There's a lot of moving parts in this one half hour: Hawkeye and Margaret are on night duty attending to patients including one who is going through blood like Dracula on a bender. A newbie soldier, frightened in the freezing cold night, shoots Klinger...barely. (Hawkeye asks a dramatically wailing Klinger, "Could you at least bleed a little?") Klinger, realizing he hasn't been shot badly enough, tries to give himself pneumonia. Frank Burns is tearing Margaret's tent apart looking for hidden love letters from Frank. And Col Potter can't get a good night's sleep because Radar keeps waking him up to tell him the camp's being shelled...again...by their side; Potter keeps getting the shelling stopped but then it starts up again.
Since I started watching M*A*S*H with the 4th season, the more slap stick tone of the first season was a bit jarring for me when the re-runs circled around again to the beginning. And the last couple of seasons swung the pendulum too far the other direction; the show was essentially a half-hour drama with a laugh tossed in once in a while. Still, good and not so good, I remained a fan of the show.
I was there the fateful night of the series finale. I was in college at the time and every dorm room with a TV and every commons area with a television were all watching the same thing. Yeah, it was sappy and maudlin and overstuffed and overlong and...I still enjoyed it. When you're ending something that is beloved and been around for 11 years, that's NOT the time to worry about overindulging in sentimentality. As BJ rode off down the hill on his motorcycle, Hawkeye lifted off in the helicopter from the 4077th for the last time and saw BJ's parting message: "Goodbye" written in stones in the middle of the now-empty compound. If you didn't feel even a twinge of sadness, then I don't won't to know you because you are obviously a heartless bastard with no soul.
I also loved watching retrospectives of the show. My favorite was the one with the cast reunited just sitting around chillin' and reminiscing. I could've used fewer clips...after all, I've seen the damn show a hundred times...and more of just hearing Alan, Loretta, Harry and the rest sharing their stories.
However, there was a special where I did take exception to something that someone said. (I want to say it was Harry Morgan but it could've been William Christopher. Hell, it may have been producer Gene Reynolds.) But someone said that over all those years and episodes, M*A*S*H never repeated a single joke.
Yeah, they did.
OK, it's just ONE example but the thing is, it was a joke they did more than once. Over the course of the series, at least twice one of the regular characters had dysentery. In one sequence, it's Father Mulcahy who tells the unfortunate soul, "This, too, shall pass." In another, it's the good Father who is afflicted and it's Col. Potter who delivers the "This, too, shall pass" line.
I can't be too critical. I recently realized I've repeated a joke. Frequently, I start my blog by saying something like this: "Welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog with (fill in the blank)" and insert some bizarre non-sequitor or another. Here for your perusal are a whole bunch of those weird after-thoughts.