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: What if Larry Linville never left M*A*S*H?
Ferret Face Forever
We’ve already discussed how M*A*S*H may have evolved if Wayne Rogers never left the show, if Gary Burghoff never left the show, and if McLean Stevenson never left the show. Today, we’re taking a final look at what might have been by pondering what M*A*S*H would’ve been like had Larry Linville not called it quits after Season 5.
First and foremost, with Frank remaining at the 4077th there would be no need to call in another surgeon, which unfortunately means the brilliant David Ogden Stiers would never have joined the cast as the obnoxious Charles Emerson Winchester III.
Of course, Larry Linville wanted to leave M*A*S*H because he felt he had done everything he could with the character of Frank Burns. Season 5 was a rough one for poor Frank. After Margaret ended their relationship, Frank was aimless and lost. He literally had nothing else in his life at the 4077th without Margaret, aside from butting heads with Hawkeye and B.J. While Margaret was happily engaged to Donald Penobscott, Frank was unable to move on. But what if he had?
What if Frank had started a relationship with another nurse (or multiple nurses)? What if he had found happiness in his surgical work, mediocre as it was? What if he hadn’t lost it after Margaret and Donald were married? What if he remained at the 4077th?
What, if anything, could’ve made Linville stick around? Somehow putting Frank and Margaret back together during Season 6? Possibly, but without other changes it would’ve meant a return to the status quo, something that probably wouldn’t have been enough for Linville. The problem with Frank is his limited depth, with or without Margaret. There wasn’t much, if any, room for Frank to grow after five seasons as a whiny, incompetent surgeon.
He couldn’t suddenly become a better surgeon. He couldn’t suddenly become best buddies with Hawkeye and B.J. Perhaps the only possible avenue for change would be for Frank to divorce his wife in an attempt to win Margaret back.
Hit the comments with your thoughts.