Wednesday, August 5, 2009

M*A*S*H Issues - Continuity

Obviously, I have made it clear that M*A*S*H is my favorite show, but it would not be fair of me to point out everything good and pure about it without mentioning its flaws. It is a man-made creation, and thus, cannot be perfect, but there are a few issues here and there that just drive me insane upon the 10th (or 100th) time watching through the show. Today's issue is the continuity of the show.

M*A*S*H ran for eleven seasons, from September, 1972 through February, 1983. The Korean War, its setting, lasted for a little over three years (June, 1950-July, 1953). There will be some continuity problems arising, especially since the show's producers and creators could not have known that the show was going to last nearly eleven years. But some could have been completely avoidable.

For example, the episode 'A War For All Seasons' (Season 9) contains the entire year of 1951, starting with the ending of the year 1950. Colonel Potter plays a Father Time type of character in the episode, but watching the episode 'Welcome to Korea' (Season 4) indicates Potter arriving in 1952. This is most egregious example, but there are many others, such as:

- Early on, Hawkeye indicates that he has a whole family living in Vermont. Later, he is the only child of a widower father in Crabapple Cove, Maine.

- In Season 4, the episode 'Mail Call, Again', Potter's son (a dentist) writes about his wife having a child, which leads to a pool guessing when the kid would be born. Later on, Potter talks about his only child, a daughter, and we even see his son-in-law Bob in 'Strange Bedfellows' (Season 11).

- In the episode 'Ping Pong' (Season 5), Potter talks about barbecuing in his backyard in Nebraska, but again and again Hannibal, Missouri is said to be his home.

- In earlier seasons, Margaret says her mother is a 'drunk' a kleptomaniac' (while sober), and her father is dead. In the episode 'The Party' (Season 7), her parents come to the New York reunion together and act civil. 'Howitzer' Al Houlihan even shows up at the 4077 in the episode 'Father's Day' (Season 9). Pretty good for a supposedly dead guy!

These things aren't all necessarily bad in themselves, but, as my brother informs me, television shows are supposed to have continuity people that read through everything. Some are just silly, such as the Potter-Nebraska-Missouri connection, Potter's child(ren?), and Hawkeye's home and family scenarios; these could have avoided with some simple editing and *gasp*, reading. It's the television equivalent of not borrowing properly or failing to carry over digits when doing simple arithmetic problems - sloppy mistakes, easily avoidable.

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