THE MAX ALLEN REPORT
Volume #12230825 December 23, 2023
A 'MASH-UP' OF
Who likes who when it comes to
Few television shows have endured or made as long a run as M*A*S*H. This show managed to run 255 episodes over 11 years. Many folks fell in love with the show, and it seems every character on the show had his or her own following.
A Max Allen Media survey of 500 MASH fans that were a mixed batch of race and age showed just which of the characters was most beloved or reviled as the series ground on. A lot of these opinions sharpened as Alan Alda took control running the whole show in its final four seasons. Nevertheless, we have come up with who was loved most, who was loved least, and a distillation of the reasons why.
Without further ado, let’s jump into this pool and see how many readers/listeners we can piss off with this analysis.
M*A*S*H: A SURVEY OF CHARACTER POPULARITY
Rated from most popular to least
1. Jamie Farr MAX KLINGER
2. Gary Burghoff ‘RADAR’
3. Harry Morgan COL.
4. McLean Stevenson HENRY BLAKE
5. Wayne Rogers/Mike Farrell ‘TRAPPER JOHN’ & B.J. HUNNICUTT
6. William Christopher FR. FRANCIS
7. Loretta Swit ‘HOT LIPS’ HOULIHAN
8. David Ogden Stiers CHARLES EMERSON
9. Alan Alda ‘HAWKEYE’ PIERCE
10. Larry Linville FRANK ‘FERRET
#1. Jamie Farr, aka. Max Klinger is without a doubt the most beloved and even admired character in this series. His cut-up comedy, quick wit, and incredible range showed him to be more than just a cartoon character in this series. His quirky take on female fashion and a generally irreverent view of the army sold him to most of us. Viewers love the fact that Klinger can be in a dress one day as he teases others and seeks a Section 8 Discharge and in the next scene, he can be seen making sacrifices for his unit, the MASH #4077. There is no contest as to who is most beloved by viewers.
#2. Gary Burghoff, aka. ‘Radar’ O’Rielly is impossible not to love and want to adopt. Radar takes you along with him as he grows from an innocent farm boy to seasoned and mature soldier, all the while retaining his boyish ‘innocent’ side. Who doesn’t love his ordering a “Grape Nehi, hold the straw?” as he unwinds at Rosy’s Bar. This character demonstrates that he is the very glue of the #4077 and for his range of emotion and action he is much loved by viewers. Again, while he was a close second, he is still as cute as a button and much loved by viewers.
#3. Harry Morgan, aka Colonel Potter, Potter shows incredible depth of character and allows you to know the horse-loving patriarch of the #4077 and veteran of 3 wars. Colonel Potter literally drips with the simple charm of an older man who’s been around. Sherman Potter is the guy you would most want for a Commanding Officer in any military situation. Viewers felt a certain kinship with him. Hence, he comes in #3 in the ‘Love Parade’.
#4. McLean Stevenson, aka Henry Blake, His incompetence as a commander but superiority as a friend and surgeon led people to respect him. As innately lovable as his character is, there’s just not enough ‘stand out quality’ for viewers to do any more than ‘like’ him.
#5. Wayne Rogers and Mike Farrell pretty much fell into a tie for who liked and did not like them. These two characters failed to develop to any appreciable depth, and it seems their only purpose was to be foils for ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce’s quips and snide remarks. Neither character managed to escape the shadow of ‘Hawkeye’. Neither Rogers nor Farrell ever resonated with viewers. When shown pictures of both characters most could not tell which was Trapper John and which was B.J. Hunnicutt. So innocuous were their characters that viewers saw them as almost ‘non-entity’, never really forming any opinion about them.
#6. William Christopher, aka Fr. Francis Mulcahy. The character of Father Mulcahy never achieved any appreciable depth, although great effort was exhibited to do so. He had so little exposure that he made only the slightest impression on those surveyed. All viewers can remember is that Fr. Mulcahy’s voice struck them as sanctimonious, and not in a good way. Fr. Mulcahy never resonated with viewers.
#7. Loretta Swit, aka ‘Hotlips’ Houlihan. ‘Hot Lips’ was a whore, willing to sleep with virtually anybody as long as he fascinated her or if she could get something out of it. Her continued dalliance with Maj. Burns and her repeated attempts to have Pierce and his sidekick jailed [or worse] did nothing to endear her to the viewers. For the most part, viewers held her in no small amount of contempt as she continually went over the heads of her commanding officers, backed Major Burns in every possible legal assault on his comrades. Greedy and disloyal, she was indeed a contemptible jezebel who never gained a following of viewers.
#8. David Ogden
Stiers, aka Maj. Winchester.
#9. Alan Alda, aka Capt. Benjamin Pierce. With far too much laugh track to his every word his character was that of an incredibly flawed individual. His sanctimonious lecturing to us about the horrors of war and repeated phrases meant to suit any occasion grated on all of us. ‘Hawkeye’ showed himself as a childish, self-centered, jealous, womanizing, quick-tempered, judgmental and emotionally unstable drunk.
Virtually no viewers surveyed even ‘liked’ the character of Dr. Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce. These same viewers lamented his domination of the show and came to call it “The Alan Alda Show”.
So disliked was this
character that many of those surveyed found themselves praying for the episode
where ‘Hawkeye’ would be court-martialed and sent to prison … thus
getting him off the show.
#10. Larry Linville, aka Major Frank Burns. This is the only character more disliked and even hated than ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce. Burns was a man-whore who repeatedly cheated on his wife. He was a coward, a hypocrite, a liar, a thief, a backbiter, and just plain not a good person by.
Nobody surveyed likes Major Burns. It’s a fact that many of those surveyed were waiting for Frank Burns and Hotlips to get busted and court-martialed for conduct unbecoming of an officer. Their disdain for the character was a very close second only to ‘Hawkeye” Pierce. Some of the surveyed actually waited for an episode where Frank would be killed. Gee, I guess he wasn’t well liked at all.
A survey of 500 MASH viewers aged 40 and up brought the results printed here on page. It can be said that, while the show was a big hit for many years, it had a few areas that needed to be cleaned up. According to those surveyed nearly all felt that less attention to Alan Alda and a little more to other members of the cast might well have brought even higher ratings and possibly an even longer run to this show.
Alan's father, Richard
Alda, paved the way for him to enter the