I’ve been a huge fan of the TV series M*A*S*H since I was in secondary school, when it was shown late on Sundays. (I understand the series ran from Sep 1972 to Feb 1983 in the US.) I thought the setting was interesting – life at a mobile army surgical hospital, situated near the front-line so that casualties could receive care as soon as possible, during the Korean War – and I loved the irreverently humorous tone and inherent gravitas of the show, and the human camaraderie that united the doctors and nurses there, and its memorable characters.
Recently I bought DVDs of seasons four and six. The last episode of season four, titled “The Interview”, involves a TV crew conducting interviews at this M*A*S*H. The reporter asks the soldiers several questions, and they answer them, like they’re on a TV documentary. To me, it’s a classic episode: evocative writing, nuanced acting.
At one point, the reporter asks: “Has this whole experience changed you in any way?” I especially enjoyed two characters’ answers to the question – they show how de-humanising war is.
Here’s what Captain BJ Hunnicutt said:
When I first came here, I couldn’t walk down a corridor full of wounded people without being sickened by it, and now I can walk down without even noticing them.
And this is a gem delivered by Father Mulcahy:
When the doctors cut into a patient, and it’s cold, you know, the way it is now, today, steam rises from the body, and the doctor will… will warm himself over the open wound. How can anyone look on that and not feel changed?