raven: (mash - last goodbye)
[personal profile] raven
Morning, all. I'm home alone, supposedly reading for an exam on financial regulation - Shim has gone to London - but I'm in a much better mood than this suggests. The sun is shining in a perfect halfway to autumn way and I spent yesterday with [personal profile] marina and [personal profile] gavagai and another v. nice fangirl whose LJ/DW name I missed. We wandered by the South Bank, we talked about sparkly vampires and Charles/Erik. It was a good day.

In other news, it has come to my attention that not everyone in the world has seen M*A*S*H. I mean, I knew it was a small fandom - okay, I admit that at one point it was a small fandom consisting entirely of me and my friends - but I did rather think that everyone had dabbled, or at least seen a couple of episdoes, or at least understood the significance of a tongue depressor.

Apparently this isn't the case.

So. Well. I dithered a bit about making this post, because there are eleven seasons of M*A*S*H, almost an entire rotation of the main cast, a change in tone, etc., etc. The problem is, because the main cast changes so dramatically throughout - only two of the ones we start with, Hawkeye and Margaret, make it all the way to the end, and while all the others are there for a few seasons each, they do appear and disappear - it's hard to talk about it as a whole. And talking about it all at once might spoil people who don't want to be spoiled. So I thought I'd tell y'all about the first three seasons of the show, see if that makes you watch it, and if you want more you can tell me so.

Okay, so. The show is a sitcom set at a field hospital a few miles from the front lines of the Korean War. The characters are the doctors, nurses and enlisted personnel who've been drafted to work there, mostly very much against their will. Every day or week or few hours helicopters come in, bringing wounded soldiers from the front, and the unit's job is to return them to the front, if they can, or send them on to Seoul and onwards to the States, if they can't. It's usually referred to as "meatball surgery". Our heroes are the MASH 4077th - the asterisks in the title are something of a mystery.

There are six main characters. Hawkeye was born in Maine, named after the character in The Last of the Mohicans; Trapper's from somewhere else in New England, married with two daughters. They're both very young, mid-twenties, and they're both very, very good surgeons, which is often their only joint redeeming feature - they're also constantly chasing nurses, doing awful things to Frank Burns and living off gin they make themselves in a still they have in their tent. Frank shares their tent. He's a true-blue patriot and something of a worm. He's having a torridly nauseating affair with Margaret, who is much smarter than he is. She's chief nurse, and someone somewhere ought to be writing their thesis on her particular brand of feminism.

Henry Blake is the unit's hapless commander, and he's a good doctor and an awful administrator, and tends to fall apart when asked to make a decision. He drinks a lot, plays golf, and has rings run round him by everyone, but especially Radar O'Reilly, his clerk, who sleeps with a teddy bear and worries about ever meeting girls. (And mails a jeep home piece by piece.) Radar may, or may not be, clairvoyant. It's delightfully ambiguous.

Also, not as regulars but around quite a lot, there's Klinger, who - well, you'll get it when you see him - and Father Mulcahy, the unit's gentle and much put-upon resident chaplain.

And that's it. It's a warm, totally hilarious show in a lot of ways, and very upsetting in a lot of others, often in the same minute. And it is political. It gets more so later, as it moves from being a comedy per se to something between a comedy and a drama, but it was first made in 1972: though it's set in Korea, it's about Vietnam. It's about war as meaningless, and patriotism as empty, for the most part, and it has a strong pacifist and occasionally totally absurdist streak. It can be totally anvillicious one moment and then make you cry. I love it.

(Relatedly. You may watch episodes of this and think, hey, epistolary format, that's been done in Sports Night, hey, real-time, that was done in Frasier, hey, it's about their dreams, they did that on Buffy, hey, a documentary-style episode, they did that on The X-Files, hey, a whole episode where a hospital try to make it so no one dies on Christmas Day, that was done on Scrubs.

....yeah. M*A*S*H is not derivative.)

(And it's the fandom of my heart, it's the show that made me the best friends of my life, but y'all knew that.)

You don't need to watch any of these in order, but I'd watch the last one listed last.

1x12 - Dear Dad
Hawkeye writes a letter to his dad. Stuff happens. This is a very typical early episode.

1x17 - Sometimes You Hear The Bullet
Hawkeye's best childhood friend comes to visit. It doesn't end well, as you might expect. Henry's famous speech in this ("Rule one...") breaks my heart.

2x20 - As You Were
The 4077th are having a lull; Frank's having a hernia. There are gorilla costumes.

3x08 - Life With Father
There's a nun! There's a bris! There's a pony! This episode makes me happy when skies are grey. And the last thirty seconds of it... well, people don't believe me when I try to tell them about it. It actually happens, okay. Just. yeah.

3x11 - A Full Rich Day
Another one in epistolary format, partly based on a true story. The 4077th manage to lose a dead guy.

3x24 - Abyssinia, Henry
Henry finally gets his discharge home. This is probably the best twenty-five minutes of anything you'll see today.

Right. Weeerk.

on 2011-10-16 12:44 pm (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (ArthurElaineLetter)
Posted by [personal profile] sir_guinglain
I should watch some of this - I was too young to get it when it was broadcast first time round, though I do remember the outcry on Points of View every time BBC2 broadcast the US version with a laughter track by mistake.

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on 2011-10-16 03:02 pm (UTC)
philomytha: girl in woods with a shaft of sunlight falling on her (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] philomytha
Ooh! Many thanks! I admit, after you mentioned it I had a look at LoveFilm and saw eleven seasons and went 'hmm, where to start?' so having a taster set is a very nice idea. I've grabbed a few and will probably be back for the others later.

on 2011-10-16 03:38 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: dear teevee: I want to crawl inside you (a dude crawls inside a tv) (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] thingswithwings
oh hey, thanks for posting some recs, and for the uploads! I've been rewatching a little MASH since your last post - like I said on twitter, I haven't seen it in probably over fifteen years, barring rewatching bits of the finale for the Yuletide vid - and I've really been surprised by how well it holds up. I love that inter-genre thing that it does, halfway comedy halfway drama, and how effective and cheerfully dark that combination is. (I just watched 401, and the way it clearly spells out "Hawkeye is teaching BJ how to laugh and get drunk so you won't lose all hope and want to die" is really amazing).

I do admit that I tend to gravitate towards the later seasons (hence my watching season four), and it's not just because I really like BJ (and Potter, for that matter) - it's also because I poked at wikipedia and such and watched some of the S1/2 episodes you recced in your last post and remembered that it pushes more consistently at the boundaries of comedy later on. That said, some of the early episodes are still quite devastating, and Alan Alda crying will inevitably make me cry.

Anyway! I didn't remember any of that about dream episodes and real time episodes and so forth, so really look forward to (re?)watching the ones you've listed here.

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on 2011-10-16 07:47 pm (UTC)
gavagai: Death from Sandman - a woman with short dark hair and a kind smile, resting her chin on her hand. (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] gavagai
HI IONA HIIIII http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqUfPhMxmAg

I didn't post this on your facebook because you have serious important colleagues on facebook. This is because I am a considerate person and basically a saint.

I will watch M*A*S*H some time, I know it is a Thing I have been missing out on in my life. A bit like how you are missing out on me sitting behind you on the sofa, cackling inanely and changing your profile picture to one of Kant.

oh god it's all going a bit wrong again.

on 2011-10-16 09:59 pm (UTC)
livrelibre: DW barcode (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] livrelibre
Wow, I have not seen this in years. *dls to roll around in nostalgia* Thanks!

on 2011-10-16 11:57 pm (UTC)
tassosss: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] tassosss
Hi - driveby comment from the network to say how much I love this show! I grew up watching it. I have seen every episode enough to hold conversations entirely in quotes with my sisters.

It always shocks me too when people tell me they've never seen it.

on 2011-10-17 02:20 am (UTC)
eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] eruthros
In other news, it has come to my attention that not everyone in the world has seen M*A*S*H. I mean, I knew it was a small fandom - okay, I admit that at one point it was a small fandom consisting entirely of me and my friends - but I did rather think that everyone had dabbled, or at least seen a couple of episdoes, or at least understood the significance of a tongue depressor.

Ha, this is my complete lack of pop culture references from my childhood popping up again - we didn't own a tv and my parents didn't watch tv or anything. But I will check it out!

on 2011-10-17 09:52 pm (UTC)
fairestcat: Dreadful the cat (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] fairestcat
I used to watch MASH in reruns after school in middle school and high school. One of the local stations ran two episodes back to back every weeknight in the late afternoon, and I just fell in love with it. And because of the nature of syndication and haphazard watching, I ended up watching it all out of order with the seasons mixed together. I've been meaning for years to actually sit down and watch it in order, but just never gotten around to it.

on 2011-10-22 08:45 am (UTC)
surexit: A man performing a gleeful backflip, his hat flying off his head. (glee!)
Posted by [personal profile] surexit
Heya! I'm subscribing because I love MASH, I love people who can talk like this about things they love, and I sort of miss Cambridge so it's nice to remember that real people still live there and it didn't disappear into the ether when I graduated.

on 2011-10-16 01:22 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] macadamanaity.livejournal.com
::HEART::

Also, meone somewhere ought to be writing their thesis on her particular brand of feminism.

I wrote a paper about this (and Hawkeye's and Alan Alda's brand of feminism) in college called, Hotlips and the E.R.A!

on 2011-10-16 02:06 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
That makes me SO HAPPY. Seriously.

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on 2011-10-16 01:25 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] bekkypk.livejournal.com
Now I *really* have to dig out my DVDs... and maybe get the ones I didn't collect. The whole reason I got into Scrubs was because it reminded me so much of the bittersweet and mad world of M*A*S*H while being a totally more friendly and less life changing environment. I <3 and reading this post did make me cry in a totally lovely way :')
xx

on 2011-10-16 11:02 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
Awww! Well, I'm glad, and sorry it made you cry.

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on 2011-10-16 01:53 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mirabile-dictu.livejournal.com
Thank you for reminding me what a wonderful show MASH could be!

on 2011-10-16 11:03 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
Isn't it lovely! I always come back to it, somehow.

on 2011-10-16 01:55 pm (UTC)
Posted by [personal profile] stained_glass
I was thinking of getting a season on DVD - you know my Internet limit problems! - and I have seen a few episodes, enough to know the main characters, but only snatched ones here and there. This was a great write-up! XD

on 2011-10-16 02:53 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
If you want to come round sometime and be shown lots of M*A*S*H, mi casa es tu casa. :)

on 2011-10-16 02:24 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] runriggers.livejournal.com
The asterisks in the name are because M*A*S*H means Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. The unit could pack upand 'bug out' as they would say, at a moments notice

on 2011-10-16 02:36 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
I do know that, yes. My point is why not "MASH" or "M.A.S.H." - why asterisks to abbreviate?

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on 2011-10-16 02:47 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] dormouse-in-tea.livejournal.com
True fact: I didn't know the Korean war had HAPPENED until I started watching M*A*S*H* as a young teenager. Oh, schools.

SO. QUESTION. I'm finally breaking, and ordering a complete set. (I used to just watch the syndication, but I'm currently not able to, and I miss it)

But there are two complete sets. One has all eleven seasons, and is packaged sensibly in a little book with one CD per sleeve page. The other had all eleven seasons, the movie (IDEK, is the movie good or is the movie horrid?) and a bunch of specials. But it's packaged in a more compact format, with three discs per sleeve page, overlapping, and people have reported getting brand new discs with abrasion issues from the overlap.

So, do you have either of these? Can you recommend one over the other? Halp.

on 2011-10-16 02:52 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
The movie is.... different. Much more like the book, very different humour. Not bad by any means, but not something I would perhaps instantly recommend to someone who loves the show, you know?

Are you Region 1 or 2, remind me? I am on Region 2 - I have the just-the-show boxset (it was on sale and I'm weak), packaged with two seasons in each plastic case, and it's great, with no sleeve pages. Possibly there is no direct analogue across the pond?

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on 2011-10-16 03:02 pm (UTC)
ext_1310: (and i'm all out of bubblegum)
Posted by [identity profile] musesfool.livejournal.com
oh MASH! When it was still running in it's later years, but also in reruns twice a night, we used to watch it three times on Mondays - at 7:30, 9, and then at 11. It was my mother's favorite show and I have a lot of love for it. It amazes me that people aren't familiar with it, and then I remember I'm old. Sigh.

Also, I would edit out the apostrophe autocorrect feels belongs in the its up there, but without arrow keys , I can't easily get back there.

on 2011-10-16 11:05 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
My parents watched it in the eighties, and were so delighted when it returned on reruns that I had to watch it. It makes me so uncomplicatedly happy.

on 2011-10-16 03:08 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] the-acrobat.livejournal.com
How do you meet so many fannish people IRL? How do you even do it?

<3 M*A*S*H. <3 <3 <3 It is going to be very hard to spend the afternoon reading (for school) rather than, say, watching all of these back-to-back. Not downloading... not downloading... Okay, maybe downloading some of them.

on 2011-10-16 11:07 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
I live close to one of the world's major metropolises and I spend too much time on the internet. :P

<3! It gives me so much joy. So much joy.

on 2011-10-16 04:00 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] littlered2.livejournal.com
Thanks for these! I've never seen M*A*S*H.

Best of luck with the exam.

on 2011-10-16 11:07 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
Thanks! I hope you like these; it's a lovely, lovely show. Good luck for your first day!

on 2011-10-16 04:23 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mettanna.livejournal.com
Gosh, it's been so long since i've seen any MASH, I think I may well have to download these and spend the evening reminiscing! I am already taking deep breaths in preparation for "Abyssinia, Henry".

on 2011-10-16 11:08 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
I forgot you watched it too! I recommend just such an evening; I've just had one and it's been delightful.

on 2011-10-16 04:26 pm (UTC)
ext_216565: (yahoo sprite)
Posted by [identity profile] frustratedpilot.livejournal.com
One thing about the TV series that was particularly laudable was how they treated the Korean civilians in the show. Yes, there were some that were there for comic relief, but a lot of the time it was very respectful and got greatly into the realities of life in a war zone.

Examples:

* The camp temporarily adopts a kid they think is a war orphan, and Trapper risks his life rescuing the kid from the minefield.

* Another orphan is left in camp and once it's learned that she is half-American, they do everything they can to find a home for her.

* When it turns out that two battle-wounded patients, one soldier from the Southern Army and one soldier captured from the Northern Army, are brothers, the doctors arrange for them to have time together to talk to each other.

* Rosie is a budding entrepreneur who runs a tavern near the camp. When the camp has a stand-down (or people play hooky from work) they hang out at her place. One day the doctors declared it a Micronation and tried to secede from the war. Eventually an actual Officer's Club was established in the camp, but Rosie's place remained in business too.

* Klinger eventually met and married a Korean woman.

* Ho John (sp?) and The Moose were Korean civilians who worked as servants in the camp.

on 2011-10-16 11:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
Oh, yes to all of this! Yes. And I've just finished watching one with Mr Kwang, and Hawkeye and Trapper trying to get him out to see his wife! Hawkeye ends up delivering his wife's baby, who ends up being named Radar Trapper John Benjamin Franklin Henry Kwang, to my total delight.

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on 2011-10-16 04:39 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] ghostrunner7.livejournal.com
I think I once saw about five minutes of an episode of MASH, but I'll give it another try. Thanks!

on 2011-10-16 11:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
You're welcome! It's a lovely show.

on 2011-10-16 08:00 pm (UTC)
ext_2207: (M*A*S*H - Hawkeye & BJ)
Posted by [identity profile] abyssinia4077.livejournal.com
Oh, M*A*S*H, the show that got me into online fandom.

My sophomore year of college the dvds started coming out and I decided to start showing the episodes in our dorm lounge on Sunday nights. At first people were like "Seriously? Isn't that some old show our parents used to watch that was always re-running when we were kids?" (I don't think I've met an American who has never seen M*A*S*H, because it is that strong in our pop culture (the finale is still the most watched hour of tv), though I'm sure they exist). But I started getting people to join me and by senior year if I was late getting to the lounge I'd have 10 people banging on my door wondering where their M*A*S*H fix was. And then Mike Farell gave a talk at a neighboring university and a few of us went and He Was So Awesome. Genuinely smart and friendly and chatting with us before his talk and just...probably still my favorite ever celebrity encounter.

And now you make me want to pull out my dvds...

(Although I always thought of Hawkeye and Trapper (and BJ and Frank, etc) as more around 30 years old - given they probably weren't out of med school until they were at least 26 or 27 and they all had practiced back home before they were there. Not that it really matters).

on 2011-10-16 08:27 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
That's so great! I love that, people all getting into M*A*S*H as a thing. :) Despite my evangelism, I've never actually got anyone into it who wasn't into it already. Also, yay, Mike Farrell was nice! It's so great when people turn out to like you want them to be. :P

(See, now I would have agreed with you, if it weren't for the fact that I'm almost sure Trapper at some point says he was born in 1925. It might be the episode where they invent Captain Tuttle and they're deciding his year of birth...)

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on 2011-10-16 09:24 pm (UTC)
settiai: (Hawkeye -- bailunrui)
Posted by [personal profile] settiai
Oh, M*A*S*H. ♥ I've seen every episode of every season more times than I can count, first as reruns on TV and then uncut once the entire series was released on DVD.

(I'm, uh, actually watching some episodes now. It's my go-to show when I want some noise in the background.)

on 2011-10-16 11:10 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
It's my comfort show, too! It makes me very happy.

on 2011-10-18 05:44 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] furies.livejournal.com
this show. oh, this show. it holds a very special place in my heart, though i'll be honest, i think the show makes a very interesting and distinct shift with season 4, and i like potter and bj and charles way more than i ever liked frank and trapper. (i have the unpopular opinion of disliking trapper john.)

but henry! god, what they did to him was SO WRONG. as much as i love potter, that was just wrong. and to not tell the cast! i mean, i want to cry just thinking about it.

oh, hawkeye. oh, potter. i just. yeah, my heart. <3

on 2011-10-19 04:33 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
Mine too! I love how we disagree on almost all the specifics but still have the same starry-eyed grabby hands about this show.

The thing about Henry - what they did to him was heartbreaking, but part of me does think they couldn't have done it better any other way. Henry didn't get to go home because not everyone did, and I know Tommy Gillis had died in "Sometimes..." but we knew and loved Henry, and it mattered, and oh, my heart.

on 2011-10-19 03:22 am (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] gamesiplay.livejournal.com
hey, epistolary format, that's been done in Sports Night

One of the things I love about Aaron Sorkin is that he is totally, by his own admission, a huge M*A*S*H fanboy, and you can see that in both SN and TWW--not only as a general inspiration (the dramedy as genre) but also in really specific little homages like that.

"Sometimes You Hear the Bullet"--probably my favorite of the S1-3 episodes. So, so lovely.

(And it's the fandom of my heart, it's the show that made me the best friends of my life, but y'all knew that.)

on 2011-10-19 04:32 pm (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] loneraven.livejournal.com
"Sometimes You Hear The Bullet' - mine too, with "Dr Pierce and Mr Hyde" for a close second. Oh, show. (Okay, I'm gonna be mean: what's your favourite post s3 episode?)

Also! No one can convince me ever that "The Stackhouse Filibuster" isn't basically an episode of M*A*S*H with some cosmetic changes.

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