MeTV Airs the ‘M*A*S*H’ Finale on Veteran’s Day — Go Behind the Scenes on the Episode and the Series

To commemorate Veteran’s Day, the MeTV network will be airing “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” the series finale of M*A*S*H, which brought the groundbreaking series to an end in 1983 after 11 seasons. Airing as a three-hour event at 7:00 p.m. ET, it will also feature interviews with, among others, series stars Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr and Gary Burghoff.

Dale Sherman, author of the exhaustive — and indispensable — book M*A*S*H FAQ  explains in an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, “Running the length of five episodes, ‘Goodbye, Farewell and Amen’ represented a golden opportunity to give major and minor characters on the program a chance to wrap up their stories as we see the Korean War finally come to an end after over 250 episodes.”

The length of the episode, he points out, is a primary reason that the finale has rarely been seen on television as it was never broken down into half-hour segments. “The infrequent nature of seeing the episode makes its airing on MeTV somewhat unique,” says Dale. “Yet, it should be mentioned that there is a great sense of displacement in the episode that may throw frequent viewers of the program, thanks to the finale’s length, its storylines and even the locale used.”

M*A*S*H had experimented with the format over the years, such as the first-person narrative “Point of View” in season 7, and the well-remembered “The Interview” from 1976, which was filmed as if it was a black-and-white documentary, to the finale, which began with Hawkeye Pierce suffering a nervous breakdown and in a psychiatric hospital.

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“That must have been shocking to audiences on the night it originally aired back on February, 28, 1983,” muses Dale. “Although the storyline — based on a real-life event — is one that Alan Alda had wanted to pursue for quite some time, to shift the series away from the 4077 for much of the first hour’s running time to deal with Hawkeye’s story, especially one that ultimately is rather dark, was a vastly unusual move, particularly for what was to be the final episode of the series.”

“Compound that with things appearing in the episode uncommon for the series — such as POWs being penned within the camp, or everyone from the camp enjoying themselves on a beach near the beginning of the episode — can easily rattle viewers who may be wondering if the show was coming from an alternate universe,” he continued. “Sharing with that sense of being out-of-sorts is something that had to be done due to a fire hitting the standing set in California at the time. Suddenly everything about the series seems a little weird. Yet, in a way, that nearly dreamlike ‘not quite right’ look to the finale helps reinforce the ending of the series as well.”

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20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

“Just as we in our everyday lives find comfort in the norms of the world around us, when we find ourselves moving on from one aspect of our lives — be it our jobs or home life — the world around us quickly takes on an appearance that seems otherworldly. We notice things we never saw before; find relationships suddenly changing as the dynamics we built around us shift; wonder what we’ll see or do next. And such rapid changes to our world plays into the finale, as it does in the last pages of the M*A*S*H novel by H. Richard Hornberger, on which the series is based, which also saw major characters slowly leaving the war behind to return to their previous lives.”

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