Reelz will premiere M*A*S*H: When TV Changed Forever Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT. The special celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic comedy-drama that premiered on September 17, 1972 and ran for 11 seasons that would become a beloved television juggernaut culminating with over 106 million people tuning in for the series finale in 1983 – a record that still stands today.
Through new exclusive interviews with the actors Jamie Farr (Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger), Mike Farrell (Captain BJ Hunnicutt) and Jeff Maxwell (Pvt. Igor Straminsky) with producers and writers, the special explores the brilliant series that lasted four times longer than the war it was fought in and its delicate ride between comedy and drama in a time when the evening news about the Vietnam War beamed onto television sets every night across America.
M*A*S*H also had many creative firsts never seen before in TV drama, including killing off a main character and weaving multiple storylines into a single episode. M*A*S*H also broke television barriers by taking bold risks in tackling issues of racism, gay men in the military, and anti-war sentiment. But what viewers didn’t see on screen were the struggles that left the show hanging by a thread on more than one occasion, including its lukewarm audience reception in its first season that almost led to its cancellation.
In M*A*S*H: When TV Changed Forever The cast and crew reveal their battles with network execs to keep the show alive, their first days on set, their favorite episodes, what they think made the show a mega-hit and why it lives on today today. The special also traces the franchise’s history, including its origins, the 1968 novel “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors” and the award-winning film M*A*S*H. Oscar®, with Elliott Gould who, in a new interview, shares the story of how he landed the coveted role of Captain John Francis Xavier “Trapper John” McIntyre. Series executive producer Burt Metcalfe and writers Ken Levine and Gary Markowitz discuss the show’s stylistic firsts that were considered risque at the time with episodes shot in different perspectives, including a soldier’s point of view after being injured and becoming a patient inside the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and a black-and-white documentary-style episode with real-life war correspondent Clete Roberts interviewing characters from M*A*S*H. And in the true M*A*S*H fashion, real events would find their way into key storylines after a fire engulfs the Malibu set before production wraps up on the series’ monumental finale. The two-hour finale was extended for an additional 30 minutes after it was decided to tell stories about the fire much to the satisfaction of network executives who sold 30 seconds of commercial spots in the series finale to the same price as those of the Super Bowl that year. . M*A*S*H: When TV Changed Forever is produced by AMS Pictures.
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