Has this whole experience changed you in anyway?
It’s moments like this that remind me we wouldn’t have shows like Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Community, Mad Men, or Orange is the New Black without M*A*S*H*
M*A*S*H* was groundbreaking in an era where sitcoms were almost constantly funny and nothing else and dramas were basically soap operas or crime procedurals.
M*A*S*H* dared to be as hilarious as it was serious. This episode is a fine example. Everybody at the 4077th is getting interviewed about what its like to serve in a M*A*S*H* unit. It’s funny, characters still throw around quips about everything being too green(army colors) or being mis-assigned civilians. But then they speak so frankly. Father Mulcahy is the camp’s priest. He likes boxing and never preaches where he’s unwanted.
In this episode nothing happens outside of this. It’s 30 minutes of people talking directly to the camera about what they think and it was riveting.
There was once an episode where Hawkeye got a concussion and a Korean family helped him out while he waited for people from 4077 to come pick him up. It was a 30 minutes of Hawkeye talking to the Korean characters who spoke very little and when they spoke it was unsubtitled Korean.
There was once an episode where Hawkeye was at an aid station getting bombed and we sat with him as he tried to compose his own last will and testament.
In one episode Colonel Potter and Hawkeye got very drunk and thought they were cornered by Korean soldiers and Hawkeye refused to fire his gun
Colonel Potter: Fire that weapon!
Hawkeye: Ok…you’re fired…I did it as gently as I could.
One episode is entirely from a patients perspective. The camera literally represents the patients point of view as he meets and is treated by the doctors at 4077.
One episode involves the camp trying to watch My Darling Clementine but the film keeps slipping or the projector stops working. In the breaks they pass the time singing songs and doing impressions. At the films final gunfight they all playact along with the onscreen violence and it’s hilarious, right up until an ambulance pulls up with more wounded.
One episode featured the whole cast dealing with a deluge of wounded and getting no sleep. On their breaks they would nap and dream. Some dreams were mundane. Colonel Potter rides his horse. Some were absurd. Winchester is performing a magic act in the OR and nobody seems to notice him. Some are horrific. Margaret wears a wedding dress and dances with a man in uniform, suddenly the man is a corpse and she is covered in blood. Hawkeye dreams about a river of arms and legs.
M*A*S*H* showed us characters as human beings. They were flawed creatures who got angry, drank too much, and raged at the senseless violence of war. They laughed because laughter kept them sane and that made the comedy even funnier.
In one episode a man tries to make a documentary about the 4077th. He plans to call it Yankey Doodle Doctor and it’s sanctimonious tripe. So Hawkeye and Trapper expose all the footage and shoot their own ‘documentary.’ Most of it is Hawkeye and Trapper doing a Marx Brothers impersonation
Yankee Doodle Doctor: Wait a minute, have you got a reservation?Radar: A reservation?!
Yankee Doodle Doctor: I’m afraid we’re all booked up through New Years!
Radar: But, Doctor!
Yankee Doodle Doctor: I’m sorry, kid. You should’ve booked ahead. Come to think of it, you should’ve booked the rest of the body as well!
Then in the films final scene we see Hawkeye staring straight into the camera, sitting beside a patients bed as he delivers the following monologue:
Three hours ago, this man was in a battle. Two hours ago, we operated on him. He’s got a fifty-fifty chance. We win some, we lose some. That’s what it’s all about. No promises. No guaranteed survival. No “saints in surgical garb.” Our willingness, our experience, our technique are not enough. Guns and bombs and anti-personnel mines have more power to take life than we have to preserve it. Not a very happy ending to a movie. But then again, no war is a movie.
In essence M*A*S*H* dared to do something different in every way and on every level. They had to fight to have the laugh track removed and show blood during scenes in the OR. The term ‘dramedy’ was coined after M*A*S*H* in order to better describe it. Basically this show is amazing and while it may be flawed by the time it was made(lots of misogyny and cartoonish portrayals of Korean characters in the early seasons), it was still a masterpiece that ran for 11 seasons and the series finale was the most watched episode of television in history (up until a recent Superbowl broadcast)