Since this is the first of these, I’ll take a second to let you in on what this is all about. TV fanatics dread so many things: early cancellation, their OTP never being realized, horrendous recasting, a time slot change that makes no sense, but the one thing they — we — fear most is the series finale. It’s the inevitable for shows that actually make it past the “oh crap, they’re definitely going to cancel it before we get closure” phase. When that fateful day comes, fans of that show (and even some who just want to be able to talk about it the next day) tune in and witness the end.
I’d like to introduce myself: I am one of those people who love to watch series finales. Even shows I’ve never watched, binged or know one thing about. That’s how I got the idea to do this series — a whole year watching the finales of television shows, some I’ve watched and some I am clueless about. In the end it’s more to see how truly “great” some of these shows were. I hear Breaking Bad was the best, but let me tell you — that finale was as boring as The Big Short (hey critics, you were wrong about that — it was horrible).
So here we are with the first one out of the gate. It had to be M*A*S*H because way before Netflix and DVR were all the rage, and hashtags corralled us into believing what was popular, this show created a storm. MILLIONS of people watched this back when you likely had to walk across the room to mess with the channels and volume. When were remotes created? Anyways, it was so long ago that the hysteria this finale caused still impresses.
Editor’s Note: Probably goes without saying, but this series will include spoilers!
Name of Episode: “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”
Premiere Date: September 17, 1972
Finale Date: February 28, 1983
Impact on Pop Culture
War isn’t funny. People die every day and those on either side are away from their loved ones fighting for things they may or may not believe in. Back when this show came about, it was likely the draft was still in effect. I’m not sure because I went to a public school and I’m 100% we didn’t talk about anything past WWII. Anyways, M*A*S*H created a well-rounded human experience for the state of war. The movie started the fascination in 1970 with Donald Sutherland (AKA President Snow) as Hawkeye Pierce, and then a couple of years later TV executives realized they needed to take this to the small screen. With that they created a show that was a must-watch. What else they did was create a show that, again, highlighted the humanity of war — well, those in the medical field of it all.
Facts & Stats
- It was ranked the fifth best show of all time by the Writers Guild of America in 2013.
- Come the seventh season, characters were named after some of the LA Dodgers.
- Most of their exterior scenes were shot out in Malibu, CA.
- The network was against having unpatriotic episodes.
- 125 million people tuned into the finale.
What I Knew Before Watching the End
Nick at Nite was one of my favorite things about staying up past 10pm growing up. That was, of course, as long as M*A*S*H wasn’t on. As drawn as I was to Mary Tyler Moore’s upbeat and inspiring theme song, that’s how much I despised this show’s opening tune. It was sad and dismal and because of that I wanted nothing to do with this show. I didn’t even know it was about doctors before I watched this finale.
Remember a second ago when I wanted nothing to do with this show? Remember, it was literally two seconds ago. If you don’t, just look above this section. That statement is now false. While I was taken aback by this finale being two hours long, I was pretty enthralled by it come the last hour when Hawkeye revealed why he was going a bit nuts. Learning this was the Korean and not Vietnam war, the beach parties made a lot more sense. There were a lot of flashbacks but after awhile you kind of found them necessary to get inside what Hawkeye was going through before he caused a woman to smother her baby to death. Yes, I can see now how that would drive someone a bit off their rocker.
That was the moment that made me interested but that wasn’t what made the show memorable. Being the last one, this was about ending the war and saying goodbye to this extended family they’d created in an environment that everyday people wouldn’t view as normal, healthy, or loving. Whether in a war zone or at your local hospital, being a doctor is a strenuous career that will always take a toll on one’s mentality. That’s why almost all doctors and nurses have their way of dealing and it’s often through humor. If you don’t learn to laugh when surrounded by death, disease, and pain, it will consume you. The writers of this show really captivated that throughout this entire episode. Their farewells were both heartfelt but comedic.
Before Hawkeye set off in his copter home and saw his last goodbye, I have to say I was quite moved by not only his and Hunnicutt’s bromance (more on that in a second) but also Winchester’s connection to music. This show didn’t invent the idea that people can find solace in music, but the calming effect it had on him from the constant playing of the records to that random band of musicians finding him out and about, that was like this poetic end for his character. Plus, for never having watched this show — I bawled when he came face to face with one of those fallen musicians later in the episode.
Back to the bromance. If Tumblr — okay, if the Internet — had been a thing back then, can you imagine the slash that would’ve gone on with these two? It didn’t take me long to realize they may’ve been the “will they, won’t they” of the series.
Worth the Watch?
In a nutshell, yes. I’d never cared a bit for any of these characters and I found myself an emotional mess after my two hours at the 4077th MASH. Now I want to win the lottery so I can binge on all eleven seasons without a care in the world.