While I am generally familiar with most television of the last 50 years, I have always bowed to those with greater knowledge than I.  One such man is Otter Disaster, the mind behind Major Spoilers Adventures, whose knowledge of M*A*S*H leaves my own in the dust  While watching the M*A*S*H 30th Anniversary special on TV Land recently, I was struck by the realization that, in its history, the show essentially changed from a gag-driven sitcom to a dramatic examination of war and the human condition.  Also, that Charles Emerson Winchester III is the most pompous human being ever to be committed to celluloid, but that’s neither here not there…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) wonders what anger turned upside-down, coated in bacon fat and rolled down a hill would be, asking: Which do you prefer: Sitcom-type shenanigans or deep-thinking ruminations about life, humanity and our place in the universe?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. SmarkingOut Adam on

    Shenanigans. I have other activities that promote deep thinking–the reading of certain types of books, listening to sermons and thought provoking podcasts. It’s not what I look for in my TV shows.

  2. Why not have both? MASH did it, Scrubs did it, Southpark (at least during the first few seasons), Simpsons, and even Clone High did it!

  3. Robert Hulshof-Schmidt on

    They don’t have to be mutually exclusive, do they? At their best, shows like Roseanne and M*A*S*H* (and sometimes Modern Family) blend real comedy and hijinks with social messages ranging from the subtle to the sledgehammer. At their worst, they don’t know what they are and are very irritating.
    That said, I prefer my 30-minute shows to be entertaining. If they can be thought-provoking at the same time, great. If not, please entertain me. Mary Tyler Moore, Cheers, Frasier, and the other greats work for me because they are clever and funny, not because they make me think (very often).
    I am, however allergic to extremes both ways, disliking slapstick and “very special episodes” with equal passion. Complicated, aren’t I?

  4. I’m adding my voice to those who say “both”. And I’ll further add that in my vast television-viewing experience while both, when done well are wonderful, it seems more agreeable to sprinkle a little heavy in a sitcom than sitcom in a heavy. MASH did a great job of things earlier on but about a season after Winchester (a character I DO like even though he’s a pompous windbag) they got a little too much into the heavy. We get it: Regardless of the reason for it War Sucks For The People Directly Involved. And then Hawkeye and Maj. Houlihan shagged and it all went to hell.

  5. Both. I agree with comments above that MASH succeeded in welding the two, slapstick humor with serious commentary on the human condition, and they did it better than the movie or the novel. Likewise the humorous episodes of Star Trek: Mud’s Women, I, Mudd and The Trouble with Tribbles. Mostly played for laughs but with serious underpinnings without getting preachy about it. Michael, above raises some points, but I think the reason the final seasons of MASH got a little darker was because the characters had been at war too long and were beginning to crack under the strain. Plus, the characters had outgrown their slapstick beginnings – I cheered aloud when Radar O’Reilly left the show – a balding 45 year old hugging a teddy bear stretched my credibility too far. Klinger outgrew his cross-dressing, and Colonel Potter outgrew his horse-obsessed WWI vet codger routine. In the same vein, Hawkeye began to outgrow his bedhopping and got more serious. Those episodes where they broke out of their slapstick routines and dealt with serious issues were among the best. But to get back to the original question, I can answer it best by saying that I no longer watch ANY sitcoms (I quit watching them when The Jeffersons spun off from All in the Family. UGH. They’re all just stupid retreads of the same basic plots and jokes. Not only that, they’re very insulting to the racial minorities who are portrayed on the show. I’d much rather watch something like “In the Heat of the Night” than something like “Good Times”.

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