Sunday, April 26, 2015

The MASH finale returns

Next Sunday night, MeTV is airing the MASH finale, along with new interviews with members of the cast, production team, and even me. These interviews were recorded last year for a proposed documentary on MASH (that is still in the works).

Much to my surprise, I’m included in the promo that MeTV is airing.

When it originally aired in 1983 it was seen in 50.2 million homes. I’m sure MeTV would be happy with just half of that.

Here’s the promo:

29 comments:

Oat Willie said...

Presented by Terminex and a shitload of transvaginal mesh lawyers. And they got original cast members..."I've seen younger faces on cash!"

Mike Barer said...

Arguably, the best TV comedy of all time.

Mark said...

METV's sister station, DECADES (2.2 here in LA) will be airing every episode of the Phil Silvers Show in a few days.

Johnny Walker said...

How honest were you about your feelings towards the finale? :) In hindsight I think most people agree that, while it took the opportunity to do an incredibly challenging story, which was a brave, bold decision -- scarring some 50 million+ people, it also had some big problems.

LouOCNY said...

According to the website, DECADES will be starting in JUNE....http://www.decades.com/

Doug said...

I've given up on MeTV. It's a good idea, but between episodes butchered for commercial time and some of the most annoyingly repetitive commercials you can imagine, it's not really worth it. (I just about want to scream when that damn transvaginal mesh legal action commercial shows up on either of its twice an hour runs. The damn thing has been running on MeTV forever.)

What's really killed it for me, though, is that our local MeTV outlet has starting running their local commercial inserts over and into the program. In other words, MeTV finishes up its commercial time and goes back to whatever episode of MASH they're running. Except our local MeTV outlet continues running an extra minute or two of local commercials before they go back to MASH, "already in progress," as they used to say.

So aside from the shows already being hacked to a little over twenty minutes for syndication, locally, we're losing another couple of minutes out of each show so the local outlet can run commercials for local lingerie shops, vape outlets, and cheap auto painting outfits.

LouOCNY said...

Doug - I think you are wrong about MeTV. I commented a few days ago, and reiterate her, MeTV itself does VERY little, if any cutting. I have especially noticed this with MASH, where they show the little afterpieces that generally are the cuts in most syndication. The same thing with Andy Grifith and others - nice, pristine prints that SEEM whole and complete.

The problem is, as you actually pointed out, is that in most places MeTV is reliant on affiliates that are usually small and poor, needing to insert more ads. In NYC, MeTV literally has its own digital station, with its own call letters - WZME-TV - a unique situation in the sub-digital world. So we are spared all of the vaginal mesh type ads. The other retro stations, Antenna, COZI, Movies!, etc all have ties to local NY stations, so we do get those ads there....I also suspect that MeTV gives DISH/DIRECT that 'pure' feed as well.

Ken, do you get local ads on MeTV out there?

Ken Levine said...

We do have local ads on MeTV and I watched a CHEERS of ours and noticed they did some cutting.

Allan V said...

Wow, remember it like it was yesterday. Near the end, my brother started sniffling a little and I felt almost as sad. I don't think they could have ended it any better.

Barbara C. said...

Oh, my, I better get a fresh box of tissues. I was six when the finale originally aired, but I remember getting choked up at the end...and every time I have watched it since.

Mark said...

DECADES won't officially launch till May but it has been running mega-marathons for months now. They've already shown the complete Car 54, Dobie Gillis, Man from UNCLE, Mission Impossible, Naked City, Route 66...

Kaleberg said...

The problem is that I spent the 80s watching all the 60s TV I could handle on VHS. By the time DVDs came out, there were just a few shows I cared about left.

normadesmond said...

saw the promo last night & saw YOU!

Carol said...

My parents went to a MASH party to watch the finale. They even wore MASH shirts.

I know other shows kind of had 'finales' but do you think MASH is the show that made it a thing? And, in your opinon, is there any show that had a flawless finale?

In my opinion, Leverage had the best ending for a show. So did Life on Mars (real version, not American version)

I'm still mad at How I Met Your Mother.

Pete Grossman said...

Of course the end of a show - especially one about war - is sponsored by Terminix!

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Doug Not all MeTV stations are like that. Mine, for example, doesn't have extra commercials when the show is supposed to be back on, and likewise, the shows aren't nearly as butchered as you make them out to be - if you were to compare them to most other cable airings of the shows, MeTV's versions of merely trimmed compared to other cable butcherings (though I remember seeing an episode of THE ODD COUPLE recently that MeTV cut an entire sequence out of involving Felix having a dream sequences of getting kicked out of Heaven for being too finicky and fastiteous).

My only "problem" with MeTV is that they have a rather limited library of shows. I think the most I ever watched MeTV was back in the summer of 2013 when they added BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE to their lineup, and to also check out THE MOTHERS-IN-LAW (funny show, a little ahead of its time, but formulaic from the beginning). Sometimes I find myself wanting a little more; I'd love if they added other shows like MISTER ED, GREEN ACRES, or maybe even some classic cartoons like ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE.

And yay, Ken I was wondering when you were going to say something about this. I will confess, I find it a little curious that you, Gene Reynolds, Wayne Rogers, and Gary Burghoff were interviewed considering each of you were long gone from the series by the time the finale was made.

DwWashburn said...

I watched several sitcoms on MeTV and they have all been edited for time. The unusual thing about MASH reruns is that, during this series of reruns, the edits come in different places when compared to previous airings. Some scenes that have not been in the syndicated package in the last decade have reappeared only to have familiar scenes cut. It just shows that DVDs are still your best bet.

To the earlier poster who said the final episode had problems, I agree. In my opinion it is the second worst episode of the series. Only Dreams is worse. I have seen neither of these episodes more than a couple of times.

Stephen Robinson said...

The M*A*S*H farewell deserves its place in history, I think. It was, as @JohnnyWalker said, an incredibly challenging story. THE FUGITIVE finale in 1967 was a big deal, but its premise demanded a resolution. Sitcoms, however, usually just... stopped.

Yes, the finale itself isn't funny. You'd think it was the end of a dramatic series, but it was the end of the M*A*S*H the series had become over the past few years.

(Arguably, the Season 3 finale was the "end" of the purely comedic M*A*S*H)

Oh, and Alan Alda is almost 80. Even the Gary Burghoff is in his 70s. It's weird. I'm 40, so I remember when Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn would be on a talk show and were around the age the M*A*S*H cast is now. Time moves swiftly.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

While the end of Season Three could be considered the end of "purely comedic M*A*S*H," I would argue that Seasons Four through Six still had a lot going for them as far as comedy and humor goes, but by that time, with the end of the Vietnam War bringing an end to the show's antiwar satire, the show became more character-driven, and they further developed - the show was still funny, but had a little more heart to it.

Season Seven, to me, is the "transitional season": it's not quite as humorous as the first six, and it's certainly nowhere near as dark as the preceding four, but you can almost sense there's change in the air: it could have been B.J.'s cheesy mustache, it could have been Klinger ramping up his Section 8 schemes, it could be Margaret and Penobscott's divorce, it could even be the theme song (you have to admit, the off-key rendition of the opening theme for Season Seven did have a menacing and ominous sound to it).

Then comes Season Eight: the beginning of the end. "Too Many Cooks" starts off okay, it's an amusing and humorous episode that feels like a hold-over from last season, but all that changes with "Are You Now, Margaret?" From there, the show got darker, preachier, and more dramatic. We lost Radar, and we essentially lost Klinger too (even Harry Morgan shared this sentiment), the writing and the production staff had been overhauled, the laugh track was reduced to a minimum, it clearly wasn't the same show we fell in love with.

That said, I feel that finale, despite being a product of the show's "Copper Era" (by that, many fans break the series into different eras based on the show's overall atmosphere: Seasons 1-3 being the "Gold Era," Seasons 4 and 5 being the "Silver Era," Seasons 6 and 7 being the "Bronze Era," and Seasons 8-11 being the "Copper Era"), was very brilliant, it had a lot going for it, the end of the war was a great backdrop for the emotional rollercoaster that the story brought on, and Alan Alda had the great, albeit subtle, idea to have each character be faced with an injury, whether physical (Mulcahy's hearing loss) or emotional (Hawkeye's breakdown). I must admit, I still get choked up when I see Hawkeye and B.J. say their final goodbyes to each other - I always hoped/wished they did find a way to get together and see each other in the states.

Mike Schryver said...

I also noticed Ken in the promo. On-screen stardom can't be far away now, Ken.
Not a big fan of the finale. I thought the Hawkeye story was far too serious. The thing I enjoy most about it was a reference on Mr. Show - they're showing a montage of people on a witness stand uttering famous emotional lines from movies and Paul F. Tompkins screams "IT WAS A BABY!!!"
I fell over laughing.

Richard Rothrock said...

A couple thoughts on the finale (I watched it live in 1983). I was an avid MASH watcher from its debut up until Radar's departure. I finished out that season then did not watch so much until the last season and the finale.

For me, the finale is an hour too long. I still feel many of the storylines were extraneous (including Hawkeye's breakdown).

However, once peace is declared and the MASH unit parties and starts closing up shop and going their separate ways, it is one of the most moving episodes in the history of television.

Everyone's farewells are perfect and dramatically appropriate. And the final shot of the camp and GOODBYE is the perfect closer. There is something in Hawkeye's expression as he smiles and leans back in the chopper that says he is ready to close the door on this chapter and move on to the rest of his life.

And, yes, I do believe the MASH finale and its ratings are what made finales required for hit shows from then on. Before, shows just ended.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

Finales weren't really the norm prior to "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", mainly because networks felt that having a proper send-off episode would somehow hurt a series' longevity in syndication and reruns (the series finishes with a resolution, therefore, why would anybody want/need to watch it again is what they figured).

I've heard rumors that despite HOGAN'S HEROES getting caught up in the Rural Purge, they were in the process of producing one more season that was supposed to lead up to a finale with Hogan and the other prisoners being liberated from Stalag 13, but I haven't found any official sources that back those rumors up.

Stephen Robinson said...

@JosephScarborough -- The interesting to, for me, about the "Copper Era" is that although it told us how awful Korea was, it didn't seem to show us that as effectively as it did during the "Gold Era."

I recently watched "The Joker's Wild" on Netflix, which I hadn't seen in 25 years. The episode feels like it could have been set at a stateside hospital. BJ and Hawkeye behaved like cut-ups at summer camp, as opposed to men trying to keep their sanity while separated from their family and loved ones.

The loss of the internal antagonism from the "Gold Era" is also telling. Frank Burns is accused of being a buffoon but I thought the series did a good job at the time of demonstrating how *terrifying* it would be to have this buffoon in command and the sort of cruelty he was capable of to the powerless. Despite his flaws (mostly arrogance), Charles Winchester was a good man and a good surgeon. I didn't fear for Hawkeye and the others when he was in command.

And, yes, I know the series lasted for 3 times the length of the actual war, and actors tend to want to stretch themselves when playing a character for more than a decade, but it never felt true to me that the Margaret of Season 1 would be the Margaret of Season 11. She's not the sociopath Frank is, but she is still diametrically opposed to everything Hawkeye represents and would still actively attempt to make his life difficult... for the good of the outfit. That, to me, created potential for compelling conflict. After all, we can dismiss Frank's attempts to undermine Lt. Col. Blake as his craving for power, but from a military standpoint, Margaret might have a point -- Blake might have been unfit for command. Potter, of course, diffuses this potential conflict. He's too formidable for her and (especially Burns) to intimidate. And he's ultimately a kind father figure to Hawkeye and BJ.

Oddly enough, the purely comedic M*A*S*H had more dynamics in place for legitimate drama (CONFLICT!) than the more dramatic M*A*SH* where everyone seemed to mostly get along so well it might as well have been FRIENDS.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Stephen Robinson I can pretty much agree with just about everything that you brought up!

Jarrod said...

I've always wondered why the finale was not "folded" into the syndication package as a five-part episode. Because every time we get to season 11 (which by the way is my favorite season), it seems unfairly short, ending with the 'As Time Goes By' eppy-- and every time that airs, and they go back to S1, E1-- I'm like wait a second, M*A*S*H did not end with the time capsule, it ended with them leaving Korea and returning home. And I think it's unfair to the writers and director(s) of the finale to be denied residuals with it not being rerun.

Richard Rothrock said...

Jarrod, while it was not the last episode aired, I believe that "As Time Goes By" was the last episode filmed. The finale was shot in the summer break between Seasons 10 and 11.

Gilbey said...

Unfair that the finale isn't being aired, Jarrod? What about Small Wonder, or Mr. Belvedere? Are those two shows being aired anywhere? That's unfair. Don't worry about the finale.

I discovered M*A*S*H* when it had been off the air about a decade and I was 11 to 12. By the time I was 14, I was the only kid in my school that asked the bums to buy me gin or scotch. That was a great move, because only the heartiest of underage drinkers would attach themselves to a party that was catered on my dime. I still don't know many adults that can tolerate gin or even like scotch.

Mike said...

I really like the finale. It's flawed, for sure. I didn't particularly care for Hawkeye's breakdown. But I love the farewell dinner. The comments from the nurses always get me. One says that she wants to go into pediatrics because she wants to help bring life into the world for a change. Another says she's done with nursing - she simply can't do it anymore.

Dan said...

Watching it right now!!! Could watch it over and over! Was great then, still is today! Only thing was David Ogden Stiers missing.