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M*A*S*H: Season Nine

4

There's an episode of Futurama in which, during a war on a distant planet, two soldiers end up in an alien M*A*S*H unit. A robot doctor named iHawk cracks jokes as he operates, then flicks a switch on his body from "Irreverent" to "Maudlin". "When will the killing end?" he wails, before flicking himself back into comedy mode.

That's pretty much M*A*S*H in a nutshell: wisecracks and warfare marching hand-in-hand. The show's ninth year is the usual blend of horseplay: excellent one-liners ("Have you purloined some sirloin?") and a largely soft-centred attack on the futility of war - this was prime-time CBS, after all. Highlights include an appearance from a young Patrick Swayze and a thousand swindles, pranks and tomfools.

 

After such a long posting in Korea, however, there's an undercurrent of cabin (or maybe swamp) fever running through these 18 episodes. As the series repeats itself, Alan Alda ensures that the limelight all too often falls on his Hawkeye. That said, he does get all the best lines. Like...

BEST BIT After an explosion in surgery: "Klinger has damage to over 50 percent of his body. Yes... his nose is broken."

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