Fans of M*A*S*H remember the hit television series for various reasons. However, there’s no denying that it’s among the most successful American television series in history. For the members of its cast, the series provided a jump-start to their careers. It aired on CBS at a time when the Vietnam War was still going on. In a way, M*A*S*H offered its viewers a lighthearted pastime, which was necessary during those difficult days.
This show almost got canceled during its first season. With a gradual change in tone and its writers, the show successfully made a place in the viewers’ hearts. Here are certain facts about this show that are probably unknown:
1. Some of its actors had real military experience
Ever wondered why the mindset and discipline of the characters looked so authentic on screen? Well, it was largely owing to the real military experience that some of them went through. The lead actor, Alan Alda, had served as a reserve during the Korean War. This helped him shine as ‘Captain Hawkeye Pierce’, fitting perfectly into the character. He was a gunnery officer during the actual war.
2. Jamie Farr was never intended to last for more than an episode
Jamie Farr played Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger in M*A*S*H. The purpose of his character in the series initially was to merely crack some quick jokes. They didn’t intend to continue with him for more than a single episode, but something clicked.
The writers and the audience loved his unique way of traversing the war effort. This opened up some fresh ideas and new avenues. He was often shown as an opportunistic individual and his acts drew laughs and admiration from the audience.
3. The numerous challenges that the producers faced
The producers didn’t achieve the massive success of this famous television series that easily. They constantly faced a number of challenges. To begin with, they had to express their opinions about war rather subtly. The cast had to be clever in their innuendos that were under the cover of a dark comedy. During the first year, the show was a flop because it was not relatable for many viewers.
Because of the show’s low ratings, M*A*S*H almost got canceled. If they wanted to survive, they had to appeal to a wider audience. The producers then decided to change certain things. They made an arrangement to air the show on Saturday nights. Surprisingly, this arrangement worked and the show gained massive popularity in the days that followed.
4. Tensions between writers and actors
During the early days of M*A*S*H, everyone had the opportunity to contribute towards the further progression of the series. This gradually became a headache for the writers. It was because of all those notes and letters that they received from the actors. Then, the writers began thinking of ways to get back at the cast. They were writing too many details in their scripts that were not necessary.
This created a growing division between the actors and the writers. Soon, both the sides were making each other’s life difficult. One of the actors had to wear heavy parkas in a tropical scene according to the script. This happened in Malibu on a hot summer day. This irked McLean Stevenson and he left the show. Things began to simmer down after that episode, thankfully.