Forty years ago today, television history was made when CBS aired the series finale of “M*A*S*H.” The massively successful show – a spinoff of the 1970 Robert Altman film that took the film’s anarchic spirit and fused it into an early dramedy – ran for eleven seasons, nearly four times as long as the Korean War that provided its setting.
The 2.5-hour episode, entitled “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” set a ratings record that will never be matched. It drew 106 million viewers, which at that time was more than 60% of all U. S. homes. Several recent Super Bowls have reached higher numbers, but nowhere near the proportion of the same viewing audience. The days of that kind of monoculture are gone.
Long live “M*A*S*H.”