M*A*S*H is an American dark dramedy television series developed by Larry Gelbart and adapted from the 1970 feature film MASH (which was itself based on the 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, by Richard Hooker).
The series is a medical drama/black comedy that was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS which follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War.
M*A*S*H aired in the USA on CBS from 17 September, 1972 to 28 February, 1983. There are 251 half-hour episodes in 11 seasons.
The series originally aired in South Africa on the SABC's old TV4 service, beginning when the channel launched in 1985. It premiered on TopTV's Fox Retro channel on Monday 3 May 2010, at 18h15. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.
Season 11 premiered on Fox Retro on Friday 16 December 2011, at 19h15. New episodes broadcast daily, on weekdays. There are nine episodes in the eleventh and final season.
The movie M*A*S*H was a hit in 1970, and the television series began in 1972 as a result of the popularity of the movie. M*A*S*H (which stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) focused on the medical team and support staff at the 4077th MASH station in Korea, during the Korean War.
The series had 251 episodes and spanned 11 years, significant, considering the Korean War only lasted 3 years.
Similar in concept to the movie, it combined comedy and antiwar messages in what is today commonly known as Black Comedy. In early seasons many of the plotlines were created based on real-life accounts of M*A*S*H surgeons.
The show's main theme focused on the doctors and nurses who dealt with the injured and wounded arriving at their station by bus, ambulance or helicopter.
The location was completely isolated and cut off from the world - they had one road running through the camp, a minefield blocking one side and a mountain the other.
The original cast portrayed the characters introduced in Robert Altman's film. The two main characters were Captain Benjamin Frankin "Hawkeye" Pierce and Captain "Trapper John" McIntyre. The characters were drafted not for military experience but based on their medical degrees.
They had no care for war or politics; they were far more concerned with finding opportunities to enjoy their home-made gin or chasing the various woman at camp.
This resulted in huge irritation from the stauncher "military" types, Dr Frank Burns (Larry Linville) and Senior Nurse, Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit).
Lt. Col. Henry Blake was the commander of the station and he was often kept busy trying to prevent Burns and Houlihan court martialling Hawkeye and McIntyre.
Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff) provided amusement as the company clerk who was able to finish Lt Blake's sentences and had the odd gift of being able to hear an incoming helicopter before being audible to anyone else.
Further hilarity was often provided by Corporal Max Klinger (Jamie Farr) with him dressing in woman's clothing in constant attempts to get discharged for medical (and mental) reasons.
Finally there was Father Francis Mulcahy (William Christopher) who looked over the camp orphanage.
The majority of the cast voted to end the show after the tenth season, but they decided to return for a shorter 11th season which allowed them to have a grand finale farewell.
This finale was two and a half hours long and was watched by almost 106-million American viewers, which accounted for 77% of the viewership that night. This set a record as the most-watched episode in United States history, which was only surpassed in 2010, by Super Bowl XLIV.
Three spin-offs resulted from the end of the show: AfterMASH, Trapper John, M.D. and a pilot W*A*L*T*E*R, which wasn't picked up by any of the networks.
The only characters to remain as part of the show for its entire run were: Hawkeye, Hot Lips, Klinger and Father Mulcahy.
Note: these details are for the run of the show on Fox Retro only. Original broadcast dates for the SABC are not available.
Season 1 (24 episodes)
Premiere: 3 May 2010 | Finale: 18 May 2010 | Weekdays, 18h15 (double bill)
Season 2 (24 episodes)
Premiere: 3 June 2010 | Finale: 26 June 2010 | Daily, 19h15
Season 3 (24 episodes)
Premiere: 27 June 2010 | Finale: 24 July 2010 | Daily, 19h15
Season 4 (25 episodes)
Premiere: 3 January 2011 | Finale: 4 February 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15
Season 5 (25 episodes)
Premiere: 7 February 2011 | Finale: 11 March 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15
Season 6 (24 episodes)
Premiere: 14 March 2011 | Finale: 14 April 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15
Season 7 (25 episodes)
Premiere: 1 August 2011 | Finale: 2 September 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15
Season 8 (25 episodes)
Premiere: 6 September 2011 | Finale: 10 October 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15
Season 9 (24 episodes)
Premiere: 11 October 2011 | Finale: 11 November 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15
Season 10 (24 episodes)
Premiere: 14 November 2011 | Finale: 15 December 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15
Season 11 (9 episodes)
Premiere: 16 December 2011 | Finale: 28 December 2011 | Weekdays, 19h15