This is basically another post in my series of how I’m feeling old. 25 years ago today, CBS broadcast the last episode of M*A*S*H: “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.” I remember watching this with my family in my mother’s room. We were not alone as this is still one of the highest-ranked television programs of all time. It’s even spawned a great urban legend about how everyone waited until the end of the show to use the toilet thus wreaking havoc with municipal sewage systems across the nation. Granted the show had not been up to par it’s last few seasons, but the finale was a classic sendoff.
M*A*S*H was one of my favorite tv shows growing up, mainly in syndication when it was shown in a two-episode block from 7-8 pm every weeknight. I probably saw every episode at some point. I’ve been watching the show on DVD lately (all of the first, third, and fourth seasons) and I’m amazed how well it holds up over time. It’s a good mix of satire and slapstick and I really like that the DVD lets me shut off the laugh track. I’m also impressed by things like camera angles and story structure that I didn’t really notice as a kid. The cast changes were also a benefit to the show. In fact, I think the show “jumped the shark” so to speak after Radar’s departure partly because it was the only time they didn’t replace a departing member of the cast with a new character.
A lot of jokes are made about how M*A*S*H lasted far longer than the Korean War. But if you consider one episode for each day of the war, 251 episodes is a lot less than three years. In fact if you watch all the episodes back to back, it would take just about five days. Of course, most episodes take place over several days, but even then each episode represents less than a week of the actual war.
The Korean War actually still hasn’t ended, which is kind of sad. I’d rather have a long tv series and a short war.