Comparing MASH seasons and characters

Would you agree that Hot Lips Houlihan was miscast in the tv show? Sally Kellerman oozed sexuality. It was always a trademark of her characters.

Loretta Swit seemed too reserved. I never believed she’d carry on with Frank Burns. She just didn’t carry herself like someone that would get the nickname Hot Lips. The make out scenes with Frank seemed awkward and forced.

Swit did a good job and eventually made the role her own. The Hot Lips references quickly disappeared. All the characters called her Margaret. I’ve wondered how things would have worked if they would have cast a real sex pot in the role. Teresa Ganzel or Loni Anderson maybe.

Ganzel was 15.

The early seasons were a bit too silly, the later seasons were a bit too dramatic. I prefer the AF era to the BC era. But it peaked in the middle, when everyone was still playful, but the plots were more involving.

*AF = After Frank; BC = Before Charles

That may be where I am, too.

I don’t recall the names of the sexy actresses working in 1972. But, there were quite a few. I remember that Ganzel was popular in the 1970’s. Apparently, that was the late 1970’s, and she was a few years too young for MASH.

Yeah, as the show progressed and Alda got more control, it got way too preachy. I’ve been rewatching the complete series. I’m up to season 7. There are times I really wish Pierce would just shut up. Winchester is a much better foil for Pierce than Burns. Houlihan always reminds me of Miss Piggy. Not her looks, but her attitude. Potter was a much better CO than Blake. Hunnicut versus McIntire? shrug. Occasionally B.J. would go on a prank spree and he was good at those. Trapper, on the other hand, would occasionally grab Margaret and lay a big smooch on her that would leave her limp. I preferred movie Radar over TV Radar completely. Cross-dressing Klinger was good in small doses, but they rode that one-trick pony way too long.

The occasional guitar strumming doctor (Capt Spaulding) was played by Loudon Wainwright III. I’ve got a couple of his albums; they’re not that bad if you’re in the mood for a singer/songwriters on acoustic guitar.

Yeah, it’s a helluva stretch going 11 seasons about a war (or police action) that lasted 3 years. But that’s the standard TV time warp. How long did the gang from Happy Days or That 70s Show spend in high school? Oh, and one thing that always bugs me in films and TV about the military is that the haircuts are usually incredibly wrong. In the latter seasons of Black Sheep Squadron, Conrad’s son played one of the pilots and his hair was halfway covering his ears. Acceptable in 1970s civilian world but NOT in the Marines in 1944.

Of course he was a caricature, but he wasn’t simply a caricature. He was an actual character with his own story arcs. Burns and Blake (and to a lesser extent early Margaret) weren’t characters at all; they were just collections of jokes for Pierce to play off of. This worked fine for a while, but moving to more complete characters in Winchester and Potter was a really good move and kept the show interesting for a little while longer.

The show flipped its basic message, from “look how cold and dehumanizing war is,” to “look how we built a warm family during war.”

Loudon “Dead Skunk” Wainwright III? I thought he was only ever in two episodes, although Wiki tells me it was three.

I prefered Winchester over Burns mostly, but after watching the reruns, Burns is a lot funnier than I realized. He always felt like he had to justify his manhood because he really knew he was a cowardly weasel, so he gloated in any situation where he came out on top, no matter how despicable he appeared. He gladly capitulated (and copulated) with Margaret’s patriotism because it made him look like a stud.

I think my favorite Frank moment is when Hawkeye got worried when he heard his dad was in surgery, so he took out his frustrations on everybody around him. He woke up Frank and asked him where he was from, because he was wanting to dull his worry with nostalgia. Frank told him Fort Wayne Indiana and snarled at him to go back to bed. Hawkeye instead reminisced about Crabapple Cove Maine, population 2300 or some small amount, and Frank propped back up and said “Fort Wayne’s bigger than that” in the same tone of voice as “Nanny nanny boo boo!”

I had a theory about BJ that he was secretly jealous of Trapper, much like a sibling rivalry, even though the two never met. I felt vindicated when he tearfully confessed that to Hawkeye. Before that episode, I always looked for signs that BJ wanted to be better than Trapper. He wanted to be the carefree lothario, but held his marriage vows as sacred, so he made up for it by being the sneaky instigator. He wanted somebody to say “Gosh, you’re much better than Trapper ever was,” but it never happened because everybody had already moved on without him, except for that one episode where they reminisced about his practical jokes. BJ felt determined to upstage him because of sheer jealousy.

I could not handle the Burns character. He was too much of a boob to be Major. In the film, Burns was an incompetent doctor but had force of will and that gave him a sense of menace. He could at least give the appearance of competence. TV Burns announces his boobery to every new character withing 5 seconds.

You want a real shock, watch the movie Better Off Dead. Stiers plays the father in that and it’s bizarre.

Dr. Sydney Freedman not Freeman.

The way I’ve always thought of it is that, as the show went on, everybody stopped speaking dialogue and started speaking litt’ra’chure. The sheer sanctimoniousness got increasingly hard to bear.

I thought all three of those replacements were improvements (especially trading Ferretface for Charles).

That’s nothing - Kim Darby (the girl in the original True Grit) played the mother…

Later seasons, no question. I hated Alda’s preachiness too, but by then I’d been watching every week since the beginning so I wouldn’t fully pay attention.

Somebody upthread said that the earlier cast, while being truer to the movie, were merely caricatures. I agree, Even after all these years I find that Hawkeye and Trapper incredibly annoying, especially with the laugh track. Frank Burns is a slapstick foil. You also wonder why Hot Lips is having an affair with him (well, I did, but granted I was a kid when MASH first started airing so I didn’t quite understand). I didn’t find Col. Blake particularly funny.

MASH started being interesting to watch when the producers dropped the slapstick quality and let the characters develop into actual people. Yeah, Klinger was comic relief, but he too had his own arc. even if it wasn’t as developed as the others’.

I loved Sidney Freeman and Col, Flagg. I remember being all can’t-miss-this if either of them were on.

I read the actor who played Frank Burns was really, truly hated off the set just as much. That’s why we never had an episode where Frank was redeemed or did anything good.

In the early seasons it seems comedy was the focus. But at the end they were scraping by looking for something to base an episode around. They really should have just pulled the plug around season 6.

I hadn’t heard they hated Larry Linville. So they should have stopped the show when they finally got rid of Linville, the actor they despised? :confused: I guess hindsight is 20/20.

Did a little internet googling on this.

The Wikipedia articles for both Linville and the show don’t mention anything about that. It says that Linville had a five-year contract and declined to continue the role when they offered to renew it for two more years.

Harry Morgan (Potter) apparently said something to the effect that everyone loved Linville, but absolutely despised Burns. I’m sure playing an irredeemable character took its toll after a while, but by all accounts he was one of the few actors who didn’t cause problems on the set.

Apparently Gary Burghoff (Radar) was extraordinarily difficult and disliked.

I think it was a great comedy but a mediocre drama which is why earlier seasons are generally better.