Rewatching M*A*S*H

A friend said he’d recently rewatched all of M*A*S*H, including the two spinoffs–AfterMASH and W*A*L*T*E*R. For some reason, that intrigued me, so I decided to do the same. So far, I’m 2.5 episodes in, so it’ll be a while.

Overall, the show still holds up quite well, once you adjust your head back to the 70s mindset. The laughtrack is annoying, but I quickly rediscovered the knack out to tune it out.

The video quality on Paramount+, where the show is now available for streaming, is amazingly good. I strongly suspect digital shenanigans to clean up the images.

The video quality is so good it’s downright distracting watching it on the 55-inch TV in the living room. Instead, it’s better enjoyed on my iPad, to re-create the experience of watching it on a 1970s TV.

Another way you have to adjust your brain is for the behavior of the doctors toward women. Their 1970s’ charming behavior looks like today’s sexual harassment.

Also, race: There’s a Black doctor in the pilot episode–to my knowledge he never reappears–nicknamed “Spearchucker.” At least in the books, the gag is that the character is both a brilliant surgeon AND a former star college football player, so clearly the name is intended to ridicule racism, rather than embrace it. Still, it does not go over well today, and the character does not put in another appearance in the series that I can recall, though he’s mentioned at least once.

I feel like talking about gender, race, and video quality are not very interesting, but that’s all I have to say at the moment.

I recall stopping watching the show a couple of years after Frank Burns and other original stars left and were replaced, and the show began to get critical acclaim. I felt like it had gotten holier-than-thou.

Also, I remember the generation younger than mine did not care for the show. They said the characters talked about how war is hell, but they always seemed to be having a great time, like summer camp for grownups. That criticism has a lot of merit. I remember one episode even had a singalong.