or non-fiction). Film enthusiasts no doubt have favorite screenwriters, directors, and composers. I know comic book fans who have favorite artists and writers. But I don’t think I know anyone who has a favorite television scriptwriter.
According to the Internet Movie Database, here’s a list of every scriptwriter who wrote or co-wrote (or wrote the teleplay or provided the story for) five or more episodes of M*A*S*H:
- Larry Gelbart … 38 episodes, 1972-1976
- Laurence Marks … 28 episodes, 1972-1978
- James Fritzell … 24 episodes, 1974-1978
- Everett Greenbaum … 24 episodes, 1974-1978
- Alan Alda … 19 episodes, 1973-1983
- Elias Davis … 18 episodes, 1980-1983
- David Pollock … 18 episodes, 1980-1983
- David Isaacs … 17 episodes, 1976-1979
- Ken Levine … 17 episodes, 1976-1979
- Dennis Koenig … 17 episodes, 1979-1983
- Thad Mumford … 17 episodes, 1979-1983
- Dan Wilcox … 17 episodes, 1979-1983
- Gene Reynolds … 12 episodes, 1974-1980
- John Rappaport … 10 episodes, 1979-1983
- Karen Hall … 9 episodes, 1980-1983
- Burt Prelutsky … 8 episodes, 1975-1977
- Larry Balmagia … 8 episodes, 1978-1982
- Simon Muntner … 7 episodes, 1975-1976
- Ronny Graham … 7 episodes, 1978-1979
- Robert Klane … 6 episodes, 1972-1975
- Sid Dorfman … 5 episodes, 1973-1977)
- Linda Bloodworth-Thomason … 5 episodes, 1973-1976
- Gary Markowitz … 5 episodes, 1974-1979
- Jay Folb … 5 episodes, 1975-1977
(I had to count up Larry Gelbart’s credits because the IMDb gives him a “creator” credit for all 251 episodes.)
How many of the names on this list do you recognize? If you’re a casual M*A*S*H fan, you may only recognize names like Larry Gelbart, Alan Alda, and Gene Reynolds. M*A*S*H fanatics are likely familiar with most or even all of these scriptwriters.
But can you name an episode written by James Fritzell or Elias Davis? Ken Levine or Karen Hall? Sid Dorfman or Jay Folb? Can you name two? Five or more?
More importantly, can you differentiate between an episode written by Larry Gelbart or Thad Mumford? Is a Ronny Graham episode dramatically different from a Burt Prelutsky episode? I have to be honest, I’m not sure I can. Maybe some viewers are able to identify an episode’s scriptwriter while watching, either because of the dialogue or the jokes or the pacing.
Hit the comments with your thoughts.