Classic M*A*S*H

>> Friday, July 24, 2009

You know, when people talk to me about influences, I have quite a few. Not news or most commentators out there. I hate the news. I read it but I tend to read through the hype and just get what data out I can. When I listen to "newsmen" I just hear the hype and sensationalism. Too many people out there have such an axe to grind. Admittedly, I often have an axe to grind, but I've never pretended this is an objective blog.

People I've known, of course, have influenced me, but more what I learned about being a parent from my own family. Really, compared to much of my family, I don't think like most of them.

But I can readily trace many of my attitudes and thought processes to books I've read, characters I identified with, movies I loved and a few select TV shows that really shaped my youth and, eventually, my adulthood.

The list of pivotal shows that really affected my outlook is short. Star Trek is one, of course, with it's anti-discrimination attitude and higher purposes. And occasional references to vaguely scientific stuff.

But another that has never lost its luster to me, that still reflects many of my attitudes, is M*A*S*H. I remember watching it as a kid. Remembered watching it again in syndication. Now I own them on DVD. It never gets old.

It's not just that it's funny, though it's frequently hilarious. It's not that it's military. That's very rarely appealing to me. It's not that it's medical. Again, that's rarely something I look for.

It's the humanity, an island of decency, in the midst of a huge atrocity. It was about caring about people, first, foremost, always. Race didn't matter. Language didn't matter. Ideology didn't matter. Politics didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was need. The only thing most of the characters cared about was minimizing the horror, saving lives, preventing pain. Their hatred and anger was reserved for those causing pain, standing in their way. And it was indiscriminate.

When I went to college, Larry Linville came to talk to our class. Admittedly, he didn't play one of the characters I liked, but it was fascinating. He said, when they first started the show, a woman came to talk to the crew who had been a nurse in a MASH unit in Korea. For days, he said, she told story after story about what happened. Dozens. And most of those stories, according to Mr. Linville, became the source for show after show.

So, if you want to know how I became the way I am, you have your culprit. Or, at least, one of them.

I'd go on, but, hey, I have shows to watch.


  • flit

    M*A*S*H is one of my absolute favourites.... loved it then and still love it now.

  • VetTech

    I loved M*A*S*H, but I do think the earlier episodes were funnier than the ones that Alan Alda was on the other side of the camera for, but that the later ones probably had more artistic merit.

    It always amused me that MASH and Hogans Heroes were both set in such horrific situations but were still hillarious. It's not likely we will see an Iraq War based sitcom anytime soon.

  • Stephanie B

    I loved Hogan's Hero's, too (and once met the charismatic French prisoner who had actually spent time in a concentration camp). I don't know that it shaped me as much as M*A*S*H did, but I loved the show.

  • GumbyTheCat

    Actually, Linville's portrayal of Frank Burns was brilliant. That weaselly bastard may have been my favorite character on that show.

    How ya been Steph?

  • Stephanie B

    Gumby! Darling! How you been?

  • The Mother

    I, too, grew up on MASH. Loved it. Not sure I would consider it my ideologic influence, though.

  • GumbyTheCat

    Darling? LOL. I had no idea. *wink*

    I'm doing fine. Working my hiney off, so still no time (really, creative energy) left over for blogging. Maybe someday.

    Looks like Rocket Scientist v2.0 is doing well. I will be around to bug ya once in a while!

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