Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Where have you gone, Hawkeye Pierce?


I've told you about it before...

How I found "M*A*S*H" because of my dad, watched that last episode with him in February 1983 (its 77 share is still a record), came to love it as a teen and young adult, and grew to adore it for the spirit it represents.

Last night, while fighting the usual three rounds with insomnia, I surfed over to YouTube, and found some memories of "M*A*S*H."

I started here by watching a trip someone took to Malibu Creek State Park, where exteriors for the TV series were filmed, on the 25th anniversary of the series finale in 2008.

Then I found this clip of the cast rehearsing scenes from the final 30-minute episode, "As Time Goes By." It touched the heart to see Loretta Swit's tears.

After that, I uncovered one of the many tributes that aired the week leading up to the big "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen."

Somewhere I've bookmarked an online archive of the 1981 PBS special "Making M*A*S*H." Google it. It's worth a look.

What I loved about this show was its humanism, its intelligence, the quality of its writing and the talent of its cast. Unlike virtually any entertainment program on TV today, "M*A*S*H" stood for something, commenting on the dehumanization of war and how those who were there coped with it, mainly by acting crazy to keep from going insane.

Alan Alda says in the PBS special that if "M*A*S*H" were developed as a pilot "today" (he was speaking in 1981), it couldn't be sold. That goes triple for 2011.

I prefer the later, more serious episodes, but I love it all, this situation tragedy about doctors in Korea.

If I can quote Harry "Col. Potter" Morgan, "M*A*S*H" made me a better human being -- and there aren't many shows you can say that about.

Thinking on it now, I can't help but ask, "Where have you gone, Hawkeye Pierce?"

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