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The Only MASH Episode With Just 1 Cast Member Is The Show's Most Divisive
2024/04/09

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MASH's Unique Experiment with "Hawkeye" There's an episode of MASH that features only one main member of the cast that has become a divisive outing among viewers. Neither the original author of MASH, Richard Hooker, nor the director of the 1970 movie adaptation, Robert Altman, liked the TV spinoff, feeling it cheapened the story or missed the point. Even so, MASH ran for 11 seasons and received acclaim for its then-groundbreaking mix of laughs and drama; there were even some MASH spinoff shows.

Alan Alda Takes the Spotlight in "Hawkeye"

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The first four seasons were spearheaded by Larry Gelbart, who developed the show for TV and wrote and directed many episodes. Gelbart was key in shaping what the series became, but by the end of season 4, he was feeling both tired of the medium and coming up with fresh challenges for himself. One of those challenges was MASH season 4's "Hawkeye," where Alan Alda's surgeon is the only main cast member to appear in the entire episode.

The Experimental Nature of "Hawkeye" In a conversation with a fan (via MASH4077TV.

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COM), Gelbart spoke about the one-man show nature of "Hawkeye." In short, the episode was created because the premise was something unique, while giving its leading man a showcase for his various talents. Much of MASH's "Hawkeye" is the titular character rambling on about different subjects, such as a waitress he once dated, a math teacher who had three nostrils or just what a wonderful thing the human thumb is.

The Polarizing Reception of "Hawkeye" If the showrunners had to pick any cast member to front a solo outing, Alda's Hawkeye was the obvious choice. By this point, Alda was the undisputed star, and his commitment to the series for 11 seasons underlines how much he cared about it. Even so, some feel MASH's "Hawkeye" was a blatant showcase for Alda, and the episode suffers as a result. On the flipside, there are MASH devotees who praise Alda's high-energy work in "Hawkeye," and the subtleties he sneaks into it throughout.

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