On today in historical past, Feb. 28, 1983, ‘M*A*S*H’ finale attracts report TV viewers of over 100 million | Nationwide
More than 100 million Americans tuned in to say goodbye, farewell, and amen to the doctors, nurses, and staff at the fictional 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital on that day in history, February 28, 1983.
The final episode of the hit CBS sitcom “M*A*S*H” remained the most-watched television show in American history for 27 years.
It was eventually surpassed by Super Bowl XLIV (The Saints over the Colts) in February 2010.
Its finale, 40 years later, is still the most-watched scripted TV show in American history.
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Debuting in 1972 when the United States was still fighting the Vietnam War, “M*A*S*H” shared the dark, comedic antics set in a field hospital set during the earlier Korean War.
“‘Goodbye, Farewell and Amen’ received a whopping 60.3 rating and 77 shares…a whopping 105.9 million people watched on average over the two and a half hours, with 121.6 million watching in the last six minutes peaked at,” MeTV.com writes in a review of 2022 about the defining moment for American broadcast television.
The 77 share meant that more than three-quarters of all people watching TV that night were watching that one episode of “M*A*S*H.”
It attracted a high proportion of 82 in San Francisco, according to a Variety report at the time.
“Advertisers spending up to $450,000 per 30-second commercial seemed to get their money’s worth,” Variety noted.
“M*A*S*H” was so popular throughout its eleven seasons that Prince Charles attended a taping of the show during a two-week tour of the United States in 1977.
He then attended a luncheon with the cast, still in costume, according to an Associated Press report at the time.
MeTV added, “While the numbers are impressive, it’s the emotion that sustains ‘Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.’
The episode ended with Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) exiting the unit by helicopter when he looked down and saw the word “goodbye” written in giant letters with stones – the message that field surgeon BJ Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell) had left. .
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It was indeed a goodbye from one of the nation’s most beloved casts in television history.
“Viewers laughed at the antics of the characters at Rosie’s Bar or The Swamp with Hawkeye nestled in his purple robe, the color of royalty,” wrote the Hollywood Reporter while celebrating the finale’s 35th anniversary in 2018.
“Mourning losses in the operating room, feeling Radar (Gary Burghoff) clinging to his teddy bear at night, feeling Maxwell Klinger’s (Jamie Farr) pride in his Statue of Liberty outfit and BJ Hunnicutt’s heartbreak at missing his daughter’s.” Childhood.”
The crowd glued to the tube for the final few minutes was so massive it disrupted New York City’s plumbing infrastructure as the curtain closed.
“After the end, so many people rushed to the bathroom that the subsequent drop in pressure from flushing the toilet caused a surge in the tunnels that carry water from the Catskills to New York,” MeTV wrote.
The sitcom was based on the hit 1970 film M*A*S*H, which in turn was inspired by Richard Hooker’s 1968 book M*A*S*H: A Novel of Three Army Doctors Name One former military surgeon.
“M*A*S*H,” the TV show, has been dark, deep, thoughtful, scathing, or cynical at various times – yet always hilarious.
Americans more than 40 years ago, millions of them veterans of World War II, Korea or Vietnam, had a deep connection to the struggles of the men and women of the 4077.
Alda, who not only starred in “M*A*S*H” but also helped write the final episode, was a US Army veteran who actually served in South Korea shortly after the end of the war.
Farr was also serving in the army in Korea around the same time.
“M*A*S*H” paired quick-witted doctors pulled from civilian life to care for badly wounded and dying American boys and sometimes the enemy while messing up military regulations, along with regular career soldiers who attempted to to maintain order.
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They were all bound by duty and a shared humanity while lamenting the state of a species that was so quick to kill one another.
“M*A*S*H” was essentially a divine anti-war comedy in the tradition of “Catch-22” delivered to a nation still mending the physical and societal wounds of the Vietnam War.
Its success was created by a unique confluence of circumstances: a cutting edge, brilliantly written, well acted, emotionally gripping comedy, aired at the right moment in the story.
Evidence of his connection was found in the historic size of the audience 40 years ago today.
“In building the groundbreaking series, the cast and crew forged a bond of love and respect that lives on to this day: a love of truth in storytelling, a love for the audiences they entertain, and a love for one another,” said the Hollywood Reporter.