The TV version of “M.A.S.H” (a.k.a. “M*A*S*H”) was one of the most successful sitcoms ever. It ran for 11 years and its final episode garnered one of the biggest TV audiences of all time.
But it was about WAR. The events in the original film and the TV series took place in the Korean War – but everyone knew it was REALLY about the conflict then taking place in VIETNAM.
And thus it was that when McLean Stevenson thought he had a better offer – during Season Three – they decided to write him OUT. However, the writers decided it was time to remind people that War Is Hell. And so they wrote a scene where Radar O’Reilly announces to all in the E.R. that Henry Blake’s plane was shot down, over the Sea Of Japan, on its way to reunite Henry with his loved ones.
The writers first went to the producer and said they had decided it was time to get SERIOUS. The producer said, “You’re not going to show me dead babies, are you?” No, they replied – and showed him the page.
Then it went to the director and he took it to Gary Burghoff, who played Radar (the only actor who had transferred from the film). He read it. They explained that they were not showing it to the rest of the cast – the script would simply say that Radar comes in and reads out a communique.
Gary said, “You get one take – I can’t do this more than once.” And that is the take that was used.
I had it up on YouTube for a YEAR, before some twat at Fox had it PULLED. But thanks to Fox’s tardiness, you will find other recordings of it there – just search “Radar O’Reilly Henry Blake MASH.”
Of course, when America saw it, they FREAKED. How DARE you, they said. M*A*S*H is supposed to be a SITCOM. You made us CRY, you bastards.
But speaking of dead babies, when Bob The Gob and his lovely assistant Midge Ure organised Live Aid, they enlisted the help of David Bowie and Mick Jagger, who did a campy version of the Martha Reeves’ classic, “Dancing In The Street” – complete with video – with all profits from the record sales going to the afore-mentioned charity.
However, a short while before, David had seen a Canadian documentary about the African famines the event was being organised to raise money for – and he tracked down its cameraman and asked if he could borrow the film, to use on said forthcoming event. The guy said sure.
Then they grafted the footage onto a sentimental love song called “Drive” by The Cars and played it during the concert, just enough times so everyone (two BILLION people) would see it at least once – but not enough to make people inured to it.
Even yours truly donated a fiver. Which sounds lame – but I was seriously SKINT at the time. And I’m convinced I wasn’t the ONLY one to go further than just sitting there, enjoying the music.
In fact, I believe at least HALF the money donated to Live Aid was generated by that film – which had literally been an afterthought.
HOWEVER… while the tears shed over the unexpected demise of Henry Blake were fair enough – War IS Hell – along with those generated by Bowie’s footage – Live Aid raised over a hundred MILLION quid – sometimes people can go TOO FAR.
A piece I put on YouTube that IS still up – is an advert for… …well, check the info panel below it.
The piece can be found on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH4B2Wq614E
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now…