Ah, M*A*S*H. For most of my childhood I had a love/hate relationship with the show. I grew up watching M*A*S*H by default. After school, it came on our local NBC affiliate after one of my favorite childhood TV shows, Little House on the Prairie. The TV just stayed on the same channel as my Mom made dinner. Incidentally, my Mom loved M*A*S*H, so the channel stayed put.
As time went on, I grew to love the antics of Hawkeye, Trapper, and later B.J. Hunnicut. My favorite character will always be Colonel Sherman T. Potter. There are some fans that love the early seasons while disregarding the last few seasons of the show. Others take precisely the opposite point of view. I don’t subscribe to either point of view. I think both eras of the shows have their merits.
The zany antics of the early shows are great. I especially love the dynamic between Frank, Margret, and those trying to get between them, Hawkeye and Trapper. When you add in Frank and Margret trying everything in their power to take down Henry, you have some memorable shows. Unfortunately, slapstick will get you only so far for so long.
With the arrival of B.J. Hunnicut, Charles Winchester III, and Colonel Sherman T. Potter, not to mention the departures of Trapper, Frank Burns, and the untimely death of Henry Blake, the focus of the show changed. Topics became more serious and the dramatic intermingled more readily with the comedy. As a result, M*A*S*H created the dramedy.
Some argue the show became too preachy during those last few seasons. Personally, I don’t think it did. I think it became more realistic. The character and comedy genius of Colonel Potter made sure of that. His no nonsense style put Hawkeye and B.J. in their place when needed. He truly glued the show together in the last seasons. I think it was smart on part of the producers and creators of the show to not replace characters with similar new characters. Instead the series stayed fresh and relevant to the end.