“M*A*S*H” is still considered one of the most influential and popular TV series of all time. This comedy that ran on CBS from 1972 to 1983 launched the careers of such superstars as Alan Alda and pioneered an innovative approach to the traditional sitcom that is still considered genius today.
It is next to possible to identify the best episodes of this constantly surprising and evocative show, but here are three that are considered by many to be some of the most memorable.
1. Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen
The final episode of “M*A*S*H” was watched by 105.97 million total viewers. This is more people than watched the Super Bowl XVII, “Roots”, and the “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of “Dallas.”
With streaming and DVRs, rarely does all of America get together to watch a single TV show anymore. But on February 28, 1983, it seemed like everyone in the country gathered to say goodbye to characters they had watched and grown to love for years.
The final episode was two hours long, and gave closure to the many themes the audience had followed throughout the run: Hawkeye’s relationship with Hot Lips, the end to the Korean War, and the mental health of the members of the Mobile Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (if you were wondering what does M*A*S*H stand for, there you go!)
Check out sites like Doyouremember.com to find out when you can catch a rerun of this iconic episode. It often played on Veterans Day.
2. The Interview
This show was episode 25 of season 4 (the show ran for 11 episodes and spawned several spinoffs, none as successful as the original).
This episode is a perfect example of the many ways that “M*A*S*H” broke the mold when it came to TV. Many episodes used unusual formats like letters from home to approach narrative, humor, and politics in new and unusual ways that few TV dramas, much less comedies, had ever done before.
In this show, a real-life war journalist interviewed all the characters in the army hospital. The episode was filmed entirely in black and white to give it the verisimilitude of a newsreel.
The show innovated other techniques, like eliminating the laugh track, breaking the fourth wall, and killing off major characters (see below).
3. Abyssinia, Henry
On the last episode of season 3, beloved character Lt. Col. Henry Blake, played by Mclean Stevenson, was discharged to go home. However, in a shock to the characters and the audience, his helicopter was shot down and he never makes it back.
This episode shows how this show perfectly blended comedy and tragedy. It also was not afraid to make a political statement. It refused to sugarcoat the truth of how many fine men are lost to war, and it made that point heartrendingly clear by killing off a main character.
The fact that the death was not really even necessary to the character or the plot, as he was leaving the show anyway, made the death even more affecting.
“*M*A*S*H”: A Timeless Classic of Comedy in Wartime
The fine acting, writing, and direction of “*M*A*S*H” make this series worth watching again, even decades after its conclusion. Check out these or other episodes for a deep look at a classic of pop culture history.
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