On February 28 th , 1983, over 100 million viewers tuned in to the two-hour finale of M*A*S*H, making it one of the most simultaneously viewed series finales in American History. With so many people watching the Goodbye, Farewell and Amen at the same time, it is joked that New York sewer system could not handle that many people all flushing during the commercials.
The amount of people that watched the finale, is only one testament to the beloved sitcom, as 35 years later it has yet to be taken off syndication. With each new generation, those who loved the show pass it on to their children and now their grandchildren creating a whole new fan base. Based on the 1970 movie, the eleven-season series follow a mobile army surgical hospital unit (M*A*S*H) in Korea during the war. With a colorful cast of characters, including the antihero, Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda), the clueless Major Frank Burns, Maxwell Klinger (Jamie Farr) and the strong and feisty Margret “Hot lips” Houlihan, the show covers the difficulties of war while still being a comedy. The show is still comedic as it discusses the horrors of war and the realities of death in the M*A*S*H unit close to the front lines.
With martini’s, madness, and mayhem, the show follows the lives of M*A*S*H 4077 staff and how they cope living and working near the front lines. Written as a dramatic comedy, M*A*S*H covers the struggles of the doctors and nurses working week-long shifts in the operating room, patching up young soldiers. All the while they don't miss a laugh, with witty banter and one liners.
Lasting four years longer then the Korean war itself, the series ran from 1972-1983 and was nominated for 153 awards. M*A*S*H* won 62 of those awards, including several day time Emmys and golden globes for writing, directing, and acting.
In addition, the summer after the series' end in 1983, the Smithsonian opened an exhibit called “M*A*S*H: Binding Up the Wounds” highlighting the cultural significance of the show. With a large fan base at the time the exhibit lasted nearly a year in and half with replicas of the officers’ quarters, also known as “The Swamp” and the O.R., as well as memorabilia and fan letters from the show.
With memorable writing actors, and a cast of three dimensional and well-rounded characters the show has lasted in the hearts of the public for 35 years. With the show still playing reruns on both local networks such as WGN and cable networks such as TVLAND, fans of the show can still catch their favorite episodes to watch on their own or with loved ones and friends.