Monster M*A*S*H
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AfterMASH is an American situation comedy that aired on CBS from September 26, 1983 to May 31, 1985. A spin-off of the long-running hit series M*A*S*H, AfterMASH took place in the days and months following the end of the Korean War and chronicled the adventures of three characters from the original series: Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan), Max Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher). These were the M*A*S*H actors who had voted in the minority when the cast elected not to continue the original series.

Synopsis[]

Colonel Potter returns to his wife Mildred and his home town of Hannibal, Missouri, but finds retirement life inhibiting. After briefly setting up a private practice, which doesn't help much, he is encouraged by Mildred to return to work becoming chief of staff at General Pershing VA Hospital (called "General General") in nearby River Bend.

After successfully helping his new wife Soon Lee find her family, Klinger brings her home with him to Toledo only to be ostracized by most of his family and unable to find an apartment that will rent to a mixed race couple. To makes ends meet, Klinger resorted to illegal bookmaking and petty crime, but was arrested and held over to stand trial. During that time, Klinger corresponded with Potter who has since started working at General General and offered Klinger a job as his assistant. The judge, seeing this as a fresh start for him, dismisses the charges against Klinger, and he and Soon Lee move to River Bend.

Father Mulcahy, whose hearing was badly damaged in the final episode of M*A*S*H, is now drinking heavily and suffering from deep depression after not being given a parish in his native Philadelphia. With the help of "his sister, the Sister", and from Potter who arranged for surgery to successfully restore his hearing, Mulcahy stopped drinking, and with some encouragement from Potter, also moved to River Bend to become the resident Catholic chaplain at General General.

Format[]

AfterMASH exploited its connection to M*A*S*H whenever possible. Sometimes this took the form of plot devices, such as the episode in which Klinger arranged for Potter's civilian office to look exactly as it had in Korea. More generally, however, AfterMASH attempted to mimic M*A*S*H's comedy/drama hybrid which served the preceding series so well. But in unavoidable contrast, while M*A*S*H highlighted the immediacy of the horrors and suffering of war, AfterMASH could only deal with the same matters after the fact, significantly reducing the emotional impact.

Moreover, many of the characters in AfterMASH were counterparts to the characters depicted in M*A*S*H. One example was in the character of the idealistic and talented young surgeon, Dr. Gene Pfeiffer, later replaced by Dr. Mark Boyer, both of whom bore some similarities to Hawkeye. Additionally, the Frank/Margaret dynamic was revisited in the persons of hospital administrator Mike D'Angelo (later replaced by Wally Wainwright) and his prim and obstinate assistant, Alma Cox (who is later chosen to be Potter's secretary).

All in all, either because of or despite its attempts to mimic the character structure of its parent show, and also because of the aforementioned attenuated emotional influence, AfterMASH could not recapture the feeling of the original, and was cancelled after 29 episodes (essentially 2 1/2 seasons) were broadcast; the series finale was never aired.

Cast/Characters[]

  • Note: This table counts 21 episodes in the first season (with the first episode being double length), and 8 episodes in the second season, as "Wet Feet" was never aired, the total being 29.
Actor Role Years Seasons Episodes
Harry Morgan Sherman Potter 1983-1985 1–2 29
Jamie Farr Maxwell Klinger 1983-1985 1–2 29
William Christopher Father John Mulcahy 1983-1985 1–2 29
Kellye Nakahara PA Announcer 1983-1985 1–2 26
Rosalind Chao Soon-Lee Klinger 1983-1985 1–2 23
Barbara Townsend and Anne Pitoniak Mildred Potter 1983-1984, 1984-1985 1, 2 (actress replaced between seasons) 19
Brandis Kemp Alma Cox 1983-1985 1–2 19
John Chappell Mike D'Angelo 1983-1984 1 19
Patrick Cranshaw Bob Scannell 1983-1985 1–2 (absent from last few episodes of Season 2) 19
Jay O. Sanders Dr. Gene Pfeiffer 1983-1984 1 (first half) 14
David Ackroyd Dr. Mark Boyer 1984-1985 1 (second half)–2 12
Peter Michael Goetz Wally Wainwright 1984-1985 2 5
Gary Burghoff Walter "Radar" O’Reilly 1984 1 2
Edward Winter Samuel Flagg 1984 2 1

Episodes[]

See: AfterMASH Season 1 and AfterMASH Season 2 for lists of episodes.

Reception[]

AfterMASH was first broadcast on September 26, 1983 in the same Monday night 9pm Eastern time slot as its predecessor. The show ran a full season of 22 episodes (with the hour-long pilot episode counting as two), finishing a very respectable 15th in the Nielsen ratings, far better than the first season of M*A*S*H fared eleven years earlier (46th in the 1972-73 season).

For its second season, however, CBS ordered two moves that proved disastrous: First, they moved AfterMASH to Tuesday nights opposite NBC's top ten hit The A-Team; the show's new marketing campaign showed Klinger, back in a nurse's uniform, shaving off Mr. T's signature mohawk. The none-too-subtle implication was that AfterMASH would trounce the A-Team in the ratings, but the opposite wound up happening. Second, substantial changes were made to the supporting cast, and efforts were put forth to make the show more funny, which only hastened the show's demise. Consequently, AfterMASH had plummeted to the bottom of the ratings in its second season (90th overall) and was canceled by May 1985, while The A-Team remained a solid top 10 hit for an additional season, though its formulaic episodes eventually wore thin on viewers resulting in its own cancellation less than two years later.

Trivia[]

  • AfterMASH is a pun on "Aftermath".
  • The only other regular character from the original series to appear on AfterMASH was Radar, who appeared in a two-part episode in season 1. Gary Burghoff was the star of his own pilot called W*A*L*T*E*R, in which Radar moved from Iowa to St. Louis and became a policeman. The series was never picked up, and the pilot was aired as a TV special on CBS only in the Eastern and Central time, but was pre-empted in the Pacific and Mountain time zones by the Democratic Convention.
  • Edward Winter also appeared in one AfterMASH episode as Sam Flagg, who was now working for an unspecified intelligence agency whose agents were authorizes to carry sidearms in their shoes.
  • The post-war lives of the other members of the 4077th were fleetingly referenced throughout the show's run. It is mentioned that Hawkeye contemplated quitting medicine but decided to go into pediatrics, and Winchester married his high school sweetheart and became chief surgeon at Boston General Hospital, but the civilian lives of Margaret, B.J., and Frank Burns were never addressed.

External links[]

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