M*A*S*H: The Full Story of one of TV’s Greatest Shows

A Slow Start Develops into an All-Time Classic

The first episode of M*A*S*H the TV show aired on September 17 of 1972. Despite later becoming one of the biggest shows in the world, the first season didn’t do too well, and there was even talk of M*A*S*H being canceled. However, a second season was produced and given a better time slot. From that point on, it didn’t take long for word to spread and hype to rise about the show, and M*A*S*H started receiving impressive Nielsen ratings from its second season onwards.

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Mike Farrell, US actor, Loretta Swit, US actress, and Alan Alda, US actor, in a publicity still issued for the US television series ‘M*A*S*H’, USA, circa 1975. The medical comedy starred Farrell as ‘Captain BJ Hunnicutt’, Swit as ‘Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan’, and Alda as ‘Captain Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce’. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

The show earned a rating of at least 22 from season 2 all the way through to season 11 and was in the top 20 programs on TV for the entire duration of that run. Despite covering a war that only lasted three years, the show ran for 11 seasons, with its unique mixture of serious drama and side-splitting comedy particularly rare for the time and still unique to this day. The writing in M*A*S*H has always been very highly regarded, with several episodes classed among the best-written pieces of television ever made.

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