M*A*S*H marks 30th anniversary of historic finale
I remember the finale of M*A*S*H like it was yesterday, instead of turning 30 years old this very day.
On Feb. 28, 1983, I sat in front of the TV at home with my hand on the VCR control, dutifully hitting "pause" in the recording so that my Mom would have a commercial-free version of her favorite show's final episode. It wasn't even a remote control; it was wired, keeping me within 3 feet of our behemoth TV. I don't remember caring one way or the other that the show was ending; it felt like a chore having the watch it week after week. (I was clearly young and stupid in 1983.)
Years later in college, I found the aging VHS tape (packed in a box with newer copies of Beverly Hills Cop and Caddyshack) and popped it into the same machine that had recorded it. And finally I got it. And by the time we see "GOODBYE" written in stones near the chopper pad, I was in full-on weeping mode.
Here are some other recollections and trivia about the show:
THE LENGTH: The episode, titled Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, was 2 1/2 hours long. It was the show's 251st episode and conclused the series' 11th season.
THE AUDIENCE: Most everyone knows this, but it drew 121.6 million viewers and still holds the title of most-watched TV show finale. It rarely airs on TV anymore since it's not part of the syndication run of the show.
THE STORYLINE: Ken Levine, one of the show's writers, said this on his blog: "If I’m being honest, I didn’t love the finale. I thought it was too long ... and I did not like some of the storylines. (Some I loved though, like the Charles subplot with the instruments.)"
THE WRAP PARTY: Again Levin provides the detail. "It was held on a Saturday night at Morton’s in Beverly Hills. Very swank. Very posh. We all wore our dressed greens. The great Bobby Short was hired to play. Several of us were standing around the piano listening to him sing and I turned and noticed that the person standing right next to me was Gerald Ford."
NOT THE LAST SHOW: Though it was the finale, this episode was not the last one filmed. As Times Goes By, which aired the week before the finale, was actually the last show filmed. Want to win a bar bet? Alan Alda and Loretta Swit are the only two actors to appear in the first and last episode.