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M*A*S*H Goes to the Junkyard

Friday A/V Club: The byproducts of a cultural juggernaut

William Morrow & Co.William Morrow & Co.Fifty years ago this month, William Morrow & Co. published MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. Attributed to "Richard Hooker," the book was actually composed by Richard Hornberger, a doctor who had served in Korea, and W.C. Heinz, a sportswriter who spruced up the doctor's prose. A couple years later, Robert Altman adapted the novel into a movie, and a couple years after that, the movie's success spawned a long-running TV show.

If you're an American born between the beginning of the Cold War and the end of disco, you probably have an opinion or three about the M*A*S*H franchise. In my case, I think the book is fun but unexceptional, the movie is great, and the TV show ranges from very good to terrible, with most of the good episodes concentrated in the period before B.J. grew a mustache. (Credit where it's due: I stole the mustache thesis from Bill Geerhart.) Whether or not you agree about any of that, it's undeniable that Hawkeye Pierce, Trapper John McIntyre, Radar O'Reilly, and the rest of the M*A*S*H crew were a cultural juggernaut.

But you're reading the Friday A/V Club, where we take pleasure in slipping past the juggernauts to peer at the junk left in our cultural attic. If you want a detailed take on the main stream of M*A*S*H history, Howard Fishman wrote a pretty good article about it for The New Yorker this past July. (I especially liked his observation that the M*A*S*H doctors come across as frat boys in the book and as hipsters in the movie; on TV, he could have added, their mixture of progressive politics and serial sexual harassment resembles a certain sort of college professor.) Fishman can handle the M*A*S*H that mattered. We'll look at the detritus—at the sequels to the novel and the spinoffs from the TV show.

First the novels. Two of these, M*A*S*H Goes to Maine and M*A*S*H Mania, were written by Hornberger; they feature the M*A*S*H doctors working at a hospital in Maine in the 1970s. These books may shock people raised on the TV series, since Hawkeye here is a rock-ribbed Republican who throws around racial slurs and at one point declares that you "oughta kick the bejesus out of a liberal now and then just to stay in shape." The Maine books aren't great literature, but they have a sort of lived-in authenticity to them; they're stories about small-town doctors from Maine that were written by a small-town doctor from Maine, and they can't help picking up some texture along the way. If nothing else, I can recommend "Dragons," a chapter of M*A*S*H Mania where Hawkeye, having been dragged before a judge who's in on the joke, spins a tall tale in which the atom bomb wasn't invented until 1950 and it was a dragon named Sid who actually destroyed Hiroshima.

Pocket BooksPocket BooksBut then there are the other books. William Butterworth wrote these, and he churned out around a dozen of them. M*A*S*H Goes to New Orleans. M*A*S*H Goes to Las Vegas. M*A*S*H Goes to Vienna. M*A*S*H Goes to Morocco. In these the swamp doctors still work at that hospital in Maine, but now they're constantly getting drawn into allegedly high-comic adventures around the world, with a recurring cast of guest stars with names like Boris Korsky-Rimsakov, Horsey de la Chevaux, and Wrong-Way Napolitano. Sometimes the book characters' backstories are adjusted to fit the TV series; other times the books go out of their way to contradict the TV series. (Col. Henry Blake, famously killed off on the show, periodically pops in to say hello.) I cannot in good conscience recommend reading two or more of these, but every student of '70s kitsch should try to make it through one.

And the TV spinoffs? There were three of those. Trapper John, M.D. was a standard medical drama set in what was then the present day, with the title character now employed at a hospital in San Francisco. (It must have been a tough commute to work both there and in Maine.) AfterMASH was set in Missouri in the 1950s, with three characters from the old show adjusting to civilian life at yet another hospital.

Finally, there's W*A*L*T*E*R, in which Gary Burghoff reprises his role as Radar O'Reilly and a very young Victoria Jackson plays the ditzy drugstore clerk who befriends him. There was only one episode. It aired in only half the country. It is the most godawful piece of crap ever excreted by the M*A*S*H multiverse—and yes, I've seen the episode of the original show where they spend the whole story organizing a surprise party for Col. Potter. That one is Citizen Kane compared to W*A*L*T*E*R. If the novel published in October 1968 is the place where this franchise was born, then this half-hour of television that aired in July 1984 is where it went to die. (*) Enjoy!

(* I mean "went to die" figuratively, of course. W*A*L*T*E*R was followed by one more season of AfterMASH and two more seasons of Trapper John, M.D. America still has troops in Korea, too. Apparently it's really hard to wind these things down.)

Photo Credit: William Morroe & Co.

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  • Aloysious||

    You would talk about BJ's.

    You men are all the same. /every woman everywhere

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Burns was stupid to the point of being unrealistic. Winchester was a far more believable character; a surgeon with comparable skills to Hawkeye, with an arrogance to match that which Hawkeye displayed in the earlier episodes of the series.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Haha, you got him.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    In the book, Burns was a relic of the old medical tradition, whereby a doctor learned surgery from another doctor, not necessarily from attending a surgical school. This hadn't quite passed out of use in the 1950's, just as some districts still had outhouses. Burns (in the book) was an 'old school' doctor pulled into a situation where he was over his head by a government that assumed that the old school no longer existed.

    As with a lot of things, and not just in MASH, television sucked all the subtle out.

  • Echospinner||

    The character Dr. Burns, is just someone who is in the wrong place. They all are.

    The Korean War and Vietnam saw a revolution in trauma surgery. IV fluids, better antibiotics, triage, newer techniques delivered closer to the battlefield, bleeding control, helicopters for faster transport to forward surgical units who could stabilize, the whole concept of the golden hour in trauma. Young surgeon Henry Heimlich based on his tour of duty in Korea invented a new chest tube easily placed in the field and still used today.

    My dad was chief triage officer and surgeon in a medevac unit Vietnam 67-69. One thing about him when I was growing up. There was no such thing as a crisis or challenge that could not be met head on. He had known much worse.

    An aside but one of my favorite characters is the shrink. Dr Sidney Something. He plays the part well and they are all nuts.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Sidney Something

    His name was Sidney Freedman, but in his first appearance he was Milton Freedman. I'm pretty sure I can guess why they changed it.

  • Echospinner||

    He was a part time actor.

    They needed a psychiatrist because every including himself is bonkers.

    War does that.

  • Brightly||

    Brilliant X + Stupid Y = Pretty much every person everywhere....

    though I don't don't think it is at all fair to claim Carson is a stupid person. Add up his virtues and shortfalls and on the balance he comes out ahead of you something to the order of a 50lb weight compared to a feather.

    I'm fairly certain that whatever you do, no matter how good you are at it....it ain't exactly brain-surgery.

  • Echospinner||

    Doctors are more religious in belief than the general population and more so when compared to cohorts with the same level of education and income.

    It does not translate directly into patient care because all major religions give an out clause for medicine. It supercedes other rules. Do what you need to do because to save a life is to save an entire world.

    I have no idea why his medical credentials have anything to do with government. Nor his beliefs about religion.

  • Fancylad||

    Ben Carson
    WICKED BURN DU... No, wait, that's a shitty analogy unless you're some kind of demagogue.

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    I agree. Moreover, Linville's Burns was so obnoxious as to border on pathetic. At least Duvall's Burns gave the impression of someone that people might respect until they really got to know him - who could function in the Old Boy Network - and who was a genuine menace because of that.

  • Agammamon||

    You would think a one-dimensional character written to be the butt-monkey of the show to be a 'perfect foil'. And it explains your current schtick - you grew up hating a character as a conservative who wasn't a conservative.

    Winchester was the best foil - super-skilled, super-asshole because of it. Just like the others were. Just not in the 'look at me mommy' way Pierce and Co were.

    But I imagine Winchester's character - a real conservative - was too scary a man for you to handle.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Winchester was a boring asshole and the show completely blew once Burns left.

  • TuIpa||

    fuck off screech.

  • Brandybuck||

    Archie Bunker was the spitting image of my grandfather. Including backstory: engineer who got smacked down by the depression and had to work a menial job the rest of his life. They had the same racism, the same attitudes, same fricking recliner and TV screen too.

    Except my grandpa was a died in the wool Democrat who worshiped the ground FDR and Jimmy Hoffa walked on.

    Which is why I can never see Archie Bunker without thinking of him as a the New Dealer core of the Democratic Party. You should have seen him rant and shake his fist on those hippies who disrupted his sacred convention in 1968.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Finally, there's W*A*L*T*E*R, in which Gary Burghoff reprises his role as Radar O'Reilly and a very young Victoria Jackson plays the ditzy drugstore clerk who befriends him.

    Talk about your incoming wounded.

  • Tamfang||

    Hey, we can see his left hand!

  • Phillip||

    He has poland syndrome.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The TV show was mostly tiresome leftism that was really about Vietnam and not the Korean War.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Original take, there.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    and serial sexual harassment resembles a certain sort of college professor.)

    Oh yeah, M*A*S*H* was about as problematic as it gets in the modern lens. And by modern lens, I mean the lens we started looking through about 18 months ago.

  • Number 2||

    And the funny thing is that in the 1970's, Alan Alda postured as a feminist.

  • ||

    He was just doing that to get laid.

  • Paloma||

    Alan Alda couldn't hold a candle to Donald Sutherland. No subtlety or irony.

  • Rogers1234||

    And it was Sutherland who recommended Alda for the part of Hawkeye

  • Fancylad||

    Male feminist usually means a predatory rapist who knows mind games and passive aggressive sympathy tricks work better than brute force.

  • ||

    most of the good episodes concentrated in the period before B.J. grew a mustache.

    I would have characterized it as "the period before Alan Alda was given a hand in content."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    What are you saying about the official mascot of Ms Magazine?

  • ||

    I haven't watched MASH in decades, but I still remember clear as day a scene from a "very special episode" (this is like Season 9) where we were doing yet another deep dive into Hawkeye's character, with Alda delivering a monologue to the effect of "I always turn serious things into flippant jokes! Why do I do that?"

    Even at eleven I thought "because you're a fucking sitcom character, shit-for-brains!"

  • ||

    Except he's just acting trans so he can be diagnosed as crazy and kicked out.

    So problematic.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Funny how he never got kicked out because the Army refused to participate in his identity. Man, so much material to work with here.

  • ||

    If the show were made today, Klinger would be the hero, and it would be a drama.

  • Bubba Jones||

    The army ruled that it was rational to wear dresses in an attempt to be discharged.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Army correctly decided that fakers would not be discharged from a war zone or the Army would have a bunch of fakers.

    The USA has cowards like everycountry has cowards, who enjoy all the benefits but refuse to experience the pitfalls of maintaining a free-ish nation.

    Freedom isnt free.

  • Echospinner||

    Watch the show. Klinger is far from a coward. When the wounded come in he is on spot in the show. He hangs the X-ray, transports from the stretcher into the OR, gets the supplies the team needs, the guy is a hero.

    You know who is afraid of blood and never helped an injured person?

    Heel spurs

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The USA has cowards like everycountry has cowards

    Enjoy .

    Which one of you guys is Max Kues?

  • Echospinner||

    Klinger is a play on catch-22. Made famous by another book and movie.

    He wants out which is totally rational. He is in an irrational situation (war) with irrational rules. And yes Tony Pakos in Toledo is worth a visit.

  • Paloma||

    His "verbal abuse/sexual harassment" of "Hot Lips" wouldn't have flown with feminists today.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I found Trapper John to be excruciatingly boring.

  • ||

    Seconded.

  • ||

    My family watched AfterMASH, so I did too (since I was like 11), but always complained about how stupid it was.

    It's funny remembering back when there were only three channels and how low your standards had to be.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    But the awfulness and lack of choices brought your family together.

  • ||

    It is true. Family is the bad TV shows you hate together.

  • ||

    As political conservatives, hate-watching Murphy Brown and Roseanne were some of the most important bonding rituals for my parents.

  • Agammamon||

    All good shows are alike; each bad show is bad in its own way.

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    I could definitely see Chekov writing series television.

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    Oops. Just checked and found that the families quote was Tolstoy who, unlike Chekov, was not series TV material.

  • Brightly||

    I'm certain this had to do with most of the best dialogue being given to Allan Alda, which is why Wayne Rogers left.

    Hawkeye was at times a very insufferable character. Despite the fact they tried to have him carry the show by making him the focus of the program, it was the ensemble cast often that ended up floating it.

  • Number 2||

    Bud Cort was not Radar, you oaf. It was Gary Burghoff, just like the TV show.

  • ||

    The cast was great. Unfortunately, all that talent was wasted on a shitty Robert Altman movie.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    It really was a terrible movie. I'd been hearing about it for years before I saw it and jeez what a let down.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Great, great and insiteful commentary.

  • ||

    What can I say? I find him to be a very overrated director. Put me in the "IMHO, the Emperor has no clothes" camp.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Critics... the same Lefty fuck bags that predicted Hillary asent as Queen.

    Critics don't know shit and their opinions suck.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The lonely, disaffected life of a chronic, can't-keep-up malcontent.

  • TuIpa||

    you're a starfucker screech, we get it.

  • Agammamon||

    I think you have to go in with the same sort of open-mind as when watching The Holy Grail - its a shitty movie (Life of Brian is the only good movie they made), its a great series of connected sketches.

    And this show is basically a connected series of sketches - that whole bit with the loudhailer was added in in post to cover for the fact that when they got done shooting and were deep into editing they discovered they really didn't have enough on its own to make a coherent movie.

  • Merl3noir||

    I tend to find that which one people prefer, TV or Movie, depends largely upon which one they saw first.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Robert Altman is very hit and miss. I thought The Player was great. Also, few directors did improvised dialog (ie allowing his actors to improvise dialog) better than he can... but sometimes he doesn't know when to reign it in.

  • ||

    I thought The Player was great.

    I used to, but then I saw it again recently and kept thinking "this could have been a great movie, if only someone else had directed it."

    Partly, though, I think it's that Altman has a lot of quirks that bug me, and that just bug me more and more every movie I see, to the point where the moment there's a room full of people mumbling at each other about nothing in particular, I just start to gnash my teeth.

    So scenes that didn't bother me at all when I first saw it in the theater (like when he and his colleagues are all sitting around at the restaurant and he goes on the rant about how they should have better conversations) now just make me scream "IT'S OKAY TO HAVE SOME FOCUS!"

    But yeah - actors love him because he's cool with "Ima just turn on this camera and you all just go ahead and feel something, okay?" It leads to some great scenes, but I can't think of a single overall movie I've seen that I think is any good.

  • SIV||

    It's no McCabe ad Mrs' Miller, but I'd hardly call M*A*S*H* a shitty Robert Altman movie. Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean is a shitty Robert Altman movie. Ditto, Short Cuts

  • ||

    I don't begrudge people their taste, but I have tried and tried to get through McCabe and Mrs. Miller and I just can't. I literally cannot stay awake though that movie. But I've never been able to stay awake through Apocalypse Now, either, which people tell me makes me a Philistine.

    I liked Short Cuts when it came out, but watched it again in recent years and was embarrassed at myself for having liked it. I think it's because I had only recently been exposed to Raymond Carver and it made me feel literary. Best thing in the movie? Huey Lewis.

    My opinion on best Altman movie (that still would have been better in other hands)? Popeye. But Brewster McCloud was also okay, and probably couldn't have been done by anyone else except maybe Hal Ashby.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    jfc Altman had his quirks for sure but he made a few fantastic movies. MASH, The Long Goodbye, Nashville to name the top three.

    Also, "Abyssinia, Henry" was the jizz.

  • No Yards Penalty||

    Yup, McCabe and Mrs. Miller is such a pile of shit. It takes talent to make a shitty movie starring Warren Beatty and Julie Christie.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If ypu cannot stay awake during apocolypse now, I would say youre not a military movie guy.

    Yeah its got excessive dialogue but its a cool vietnam flick and vietnam flicks rarely had non stop combat. If you want almost non stop combat in vietnam try Green Berets with John Wayne.

  • Paloma||

    I really didn't get the whole "Suicide is painless" song, or the whole weird pretense of a fake suicide to cheer someone up.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This whole Alan Alda, 1970s, the New Man, Ms Magazine thing has brought back some memories.

    A fun one, from The New York Times 1984:

    BARBARA EHRENREICH writes:

    In the 1970's, for example, it had become an article of liberal faith that a new man would eventually rise up to match the new feminist woman, that he would be more androgynous than any ''old'' variety of man, and that the change, which was routinely expressed as an evolutionary leap from John Wayne to Alan Alda, would be an unambiguous improvement.

    [...]

    So it is not enough, anymore, to ask that men become more like women; we should ask instead that they become more like what both men and women might be. My new man, if I could design one, would be capable of appreciation, sensitivity, intimacy - values that have been, for too long, feminine.
  • ||

    I do think Alda was great as the shifty, corrupt Senator in The Aviator. He, William Hurt, and Donald Sutherland have evolved into perfect typecasts of institutional creeps.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I like Alan Alda as an actor. He was fantastic in Michael Moore's best film: Canadian Bacon.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I do think Alda was great as the shifty, corrupt Senator in The Aviator. He, William Hurt, and Donald Sutherland have evolved into perfect typecasts of institutional creeps.

    It's always fun when a sitcom hero plays a villain or asshole. Alan Alda in The Aviator and Crimes and Misdemeanors, Fred MacMurray in Double Indemnity and The Apartment, Andy Griffith in A Face in the Crowd...

  • ||

    Yeah - as a childhood fan of My Three Sons when I first saw Double Indemnity it kinda freaked me out.

    Also, having grown up on The Electric Company, I was somewhat traumatized when I saw Morgan Freeman going all criminal-sociopath in Street Smart.

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    Paul Reiser in Aliens is the obvious gold standard.

  • ||

    I forgot about that! He was pretty good at the befuddled "where the hell am I and how did I get to be president?"

    Although while I agree that Canadian Bacon was Moore's best film, I still have to express my opinion that it was a piece of shit.

    And while it was the inferior movie as a movie, I still most respect him for the solid argument against gun control he presented in Bowling for Columbine.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Although while I agree that Canadian Bacon was Moore's best film, I still have to express my opinion that it was a piece of shit.

    Oh come one, it hit every comedy bullet point about Canada! In what other film could you get Steven Wright as a Canadian Mountie?

    The CIA guy who worked the Canada desk by the copy machine?

  • ||

    I grew up in Southern California and haven't ever been north of Shasta CA. It may be that the Canada-oriented humor is lost on me. Plus, in fairness, I already hated Michael Moore by the time I saw it, so a lot of it just kind of grated on me.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Plus, in fairness, I already hated Michael Moore by the time I saw it, so a lot of it just kind of grated on me.

    Ahh, when I saw Canadian Bacon, I had no idea it was Michael Moore until years later.

  • 5Arete22||

    As I watched it, I thought that the script was probably funnier than the movie.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I forgot about that! He was pretty good at the befuddled "where the hell am I and how did I get to be president?"

    My favorite line from the movie:

    President Alda: It's time to turn off the war machine, and turn on our children.

    *uncomfortable silence from the crowd.

    Alda: ..t'turn ON our children...

  • ||

    Okay. I lol'd reading that. Maybe I should see it again.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Advisor: Send them [the troops] anywhere sir... guaranteed 30 point boost in the polls.

    Alda: Well, I'm not going to start a war just to increase my popularity...

    *begins walking*

    Alda: What can I do for 20 points?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Wise Old Fool||

    I can agree with this. I never liked him in MASH though. Although I didn't care for the show much either.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    "a recurring cast of guest stars with names like Boris Korsky-Rimsakov, Horsey de la Chevaux, and Wrong-Way Napolitano."

    Wherein a federal judge chucks judicial procedure to conduct a trial consisting solely of questions.

    -or-

    Wherein a partisan bureaucrat tries to institute Obama's healthcare plan.

  • Uncle Jay||

    MASH would never be televised today due to the Though Police enforcing the politically correct diktats of the hypersensitive, fascist snowflakes.

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    MASH would never be televised today due to the

    ...fact that leering at nurses isn't actually comedy. As another poster pointed out, our standards were lower then due to a lack of competition. Dude wears dresses? If you think that's comedy, you might actually be a 12 year old.

  • Wise Old Fool||

    Ah judging something through the lens of 20/20 vision and 21st century norms. Gotcha.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Klinger's cross-dressing was never funny. What was funny about Klinger was how utterly shameless he was. If the gag was solely about him wearing dresses, his character wouldn't have made it out of the pilot.

  • Rogers1234||

    The Klinger character first appeared in the first season episode "Chief Surgeon Who?"

  • mtrueman||

    MASH the movie. at least, was anti-army but pro war. The doctors could flout all the rules and do pretty much as they pleased with impunity. In civilian life they would have lost their licenses and brought before a court.

  • Agammamon||

    MASH the movie was not pro-war. It wasn't even particularly anti-Army either. It was an absurdist comedy using the Army as straight-man.

  • NoVaNick||

    One of my earliest memories was hearing the MASh theme coming from the tv. Think I was still in diapers. Was not old enough to really appreciate the humor in it even by the time it went off the air

  • tomaig@yahoo.com||

    The scene in the mess tent where Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) goads Frank (Robert Duvall) into an all-out, frenzied attack, just as Col. Blake returns from Tokyo...and then Frank, being driven away in a straitjacket...
    The football game scene, with the Washington Post March merrily overlaying the mayhem....

    I especially like the nice touch of one of the MASH players giving the opposing team's "ringer" a quick alcohol swab before they dope him up with something (Demerol, maybe?) in the pile-on after a tackle. He gets up staggering and reeling...has to be hauled off the field.
    "I'm ready, coach, I'm ready!!"
    "Ready? Ready for what?"
    "I'm in the 50-yard dash!"
    (halftime gun sounds)
    Takes off, plows down cheerleaders..
    Hot Lips (Sally Kellerman), the Head Cheerleader, shrieks, "My God, they've SHOT HIM!!"
    Col. Blake: "Hot Lips you incredible nincompoop..."

    Yeah, I've seen it a few times... l laugh every time.

  • vek||

    I've actually been meaning to go back and rewatch a bunch of older TV shows I saw as reruns as a kid. MASH is one of the ones I want to check out. I remember liking it as a kid, and I do like shows thst ran for a long time as it makes the "What am I gonna watch to kill time tonight?" Question very easy to answer!

  • A Thinking Mind||

    Okay, it's a bit OT, I've been rewatching some old Law, and it boggles how open-minded left-wing writers used to be, compared to today.

    There was an episode called "Hate" where the legal dilemma comes down to First Amendment protections. A right-wing hate group was extolling violence against Muslims, and then some teenagers took the message to heart and went and murdered two Muslims. Now, of course McCoy took the authoritarian side of it, charging the (obviously right-wing) guy spreading hateful rhetoric for murder, but there's a very serious discussion about what should constitute provocative or inciting speech. Adam Schiff tells him to drop it and his assistant (Abby Carmichael) calls him out for being full of shit. The writers made this particular criminal so despicable that they HAD to convict him, but they made a fair pro-1st Amendment Case on the other side.

    If this episode were made today, it would be a soapbox about how hate-speech laws are clearly a good thing and it's important to punish everyone who dares speak wrong-thoughts. It would probably also turn out to be a conspiracy run by some conservative politician, who would also end up indicted and convicted by the conclusion.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    ^Law & Order

  • MikeP2||

    Wow, gonna disagree with this one. Law and order was carefully crafted proggy propanganda, particularly After the early seasons. The plot lines would twist something in current events, obstensively lay out 'both sides', but then always come done on the prog side with the underlying, "this may not be perfect, but its the only choice" BS. In the last few seasons they pulled off the mask completely and just went into full proggy preach mode.

  • A Thinking Mind||

    The last 2-3 seasons were considerably downhill, yes. It also broke the procedure by having every episode include an Act 3 twist, after the trial had started, which destroyed the realism. But the peak years of the show were much more even-handed.

    It had its bad moments, for sure. There was one episode where a crazy man opened fire in Central Park and killed dozens, and they decided to charge the gun manufacturer with depraved indifference. And it worked because they portrayed this gun manufacturer as the move depraved and insidious organization in existence, and only lost the case because the judge (played like a villain) threw out the verdict.

  • Paloma||

    I don't quite get how the detectives just walk into the suspect's house and have a look around while he's in jail answering questions. Do they get a key or something? It's like the Fourth Amendment doesn't exist.

    Viewers get used to this and wonder why anyone should have any objections. It's how the good guys find the bad guys.

  • JeremyR||

    What I always thought was funny (especially now) is that the movie had a black doctor in it, who made it into the pilot, but he was dropped from the show.

    Considering how preachy/progressive the show was, it sticks out like a sore thumb.

  • geo1113||

    Timmy Brown. My first favorite football player.

  • Jesse Walker||

    the movie had a black doctor in it, who made it into the pilot, but he was dropped from the show

    I assume it hit them at some point that it was a problem for their most prominent black character to be called "Spearchucker Jones."

  • CDRSchafer||

    He was the redundant minority sidekick.

  • Kirk Solo||

    Because suicide is painless

  • QuadGunner||

    God damn Army

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Goddam, goddam Army.

  • Sevo||

    The movie was mildly entertaining.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Like a lot of shows from that era that the Left absolutely LOVED, MASH's politics don't really stand up to scrutiny. Some of the episodes were pretty good, especially when they were focusing on a character other than Hawkeye and his sidekick. Harry Morgan as Sherman Potter was a delight, and the Charles Emerson Winchester character got some great 'he's a jerk, but he has some good qualities' stories.

    The Butterworth books got written because people who wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the TV show simply would not leave Richard Hooker (I can't be bithered to use his real name) alone, and he loathed the show's hippie-dippy liberal sensibility. He agreed the allow books to be written IF they could find a ghostwriter he could stand. After a dozen or so lefty nitwits had been chased off his property, the suits came up with W. E. Butterworth, and professional (and pretty good) hack with Conservative views. He and Hooker got on fine, and decided the books should be farcical send-ups. As pulp humor, they aren't actually awful. Nobody is going to mistake them for P. G. Woodhouse, but they're silly fun, at about the level of a Punch and Judy show. They're certainly better written than 75% of the sitcoms of the time.

  • Brightly||

    " MASH's politics don't really stand up to scrutiny"

    IKR.

    I remember comments by Capt Pak's character (played by Pat Morita) being very dismissive of US/UN involvement in the war, despite the fact that the Republic of Korea wouldn't have existed at that point without it. The whole show focuses on mishaps of the UN, and principally, the United States in a war created by Communist aggression and garnished with political genocide.

    But no, the war was there because of some nebulous goofiness by the US/UN the show never attempted address because doing so would have invariably forced it too deeply on the side of fake history.

  • gagster||

    It [W*A*L*T*E*R] is the most godawful piece of crap ever excreted by the M*A*S*H multiverse


    Careful! It was directed by Bill Bixby. Believe me, you don't want to make him angry.

  • I can't even||

    The Korean War lasted a little over 3 years. That's about how long M.A.S.H. lasted as a comedy.

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