Monday, September 7, 2015

Movie Tonight: The Cat From Outer Space

Today is another, overdue installment of a segment we call "Movie Tonight", where we discuss a movie with particularly notable M*A*S*H connections.

The film in question for today is the 1979 Disney movie The Cat From Outer Space, which I remember my Mom taking me to in the theaters:

The reason we're discussing it here is the cast. Aside from family film stalwarts like Ken Berry and Sandy Duncan, TCFOS features no less than both 4077 commanders, Harry (Col. Potter) Morgan and McLean (Henry Blake) Stevenson! Even better, they share some scenes like together, like this one early in the movie:

As the title suggests, the plot concerns an alien that comes to Earth, that just happens to look like a kitty cat. Morgan is a blustery general who thinks this is the beginning of an alien invasion, and Stevenson is a kind but befuddled doctor who works alongside Berry and Duncan. There's a long scene where Morgan gets to yell at everyone, the first of three or four scenes where both M*A*S*H actors share the screen.

There's various hi-jinx involving Berry and the cat, ending with the alien feline (named Jake) applying for U.S. citizenship! That's where another M*A*S*H veteran comes in: Sorrell Booke, who at the time was famous for being Boss Hogg, but nevertheless appeared as General Barker in Season 1 of the show:

While expecting a lot of from a piece of product like The Cat From Outer Space is a little too much, it's a shame that this movie is so lifeless. Just because a movie is for kids doesn't mean it has to be bad, and all the proceedings here are so dull that it's a shame such a talented cast is wasted (including Roddy McDowall, who spends so much of the movie by himself I'm betting he shot almost all of his scenes over a weekend, then headed off for another Apes project). As we know, Harry Morgan could be very funny, even when playing a mean guy, but here he's just a one-note jerk. Stevenson comes off a little better, but he's playing second fiddle to Ken Berry. Sheesh.

Part of the reason I find these movies with M*A*S*H connections even worthy of noting is, I wonder what the cast conversations were like when they weren't filming? By this time, the show was in its fifth season, and more popular than ever. At the same time, it was obvious that Stevenson's decision to leave M*A*S*H dealt his career a catastrophic blow. Did Harry and McLean chat around the craft services table? Did McLean look at Harry and think "Man, what did I do..."?

Speaking of M*A*S*H connections, there's yet another one: TCFOS was directed by Disney go-to guy Norman Tokar, who helmed Season 2's "Five O'Clock Charlie", one of the funniest shows that season! So the guy knew funny, he just didn't really deliver that here. As I mentioned above, I saw this in the theater, and I think even then I caught the M*A*S*H connection, which probably just confused me.

And that's the Movie Tonight!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

TV Guide - February 9, 1974

You can't go wrong with Jack Davis, and TV Guide knew it, so they commissioned him for this great M*A*S*H cover. This issue is from February 9, 1974, while the show was wrapping up its second season.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

M*A*S*H Emergency Helicopter

If you were a rack toy manufacturer and had a gross of toy helicopters laying around, it only made sense to spend a few bucks for the M*A*S*H license in the hopes you could move a few more that way.

The only real notable thing here is the card art--I don't believe I've seen that particular piece of art before, featuring semi-caricatures of the gang. Even more unusual is the inclusion of Radar, who (generally) had left the show before the merchandising really kicked in. Still, if I had seen this at a toy store when I was a kid, I would have picked it up, stat!

(h/t: PlaidStallions)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nehi Magnet

Newest Swamp Rat Christina Stith found this magnet on sale at a JoAnn Fabrics in Maryland and, of course, immediately thought of M*A*S*H. How could you not, especially with those 4077th-esque colors?

Thanks Christina!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

M*A*S*Home Buyers

I saw this sign while waiting at a stoplight, and I couldn't believe it. Even having been off the air for more than thirty years, M*A*S*H is still famous enough for someone to think it was a good hook when attracting customers. Frank Burns would be so proud!

Monday, June 8, 2015

After M*A*S*H Episode 30 - Wet Feet

Season 2, Episode 30: Wet Feet
Original Air Date: 12/11/84
Written by: Dennis Koenig

Directed by: Hy Averback

During a torrential downpour, General Pershing is designated a disaster relief area. Alma Cox insists that everyone remain on staff, even Dr. Potter, who only lives a few hundred feet away. Potter, Klinger, Mulcahy, and Dr. Boyer decide on a very 4077th thing to do--have a card game.

Alma also calls in the head of the hospital, Wally Wainwright--but in this case it's not so much devotion to duty, but the desire for a relationship. Well, not a relationship so much as a sexual tryst so she can get her old job back. Wainwright says he is devoted to his wife, and Alma takes the rejection in stride.

A patient arrives with a seemingly simple problem--a broken shoulder--turns into something more serious when his bigger problem of a ruptured spleen is missed by one of the new doctors. Meanwhile, Wainwright, upon hearing that the hospital received a lot of good press when it served a similar community-minded purpose back in 1948, makes attempts to alert the media this time around (in between playing in the poker game with Potter, Klinger, and Mulcahy).

When the hospital's waiting room is turned SRO due to a collapsed building nearby, Potter, Klinger, and Mulcahy snap into action like their old days in Korea. This leaves Wainwright standing helplessly off to the side, something a local reporter and photographer notices when they arrive to do a story on the hospital. The next day, the paper runs a story about the crack staff, and how generally useless Wainwright is. The episode ends with the boss trashing his office in frustration about how his plan for personal glory went so wrong.

(Not So)Fun Facts: This episode never aired, at least in the United States (see below). It was the last episode filmed, but of course not designed as a series finale. After such a memorable send off in "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", AfterM*A*S*H just limped off TV with a whimper, not a bang. This helped cement the series' unjust reputation as one of (if not the) worst spin-offs in television history.

Soon-Lee and Mildred Potter do not appear in this episode.

Favorite Line: An announcement comes over the loud speaker, stating that due to the worsening storm, there are casualties from a collapsed building. Klinger marvels, "...and I didn't even hear the choppers!" Not a funny line really, but kind of a fun callback to the boys' days at the 4077th.

I never thought I would see this episode until newest Swamp Rat Michael Hinkson sent it to me as a way to "thanks" for my blogging efforts here. Thanks Michael!

This episode was never aired in the United States, so I assumed it never aired anywhere. But there's a voice over during the end credits that reveals this particular copy of the show played in Australia, of all places. It still seems unbelievably mercenary of CBS--which benefited so much and so long from its association with M*A*S*H--to not even bother airing a show that was completed and ready to air. Potter, Klinger, and Mulcahy--not to mention the real-life people who made the show--deserved better.

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

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