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CBS (ended 1983)

M*A*S*H Timeline Solved !!

  • Avatar of TurtleRB


    [1]Jul 28, 2008
    • member since: 07/24/08
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    Looking over this message board back as far as it shows surprised me in that I didn't see any posts about the impossibly-confused timeline of M*A*S*H episodes. You know: like Potter arrives at the unit in Sept. 1952, but also was there for the New Year celebration of 1950/51; an episode with B.J. (arrived concurrently with Potter, thus 1952) has a radio news broadcast about Pres. Truman meeting Gen. MacArthur at Wake Island (happened in October 1950); on and on and on....... the historically astute viewer catches one or more in each episode.

    After a lot of thought, I have figured it out. This is metaphysical and unsatisfying, but it is literally the only way I can find to make sense of the M*A*S*H timeline: Once the second cast is in place (Potter, B.J., Winchester, Klinger as clerk), then the FIRST CAST EPISODES NEVER HAPPENED. Henry Blake, Trapper, and Burns never existed. Potter was always the C.O., even back to 1950, B.J. was there even back to 1950; multiple seasons (climate, not TV) can happen after Potter's arrival (instead of the 3-1/2 between Sept. 1952 and the end of the war in July 1953) -- how many Winters and Summers were portrayed in the Potter years ??

    I'm reminded of Jack Nicholson's exchange with "Delbert Grady" in "The Shining," and may I paraphrase:

    (Potter walking out of his office at 4077 past Klinger in the outer office; stops suddenly having a Deja Vu attack) "Say, didn't a hombray named Blake used to ride tall in the C.O. saddle here?"

    (Klinger) "Why no, your Colonelship!! YOU are Sultan in this tent! YOU have ALWAYS BEEN Sultan in this tent!"

    Nothing else works.

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  • Avatar of sienster


    [2]Jul 28, 2008
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    I'm not sure of your explanation. The characters refer to Trapper and Blake on several instances after the new cast starts - not to mention Frank.

    I think they simply made some mistakes with the chronology of events. It doesn't bother me any, as I'm no history buff.
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  • Avatar of ladybritcomfan


    [3]Sep 1, 2008
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    Unfortunately, I don't think that's going to work because the original characters are mentioned in later episodes. Which means they did exist.
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  • Avatar of Selk


    [4]Sep 2, 2008
    • member since: 06/25/05
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    Yeah, Henry and Trapper are mentioned in Season four and Henry is mentioned in the second-to-last episode when they were putting the time capsule together.
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  • Avatar of mulefritters


    [5]Jun 17, 2009
    • member since: 09/22/08
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    These kinds of discussions always make my head hurt. In response to this type of obsessive behavior, I think Mr. Myers said it best:

    Austin: So, Basil, if i travel back to 1969 and I was frozen in 1967, I could go look at my frozen self. But, if I'm still frozen in 1967, how could I have been unthawed in the 90s and traveled back to the 60s? [goes cross-eyed] Oh, no, I've gone cross-eyed.

    Basil: I suggest you don't worry about those things and just enjoy yourself. [to camera] That goes for you all, too.

    Austin: Yes.

    Edited on 06/17/2009 7:32pm
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  • Avatar of jjbiowa


    [6]Aug 24, 2009
    • member since: 08/25/09
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    I love M*A*S*H and just decided that I can't let the timeline bother me. I'm old enough to remember watching it when it FIRST aired starting when I was in High School. No one would have ever dreamed that it would go on for 11 seasons. The writers in the early years moved it along the real-life Korean war timeline because there was some thought that the show would end after 1 year, 2 years, etc. Plus, there were so many writers and directors. There are a lot of inconsistencies especially with regard to characters' brothers & sisters, spouses, etc. If you let it bother you, it'll drive you nuts. But it is also part of what I love about the show.
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  • Avatar of jmac4ever


    [7]Apr 27, 2010
    • member since: 11/12/05
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    I think it's best to view the timeline by dividing it up by the number of years the show was on. It was on for eleven years, so divide eleven years by the three and a half years and you can figure it out from there. Roughly it makes every season about four months long in the context of the war itself. Now, obviously it's not a flawless system as the writers themselves had NO idea when the show would actually end and often times simply played with the timeline to suit their own story purposes, but, for the most part it works. I prefer to think of the first three seasons as one year (and I believe that Hawkeye even references it as such in the season 4 premiere) and the following seasons as one year to every three seasons. In the series finale, Margaret mentions that she's worked with Charles for two years. At first this sounded strange to me, but if you use the formula I've come up with it, it actually makes sense. Charles showed up in season 6 (one year and eight months into the war). If the formula is right, then Charles was at M*A*S*H 4077 for two years exactly (six seasons=two years). That makes the war three years and eight months long. Of course that's not exactly right and I don't believe that the first M*A*S*H unit was on the ground from the very start of the war, but it's as close to an actual explanation of the timeline that I've ever been able to come with and it's the only one that I think makes any sense. There are plenty of continuity errors to be found throughout the show, but very few of them actually defy the timeline so much as contradict prior information. Col. Potter having a daughter in later years as opposed to the son he had in earlier episodes is not a timeline error as much as it is a plot inconsistancy. The episode, "A War for All Seasons", is, however, a direct timeline contradiction with the events that happened at the end of season three and the beginning of season four being set in 1952. Although, seeing as the year 1952 in those instances was used as a reference point rather than a plot point and seeing as the year being 1952 at the end of season three contradicts the overall formula, I find it's easier to just ignore those little timeline slip-ups as they really are few and far between when compared to the more obvious blatant continuity errors (the gender of Potter's child, Hawkeye having a sister in the pilot, Blake's wife's name, etc.).

    I hope that made sense lol.
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  • Avatar of snake63


    [8]Apr 12, 2011
    • member since: 10/19/03
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    Trapper was mentioned in The Joker's Wild. Both Henry and Frank Burns were mention in the time capsule and the tongue depression monument episode.

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