When the final numbers were tallied, the 2008 Super Bowl recorded the second largest television audience in history. Who is the reigning champ you ask? The 1983 final episode of MASH is still number one.
These numbers are not based on ratings, but actual number of viewers. That is what makes it all the more amazing that with the population growth we have had over the last 26 years, there still hasn’t been a television event more viewed than the final episode of MASH.
Yet even more amazing is the fact that this year’s Super Bowl trailed MASH by 10 million viewers (MASH had 106 million viewers)!!
Anyway, upon hearing this news, it made me think of my favorite MASH episodes of all time and I thought I would share.
In this episode, Hawkeye is hell bent on getting takeout from a rib place in Chicago, Adam’s Ribs, to be exact. He is brought to this state after weeks of eating nothing but “a river of liver and an ocean of fish”. Through a series of mini adventures, including a visit with a supply clerk from Joliet, IL, who is aware of Adam’s Ribs and quotes “I would walk a mile through the snow on my knees for a take out order”. To which, Trapper says to Hawkeye, “He is one of you.” After all the pain and effort to get the ribs, the meal is spoiled with the arrival of wounded.
Hawkeye will do anything to get a new pair of boots. In order to get Zale to get him some, he must get an appointment for Zale with Futterman, the camp dentist, who will only do it if Henry will give him a pass to Tokyo, and Henry will only grant the pass if Houlihan will get off his back, which she will do only if the guys throw a party for Frank’s birthday with a cake, and Radar will only help get the cake if he gets a date with Nurse Murphy, who will only date someone with a hair dryer, and Klinger won’t give up the hair dryer unless he gets a section 8 (and Frank won’t sign). The deal falls through, much to the chagrin of Hawkeye.
The main plot here is that Houlihan and Burns are questioning Blake’s ability to lead, causing him to almost lose his post at the 4077th. However, this is one of my favorites because this is the one where Hawkeye is cavorting with a nurse when he looks up in the sky and notices something very odd A “big red bird with pink fuzzy feet” to be exact. They cut to a shot of Klinger trying to go AWOL on a hang glider in his robe and slippers. A vision I will never shed.
This is the introduction of the acting abilities of Harry Morgan to MASH fans in a role that was quite unlike his later role as Col. Potter. In this episode, he is General Bartford Hamilton Steele who makes Klinger and Burns look completely sane. He even mistakes Klinger for his wife. Steele’s visit to the 4077th ends with him asking a soldier to dance because it is “in his blood”. Harry Morgan won an Emmy for his performance.
What a way to go! General Iron Guts Kelly dies in the arms of Hot Lips Houlihan. His aide strikes up a plan to make it appear that the General died in a fight of a different sort. So he stages a military campaign that in his words is to have “rockets, lot of rockets” to make it appear that the General died gloriously during battle.
And as an honorable mention, anything with Colonel Flagg is a treat.
“Mary had a little lamb. My dog has fleas. Mares eat oats and does eat does and I’ll be home for Christmas. Signed your loving son…. Queen Elizabeth.”