Season 1 Episode 1

M*A*S*H - The Pilot

Aired Unknown Sep 17, 1972 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (7)

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out of 10
132 votes
  • As pilots go, pretty good.

    So it's 1972. You've decided to release a comedy set in a hospital during the Korean War, which is right up there with Porridge and Hogan's Heroes for 'Comedies set in really bizarre places'. You're hoping that it lasts a long time and is very popular (let me spoil the end: it does). So what do you do for the pilot? Confuse people.
    Seriously. The plot's all about raising enough cash to send Ho-Jon to America for an education, but he's still there next episode. Dish is introduced as a main character and then promptly goes into cameos. It begins with the words 'Korea 1950, a hundred years ago', bizarrely. The whole thing just seems weird.
    The pilot gives off the distinct feeling of throwing many characters and ideas into the fray and accepting whichever seem most popular. There's a brief scene in America (the only one in the series), there's a reference to a character from the novel (who never appears) and Spearchucker just seems out of place.
    The plot is pretty simple; to send a Korean they know to university, Hawkeye and Trapper intend to hold a raffle to raise money, while Frank Burns and Hot-Lips raise every argument known to man trying to stop them. It also jars a little that Hawkeye and Trapper (and everybody bar Frank) have absolutely no issue with essentially pimping out a nurse; this is the nearest that the TV series gets to the original book.
    Characters are pretty much the same as they always are first season; Hawkeye gets the brilliant lines, Trapper gets the moderate lines and Frank Burns – well, if you've ever seen Red Dwarf, you're gonna get serious Rimmer vibes from Frank. By and large, the episode is pretty good. I snark a lot, but that's just hyperbole; this is a good episode, with only a few bad things going for it; the disappearance of many characters, if not by season's end then by the end of the episode and the ending (so did Hawkeye change the name at the last minute to avoid incriminating himself? Did he just want to give Mulcahy a treat? Does he hate the man?). But, yeah. It's a great pilot, and a great sign of things to come.
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