Tuesday, April 24, 2012

M*A*S*H Men

Okay, I had this goofy idea months ago and I kept telling myself it was too silly to bother to post about. And yet, here we are...

I got to thinking that if Hollywood ever wanted to remake M*A*S*H--and I'm not for one second saying they should--that you could cast almost all of the show's characters with the actors from Mad Men, another one of my favorite shows.

I first got this notion when I mentally cast one of 4077th with a Mad Men regular, and then as my mind wandered I realized there was (IMO) an astonishing number of good fits to be found all one this one show. Maybe it's Mad Men's just-out-of-the-1950's setting, or its diversity of age, sex, and types in its cast (still fairly unusual for TV), but as I started forming this crazy notion I realized that if 20th Century Fox hired Matt Weiner to redo M*A*S*H, he wouldn't have to look very far to cast it:
Hawkeye Pierce played by Jon Hamm. As we all know, Hamm is Leading Man handsome and can handle drama, but as his appearances on SNL and 30 Rock have shown, he can handle comedy too. And as much as I enjoy him as Don Draper, I'd love to see him tackle someone a little more heroic in Benjamin Franklin Pierce. We know he'd have the martini gulping down pat!

Col. Henry Blake played by John Slattery. Hamm and Slattery make a great team, and I always really enjoyed the scenes of their two characters being pals. The characters have sort of aged past that, but I can totally see that dynamic recreated at the 4077th, with Slattery as the slightly-older-but-still-one-of-the-gang Henry.

Major Frank Burns played by Vincent Kartheiser. Kartheiser is fantastic as the oily, insecure, yet pompous Pete Campbell, and to me he is a natural fit as Frank Burns. He'd be a bit a younger version of the character (compared to Hamm's Hawkeye), but I think that might be a nice change-up.

Major "Hot Lips" Houlihan played by Christina Hendricks. Hendricks, with her absurdly pulchritudinous physique and soft-spoken sense of authority, would be perfect as the new Hot Lips. Her character on Mad Men, officer manager Joan, is used to being undervalued simply because she's a woman, a battle that Major Houlihan fought against during many years on M*A*S*H.

Father Mulcahy played by Aaron Staton. While certainly no angel, Staton's character on Mad Men seems the most idealistic, the least venal, the most stable of everyone at the firm. Staton's youthful look of idealism would fit just perfectly as the perpetually-optimistic Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy.

Radar O'Reilly played by Elizabeth Moss . Okay, this is where the new version of M*A*S*H would really forge it's own path. Moss' character on Mad Men, the hardworking, uber-competent Peggy Olson, is a more streetwise version of Radar O'Reilly. While not being a doctor, Radar always held his own with the doctors, just as Peggy struggles to do with the men of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. I think Moss would bring a similar energy to the new Radar.

General Hammond/Barker/Clayton/Mitchell played by Robert Morse. Robert Morse's squirrely, somewhat-vacant Bert Cooper would be a perfect prototype for any one of the many absent-minded Generals the 4077th had to deal with from time to time. Many members of Sterling Cooper give their eccentric boss a wide berth, simply because he is their boss, even though they think he's nuts--sound familiar?

Col. Flagg played by Mark Moses. Mark Moses' creepily confident "Duck" Phillips reminds me a bit of Col. Flagg, with that condescending squint he uses while sizing his opponents up. I think Moses even kinda looks like the late Edward Winter, who was so crazily brilliant as Scourge of Communism Col. Flagg. "Duck" shows up on Mad Men every so often, mostly to just make everyone else's life miserable. Again, sound familiar?

So that's my list! Try as I might, I couldn't really find anyone on the Mad Men cast list that fit Trapper John, Klinger, or Sidney Freedman, but that probably would have been asking too much--I'm a little shocked I found this many suitable replacements at all!

So like I said--Hollywood, don't get any ideas. M*A*S*H probably could not be replicated in any decent way, so when you're looking for the next old brand name to "re-imagine", just keep moving and forget about the 4077th entirely. But if you have to...

So, what do you M*A*S*H fans think? Am I crazy?


Russell said...

Yes. Yes, you're crazy.

Crazy like Einstein or Oppenheimer, who came up with the idea of the bomb and then disavowed creating and using it.

You've let Pandora out of the box, Rob. Shame on you! Now that the idea of a MASH re-make is out there, you just know they're going to get Johnny Depp as Hawkeye and Sean Hayes as Trapper.

Andrea said...

I've been watching Twin Peaks lately and noticed that Michael Ontkean bore a passing resemblance to Wayne Rogers, so have been trying to mentally recast MASH with Twin Peaks actors as they were in 1990.
Kyle Machlachlan has the good looks for Hawkeye
Michael Ontkean would be great as Trapper and Peggy Lipton could work as Hotlips, while Don S Davis could be a great General Clayton. Miguel Ferrer ould work as Flag.

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