Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review of AfterMASH

Because I am a teacher, I have a lot of free time on my hands during the so-called 'dog days' in August. YouTube is a wonderful thing to have on hand during these particular times, and I decided to watch the pilot to the television show AfterMASH, entitled 'September '53/Together Again'. It was placed in 5 different installment, given YouTube's ten minute limits on videos. Yes, it is the sequel to M*A*S*H, starring Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher, all reprising their roles as Col. Potter, Max Klinger, and Fr. Francis Mulcahy, respectively.

The continuity is there, with Potter speaking in a letter to Klinger of his early retirement, spending time with Mrs. Potter, and getting a job as chief of staff at General Pershing V.A. Hospital, otherwise known as 'General General'. Potter offers Klinger a job as his clerk at the hospital, but Klinger needs to get out of jail for his role in a bookmaking operation. Klinger convinces the judge that he needs a fresh start and he hasn't quite adjusted to civilian life as much as he thought, despite all the attempts to get out of the army. He and Soon-Lee move to Missouri to start up again. The adventures around 'General General' are shown and we are introduced to new characters. Potter then gets a call from Fr. Mulcahy, who is deaf and drunk. Potter has surgery arranged for Mulcahy to restore his hearing, which is successful and he joins the chaplain staff at the hospital as well.

I didn't care much for the episode, to be perfectly honest. It struck me too much as a conventional comedy despite the fact that it was written and developed by many of the same people who had worked on the mother show. I have to admit, if you get used to particular characters in a particular place and setting, it is difficult to see them in other roles. It wasn't bad, but when you use formerly secondary characters as main characters, it becomes more difficult to develop them and the like. One similarity between the shows was the red tape that was involved in doing anything. Veterans Administration hospitals on the whole (even in 1953) require paperwork in triplicate and things can be rejected easily.

The show didn't last a whole long time (1.5 seasons) and that was the fault of several things. First, CBS decided that it was going to put AfterMASH up against The A-Team on Wednesday nights. Secondly, how much further could the plot go without exhausting the possibilities and beginning to repeat, especially in a closed situation like a V.A. hospital? In a war, it is easier, but one of the reasons M*A*S*H stopped was because they were starting to run out of episode possibilities. It is also easy to see how it was just a vehicle for the actors who weren't sure how much more professional success they were going to have in the future. In a sense, AfterMASH was pure opportunism.

Harsh? You be the judge, watch - One, Two, Three, Four, Five

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