M*A*S*H

M*A*S*H cast poseM*A*S*H was a comedy show about a war which was screened in the Seventies and still runs now on the endless repeats channels. I never understood this as a child because all the war films I’d seen had been deadly serious.

I thought it was a bit much to have people making jokes with canned laughter when there were people bleeding and dying. I think I must have missed the point about black comedy and political comedy, which M*A*S*H could be said to be both. I’ve watched the show as an adult and can now see the merits, though I still find the canned laughter and American sit-com sentimentalism a bit too much.

The show was based on a film of the same name, which was based on a book of the same name, which according to Wikipedia stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital which was the name of the group of misfits around which the story is based.

I got mixed up as a kid between the Vietnam War and the Korean War. It’s understandable really as I was quite small and both of them were about American soldiers going halfway around the world to fight for something that wasn’t really anything to do with them. I thought that M*A*S*H was about Vietnam and remember being corrected by a know-all grown up that it was actually about Korea. But as it turns out it was an allegory for Vietnam, as the war was still being fought while M*A*S*H was being shown. So a lot of the anti-war sentiments were actually directed at supporters of the Vietnam War.

M*A*S*H Hawkeye, Trapper John and Hot-LipsMy favourite character was Hawkeye who was played by Alan Alda. He was the funniest. I quite liked the woman in command, Hot-Lips played by Loretta Swit, although I didn’t like the way her character was portrayed as mean. Most of the comedy was based around the scrapes that the junior medics got into and their avoidance of the management, questions about ‘why are we here?’ and sexual tension between Hot-Lips and any of the many male characters who were uncomfortable with having a woman in charge.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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