Reelz will premiere M*A*S*H: When Television Changed Forever on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 9pm ET/ 6pm 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 in more than 106 million people tuning in for the series finale in 1983—a record that still stands today.
Through new exclusive interviews with cast members Jamie Farr (Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger), Mike Farrell (Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt) and Jeff Maxwell (Pvt. Igor Straminsky) along with producers and writers the special explores the brilliant series that lasted four times longer than the war it was set in and its delicate straddling of the line between comedy and drama at a time when evening news about the Vietnam War was beaming to television sets every night across America.
M*A*S*H also had many creative firsts never before seen in television dramas which included killing off a main character and weaving together multiple storylines in a single episode. M*A*S*H also broke barriers in television taking bold risks tackling issues of racism, gays 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 reception by audiences to its first season that almost led to its cancellation.
In M*A*S*H: When Television Changed Forever cast and crew reveal their battles with network executives to keep the show alive, their first days on set, favorite episodes, what they think made the show a mega hit and why it endures today. The special also retraces the franchise history including its source material the 1968 novel “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors” and the Academy Award ® winning movie M*A*S*H starring Elliott Gould who in a new interview shares the story of how he won the coveted role of Capt. John Francis Xavier “Trapper John” McIntyre. Series executive producer Burt Metcalfe and writers Ken Levine and Gary Markowitz discuss stylistic firsts in the series that were considered risky at the time with episodes shot in different perspectives including a soldier’s point of view after being wounded and becoming a patient inside the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and a black and white documentary style episode complete with real life war correspondent Clete Roberts interviewing M*A*S*H characters. And in true M*A*S*H fashion real events would find their way into key storylines after a fire tore through the Malibu set before production wrapped on the monumental series finale. The two hour finale was expanded by another 30 minutes after it was decided to weave in stories about the fire much to the satisfaction of network executives who sold 30 second commercial spots in the series finale for the same price as those in the Super Bowl that year. M*A*S*H: When Television Changed Forever is produced by AMS Pictures.
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