23 May 2015

Age Cannot Wither Nor Custom Stale: M.A.S.H. Is Still the Best

Streaming television also gives us an opportunity to re-visit programs we might have loved in the past -- or even just heard about. For example, I only dimly remember Dr. Kildare from my childhood, but I've been watching episodes on the Warner Archive channel, and it's terrific! Intelligently written, extremely well-acted, with a great variety of stories. Guest stars in the first two seasons have included Carolyn Jones, Larry Parks, and Claire Trevor. I have certainly enjoyed watching it; for me it was the first time.

But one show I felt some trepidation about re-watching was M*A*S*H -- because I loved it so much when it was first televised, from 1972 to 1983. More than forty years ago. When it first came on it seemed smart, meaningful, angry, and hilarious from the very first episode.

Trapper and Hawkeye
Well, I started to watch it on Netflix a few weeks ago. And it was not just as good as I remember -- it was even better, from the very first episode. The characters are fully developed but have room to change; the scripts are just plain funny, and the acting is simply brilliant. This includes not only the two heroes, Alan Alda as Hawkeye and Wayne Rogers as Trapper, but wonderful McLean Stevenson as Henry Blake, Loretta Swit as Margaret Houlihan, Gary Burghoff as Radar, and the sublime Larry Linville as Frank Burns.
Henry Blake

So if you haven't seen it in twenty or thirty years -- or if you've never seen it at all -- Memorial Day might be a good time to get acqainted (or re-acquainted) with M*A*S*H, probably the best television series ever.

And since it was on for 11 years, there are plenty of episodes to look forward to, and believe me, I am!

The great Larry Linville as Frank Burns