Monday, March 27, 2006
A user’s guide to “M*A*S*H”
The sound of helicopters. The Hollywood Hills standing in for Korea. The sparse acoustic strumming that segue ways into the famous mournful theme. Television viewers of all ages know these elements as the sure signs that they are in the throes of yet another “M*A*S*H” rerun.
If you have a TV, you’ve seen an episode of “M*A*S*H” and bore witnesses to the antics of the 4077th. If you are of a certain age, say mid-to-late-30’s, you’ve most likely seen them all. And if you lived in the Milwaukee area in the 80’s, Channel 12 (what up, Jerry Taff!) made damn sure that you saw them all at least 37 times by re-running the show every night for a good couple of decades. For all I know, they still might be. The point is, “M*A*S*H” has been the kind of syndication for a quarter century, easily besting all contenders to the throne.
But how to navigate the many years of episodes? “M*A*S*H” ran for 11 years, surely there were some dips in quality? Oh yes, there most certainly was. And in my mind, “M*A*S*H” can be neatly divided in this fashion:
Frank Burns / Trapper John / Col. Blake = Good
Charles Emerson Winchester / BJ Honeycut / Col. Potter = Bad
But perhaps you are more forgiving than I, and don’t mind Charles and BJ. In that case, there are a few simple rules a viewer should follow. In order to have an enjoyable “M*A*S*H” rerun experience, simply turn off your TV as soon as possible when you see any of the following (listed in order of importance):
1.) Nurse Kelly in a speaking role.
2.) Klinger's wife Soon-Yi.
3.) William Christopher's name during the opening credits.
4.) Alan Alda with lots of grey hair
5.) Alan Alda listed as "creative consultant."
6.) Klinger NOT wearing a dress
7.) Loretta Swit with super platinum blonde, almost-white hair
“M*A*S*H” reruns are currently airing on SpikeTV, I think at 9PM central time. You’ve been warned!