Wednesday, November 08, 2017

EP45: Why I left MASH and Other Vital TV Questions


Ken answers listeners’ questions about television including why he left MASH.  Also, Ken’s thoughts on the World Series and how being a sports fan should not ruin your life. 


Listen to the Hollywood & Levine podcast!

10 comments :

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Always loved Conway breaking up Korman on the Burnett show, including in the famous dentist sketch.

I understand, though, that Lorne Michaels--at least in the early years of SNL--very much opposed such things.

He felt deliberately breaking up disrespected the writing, and cited the Burnett moments as something to avoid.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

As for MASH, I generally avoid reruns from the final three seasons.

There were still some good stories in those years--Charles befriending a wounded classical pianist, Father Mulcahy at the bedside of a dying boxing hero of his, Potter confronting his philandering son-in-law--but generally speaking it was the weakest period of the show.

Stuart Best said...

A follow-up question. You said you left MASH because all the good ideas had been used up and wrung out. But the show continued for four more years. Did you think the writers after you added fresh ideas, or did they continue to bludgeon the same horse? I respect that you probably don't want to say anything negative about other writers, but I wonder how you think it was a mistake to keep going all those extra years.

Andy Rose said...

Out of curiosity, why was the production schedule of M*A*S*H so truncated compared to today's shows, wrapping up principal photography five months before the season ended? Was it just to save money, or did post-production need more lead time then?

gottacook said...

I've been looking at MASH reruns (on MeTV) for the first time in many years, and noticed that season 6 (the first year with Levine/Isaacs as story editors) is when the music at the conclusion of each episode - which until then had varied among different short cues used since season 1 - changed to an unvarying formula: a 9-second-long arrangement of the opening/closing title music, over a freeze frame with some additional superimposed credits (separate from the main closing credit sequence).

I think this was a very unfortunate development, but I've never had enough information to even speculate why this was done. Evidently a place to put those new credits had to be found, thus the introduction of the freeze frame - but the switch to using the same music in that spot for all 130+ remaining episodes of the series (with very few exceptions) is terribly annoying in reruns.

Stuart Best said...

I didn't proof my previous question before hitting POST. I wonder IF (not how) you think it was a mistake to keep MASH going all those extra years. Big change in meaning.

Ted McCarthy said...

Saying "The Los Angeles Dodgers" is sacrilegious. It is just "The Dodgers." My mother, who has a dog named Jackie, her ticket to a Giants vs Dodgers game at the Polo Grounds, and Vin Scully wished her a happy 16th birthday on air, taught me this.

Tom Lawrence said...

Thought you might enjoy this story from a real Hawkeye Pierce. Wonderful read, and a reminder how true-to-life MASH was. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-korea-war-mash-doctors-perspec-0529-jm-embargo-friday-6-a-m--20170526-story.html

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Having second thoughts about my above comments on MASH's final seasons.

Although I still feel that the show's best and most energetic and creative years were before 1979, I acknowledge that the characters--at Alda's instigation, I suppose--continued to develop more depth in the later years.

That's especially true of Margaret and Charles.

Yes, the show became darker in tone during this period at the expense of the comedy. But the increasing shift to drama led to some compelling stories.

The show also became quieter in its last years--little music and almost no laugh track.

This contrast with the early years of the show is another thing that makes MASH unique and intriguing.

MASH should have wrapped before it did, but as others have said, the worst of MASH beats the best of many other shows.

Edward said...

Quasi-dumb question...

You mentioned on one of your podcasts that while on MASH staff, you and David replicated an episode that already aired years earlier (unnecessary surgery). As a writer, I am sure you felt horrible from a creative perspective (and maybe there were WGA/plagiarism issues), but if you are the Exec Producer, is repeating a similar storyline that bad if its 4-5 seasons later and it involves different characters? There are many new viewers to the show that likely missed a few seasons or long-time viewers that missed a few episodes for whatever reason.