The kid (aka Ella, my fourteen-year-old) has been on a M*A*S*H kick lately. She discovered the show last year on a DTV broadcast station while staying at my mom’s place in the country and then was very pleased to find it running on TVLand on our cable system. She’s about the age I was midway through the show’s original run.

She’s loving the show, and I’ve been enjoying seeing it again after all these years. I was a dedicated viewer when it was first run. I went as geekily far as to get a martini glass to drink from while watching; since I was a kid, I drank soda from the glass. Did I mention I was geeky?

We came across the DVDs on sale at B&N this week, so we picked up season one and have been watching them in order. Starting right at the beginning has been incredibly interesting. I’d completely forgotten that the character of Spearchucker Jones had carried over from the film; they let the character go after eleven episodes. I’d also forgotten about the character of nurse Margie Cutler, played by the future Mrs. Kotter, Marcia Strassman, who appeared in six episodes.

But what’s really amazed me is the character of Radar. First-season Radar is much like the character in the film (the only main character to be played by the same actor), and noticably different from the character he became. First-season Radar accepts a drink from Hawkeye in the Swamp; in later years, Radar would get drunk drinking too many Grape Nehis. First-season Radar appears in a faux documentary in just his boxers, striking poses; in later years such “nudidity” would have been unthinkable. 

I’m loving this Radar, and it’s unfortunate that they decided to play up the naive country boy angle as the series continued. That put actor Gary Burghoff in the awkward position of a man approaching forty trying to act like a gosh-gee-whiz teenager; later on when they did let him show his age, it was almost too late, and seemed forced. No wonder Burghoff grew weary of his role.

For now, however, I’m basking in the nostalgia as well as the fun of watching Ella watch the show. It’s always nice when the kid likes something I like.

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