This series follows the day-to-day lives of the surgeons and nurses working in Korea during the war. The show ran from 1972 to 1983 and when the main series ended there was a spin-off (albeit an unsuccessful one). While most shows focused on one character or maybe two, this series followed multiple characters and gave great backstory to secondary characters as well.
To start out the show you meet Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda) who shares a tent with Captain John Francis Xavier “Trapper” McIntyre who was also sometimes referred to as “Trapper John” (Wayne Rogers) and Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville). Pierce is the class clown type of character. Not always good in a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospotal) unit, but he’s very much needed and if he’s not making jokes or flirting with the nurses then something’s wrong with him. Trapper and Hawkeye feed off of each others jokes and mistakes and they’re always getting revenge for Burns trying to get them into trouble with Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson). Henry not only has to deal with Pierce, McIntyre, and Burns constantly going at each other, but head nurse Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit) pushing for her nurses to be 175% perfect in everything they do and she’s constantly in Blake’s office helping Burns report one thing or another and speaking for her not-so-secret love interest.
And that’s just the beginning. You’ve also got Lieutenant Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy (William Christopher) who is everything from Chaplain to stand-in nurse and whatever he can be when needed and Company Clerk Corporal Walter Eugene “Radar” O’Reilly (Gary Burghoff) who gets teased because he’s the youngest of the group.
The show does have darker moments mixed in with the light hearted comedy it’s known for. Alan Alda brings to life a character to help you learn about the war and some of the real struggles (like remaining faithful while you’re over seas and people telling you not to help someone because that person is “the enemy” even if the person is a simple farmer who got caught in the cross-fire) and he becomes almost like family. Throughout the series you get to see Pierce writing to his father, even when he’s covered in blood from hours upon hours of being in surgery because he never knows when he’s going to have another chance to write him.
Heather: One of my favorite character facts is that Major Burns is from Indiana. While I can’t stand the character, I love the fact that he’s a character from Indiana because most of the things I watch and read have nothing to do with Indiana. When I was in school and would get off the bus at home my mom would be watching the show. I lovingly blame her for the fact that whenever I hear an actor or actress from the show or the music or any quotes my ears perk up.
While the Eckhart Public Library currently only has season 1 of MASH you can order the others through Inter Library Loan. If you have questions about Inter Library Loans or other services the library offers feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help.