Sunday, January 17, 2010

IBM Commercials - 1986/1987

In 1986, IBM hired most of the cast of M*A*S*H to appear in a series of commercials for their home and business computers.

I remember seeing these when they first ran, and in the days when VCRs were still pretty new (in our house, anyway) it was a thrill for this M*A*S*H fan to catch these mini-reunions!

The commercial pictured at the very top featured Alan Alda, Harry Morgan, Loretta Swit, Gary Burghoff, Jamie Farr, even Kellye Nakahara! The one below that starred Larry Linville, Gary Burghoff, and William Christopher. You can see them (and another, just starring Jamie Farr) here.

I hate to repeat myself (wait, no I don't), but man it would've been a wonderful treat for 20th Century Fox to assemble all these and put them on the Martinis & Medicine box set!


Radar Hat said...

Now, these I remember. Kind of fun. Interesting that there was never any (that I remember)mention of the actors' names or hints at M*A*S*H. They were that big a part of pop culture - they needed no introduction or explanation.

Richard said...

That's so true, Radar Hat -- it was a big part of those commercials' appeal that no wink at the audience was allowed. If there were any in-jokes, it might have cheapened our emotional bond with those actors and their characters and spoiled the fun of those ads. *

As it was, I remember wishing these ads had been an actual series. Seriously, wouldn't it have been something if you'd had that cast as coworkers and their clients in a sophisticated comedy set in the computer business of that era? In particular, getting to see Linville, Burghoff, Christopher, and Kellye Nakahara all playing radically different people from their M.A.S.H. roles would have been a real treat. And if they'd made it an IBM office within the series, the on-air product placement might even have come close to covering the actors' salaries…

* Come to think of it, I wonder if that wasn't the real failing of AfterM.A.S.H. -- too damn many attempts to evoke the previous series. Whether or not the show was any good on its own merits, an audience doesn't want to feel they're being manipulated or their affections played upon.

rob! said...


I love that idea.

Russell said...

I remember these, too. And I *seem* to recall (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that Mike Farrell did eventually show up, and so did Wayne Rogers?

Or am I mis-remembering this?

Anonymous said...

One other thing I would have liked to have seen on the Martinis & Medicine set was "Making M*A*S*H", the PBS behind-the-scenes documentary that Mary Tyler Moore hosted.

Anonymous said...


Wayne Rogers did indeed appear in some of the IBM spots (YouTube used to have one with him, Christopher, Swit, and Morgan, though I can't seem to find it anymore).

Mike Farrell did not appear in any of them, however. Nor did McLean Stevenson or David Ogden Stiers.

What the Parrot Saw said...

These ads --brief as they are, and unrelated to the series-- remain a heckuva lot of fun.

One of the best things IBM ever did! :-)

Anonymous said...


David Ogden Stiers did eventually show up in the IBM commercials.

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