M*A*S*H* – You Are and Always Will Be the King

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MASH stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. It all started as a Novel by Richard Hooker and then adapted for the movie theater in 1970 by Ring Lardner Jr and Robert Altman. It was about 2 doctors – Duke Forrest and Hawkeye Pierce, later joined by Trapper John. The scene was set during the Korean War at the MASH 4077.

The movie has been praised by the American Film Institute as one of the top 20 funniest movies. But what was more important was in 1972, it was adapted for TV by Larry Gelbart and showed on CBS from 1972 to 1983. The cast – with the exception of 4 characters – had gone through changes, but the content was still fresh and vibrant.

That is why on February 28th 1983, the cast said “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”. They didn’t just say that to the 7 main cast members and countless staff. They also said that to 50.15 Million households. It was the most watched television episode in history – And I was one of them.

But what’s more important is – most likely, no TV show will ever match those numbers. Ever.

ER was a show about a Chicago hospital and it’s doctors. It was on NBC for 15 years. I saw the first episode and the last. However, I didn’t see the last episode until Saturday when I sat down and called up Hulu.com. Only 16 Million households watched the last episode of ER on Thursday night. I didn’t get any numbers from Hulu.com as to how many people watched ER on their portal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that knocks up the number a bit.

You can also watch the show on NBC.com or Hulu.com. You can probably also get it through torrents and other sites. While that might push up the numbers of viewers, it still won’t attribute to the stats that were made during the actual event.

We are definitely differently. A DVR or PVR will let you record a show to watch later. A Sling Box will let you watch it at home, on your computer, , at the hotel or wherever.  The key ingredient is we are watching on our schedule.

Not all the time is that key ingredient true. Sometimes – especially at the end of a hard work day – we want to fall on the couch and turn on the TV. We don’t want to think about what we are watching, just that we are watching something. Only one button to worry about and that is the channel button.

The TV does have force fed content. We don’t like what we’re watching? FLIP! Another channel is right there. No having to type in abc.com or hulu.com. No searching for content on Google or Yahoo- well, maybe at most the TV channel guide on the remote, but that’s it.

Of course, with the web and tagging, we can get to one show and we have a list of at least 3 shows we might also like. We might even see shows we didn’t know about. TV doesn’t do that. Maybe someday that will change.

Some say that the TV will make its own transitions to act more like the web. Any type of “Direct TV” button does that – That is how I watched episodes of Mad Men, Dexter and Californication last year. If you watch Showtime, you notice that the On Demand lets you watch next week’s episode this week. So does that mean Cable wants you to watch OnDemand over the channel itself?

While we all are waiting for that to happen, we will have to choose – should I watch that as it happens, or next week on hulu.com. If I don’t watch it tonight, will I watch it tomorrow? Maybe I’ll just get all 7 seasons of MASH and watch that on my AppleTV.

BTW – if you ever want to GPS where the MASH unit was, try these coordinates. 34.096347°N 118.744918°W

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