M*A*S*H fans: do you prefer the early, middle, or late seasons?

Poll in a moment. I’ll be leaving some obvious options just to be a jerk.

Late middle. After Winchester showed up, but before it became the Alan Alda Soapbox hour.

Early. The Frank Burns years.

“You tell 'em, Ferret Face!”

Later seasons, a little more sophisticated and an increase in social justice commentary.

It’s like asking do you prefer ice cream sundaes, enchiladas or club sandwiches in my opinion. I have a slight preference for Hawkeye and BJ over Hawkeye and Trapper, but that’s about it. All the various ensembles worked so well so often.

“That’s not right. It … it’s not even WRONG.”

Perhaps it’s because of my age (I was too young for the show in its early years, so my earliest impressions come from when David Ogden Stiers joined the cast), but I absolutely hate the Henry Blake years. They seem like an entirely different show, and not a good one. I can barely force myself to watch them. In particular, while I love Margaret Houlihan in the post-Frank Burns years, I absolutely HATE her in any scene with Frank Burns. If I am ever captured by Russian operatives who want to force me to reveal the secret to building a wave motion gun, all they’ll have to is strap me down with my eyes propped open by toothpicks while Houlihan and Burns are being repellent.

While I liked Henry, I liked Sherman better.

Trapper John never really seemed to have any kind of a soul inside of him. BJ did, even if it occasionally got excessive.

Frank Burns very quickly crossed the line from being funny to being outright annoying. He was a caricature, nothing more. Winchester was obviously a person of substance, yet his pomposity begged to be pricked. He had his problems, but it was impossible to outright dislike or dismiss him.

I know some disdain Radar and his teddy bear, but the show was better with him than without him.

In the latter seasons, they really seemed to be running out of ideas.

So definitely middle period MAS*H for me.

This sums up my view nicely. I hate preachy shows of any kind. I hated when Cosby did it. I hated “Very Special Episode” of whatever, and I really hated it in MAS*H.

Likewise. I preferred Blake over Potter, though I might actually like (early) BJ over Trapper John. But, when Frank left, and bitchy Hot Lips morphed into sympathetic Margaret, the show lost its original spark, for me.

The cutoff for me is when Klinger takes off the dress & Alan Alda starts wearing it.

Really, I like most season until the later preachy ones. That goes double for the “Hawkeye’s instant PTSD episodes” Where Hawkalda would suddenly develop symptoms, and have the shrink come in and cure him in one session.

Agreed. Winchester was a much better foil than Burns. His flaws provided opportunities for entertaining hijinks, but he was not repulsive. He was capable, intelligent, even compassionate at times, traits that Burns never had. There was more give-and-take in his interactions, because he was much more inclined to fight back directly, in his own way, than to appeal to authority. You could respect him, even while wanting to see him taken down a notch.

I also prefer Potter to Blake, for similar reasons. Potter was a sharper character; where Blake was often inept or oblivious, Potter was well aware of shenanigans and took them in stride or turned a blind eye when it suited him. Blake was generally the butt of jokes; Potter was a participant, even when the joke was on him.

The two of them greatly improved the ensemble, in my opinion.

I love everything from season 4 on. At the time the show was running, I didn’t notice any particular dropoff in quality right through to the finale. Now I probably prefer the middle seasons more than the very late ones, but still think they’re all good. The first three seasons are a little too silly for me, and some of the jokes just aren’t my type of humor.

For me the first three seasons are the funniest. Trapper, Henry and Frank Burns are all comedy gold. Alda was essentially the straight man during that time period. The show limped along for two more years until Larry Linville left the stage. AFter that it was a long,spiraling descent into mediocrity.

While Alda and Farrell are decent dramatic actors, neither of them are (or were) strong comedic actors. Harry Morgan was a versatile professional, but he couldn’t carry the whole load. Excessive amounts of Gary Burghoff, Loretta Swit and Jamie Farr are enough to make you wish that you were struck blind and deaf for the time that they were onscreen.
And David Ogden Stiers tried, but he was a mere shadow of Larry Linville.

The sad part was that guest actors (Pat Morita, Alex Karras, Art LaFleur,Sorrell Booke,etc) were often FUNNIER than the main cast members after Season 5.

I used to love the show.
But it got so overplayed in reruns, that I can’t stand it.
I actually like Gilligan’s Island better, after getting too much MASH crammed down my craw.

This show, pretty much like Cheers and Taxi I really enjoyed from beginning to end even though they were almost completely different shows if you were to compare early episodes and late episodes. The old comedy shows were hilarious, the new more serious shows were pretty good too. But if either one is on, I’ll stop channel surfing and watch it it for a while.


with parts cut in order to squeeze in more commercials. I’ve seen intact episodes enough times to usually notice when something’s missing.

I meant to vote for Key Lime Pie too.

Potter, Winchester, Radar and BJ - in order of preference - were the ones that really made the show for me. Alda, I could take or leave and not only on MAS*H, I’ve never cared much for anything he did. So, the middle years when the above four were featured.

First three seasons for me, all the way.

  • The plots were tighter, funnier, and less preachy.
  • Radar was still a smart, devious clerk instead of the idiot man-child he became later.
  • Winchester was okay, but Frank was hilarious as the foil.
  • Sherman Potter was okay, but Colonel Blake was comedy genius.

First three seasons had some of the best episodes: Captain Tuttle, 5 O’clock Charlie, The incubator, Adam’s Ribs from Chicago, Iron Guts Kelley (who died with his boots on, and not while he was in Hotlips), Private Charles Lamb (“I gave a discharge to a sheep!” “A Spam Lamb!”), and many more. While there were some good and even great episodes later in the series, the first three seasons had a much higher ratio of good to bad.

The first three seasons were much closer to the book and to the movie as well.

I found the last few seasons almost unwatchtable when it became the Hawkeye-sob-story-of-the-week. There were still some good episodes, but you had to wade through a lot of sanctimonious, overbearing Alan Alda dreck to get there.