MASH

TV classics: M*A*S*H

USA 1972-83, eleven seasons, 251 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS, color. Cast: Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, Loretta Swit, Larry Linville, Gary Burghoff, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr, William Christopher, David Ogden Siers

Plot summary: During the Korean War, the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital struggles to keep the Army in business and their own morale afloat. Thank goodness for irony, puns and practical jokes!

Review: Based on Richard Hooker’s book MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors and Robert Altman’s feature film adaptation, the M*A*S*H TV series presented life at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War in the 1950s. Led by Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce, the show started out as a comedy with a serious undertone and later changed into a drama with comedy elements. Often referring to political situations, including the wars in Korea and Vietnam, as well as America’s role in the Cold War, the show looked into the lives of Army doctors and their patients without an overexposure of cruelties. Despite changes in the writing staff and creative team over the course of eleven years, the quality of the show remained top notch, allowing its characters to grow and change from their weak start in 1972 until their popular farewell in 1983.

Rewarded with numerous Emmys and Golden Globe Awards, M*A*S*H was also honored with the prestigious Peabody Award in 1976 for its uplifting yet relevant nature. Blessed with a talented cast of actors throughout its entire run, the show was a hit amongst viewers in the US and around the world who appreciated the mix of laughter and tears, as well as the many critical questions the show raised over the years. Originally produced with a laugh track to please the network, the show was broadcast without it in a variety of countries and is available in both versions on DVD. As an old-school dramedy program, the show is every bit as entertaining now as it was when it first went on the air, with one major difference to a lot of programs today: M*A*S*H never lost itself in a depressing atmosphere. Based on a lot of interviews with and reports from actual Army doctors and nurses, the show was far from being out of touch with reality. Instead of merely dwelling on the gruesome reality of war however, the show offered a glimpse of humanity, irony and pragmatism, a rare treat in a world that’s obsessed with a darker shade of realism today.

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The Doris Day Show

TV classics: The Doris Day Show

USA 1968-73, 5 seasons,  128 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS, color. Created by: James Fritzell. Cast: Doris Day, Denver Pyle, McLean Stevenson, Rose Marie, John Dehner, Jackie Joseph, Phillip Brown, Tod Starke, James Hampton, Paul Smith, Fran Ryan, Bernie Kopell, Naomi Stevens, Kaye Ballar, Peter Lawford, Patrick O’Neal, Billy DeWolfe

Plot summary: Doris Martin is a widowed mother who raises her sons on the family ranch until she moves to San Francisco to become a working girl.

Review: The Doris Day Show was on the air for five seasons and had many distinct format changes, it is thus a little tricky to review. It’s probably safe to say however that die-hard fans of the show’s leading lady have embraced the program for what it mostly was: a vehicle for Doris Day to entertain her audience on the small screen.

In spite of her rather steady success and the network’s interest in keeping the The Doris Day Show on the air for another season, Ms. Day herself decided to cancel the show as both, the main attraction and executive producer of the show. She had been signed on for a five year run and decided to resign from acting altogether as the show ended in the spring of 1973.

The show was not, like many others of its era, revisited in perpetual reruns but was released on DVD with a variety of extras. It is thus available for a new generation of Doris Day enthusiasts who have been unfamiliar with the final acting endeavor of their favorite star. Lifelong fans of Doris Day’s work may also enjoy revisiting the ever-changing world of Doris Martin, from a widowed mother to a single city girl.

All in all, The Doris Day Show benefits from Doris Day’s movie stardom and musical fame. The theme song Que Sera already puts you in the mood for some good-natured entertainment and reminds you of Ms. Day’s many big screen hits. It was my main reason to have a closer look at the program and I haven’t regretted looking for it. It may not have made it on my top ten list but it’s still an enjoyable show for everyone who appreciates those comedy programs from the late 60s  when a certain kind of innocence still prevailed and was backed by an approving audience.

The Doris Day Show pilot episode

The Doris Day Show: “Doris’ House Guest” (season 4)