Sunday, September 02, 2012

AV Club's Top Ten MASH episodes

You can find it here.  Happy to say my writing partner, David Isaacs and I made the list with POINT OF VIEW.   We also made honorable mention with NIGHT AT ROSIE'S.   I agree with many of their picks and have personal favorites I would have chosen over some of theirs.  I would have included THE GENERAL FLIPS AT DAWN (written by Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum) and THE MORE I SEE YOU (written by Larry Gelbart).  The two episodes we wrote I would say should have been contenders were GOODBYE RADAR and OUT OF SIGHT/OUT OF MIND.

But hey, when you're part of a Superbowl winning team, just getting into the game and catching one pass for five yards is a monumental thrill.  To be a starter is unbelievable.  

Thanks to the AV Club for the nod.

21 comments:

wholeearthblog.com said...

I can't believe they did not "Dear Sigmund." It is one of my favorite episodes, and I believe it is one of the best of the series. Oh, and I would have left out "Hawkeye." I like the character, but he tends to ramble in regular episodes. An episode with only Hawkeye rambling...no thanks.

Edward Copeland said...

I second you on placing The General Flipa at Dawn in there, buy my list always starts with Tuttle. I can't remember the title of the one with Leslie Nielsen. Shouldn't there be a Col. Flagg? How about the one with him, Sidney, Pat Morita and the card game with John Ritter holding Frank hostage in the shower. Or The Incubator? I had a hard enough time narrowing 89 Larry Sanders down to 10. Wait == The Incubator. The one with James Gregory and Keene Curtis. Adam's Ribs. I give up.

David said...

"...a clever Ken Levine and David Isaacs script that tells a typical M*A*S*H half-hour’s worth of stories while rarely leaving a single spot in post-op... letting the viewers at home see a side of [the cast] that we rarely see, as they let their guard down a little... It’s impressive as a piece of story-construction, and a moving one." NICE. (And well-deserved!) (And yeah, I would have swapped out "Hawkeye" for "Dear Sigmund" too, but with 11+ years of episodes, a Top 10 list is an even tougher chore than usual.

John said...

On a semi-related subject, here's a Friday question -- Could either M*A*S*H or Cheers be done today as the series originally began with the same character personalities/ personal backgrounds, given the changing standards about what's acceptable in society.

Alan Alda's Hawkeye already had changed from his original Groucho-like lady chaser by the time the final few seasons rolled around (and they even did an late episode showing the nurses no longer responding to his come-ons). But given the recent focus on the problems of concussions -- mainly in football but also in other sports like baseball -- would the suits allow Ernie Pantusso to have the background he was given by the Charles brothers, of being befuddled due to taking too many pitches to the 'noggin (I can just see the network lawyers getting the vapors today if you tried to do the episode where Coach shows Diane how he can get himself hit in the head with a pitch no matter where it was thrown).

-Phil said...

Agree completely about The More I See You

Rob said...

Personal favorites not mentioned include The Long John Flap, Cease Fire, Officers Only, For Want of a Boot, Crisis, There Is Nothing Like a Nurse, Bulletin Board, Change of Command, Margaret's Engagement, Out of Sight Out of Mind, The Most Unforgettable Characters, Margaret's Marriage, The Winchester Tapes, The Smell of Music, Potter's Retirement, The Billfold Syndrome, None Like It Hot, Period of Adjustment, Heal Thyself, Morale Victory, April Fools, Letters, Death Takes a Holiday, Sons and Bowlers, The Moon Is Not Blue and As Time Goes By.

Roger Owen Green said...

Ken - I JUST saw you! TV Land just reran that 30th anniversary show.

Matt said...

Congratulations!!!

I would also like to point out that you might be number one. They listed them in Chronological order, not the order of their favorites.

scottmc said...

A Friday question: in a story about a possible musical version of 'Tootsie' it was mentioned that through his contract Dustin Hoffman holds the rights to the movie's title. Without naming names, what is the most unusual actor stipulation, or contract perk, that you have encountered.

Matt said...

Friday Question:

I am assuming that every writer wants every episode they right to be as great as it can be. However, when the network wants a special episode to promote, such as a 100th episode to be even better, how do you handle it (outside of the clip show).

Do you try to save the best jokes for that episode?

Do you try to end a story arc on that episode?

Do you just ignore the network and make every episode as great as it can be?

Matt said...

I apologize, I usually don't correct myself, but this is unusually embarrassing.

I conflated right with write.

My sentence should have been: "I am assuming that every writer wants every episode they write to be as great as it can be."

I apologize to everybody, I know it is annoying when people correct themselves, but this was just too egregious.

Edward Copeland said...

Earlier this season, when Breaking Bad showed the famous "Say hello to my little friend" scene from Scarface, they not only had to get permission from the studio to use the clip, they also had to get Al Pacino's permission.

gottacook said...

I also would have included "The More I See You" but I never knew the episode by its title until tonight, when I looked it up and saw that it was the one with Blythe Danner, never better than in this role.

Tyler said...

The General Flipped at Dawn, Deal Me Out, Dear Comrade, Dear Sigmund, The Yalu Brick Road, Adam's Ribs, 5 O'Clock Charlie are some of my favorites, and no top 10 list would be complete w/o at least 1 Colonel Flagg episode. There were some stinkers (Major Fred C Dobbs) but its hard to pull off as many timeless classics as MASH did.

diƤtplan said...


very good comment

Gone Todash said...

They stress that the list is supposed to be "most representative," not necessarily best, which is why the omission of "Adam's Ribs" is so egregious. Hawkeye going bonkers over something in his obsessive, waxing-poetic way; the constant bartering/scheming to get something; and one of the best half-hour scripts of any TV show ever. If I had to pick only one episode to show somebody as an introduction to the series, that'd be it.

Anonymous said...

They actually said that this isn't the BEST 10 episodes, it's the 10 episodes that are mosre representative of the series. I don't think those two lists mean the same thing.

Also, it would be so hard to pick 10 best episodes of this series! So many of them were good for completely different reasons.

Eric J said...

The AV Club specifically says it is not a list of the Top 10 BEST episodes. It is a list of the Top 10 most representative of the series.

Second, Ken is right. Writing for MASH was definitely the Super Bowl and congratulations to him and his partner for the recognition. And thanks for contributing to some of my best and most memorable moments as a viewer.

Bradley said...

I thought you'd like to know that yesterday I was at HMV (CD/music store in Canada) and there were two young college guys in the middle of a serious debate about whether or not to buy a couple seasons of M*A*S*H or the complete series. I wanted to know how it turned out so I hung around and eavesdropped for about 10 minutes. After careful consideration, they decided M*A*S*H was more important than food, pooled their rent money together, and sprung for the entire set (even though they already had 2 seasons already). I thought it was interesting to see that the show still appeals to a young demographic, willing to eat ramen noodles in exchange for some Hawkeye.

Brian said...

Great list...and I could easily add 20 more.

Ken- The show jumps around in time quite a bit. There were episodes where Eisenhower was president and then a few years later Truman is president. There are other examples too. When you and David were working on the show, was there any direction as far as a timeline?

Lois Bernard said...

Here are the ones I can't bear deleting from my limited DVR storage:
Blood Brothers, 1981, with a young Patrick Swayze and directed by Harry Morgan, makes me cry every time
Hawkeye, unlike the writer above I love the monologue. Larry Gelbart directed and wrote
The Inteview written and directed by Larry Gelbart

I keep trying to save them all guess i will have to go the Ramen Noodle route.