M*A*S*H



7-11-04 

I just read your essay & found it an interesting summary of the relevance to pop culture of that show. However, I thought that since you pointed up Houlihan & Hawkeye as metaphors for the two opposing societies of life & destruction (the military), & then later set forth Season Six as the turning point of the series, you might have gone further in your analysis. It's no doubt way beyond what was intended when the episode was written, but in the context of your analysis, the episode "Comrades in Arms" could serve as an exploration of what happens when those two societies try to merge & understand each other. Or perhaps that is another essay entirely....

Enjoyed your essay (I hope my commentary above does not give the opposite impression).

Zen.

To Zen:
I assume that is the episode in which the two spend a harrowing and somewhat intimate night together. Yes, I would say that your analysis is correct and when you think about it, it is clear that that is what the creators of the episode intended -- people from two different worlds coming together. The title obviously conveys the idea that they are comrades in arms both literally and in the sense that they are now more like a team.

As MASH became more sophisticated, it kept bringing characters together, including military characters, into its larger society. To do that, it had to make the military characters more likeable and nuanced. It still hated the war but stopped hating some of the main military characters (It hated the sin but loved some of the sinners.)

That is one of the best episodes. Another, which is art of a different level from the rest (dramatic poetry), is the one in which a soldier dies but he is still around and trying to communicate with people at the MASH. Neither he nor Houlihan can get anyone to listen to them or acknowledge their presence. They both sit there talking about that fact and neither is paying attention to the other.

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