Listen to the Table Read for “Bottle Fatigue” from 1979


Thanks to the M*A*S*H Matters podcast, hosted by Jeff “Private Igor” Maxwell and Ryan Patrick, you can listen to the 1979 table read for “Bottle Fatigue” from Season 8. During a table read, also known as a read through, the cast sat around a table with scriptwriters and producers and read the script out loud from start to finish.

The late David Ogden Stiers used his personal tape recorder to record the table read for Michael Hirsh, writer and producer of the 1981 “Making M*A*S*H” documentary and writer, producer, and director of the 1991 “Memories of M*A*S*H” retrospective.

(“Bottle Fatigue” aired on January 7, 1980 as the 16th episode of Season 8. I don’t know exactly when it was filmed but I’m guessing it was late November or early December 1979. According to label on the audio tape, the episode was titled “Honora’s Wedding” when the table read occurred.)

In their introduction, Jeff Maxwell and Ryan Patrick explain how they learned about the recording when Michael Hirsh was a guest on the M*A*S*H Matters podcast in July 2020. They offer a brief overview of what a table read is, point out that Maxwell can be heard on the recording as Private Igor, and alert listeners to the fact that the audio quality isn’t great.

The episode includes the complete table read, which runs more than 30 minutes, plus an excerpt from an interview with scriptwriter Dan Wilcox (who co-wrote the episode with the late Thad Mumford). I’ve embedded the episode above. You can also listen to it at the M*A*S*H Matters website, Apple Podcasts, Audible, or YouTube. The episode was released on February 12.

If you’re interested in seeing what the table read looked like, here’s a still from “Making M*A*S*H” from the table read for “Lend a Hand,” also from Season 8:

Still from "Making M*A*S*H" (PBS, 1981) showing the table read for Lend a Hand.
Still from “Making M*A*S*H” (PBS, 1981) showing the table read for “Lend a Hand.”

I urge everyone to listen to the entire episode. The table read for “Bottle Fatigue” is a fascinating–and likely unique–artifact from M*A*S*H.

2 Replies to “Listen to the Table Read for “Bottle Fatigue” from 1979”

  1. OH WOW. This is HIGHLY FASCINATING to listen to! Not that long ago, I watched the table read of the last episode of “The Office” on the final season DVD set, and it’s stunning to know that a recording exists for a table read for any episode of “M*A*S*H.”

    And — possibly even a bigger OH WOW: Because of this post, I have now discovered that there exists something called the “MASH Matters” podcast. And — in addition to catching up with the “Office Ladies” shows, I now have 60 installments of “MASH Matters” that I now get to listen to!

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