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 immediately following the end of the Korean War and chronicled the adventures of three characters from the original series: Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan), Maxwell Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Father Francis 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.
In the pilot episode, Colonel Potter returns home from Korea to his wife Mildred. He finds retirement boring, so he returns to work as the chief of staff at General Pershing Veteran's Hospital ("General General"). Max Klinger has found himself in trouble with the law in Toledo, disowned by his family for marrying a Korean, and unable to find an apartment that will rent to a mixed-race couple, so he contacts Colonel Potter and soon thereafter he is hired as his assistant and leaves Toledo. Father Mulcahy, whose hearing was damaged in the final episode of M*A*S*H, is now suffering from depression and drinking heavily. After his hearing is surgically corrected, he stops drinking and joins Potter and Klinger at the veteran's hospital as the chaplain.
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 Col. Potter's civilian office to look exactly as it had in Korea. More generally, however, AfterMASH attempted to parallel the dramatic structure of its parent series. Because it took place in a veterans hospital, most of the episodes featured a storyline that highlighted the horrors and suffering of war, just as most episodes of M*A*S*H had done in the final seasons (however, while on M*A*S*H the characters were in the middle of the war and saw its horrors up close on a daily basis, AfterM*A*S*H could deal with such matters only secondhand, reducing their emotional impact). Furthermore, many of the characters in M*A*S*H had counterparts in AfterMASH. Like M*A*S*H with its Hawkeye, the show had a trouble-making but idealistic and talented young surgeon, Gene Pfeiffer (Jay O. Sanders), who was replaced in the second season by David Ackroyd in a similar role. The Frank Burns/Major Houlihan role of narrow-minded, bureaucratic authority figures was filled by hospital administrator Mike D'Angelo (John Chappell) and his assistant, Alma Cox (Brandis Kemp). However, the series did not succeed in recapturing the feeling of the original, and was cancelled after thirty episodes were completed. The series finale was never aired.
In the 1983 Thanksgiving episode, Potter had contact with some of Klinger's relatives who had no trouble with Klinger's marriage. When Klinger wanted to phone his relatives for Thanksgiving Potter kept other people on the phone so that the relatives could surprise Klinger arriving at the Potter house.
- 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.
|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|
AfterMASH was first broadcast on September 26, 1983 and ran a full season of 22 episodes (if the double length pilot is counted as 2). It performed decently in the ratings, topping the numbers for the first two showings (the 2-episode pilot and "Klinger vs Klinger") and stayed in the top 20 for the next 11 episodes. The pilot had a rating of 31.0, or 25.9 million households. This was the highest rated premiere of a new show since Laverne and Shirley in 1976. It finished the Season at 15th place, which was better than M*A*S*H had achieved in its first season.
However, the network probably expected more and for Season 2, a number of ultimately disastrous directions were taken - placing the show opposite the "A-Team", changing key characters, and continuous efforts to make the show more funny. Ratings fell and the series was cancelled after 8 episodes were broadcast. A 9th episode, "Wet Feet" was produced but not aired. Another episode was written but not produced. The second season ranked 90th overall.
- The only other regular character from the original series to appear on AfterMASH was Radar (Gary Burghoff), who appeared in a two-part episode in season 1. The same character was also the star of a pilot called W*A*L*T*E*R, in which Radar moved from Iowa to St. Louis and became a cop. (The series was never picked up, and the pilot was aired as a TV special on CBS exclusively on the east coast, the show was pre-empted in Pacific and Mountain timezones by The Democratic Convention). Edward Winter also appeared in one AfterMASH episode as Colonel Flagg, who was now working for the CIA.
- The post-war lives of the other members of the 4077th were fleetingly referenced throughout the show's run. 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. The "current" whereabouts of Margaret Houlihan, B.J. Hunnicutt, and Frank Burns were never mentioned.
- AfterMASH premiered in the fall of 1983 in the same Monday night 9:00 P.M. EST. time slot as its predecessor M*A*S*H. It finished a very respectable number 15 out of all network shows for the 1983-1984 season, according to Nielsen Media Research television ratings. For its second season CBS moved the show opposite NBC's top ten hit the A-Team. The marketing campaign for AfterMASH featured pictures of Max Klinger (portrayed by Jamie Farr) in a nurse's uniform, shaving Mr. T's signature mohawk off. The none-too-subtle implication was that AfterMASH would trounce the A-Team in the ratings. But history was to have the final judgment — the A-Team continued until 1987, long after AfterMASH had become a distant memory. AfterMASH is now chiefly mentioned in discussions of unsuccessful spinoffs.
- AfterMASH is a pun on "Aftermath".
- While the episode "Wet Feet" was unaired in America, it did air in Australia on Network Ten in 1988.