Wednesday, September 8, 2010

M*A*S*H on The Simpsons, Part 2 - 2002

I found yet another M*A*S*H reference on The Simpsons today, this time in a thirteenth season episode, "The Half-Decent Proposal."

In the episode, Marge receives an offer from former boyfriend, now-internet zillionaire Artie Ziff to spend the weekend with him for a million dollars. Marge, at a low point in her marriage with Homer, agrees. Artie picks her up in his private helicopter, and as Marge watches Homer from above, "Suicide is Painless" begins to play.

Not only that, but Homer has left a note for Marge, written in stones:
I wonder how many people got the reference at the time--M*A*S*H had been off the air for almost two decades, after all.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

After M*A*S*H Episode 28 - Saturday's Heroes

Season 2, Episode 28: Saturday's Heroes
Original Air Date: 12/11/84
Written by: Ken Levine
& David Isaacs
Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Klinger, still confined to the hospital's mental ward, receives a weekend pass, which he plans to spend with Soon-L
ee, alone. They plan to spend it at the Potter's house, since they are headed off for a romantic weekend. Similarly, Dr. Boyer has made plans with a beautiful new nurse.

Unfortunately, all of their plans are interrupted--Soon-Lee, too, is feeling amorous, but wants to get the business done of naming their child first, going so far as to invite a gypsy (the great Kathleen Freeman) over to try and mystically conceive of the perfect name. Potter is similarly non-plussed when he finds out that Mildred has offered Alma Cox a ride to a rendevous a couple of towns over where she has a date planned.

Back at the hospital, the new administrator, Wally Wainwright, talks with his family back in Washington. He is bored and lonely in this new job and town, and in his pique cancels all the weekend leaves for the mental ward patients. The staff psychiatrist Dr. Dudziak tries to talk him out of it, but it doesn't work.

That causes the beautiful nurse Dr. Boyer planned to spend the weekend with (lots of sex, then ice cream is the plan) has to cancel on him because she has to work. Boyer is crushed, and decides to hang out at the local bar and get drunk. Wainwright shows up, and after some initial tension (it is Wainwright's fault, after all), Boyer and he decide to get drunk together--Boyer having sympathy for the man who is so far away from his family.

Back at the Potter house, Klinger is willing to rush through the naming process to get upstairs, but Soon-Lee is having none of it. He goes through a list of baseball players to name their child after, at first settling on Jackie Robinson Klinger. Soon-Lee wants something that blends the child's Asian/Lebanese background more, and they keep going.

Meanwhile, the Potter's car breaks down just out of town and they all walk back home, destroying any idea of romance Klinger might have had. Then Father Mulcahy arrives, ready to christen the child. After some more discussion, where everyone throws out the names of baseball players, they settle on Cy Young Klinger.

Dr. Boyer and Wainwright, drunk, also show up, and Wainwright is perturbed to see an unauthorized Klinger out of the mental ward. They try to explain the situation, and he seems to relent. Watching the christening, he grows so sad over his absent family that he asks to use the Potter's phone to call them. Potter agrees.

He places a call, but its not to his family--its to the hospital's security, telling them there's an escaped mental patient at the Potter house!

Later, we see Klinger in isolation at the hospital's mental ward. But its not so bad---Dr. Dudziak arranged Soon-Lee to be in there with him, finally giving the young couple some time alone.

Fun Facts: An alternate title for this episode could have been Coitis Interruptus, since its essentially about how Potter, Klinger, and Dr. Boyer are all getting thwarted in their attempts to spend some alone time with their women. Kind of a startling concept for such a family-oriented show--no wonder Father Mulcahy only shows up at the end!

Favorite Line: When Dr. Boyer's hot date arrives--still dressed for work--he grits his teeth in anticipation and says, "Oh, good--she's wearing her nurse's uniform. That woman knows my every sick thought."

I never thought I would see this episode (the last one of the series ever aired), until Swamp Rat Kevin Greenlee offered to send me a copy of the show once he read here on the blog that I'd never seen it. Thanks Kevin!

This episode was one of the funnier ones, with a lot of good, quick lines being tossed out by the cast. The aforementioned adult premise of this episode is somewhat hidden by the show's overall genial tone, which to me seems the best way to do material like this, and was one of the things M*A*S*H excelled at.

Having now seen every episode of After M*A*S*H that ever aired (there is still one unseen episode, "Wet Feet", that must be around somewhere in some dusty vault), I stand by my earlier opinion that the show should have been given more time to find its creative bearings.

To the show's credit, it wasn't just aping M*A*S*H; no, After M*A*S*H was its own entity and it was criminal of CBS--who made untold millions of dollars of profit and earned tons of prestige from the original show--to cancel it so abruptly. As silly as it might sound, I'm still kind of aggravated that three characters I love so much--Col. Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy--never got a proper send off here; they just disappeared.

Thanks again to Kevin for giving me the chance to see this elusive episode!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

M*A*S*H On Futurama - 2000

The Simpsons is not the only Matt Groening show to reference M*A*S*H. In the second season Futurama episode "War Is The H Word", Fry, Bender, and Leela enlist in the Army and end up on some faraway planet fighting a race of aliens that look like bouncing balls. Killer bouncing balls.

Bender is severely injured, so he is taken to nothing less than a MASH unit set up on the planet. When we first see it, we hear a take-off of "Suicide is Painless", and the unit looks very much like the 4077th. The producers even got an actor from M*A*S*H who was one of the voices of the P.A. on the original series to do the same job here!

Not only that, but we see the unit is staffed by a joke-telling, martini-guzzling robot surgeon named iHawk, who toggles a switch on his torso (labeled "Irreverent" and "Maudlin"), simultaneously paying tribute to the show while also mercilessly poking fun at it. Priceless.

I had completely forgotten about this whole scene until Swamp Rat Eric Miller reminded me of it on the Simpsons post. I guess if Matt Groening ever does another series, there'll be a M*A*S*H parody on that show, too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

M*A*S*H Live!

No, M*A*S*H Live isn't some sort of horrifying MASH On Ice type of thing, its just my name for a very exciting event this November 6th. Namely a screening of the MASH movie, followed by a Q&A with Elliott Gould, then two episodes of the series, followed by a panel featuring William Christopher, Jeff Maxwell, Gene Reynolds, Ken Levine, Dr. Walter Dishell, Burt Metcalfe, and Charles Dubin. As Radar would say, Holy Cow!

This is all to benefit the California State Parks Association, where the series (as well as many other classic movies and TV shows) were filmed. You can out more about the event and the association at their website. Man, do I wish I could go!

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