M*A*S*H (TV series)

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M*A*S*H is an American television comedy series set during the Korean War of 1950–1953. The ensemble cast members play the surgeons, nurses, and other personnel who serve at a mobile army surgical hospital (or MASH) in South Korea's Gyeonggi Province, near the North Korean border. Some of the hospital's medical staff are career military officers, while others are conscripted civilians. The nearly constant influx of wounded takes a physical and emotional toll on the staff, who work around the clock. Each person copes with the stress in their own way.

The series was developed by Larry Gelbart, Gene Reynolds, and Burt Metcalfe. Their principal source material was Richard Hooker's 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors; the novel's 1970 film adaptation, M*A*S*H; and scores of interviews with people who recalled experiences in the American wars in Korea and/or Vietnam.

M*A*S*H premiered on the US television network CBS on 17 September 1972. It continued for 11 seasons, with a total of 251 episodes. The series finale on 28 February 1983 was one of the most-watched television broadcasts in US history.

Quotes by season

Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7
Season 8
Season 9
Season 10
Season 11

Quotes about M*A*S*H


Press event on the final day of filming


Production of the eleventh and final season of M*A*S*H concluded on 14 January 1983, when the cast and crew filmed "As Time Goes By". This was the second-to-last episode in the series but the last one to be filmed. Several castmembers spoke at the press conference that followed. Some members of the cast and crew were also interviewed individually.

  • I'm always astounded by the number of cameras that point at us when we talk about this show, and by the amount of interest. And I'm astounded by the breadth and depth of the [reach] that television is capable of, evidenced by the telegrams that were read at the beginning of this conference, [from] Secretary Kissinger and President Ford and President Reagan. It moves me to the realization that television is a great medium for bringing people together, because that's probably the [only] time I will ever agree with any of the three of them.
  • We really haven't slept much in eleven years. Larry [Gelbart] used to stay up all night writing us scripts the night before we began shooting; I've done it a number of times. … M*A*S*H has changed my life. It's given me the chance to develop as a writer and a director—and as an actor. … I've learned to work with people in … a creative way that I really never knew before and didn't know was possible. We've all learned that; we've all grown as people and as professionals, as artists. … We're stopping because … we feel that if we went further we would risk squeezing it dry, not being able to give it our best …. [F]rom the beginning, Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbart encouraged the actors each week to comment on the script, and we'd go through it take by take …. [W]e worked all night to get it as good as we could.
    • From Alan Alda's statement at the press conference
  • I don't know [if M*A*S*H has made me a better actor], but I know it's made me a better human being. … I think there's a nobility about … what [the show] attempts to do, and there's a nobility about the people who are playing these parts. And the longer we've been together, the more familiar we are with one another, the deeper we've gone … into ourselves, so that when we're playing scenes with one another, it's … the two characters plus the two people who are wearing the clothes … of those characters.
  • I'm feeling like I have another couple of years to become most fully and most honestly myself with this group of people, because I'm not an actual joiner; I'm essentially a private person. And now … I'm beginning to see the power and the potential in committing yourself to a group, and that it doesn't threaten your individuality, it teaches you about it.
  • [T]he heroes [in M*A*S*H] have not been—for the most part—your career Army people. Only Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) has the career …. The others tend to attain their heroism … through an anti-military point of view. … We've tried to be fair about [our depictions of officers and of the United States Armed Forces]. … [W]hile we were depicting [the Korean War], … many of [our viewers] identified with [the show because of the Vietnam War].
    • Burt Metcalfe, in a one-on-one interview on the set of M*A*S*H on the final day of shooting, 14 January 1983
  • I do get letters from the clergy, and [I've received] some very nice comments … from spiritual leaders saying that M*A*S*H seems to have made a contribution [to changing Americans' attitudes toward war]. And I like to think that's true.

Archive of American Television

  • Gene Reynolds and I—and Burt Metcalfe, who started as associate producer and wound up eventually as executive producer of the series—we talked to countless surgeons, nurses, chopper pilots, patients, orderlies involved either in [the Korean War or the Vietnam War] …. [We] combined big, thick loose-leaf binders filled with their memories, their observations, their experiences of the … wars. And that served us in very good stead; we used an awful lot of stuff. … Gene and I, after the second season, went to Korea, visited what had been the real-life counterpart of the fictional 4077th, and spent a couple of weeks with the people there, and brought back some 22 hours of audiotape—again with those impressions that were invaluable to us.

    They shut down the actual MASH unit in June of 1997. I was invited to go over, my wife was invited to go over, with Larry Linville and David Ogden Stiers, and we watched them case the flag. And it was quite touching to sit on this little parade ground and hear a little Army band—it was not like the movies at all—play the unit's song, and then play "Suicide Is Painless". That was not a show business event. They were not there to celebrate the series, they were there to honor the unit that had served so long and so well; but, they couldn't help acknowledge how proud they were. It's not every Army unit that has a series dedicated to them.


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