Monster M*A*S*H

W*A*L*T*E*R was a pilot for a spin-off of M*A*S*H made in 1984 that was never picked up. It starred Gary Burghoff, Ray Buktenica and Victoria Jackson, who was two years removed from joining the cast of Saturday Night Live.

The show related the adventures of Corporal Walter (Radar) O'Reilly after he had returned home from the Korean War. The woman he had romanced during his final appearance on M*A*S*H was nowhere to be found. More importantly, he was no longer calling himself "Radar" and he had moved away from Iowa. Taking root in St. Louis, Missouri, he had become perhaps the world's gentlest police officer.

Difficulties in showing[]

Since the pilot was never picked up by CBS as a series, it was shown as a "CBS Special Presentation" in July 1984. It was shown once in the Eastern and Central time zones of the United States, but pre-empted on the West Coast by CBS News coverage of the 1984 Democratic National Convention. This is the only known broadcast of the pilot.


The episode takes place after the series finale of M*A*S*H, and immediately following a two-part guest appearance on AfterMASH, in which Walter was forced to leave the family farm.


No longer using his army nickname "Radar", Walter is now a rookie policeman living in St. Louis with his colleague and cousin Wendell Micklejohn. As they get ready for work they are watching the start of a television interview by Clete Roberts, who is following up with various former staff from the 4077th; the previous week Roberts had interviewed Hawkeye, and this week Walter's interview is being televised. At the police department and through a store front window, Walter and Wendell catch bits of the interview, giving viewers of the pilot a chance to bridge the events of M*A*S*H and AfterMASH with W*A*L*T*E*R.

In flashbacks during the interview scenes, Walter returned home to Iowa, but due to failed crops and competing government subsidies he was forced to sell the farm and livestock and then send his mother to live with his aunt. After marrying his bride in River Bend (shown in an episode of AfterMASH), she left him for his best friend during their honeymoon in St. Louis. Having hit rock bottom, a wandering Walter went to a drug store to buy an overdose of sleeping pills (with aspirin as sleeping pills gave him a headache), but the drugstore clerk, Victoria, dissuaded him and they became friends. Wendell then helped Walter get a job with the city police, where he proves to be quite valuable in solving small problems as he resolves a dispute between two strippers, and gets his wallet back from a young would-be thief whose father was killed in Korea.

The pilot shows that W*A*L*T*E*R would have been light-hearted, simple comedy, in keeping with the Walter/Radar's character on M*A*S*H, but without the social value and heavier drama of the parent show.


External links[]

  • TV article on W*A*L*T*E*R, 15 Feb 2005 Archive URL
  • article on W*A*L*T*E*R Archive URL