Season 1 General Discussion

Talk about individual episodes here. Every episode has its own discussion thread and there are also threads for each season.
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Big Daddy O'Reilly
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Season 1 General Discussion

Post by Big Daddy O'Reilly »

Chai mentioned in another thread that Season One is an under-rated season, and I really have to agree.

Usually, the first season of any television show is classified as the show's best season, or one of the show's under-rated seasons; a lot of shows that run for quite a while that the quality deteriorates after a few years (like Bewitched or Andy Griffith for example), people hail the first season, but then you have shows like M*A*S*H, Seinfeld, Cheers that get better and fresher along the way, that people tend to ignore the first seasons.

Season One of M*A*S*H was a difficult one, because those were some big shoes to fill: turning a successful novel, and an even more successful movie, in a "watered-down" sitcom was not an easy task (and hasn't been successful before or since); network scrutiny, freelance writers, and an uncertainy of the future made that first season rocky, but it really had some very memorable moments.

Just about the only praise the cast and crew give Season One is "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" (1x17); the producers are quick to mention the flaws of the season: too many recurring characters, the use of the laugh track, weak writing, etc. Not only that, but three of what the cast/crew and most fans consider to be the worst episodes of the series are from that season: "Cowboy" (1x08), "Edwina" (1x13), and "Major Fred C. Dobbs" (1x22), none of which (except for maybe "Edwina") are really bad episodes, IMO.

What are you thoughts?

It's my understanding that CBS FORCED them to do the episode "Major Fred C. Dobbs" (1x22), because someone at the network read in an almanac that Korea was the fifth largest producer of gold in the world, and wanted the show to have a gold rush episode. Even Gary said in an interview, "Where the hell are they going to find gold paint in Korea?" Still, it wasn't the worst episode of that season, or of the series, in my mind. And I actually kind of like "The Moose" (1x05) myself... not sure why, I just do.

And yes, "Sticky Wicket" (1x21) (and actually, there was an episode of Hogan's Heroes with the same title) was a good one in adding the touch of drama they were wanting to do from day one, and you're right, we see that Hawkeye is dedicated, but it his patient he was dedicated to, or his ego? They were heading in the right direction well by then, though we know that CBS wanted it to be "just another sitcom", and we DID end up with some rather slapstick moments, some even silly as Larry Gelbart and Alan Alda have admitted.

And yes, really no other show has put together such a terrific ensemble, you really do believe i these characters, and you really do feel like you just know them all too well.

You are not alone Dani, I too love "To Market, To Market" (1x02) and "Dear Dad" (1x12)... matter of fact, wasn't that just the perfect first Christmas episode a show could have ever done?

And like I mentioned in another thread, if there was one of the axed Season One characters that should've stayed, it was Ugly John, because how many times after that season were they short a gas passer, or one of the surgeons had to sit in on the gas tanks?

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Re: Season One General Discussion

Post by chriswb504 »

One of my all-time favorite "M*A*S*H seasone one episodes is "The Ringbanger" with Leslie Nielson, as Col. Buzz Brighton. :lol:
Hawkeye and Trapper conspire to take down a colonel who has accumulated twice as many casualties while only gaining as much as half of the ground, marking the first of several such attempts from Hawkeye. In an effort to achieve this, they convince him that Frank Burns is a crossdresser and that Henry Blake is an alcoholic who is having a sordid affair with the promiscuous Margaret Houlihan. These stories achieve the purpose of rendering Hawkeye and Trapper the only two people in camp Buzz can be sure are trustworthy. A little manipulation and some conveniently timed events add some apparent proof to these claims. For example, when Buzz is drinking with them in the Swamp, they leave a pair of gold high heeled shoes by Frank's bed. Later, Frank tries to check Buzz's leg to see if it is healing properly, and he is rebuffed by Buzz, who suspects that he has romantic or sexual intentions. When Margaret becomes suspicious, Hawkeye and Trapper tell her that Buzz is suffering from low self-esteem and heavily imply that he needs intimate contact with a woman to prove that he is still a man. While he is alone with Margaret, they get Henry Blake very drunk and give him a pistol (telling him that he needs to undertake an arms proficiency test) and arrange for him to walk in on the two of them and encourage an angry, drunken response.
Throughout the episode, they undertake more subtle measures to try to convince him that, among these people he cannot trust, he is going mad. Such measures include switching his tent, leaving him confused about whether it has been there the whole time, and telling him to drink his glass of milk that he so fervently asked for, despite his never having asked for a glass of milk. At the end, convinced that there must be something wrong with him, Buzz is shipped back stateside.
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Re: Season 1 General Discussion

Post by Ferret Face »

Going back and watching the first season always seems a bit strange to me. The season is definitely a bit rough around the edges, as they tried to work out the show's identity. Some episodes seemed a bit too silly at times, such as the conclusion to "Major Fred C. Dobbs," and some characters barely make a lasting impression in the episodes they're in (most notably Spearchucker). But quirks aside, this is far from a bad season. In fact, it does a great job of establishing the important character dynamics that define the series, and has quite a few classic episodes.

I think the most fitting word to describe how I feel about the season would be "nostalgic." And I mean that in a way that goes beyond the fact that it's the show's first season, and might have been the first season I saw (I forget exactly where I started watching in the reruns, but I'm pretty sure it was at least one of the Trapper/Henry/Frank seasons). There's something about this season, a kind of fun-loving innocence, that makes it such a fun season to watch, even if it isn't my favorite season. Of course, that's not to say there's no depth to these episodes, and no emotions. Right from the pilot, they set it up to show that, no matter how crazy the episode, no matter how wild the characters' actions are, there's always the harsh reality that they're near a war zone, near death and wounded, people who depend on these doctors to keep them alive and keep them whole.

And I think that's what really makes this series work so well: the balance between comedy and drama. Of course, different episodes and seasons tip those scales in different ways, to different effects, but getting to see these characters in such funny moments, getting to laugh with them, helps give those sadder moments more of an edge. And likewise, getting those darker moments makes you relish the lighter, happier moments that much more.

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