Goodbye, farewell and amen.
“M*A*S*H” is one of the best rated and most loved television programs in American history.
The show, which premiered Sept. 17, 1972, was adapted from the 1970 film of the same name based on the 1968 novel.
These works were about the 4077 Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in the Korean War, but they also served as an allegory for the ongoing Vietnam War.
The show combined humor with drama and its finale remains the highest rated single television broadcast in U.S. history.
Here’s a list of some of the best moments from the show:
The Army-Navy game
In episode 20 of the first season the camp starts their day excited for the Army-Navy football game.
When the game starts the unit comes under attack causing several injuries. Then a bomb falls into the compound but doesn’t detonate.
The rest of the episode follows Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McClean Stevenson) contacting various branches of the military in an attempt to find out who dropped the bomb However, most of the brass is more interested in watching the game.
Eventually Blake finds out that the CIA dropped the bomb.
Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and Trapper John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers) are sent to diffuse the bomb, but two accidentally set it off, but thankfully it only fires hundreds of propaganda leaflets into the air.
Considered to be one of the best and most shocking episodes of television in history, “Abyssinia, Henry” changed “M*A*SH” forever.
The episode starts in the operating room and the plot is set in motion when Radar (Gary Burghoff) enters and tells Lt. Col. Blake that he has received an honorable discharge.
The rest of the episode follows Blake as he prepares to leave and return home to his family. There is a going away party and the next morning Blake leaves.
A wounded solider arrives on the helicopter that take Blake away and life in the camp seems to return to normal as the team begins to operate on him.
In the midst of the operation, Radar comes in sans surgical mask and informs them that Henry Blake’s plane had been shot down in the Sea of Japan and that there were no survivors, the camera pans showing everyone’s shocked expressions.
It was the first time a major character had been written out of a show in a tragic way.
It was one of the most shocking moments in television history for the audience and even the cast. None of the actors were told of the news before the final scene.
When B.J. punches Hawkeye
One of the main themes of the show is the homesickness the characters feel while they’re away at war.
A perfect example of this comes in the sixth episode of the eighth season, “Period of Adjustment.”
The episode goes in motion when B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) receives a letter from his wife peg who is at home with their child Erin.
The letter makes Hunnicut realize he is missing his daughter’s life and it makes him commit to drinking his way out of the army.
In a drunken rage he destroys the camp’s still and when Hawkeye tries to stop him, B.J. punches Hawkeye in the eye and runs off.
The two eventually repair their relationship, but the episode goes a long way in showing how being separated from family can affect someone
“War isn’t Hell”
One of the most memorable exchanges of the show is when the overused phrase “War is Hell” comes up.
Hawkeye and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) get into a discussion about the difference between the two.
Hawkeye tells the priest that war isn’t Hell, that war is actually worse. Mulcahy asks him how he could think that.
They both agree that there are only sinners in Hell and that there are no innocent bystanders, but Hawkeye goes on to tell him that in war “except for some of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.”
The fourth season of “M*A*S*H” is considered to be the best the series produced, the finale is a big part of that.
The episode focuses on a series of interviews conducted by war correspondent Clete Roberts about staff members’ experiences in the war.
The episode gives a view into the depths that each character possesses. On the surface they’re their usual selves, but as the episode progresses different layers of each character begin to appear.
The entire episode was shot in black and white, they removed the network imposed laugh track and it has a legitimate documentary feel to it.
Most memorably, Roberts asks Col. Potter (Harry Morgan) if anything of value will come from the war, he replies “not a damn thing.”
The episode closes with Hawkeye speechless when asked how to describe war. All he can muster is “it’s crazy.”