M*A*S*H: Movie vs. TV show

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mark Silver, Jan 7, 2002.

  1. Mark Silver

    Mark Silver Stunt Coordinator

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    Alright, someone was eventually going to start this thread, so I thought I would do it. Everyone seems to have an opinion on which they like better. For me, I like the TV show better. I have never been an Altman fan and while I enjoy the movie, it seems (and the documentaries on the disk bears this out) Altman was heavy on messages and speeches and light on plot. The plots on the TV are also pretty weak, but they seem to purpose if not depth.

    I love character driven pieces, and I believe the TV show did a better job than the movie of conveying depth of characters (and not just because they had 11 seasons vs. 2 hours of movies).

    I think the biggest difference is that Altman and the movie truly wanted an ensemble feel with no lead actors, where the TV obviously focused on Alan Alda and everyone else was a supporting character.

    BTW, I think Alda was better as Hawkeye than Sutherland.
     
  2. AdrianJ

    AdrianJ Supporting Actor

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    Personally, I love the movie. That should come as no surprise since I am a big Altman fan. In fact, I never liked the TV show, which I saw for many years before knowing there WAS a movie, until after viewing the movie.
     
  3. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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    I'm glad you started this thread. I've found my M*A*S*H fandom being renewed with this week's release of the Altman film and the first season of the series, and I had considered starting a similar topic.

    Altman's M*A*S*H is one of my all-time favorite films. I strongly feel that it says more in 2 hours than the tv ever could in 10 1/2 seasons. While I love some episodes of the show, sort of like others, and cringe at several, the show was done for commercial reasons. Altman's was more artistic and more in the spirit of Hooker's novel.

    I like Alda has Hawkeye, but I think he was pretty much miscast. They felt that for the show to be a success, they had to have a leading man, not a trio of guys carrying the ball. So, basically, Alda conceptually played both Hawkeye and Trapper, and Wayne Rogers was the obligatory sidekick. Sort of like Duke only from Boston and with Trapper's name. Then Rogers quit as he saw his role get smaller and smaller.

    But I also think that Altman is a little too harsh on the show, calling it "racist," etc.

    Anyway, I do plan on getting some of the seasons of the show on DVD since I'm very interested in seeing them without the laugh track.
     
  4. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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    By the way, I wonder if this should go in the "Movies" area...
     
  5. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    Altman's response to the series is probably sour grapes, and I think it's a little petty of him. It's apples and oranges.
     
  6. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    As a kid I started off with the series and loved it especially the early episodes. Then as a teenager I read the novel and watched the film. No matter how much I love the early episodes the film is much better IMO. Easily one of my favorite films ever.

    Jim
     
  7. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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  8. PatrickL

    PatrickL Second Unit

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  9. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    M*A*S*H wasn't a bad show, as sitcoms go, but I've always considered it highly overrated. I personally have no interest in the show on DVD.

    As with any TV show based on a film, it is much lighter in tone, so if that suits you, you may like the series better.

    That being said, in all fairness to the show, I don't believe it ever actually tried to be the movie. It's a totally different animal.

    As you have probably figured out by now, I prefer the film.
     
  10. Eric Huffstutler

    Eric Huffstutler Screenwriter

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    I am old enough to remember both the movie when it was first released as well as the impact the TV show had.
    I love them both and believe that no one who considers one or the other should be without both!
    The movie is the building block for the series (even if they say it wasn't) and the TV sitcom was more than a comedy, it dealt with real life situations and each show had a morel.
    I can't wait for the final episode of the series to come out because the 1983 2 hour movie "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" is one of my all time favorite and gut wrenching movies (VERY emotional!)
     
  11. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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    ...And that's exactly my problem with it. The final episode was all sap and no irony.

    I always get a stronger sense of closure with the line "goddamn Army" followed by the PA voice saying "that is all."
     
  12. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I love both although I slightly lean toward the film.

    One of the things I love best about them both, though, is the fact that they manage to feel so different yet also having some similar themes and of course the same characters/setting.

    One of the rare times that a story can be done well in 2 very different manners.

    As for Altman pushing issues, come on, the show is as bad or worse on that account. Alda did take the soap box quite often. But the show still gives me the warm fuzzies. Altman's does not obviously, but it a completely stimulating and interesting film.
     
  13. Marvin Richardson

    Marvin Richardson Supporting Actor

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  14. Chris Lynch

    Chris Lynch Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a hard time comparing the two. The television show is one of my favorite shows of all time, and Altman's film is one of my favorite movies of all time. Comparing these to each other is similar (to me) to comparing a film based on a novel to the novel itself. Two different mediums that can do much different things.

    But, to go along with the topic, if I had to pick one, it probably would be the tv show, just on nostalgia value alone. I grew up with MASH. The movie was a later find.

    I would also like to defend Alda as well, I thought he played what was given to him and added so much more.

    And as for edge, anyone remember Colonel Blake's farwell episode? God, I cried like a baby.

    But don't get me wrong, the movie is incredible, IMO.
     
  15. Michael Dehaven

    Michael Dehaven Stunt Coordinator

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    Being a Vietnam veteran Mash, the movie, always resonated for me because of its subversive tone. Mash is a first class anti-war film. For many viewers The Korea location is a flimsy cloak for Vietnam. It is obviously Altman's tone poem to openly portray his thoughts and concerns about a bad war and a bad time in our country's soul/psyche. The TV series is a sit-com and is more interested in being funny/ironic than taking on subversive ideas or anti-war portrayals. I never liked the TV series as there is no question about its Korean setting and thus did not speak to or resonate for me. I never felt like the TV show was commenting about the Vietnam War or that period of American history. Each has its own pleasures and really have nothing to do with each other. I imagine taking a subversive and essentially an anti-war film and regurgitating it as a Korean War Sitcom of dubious depth is likely what rankles Mr. Robert Altman.
     
  16. Brian O

    Brian O Second Unit

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    Personally, I enjoyed the TV show more. Through time, the characters became like family. And through the years, the show had some very dramatic episodes that were so well done. Any show that can make you cry one second and laugh the next is one I can enjoy.

    I did see the TV show before I saw the movie, so I am partial. I compare things in the movie to the TV show. Robert Duvall playing Frank just didnt work for me after watching Larry Linville all those years.

    The Hawkeye role was made for Alan Alda and he ran with it. So many well-written, memorable characters in the TV show over the years. For me, I place it at the top of my Dramedy TV list.
     
  17. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    There were some memorable episodes there, like the "real time" one with the clock in the corner, the POV of the soldier with the throat wound, Hawkeye calling Mako "son of a bitch" (a TV first? Not sure, but it surprised me back then!), and one of my favs, the episode that showed an entire year from New Year to New Year. Some may call it just a sitcom, but to some of us it was just a little bit more.
     
  18. Coressel

    Coressel Supporting Actor

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  19. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

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    You know, I just thought of something. I always thought that the final episode was a bit different from the series, and now I seem to think that I can't recall a laugh track anywhere. Now, did they take it out, did Prime take it out for rebroadcasting, or did they just not do anything 'funny?' Or am I recalling incorrectly?
     
  20. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    I definitely prefer the film although I like the T.V show, especialy the first season, where I can watch Loretta Swit without a suntan and a modern haircut.[​IMG]As with a lot of shows, characters are toned down and made more lovable as they go on, which is what happened to MASH. The same thing happened to All in the Family, another show whose best episodes were in the first few seasons.
     

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