M*A*S*H

โ€˜M*A*S*Hโ€™ Nearly Got โ„‚๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•”๐•–๐•๐•–๐•• Despite Being Trailblazer for โ€˜Dramedyโ€™ Genre

The television show โ€œM*A*S*Hโ€ was beloved by fans during its many years on the air. It was so beloved, in fact, that its series finale in 1983 had more than 100 million viewers.

The famous showย was a combination of drama and comedy โ€“ย or a โ€œdramedyโ€ โ€“ as the genre has come to be called. And, it blended both possibly better than any other show ever had.

However, โ€œM*A*S*Hโ€ almost didnโ€™t get to have that famous finale because it was almost โ„‚๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•”๐•–๐•๐•–๐•• a few years before. That definitely wouldnโ€™t have been painless for the showโ€™s production team, cast, and fans of the show.

So, what almost got the show โ„‚๐•’๐•Ÿ๐•”๐•–๐•๐•–๐•• ? According toย The Hollywood Reporter, the show was being bested in the ratings by the โ€œWonderful World of Disneyโ€ on ABC.

Maybe, more importantly, the executives at CBS just didnโ€™t understand what the showโ€™s writers, producers, and cast were trying to do with โ€œM*A*S*H.โ€

One Episode of Show Caused Concern for TV Executives

One cause for concern was that the show often portrayed the very serious and ๐•ฅ๐•ฃ๐•’๐•˜๐•š๐•” ๐•ก๐•’๐•ฃ๐•ฅ๐•ค ๐• ๐•— ๐•ฅ๐•™๐•– ๐•‚๐• ๐•ฃ๐•–๐•’๐•Ÿ ๐•Ž๐•’๐•ฃ. This reportedly really came to light after one first-season episode. This episode of โ€œMAS*Hโ€ was titled โ€œSometimes You Hear the ๐”น๐•ฆ๐•๐•๐•–๐•ฅ.โ€

In this episode, a friend of Hawkeyeโ€™s comes to visit the 4077th. This friend is a war correspondent. So, of course, he goes to the front. He gets injured and is brought to Hawkeye for care. Sadly, Hawkeyeโ€™s friend dies. This is obviously the plot of a drama, not a comedy.

โ€œThey made you care about this guy so that not just Hawkeye lost him, but the audience did, too,โ€ Dan Wilcox said. โ€œThat may have been the first patient we ๐•๐• ๐•ค๐•ฅ. Alan (Alda) told me itโ€™s his favorite episode and itโ€™s mine, too.โ€ Wilcox was a producer and writer onย โ€œMAS*H.โ€

Burt Metcalfe, who was a writer, director, and executive producer, on the show also recounted the response to this episode of โ€œM*A*S*H.โ€

โ€œAt the end of that season, this jerky CBS executive comes into our offices and says, โ€˜Let me tell you guys how you ruined โ€˜M*A*S*H,โ€™ and cites that episode,โ€ Metcalfe recalled. โ€œItโ€™s just so far from the truth.โ€

Wife of CBS Executive Praised โ€˜M*A*S*Hโ€™ and Helped Keep Show on Air

One factor that helped keep the show on the air was the wife of a top-level executive at CBS. She helped save the show after its first season.

โ€œBabe Paley (the then-wife of CBS founder William S. Paley) supposedly saved us by telling her husband that โ€˜M*A*S*Hโ€™ could be the crown jewel for the network,โ€ actor Jamie Farr said. Farr played Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger on the show.

It took a couple of years, but Farr then saw a difference in howย โ€œM*A*S*Hโ€ย was viewed.

โ€œBy the end of the third season, (show creator) Larry (Gelbart) came up to me and said, โ€˜You know what, I think weโ€™re the next โ€˜I Love Lucy,’โ€ Farr also said.

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