Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot

By Shamus Posted Sunday Dec 28, 2014

Filed under: Nerd Culture 107 comments

Dear Hollywood:

Since you guys are re-making, re-booting, and re-imagining everything, I assume you’re going to have a go at MASH sooner or later. And you should. And sooner would be better than later. Whoever owns the rights to the show is an idiot.

I subscribe to Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix, and I can’t watch MASH on any of them! I guess they want me to buy the boxed set, but… no. I like MASH and all, but I want to watch two or three episodes from different eras of the show, not the entire ten-season run. And I don’t want to pay a hundred freaking dollars for that.

Keep in mind that I’m what’s left of the core audience for MASH. Everyone else is basically dead. (Give or take a decade.) So if I’m not going to buy the disks for a show I remember fondly, you can bet your ass that millenials aren’t going to put down money for a physical copy of a show they’ve never seen. Yeah, some of them caught the show on TV Land or whatever, but most of them just watch stuff online, and that’s where the future is.

Sooner or later my generation will die, and that will be the end of MASH fandom. So you need to reboot this thing while I’m still young enough to make it to the theater on my own. Just find whoever owns the rights to this show and explain how stupid rich they will be after a reboot.

MASH is such an ideal property to reboot that I can’t believe this hasn’t happened yet. It’s a story about war, yet is anti-war. That’s a good setup for having your cake and eating it too. You can have your fun action scenes that make audiences happy while still hitting all those “war is hell” themes that critics like so much. It’s set in a war, so you have an excuse when you need danger or blowing things up, but it’s also a comedy about the boredom that comes from waiting around for war to happen, so you don’t need wall-to-wall action set-pieces. You can squeeze in some trailer friendly action scenes but spend 80% of the movie cracking jokes, which is really cheap to film.

Convinced? No? Willing to listen? Okay then. Let’s do this…

Smile everyone! We want to look our best for the war!

You’re going to need to reboot the setting. You can’t make this about the Korean War. Yeah, I know the Koreas are in the news again and it seems like a Korean conflict would be topical, but look: We are as far from the Korean war as the original MASH movie was from the Edwardian Era. Just to save you a confusing read: It was a long friggin’ time ago. You probably don’t want to attempt to make a war movie AND a comedy AND a reboot AND a period piece. You’re probably going to screw this up anyway, but that’s no reason to make this harder than it needs to be. If you set it in modern day you can have modern music, technology, pop-culture references, costumes, haircuts, and other stuff that makes it easier to make a comedy for general audiences under fifty.

We start with casting first, because who cares about a script these days, right? Just get a committee of no-talent bootlicks to re-work a couple of the most popular episodes into a full-length movie script. It will be senseless and miss the nuance of the show and I will hate it, but I’m used to that by now. I wish you cared more about scripts, but we have to make do with the Hollywood we have, not the Hollywood we want. I’ll just cross my fingers and hope we get one of those rare accidental gems and masterpieces that slip through from time to time.

So here is the cast.

Edgar Wright to Direct

No, do not call Sean Anders or one of those guys. We are not making a slapstick teen comedy. This is not American Pie or Hot Tub Time Machine. This is more like Shaun of the Dead, Kick Ass, or Fargo. We’re hanging out somewhere between “slightly dark comedy” and “pitch black comedy”. “Grimly playful” is how I would describe it. Wright can do that.

Will Ferrell as Frank Burns

Ferret Face!

See, I know your first instinct is to put Ferrell in the lead role, but that’s dumb. Ferrell is best when he’s playing a comical weasel and / or a dumbass. Frank Burns is both.

Alternative: Instead of Burns, have Sir Ben Kingsley as WinchesterFor you young people: Winchester replaced Burns in the latter seasons of the show.. I think that’s actually a better bet, comedy-wise. Kingsley is brilliant, and lots of people overlook his comic talent because he usually goes for dramatic roles. But Ferrell is probably the bigger box office draw, and burns is the more iconic character.

So I guess the question is, do you want to make a better movie, or do you want something more profitable and easier to market? Sorry. That question is so stupid I’m ashamed to have typed it. Ferrell it is then.

Johnny Knoxville as Maxwell Q. Klinger

If insanity is trying the same thing again and again and expecting a different result, then it turns out Klinger really was crazy.

Yeah. This character is going to need some work. Klinger is the character who dressed in women’s clothes to prove he was crazy. Today nearly everyone is going to fall into two broad categories:

  1. People who hate the joke because it’s offensive.
  2. People who don’t laugh at the joke because it isn’t funny.

Having a guy in a dress was daring and transgressive in 1972. But in the 40 years since then the joke went from edgy, to common, to tame, to lame. It’s now on the same comedic level as a pie-in-the-face gag. Moreover, culture has changed, and when people see a guy running around in a dress, they aren’t going to assume he’s “crazy”. Klinger’s antics as a guy trying to get a section 8 would not make any sense in the world of 2015.

This is not to say you can’t have a crazy character. But you’re going to need a different kind of crazy. Knoxville is pretty good at the kind of generic batshit-insane characters Hollywood loves to make.

Jane Lynch as Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan

The kind of heart-of-gold nurse who will be happy to treat the gunshot wound she just gave you.

Listen, I know you idiots are going to see a female name on the list and immediately want to cast some young hottie. Yes, I know her nickname is “Hot Lips”, but this is not a role for Megan Fox. (You assholes.) You need someone who can play the tough and cynical Houlihan. Her entire character will fall apart if you cast for looks alone.

Look, I know you need your young tits in the trailers. (You juvenile hacks.) Just hire a stupid magazine model to play Lt. Kealani Kellye or whatever. You can have your tits. Just don’t torpedo one of the central characters by turning her into fanservice.

Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Potter

Tommy Lee Jones is so done with your crap.

A wise, tough, outwardly abrasive leader with a heart of gold? Jones has been playing this role for 20 years. He wouldn’t even need to memorize his lines. He can just wander on set one day and repeat shit he’s said in other movies and it will probably work out.

Jonah Hill as Walter Eugene “Radar” O'Reilly


Okay, you’re probably just going to screw this up and give the part to Michael Cera because he’s everyone’s go-to guy for “generically nice”. But he’s too much of a mope.

Morgan Freeman as Father Mulcahy

Allow me to resolve this problem with generic folksy wisdom that doesn’t mean anything but sounds profound.

The priest is the voice of morality on the show. You need some gravitas without severity. You need a voice of gentle wisdom. That’s Morgan Freeman. Okay, I concede that he’s too old for the role. But look, you were going to cast some barely-legal bimbo as Houlihan a minute ago, so don’t pretend that you care about age all of a sudden.


Fine. Liam Neeson is probably a better fit for an Irish Catholic priest anyway. But he’s also going to be really expensive. At least call Freeman first, okay?

Owen Wilson as McIntyre / Hunnicutt

Owen always looks like he’s on the verge of getting an idea, but never quite gets there.

Pierce’s sidekick is an interesting character. Er, pair of charactersPart way through the show, Hunnicutt replaced McIntyre, but both characters operated the same basic space in the show.. He’s less of a clown than Pierce, but sometimes also a clown himself, but also sometimes his foil in an “Odd Couple” kind of deal, with Hunnicutt acting as the voice of reason when Pierce goes too far. You need someone who can shift from clown to empathetic straight man, sometimes mid-scene. That’s Wilson. Yeah, he’s super-annoying sometimes, but he’s perfect if you want a guy who can be funny but isn’t going to steal the show from our main character.

Robert Downey Jr. as “Hawkeye” Pierce

I am not Iron Man.

He’s a big name. Huge draw. He’s famous these days for playing guys who are dysfunctional, womanizing, irresponsible, but also brilliant and empathetic. If Downey won’t do it, I’d scrap the whole project.

So there you are, Hollywood. Make it happen and try not to screw it up. And while you’re at it, see if you can get the TV show to appear on Netflix or something.



[1] For you young people: Winchester replaced Burns in the latter seasons of the show.

[2] Part way through the show, Hunnicutt replaced McIntyre, but both characters operated the same basic space in the show.

From The Archives:

107 thoughts on “Dear Hollywood: Do a Mash Reboot

    1. Richard says:

      Oh yes, I have to check if that’s available on my streaming service.
      I missed too much of it when it was on the tellybox.

      Seamus, for good comedy you should always look across the pond first.
      Auntie does some of the best comedy in the world, which forces C4 and ITV to do great comedy too.

      Yep, we got it so good over here.

      Surprisingly little good on over Christmas though.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      But thats a british thing.No one wants to watch a british thing.Except for me,which is why I am so going to hunt this down.

    3. Shinan says:

      At first I skimmed through the article and went to myself “Bluestone 42!” and did a ctrl-f to see if it was mentioned. And it is the very first comment! That just makes me so happy.

      And yes it is also very good.

    4. BruceR says:

      Global-ABC did the Mobile Hospital in Afghanistan thing as a drama: Combat Hospital. Lasted 13 eps, even with Deborah Kara Unger and Michelle Borth. Wasn’t bad, actually, but it wasn’t comfortable going the full screwball and it was probably too soon to be as overtly political as it would have needed to be to break through.

      I think the U.S. show that best caught the spirit of future-M*A*S*H* (the movie) was Generation Kill. Also the truest to personal experience, FWTW. I think any modern war comedy would have to steal a lot of pages from that source in particular. Doonesbury’s cartoons from the combat zones would be another obvious precursor. And for the record, Afghanistan would be WAY funnier.

  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “this is not a role for Megan Fox”

    Especially since she isnt funny,nor a good actress.

    But there are hot young good actresses out there today.How about Karen Gillan,Mila Kunis or Scarlett Johansson.And hey,if you cast Johansson and Downey together,you can get a big draw from the avengers crowd.

    1. rayen says:

      i feel like Kunis would actually be better in this role. She basically played a teenaged houlihan in That 70’s Show. Bt Jane Lynch does dark comedy better.

      … then again black swan…

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      I was going to suggest Jennifer Lawrence if they have to have a young hottie as she could probably pull off the gravitas needed but damn, Karen Gillan would be perfect. I have no imagination. Best of both worlds it terms of hot and credible/funny. And Gillan is probably a lot cheaper than Lawrence at this point (don’t worry Gillan, I’m sure that will change in a few years.)

      For that matter Amy Adams would be good. In the brief moments they let her have a personality in Man of Steel, she showed she could pull this off.

      1. RCN says:

        It’s really hard to believe, and at the same time all too easy, that Hollywood considers Jennifer Lawrence to be a “chubby actress”…

        Still, I love Jane Lynch to death, and while I haven’t had the good fortune of knowing MASH, it sounds like the kind of thing that I’d love, and if Jane Lynch was in it I’d pretty much feel obliged to watch it.

  2. silver Harloe says:

    “A wise, tough, outwardly abrasive leader with a heart of hold?”
    gold, perhaps?

    the question on modernizing the setting revolves around one little bit of research: do we still have Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals anymore? What was done with the severely wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq? My suspicion is that advances in helicopter technology meant they were shipped to Turkey or Egypt or a nearby aircraft carrier rather than having us maintain surgical bases “close to, but not quite at” the front-lines, which was a necessity of the Korean era because the choppers had a more limited range and speed of travel. But I haven’t done this research myself.

    Also, to be possibly over-jingoistic, but I don’t think front-line injuries were as common in Iraq and Afghanistan? Like, we didn’t typically sent 10,000 troops into a meat grinder and produce thousands of wounded at once as much. We’ve changed how we deploy, how much we deploy, and increased body armor. I could just be going off a gut impression that is wrong here, too, of course. But if I recall correctly, we had a lot more injuries in training accidents leading up to Iraq than we had in the actual army-to-army war. It was the years after that that really racked up US dead and wounded, and most of those happened a small squad at a time? I could be way off here. I haven’t done my research here, either.

    1. krellen says:

      The MASH lived and died in the Korean war. It isn’t a thing any more, but you can do the same sort of setting with a field hospital in a hostile zone – either Iraq or Afghanistan would do. (Probably Iraq, as that war is actually over now.)

      (The replacement is a more mobile tent-hospital called a “Combat Support Hospital”, or C(a)SH.)

      1. krellen says:

        Less mobile, not more mobile. And I missed the edit window.

        1. Angie says:

          For that matter, the 4077 didn’t move very often either. Remember the episode where Frank was in charge and he made them move the whole unit across the road because the “M” stands for “mobile?” I don’t remember them moving any other time. And they eventually lampshaded it with that episode where they laid a concrete floor for the operating tent.


          1. silver Harloe says:

            found this on google search:

            Randall answered 1 year ago
            They “Bugged Out”, four times actually.

            “Bug-Out” – the entire camp, aside from Hawkeye, Margaret and Radar left to an abandoned school.
            “C*A*V*E” – the entire camp heads for shelter in a cave from heavy shelling.
            “The Party” – A possible attack has them all move into tents temporarily.
            “Good-Bye Farewell and Amen” – A wildfire forces the camp to move temporarily.

            But, yeah, pretty dang immobile.

            That was probably an intentional commentary on the pointlessness of war. The MASH was supposed to be advancing with the front lines, which never really moved for the whole television version of the war – the front line just continued to turn 18-20 year-old young men into meat for them to operate on, without actually seeming to accomplish anything else.

            1. SKD says:

              IIRC The book MASH was based on actually took place during the Vietnam War but the movie and series were placed in the Korean War in order to avoid being criticized for directly criticizing the Vietnam War which was still taking place. Take that with a grain a salt since its been a few years since I watched the documentary that tidbit comes from so I may be mistaken.

              But yeah, even in real life the MASH units moved very seldom and it was never in the fashion that was intended, i.e. entire camp taken down and on the road in a matter of hours.

              1. Martin says:

                Having read the book countless times, it was in Korea. the film version left it as ambiguous as possible on where they were as a commentary on the Vietnam war, but the book itself was released in the early to mid fifties if I’m not mistaken, years before the US would go on to get involved with that war.

                1. Pufnstuff says:

                  The movie specifies it is in Korea several times… And the first scene features titles which say, quite clearly, KOREA.

              2. Pufnstuff says:

                Sorry, but That’s wrong.

                Richard Hooker, the author in question, actually was assigned to a MASH unit during the Korean War.

        2. BruceR says:

          That’s another thing that’s changed. The CSHs in Afghanistan and Iraq were deployed in the giant “big box FOBs” of Bagram, Kandahar, etc. with all those weird dynamics, not out in a field by themselves somewhere the way it was implied the 4077th was. So everyone’s one flight away from home, one helicopter ride to the front line, a ten-minute walk from the Pizza Hut or the Call of Duty arcade, no direct combat other than the random and mostly harmless rocket attacks, totally isolated from the country around them they were allegedly there to help… there’s a Long War Catch-22 to be written out there yet, no question. Not sure about a M*A*S*H (which, of course, was a novel first.)

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        CaSH would work on multiple levels.Nice title.

        1. Retsam says:

          Though I’m not sure how it’d be made clear: “This is a MASH reboot” if you had to change the title.

          1. Neil W says:

            Just call it M*A*S*H and have everyone in the film refer to it as a CASH. A handful of people will be confused; several people will hate it*; and semi-informed pedants like me and some others of us here will roll our eyes at it. Everyone else will either love it or hate it for reasons completely unrelated.

            * Probably including the military consultant, the writer who did his research (before two other sets of writers (who didn’t) rewrote it) and a number of ex-forces medical staff.

  3. krellen says:

    Dear Hollywood,

    As an addendum, it is important to note that it is the television series, not the movie, that will get you the nostalgia points. Also, the first season wasn’t very good (and it has to be Potter, not Blake – though maybe opening with Blake’s death would set the tone.)

    And if you can’t get Downey, cast some no name that can do a Downey. If you get Pierce wrong, the whole thing falls apart.

    1. Zombie says:

      The big ones are Pierce, Houlihan, Potter/Blake, Trapper/BJ and Frank/Charles. Most of the other people are pretty replaceable, but if those 5 don’t work out its going to be a really terrible attempt at a reboot.

      1. krellen says:

        The reason it has to be Potter instead of Blake: Blake was Pierce’s buddy. Potter was Pierce’s dad. (Blake was Radar’s dad, but Radar wasn’t the star.)

      2. Felblood says:

        Yes, so much of the rest of the cast was effectively “hot, young nurse #4” except they actually gave some of them names and had them show up repeatedly, to give a sense of continuity.

        This only serves to underscore Shamus’ point about having plenty of Operating room bunnies to fill out the frames with boobs. MASH had no qualms about inventing new characters just to get boobs on the screen, or create the appropriate foil for a given joke, and neither should the reboot.

      3. A gould says:

        I’d also say go with Charles over Frank. You’d likely get more comedic mileage over “privileged rich guy slumming it” than “idiot prick”. At the least, a movie with Blake/Frank is a much more slapstick movie than Charles/Potter – and if you’re going for the social satire, the latter is a much stronger combination.

  4. Infinitron says:

    Two things about war comedies:

    1) They work better when it’s a conventional war and not an anti-insurgency quagmire.

    2) They work better when it’s a drafted civilian army and not a volunteer professional army.

    I’ll leave you to discuss the reasons for that.

    1. SharpeRifle says:

      In response to the above.

      1)Its because in a “regular” war there are rear areas where people can relax and a front-line where most of the fighting goes on. In an insurgency technically the war is outside your perimeter.

      2)A drafted force is funnier because they can point out inconsistencies as an outsider and most importantly ….they can complain. I can’t count the number of times Pierce would have had to sit down and shut the f*** up if he could have been given the rejoinder of “You volunteered for this sh**”

      Sorry not a big fan of the show. Now the movie I liked.

      *edit* also a draft force can have a large number of “weirdos” like Winchester showing up…Klinger whose trying to get out…basically people who’d almost never wind up in the sevice.

      1. krellen says:

        I don’t get how anyone likes the movie, particularly over the show. Can you explain it to me? How does the ludicrous football game ending fit in?

        1. Warrax says:

          It was a non-ending for a movie about a war that had a non-ending.

      2. Thomas says:

        1) Some of the FOBs in Iraq and Afghanistan would definitely fit the dramatic purpose of a ‘rear area’.

        To wit:

      3. Warrax says:

        re:2) As a veteran, I can confirm that those kind of people absolutely still exist in an all-volunteer force. From “This isn’t like the movies/video games I like” to “I signed up for the college money” to “I used to be a patriot before I saw how things really work”; there’s plenty to work with.

    2. Peter H. Coffin says:

      To a large extent, Korea *was* a counter-insurgency quagmire. though less so than Vietnam. It kind of set the stage for all the wars since. (Aside from one brief period in the 1980s when we were the ones supplying the insurgents, that is.) Just scratch off “Jihadi” and write in “Communist”.

    3. SlothfulCobra says:

      You can make a comedy out of pretty much everything, the only thing being set in a quagmire does is make your humor much darker, and MASH wasn’t afraid to go there at all, between having a character die right when he was supposed to be going home and Hawkeye having post traumatic stress from seeing a woman kill her child, things got pretty intense. Very bad things happen in all wars.

      As for the lack of a draft, I suppose it would make giving the characters a strong anti-war sentiment odd, but since they’re all doctors you can just excuse the fact that they volunteered as caring for the lives of soldiers more than the war.

      1. Wide And Nerdy says:

        I didn’t think about that. This isn’t a 60’s/70’s television show (I forget), this is a movie in the Tens. Given that war has gotten even murkier since Korea, they could give M.A.S.H. an even darker spin, doing things they probably wanted to do all along but couldn’t at the time because of broadcast standards. I was going to suggest a Cabin in the Woods level of detachment but M.A.S.H. probably works better if the characters remain a little more human.

        Side Note: Could Hollywood possibly afford this cast? I guess if you’re making it 80 to 90% non action.

    4. Matt Downie says:

      “They work better when it's a conventional war and not an anti-insurgency quagmire.”
      I think we’ll need a few decades of historical distance before we can say for sure if a sitcom version of the occupation of Iraq could be a popular success.

    5. stupiddice says:


      You can’t just make a claim and pass it on as a truth and then make the readers prove it for you. This is like saying “heads I win, tails you lose”.

      I don’t really even care that much about your statement, this just hurts my brain.

  5. Joshua says:

    Eh, I preferred the later seasons. Give me Colonel Potter, B.J. Hunnicutt, and Winchester. Much better fleshed out characters.

    1. krellen says:

      Winchester is a vastly better character than Burns. He actually has redeeming qualities.

      1. SharpeRifle says:

        That’s cause they made him a cardboard cutout for the show so they could have a clearcut villain. He was probably the most memorable character from the movie. Least for me he was.

    2. DaveMc says:

      Greetings from the distant future world of 2021! The 2014 version of you will probably be quite surprised at how much has happened since then …

      Anyway, a link to this article just happened to pop up, and I wanted to agree with you: I like every single one of the newer characters better than the originals. One thing I’ve read somewhere is that they replaced all the M*A*S*H* characters with their opposites: blundering goof Frank becomes cooly competent Charles; fellow wacky doctor Henry becomes no-nonsense military doc Potter (I can’t call him “Sherman”); fellow womanizer Trapper becomes loyal family man B.J.

      I think it works so well because every one of those changes opens up so much extra scope for interesting stories. You don’t need two whole extra doctors who are basically like Hawkeye in attitude, so replacing them with a military type and a family-man type gives you a lot more to work with. And giving Hawkeye a worthy adversary in Winchester just worked better – beating up on Frank started to feel like bullying rather than a real battle.

  6. SAeN says:

    Will Ferrell and Jonah Hill in the same movie. I can’t imagine much worse.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Does megamind count?Because megamind was nice.

    2. Ciennas says:

      Transformers 2 & 3.

      The first was congealed during a writers strike, leading to plot holes and nobody reigning in or restraining the negative parts of Bay’s directing style.

      (Skids and Mudflap, guys. Remember them? Even though you’ve spent years actively trying to forget them? How about the giant robo scrotum, or the plot point where they introduced Terminators.)

      The other was more coherent, but had just…. bad if not worse cliches standing in for characters (Homophobia! Jingoism! A female lead that could be replaced by a stapler and the plot would have proceeded without a difference!)

      But the third was more coherent and focused then the second. The fourth actually managed to finish correcting the major flaws of the third. (Female characters who are both realistic and competent! The climax takes place in a city from the culture being mocked in the prior! American government actually an antagonistic force, as opposed to auto good!)

      (The fourth film having only been watched at a friends house, but I got the vibe of Mr. Bay actively trying to apologize for the film immediately prior… and then he did Turtles…. which was…. okay. Not great, but not actively offensive. Accept for the Oedipus complex tbey gave Mikey….)

      1. zero says:

        I’ll note that Pretenders were actually a thing in Transformers, so Alice being a Pretender was fairly canon for various extents of canon.

  7. Zombie says:

    The scary thing about a MASH reboot is how easy it would be to screw it up.
    Seriously, you mess up any one of the 5 big character (Pierce, Houlihan, Potter/Blake, Trapper/BJ and Frank/Charles) and you kind of ruin the show.

    You could make Frank an insufferable jingoistic asshole (and trust me Hollywood will try to do that), and leave out the blundering idiocy that makes him kinda charming; but then you ruin his character by trying to make him the big bad guy, when he’s more of the insufferable asshole who everyone works with. Or you could make Winchester the stuck up snob, and completely forget that what made him such a good character was that he was a snob, but he had a heart of gold.

    I just have no faith in Hollywood making a good MASH reboot, because they would treat it as either a straight up Drama, or, worse, try to make it a straight up comedy that suddenly has dramatic elements thrown in because “Its MASH! There has to be some sort of Drama!”

  8. mzlapq says:

    Are you sure you don’t want the rights holders to just let HBO re-imagine (what the new Battlestar Galactica was called) MASH?

    1. SKD says:

      Based on the body of work HBO has created I would actually trust them to do it.

  9. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Check your local public library network to see if the DVDs are available. Often at least one set is in a given county.

  10. NobleBear says:

    You’re looking at basically expanding the setting of the film Men Who Stare at Goats, which is totally fine.

    Do the following:

    1. Make it a Netflix original Series (See: House of Cards)

    2. Give it 3-5 seasons Max, in advance and structure the narrative accordingly (See also: House of Cards)

    3. Edgar Wright is fine, But I’d give this to David Milch (Deadwood ) or The MWSAG team

  11. Zeta Kai says:

    Obligatory Pedantic Correction: The show lasted for ELEVEN seasons*.

    * – About a three-year war, & included a single episode which takes place over an entire year.

  12. James says:

    So a Comedy, set in a war, that has abit of anti-war elements

    so you mean Bluestone 42??

    (Bluestone 42 is a British comedy set in Helmand Province Afghanistan, it follows the lives of a bomb disposal squad called Bluestone 42, it is very very very good funny and sometimes touching check it out)

  13. ehlijen says:

    How many people are going to kill me to suggest setting such a reboot during World War Z?

    I’m sure you could draw in a few whippersnappers with a promise of zombies now and then in addition to the trailer explosions.

    Or alternatively, set it on Klendathu (the ugly planet, the bug planet).

    Sorry, I’ll be quiet now…

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      That forgettable Brad Pitt movie?Well,if you like that kind of boring.

      Anyway,the reason that wouldnt work is because that wasnt a war no one wanted to fight.Of course you want zombies exterminated.Mash worked because it was about guys in a war that they didnt want,given to the audience that didnt want that war.Which is why iraq war would fit quite nicely for a reboot.

      1. ehlijen says:

        I was more referring to the book, but yes, I was aware it would have serious drawbacks.

        You’re going to run into a problem when juxtaposing ‘war no one wants to fight’ with ‘war so vital to fight that we must have conscription’, though.

        I honestly think a fictional conflict would work better, simply because the US hasn’t had actual conscription since Vietnam (correct me if I’m wrong).

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          I know you were referring to the book,but you did ask to be punished.

          Anyway,as someone else pointed out somewhere,conscription is not the only way to make the cast likable and relatable.Its not like only the conscripted soldiers can think that the war was bad and unnecessary.

          1. ehlijen says:

            I did and fair enough.

            For a movie not having conscription would work, yeah. But for a series reboot you’d need a long term reason why people are staying even though they would rather leave. You can only excuse it with ‘they signed on and have to sit it out’ for so long. Of course, how long a character that wants to leave should stay is another question.

            Basically, see Community for a show that had to pull reasons out of its rear end as to why the cast stayed for 5 years in a college that offers 2-3 year degrees. It worked, mostly, but only barely.

            Conscription for a fictional conflict would simply make such excuses a lot easier. But yeah, for a movie not needed.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              A season doesnt have to last a full year.You can make a single season last 3 months in universe time.You can also slowly replace the cast,because the war did drag on.

            2. silver Harloe says:

              “You can only excuse it with “˜they signed on and have to sit it out' for so long”

              Four years of in-universe time. That can still be a lot of episodes. The original series turned 3 years of in-universe time into 11 seasons, after all :)

              1. ehlijen says:

                Is it four years of actual deployment? Wow, ok, nevermind me then. I thought most tours of duty were shorter than that.

                1. silver Harloe says:

                  You sign up for four at a time if you’re full-on volunteer military – that would be like the doctors.

                  I think maybe marines get deployed to a hot zone for only a year or two. Also, we used a lot of reservists, and I think they’re only supposed to be deployed a year or two.
                  But I remember there was a thing about many people getting re-deployed several times kinda unexpectedly.

                  I’m all vague on that, though. I remember they tried to recruit me for four years out of high school, but I didn’t really poke to see if there were other options.

                  Speaking of things I’m vague on: wasn’t Iraq and Afghanistan mostly marines, and thus mostly would be using Navy doctors, and thus mostly would probably be lifted to ships for treatment? Buh. I dunno.

                  1. BruceR says:

                    You only spend 6 months to a year in a given active theatre of operations now, though, docs included. And you rotate in and out in formed groups. It’s a different experience that way. For a movie remake, no problem, but for a TV show you’d have to get creative… like by the second or third season having everyone back at home trying to pick up their lives, “After-MASH” style.

                  2. A gould says:

                    I’m not American, so I heard this seventeenth-hand, but wasn’t there something about Stop Loss in the first Gulf War, where soldiers were told that they couldn’t quit?

                    (Mentioning purely as a possible replacement reason why people wanna go home)

                  3. Blackbird71 says:

                    Now there’s a way around part of the conscription angle – make it about reservists, especially near the start of the current Middle East scenario. Once upon a time, we had many reservists who would sign up never expecting to actually see any kind of action, so that could fill the role of not wanting to be there but pulled in anyway, despite having volunteered.

            3. Purple Library Guy says:

              Well, don’t forget that while the modern army doesn’t have conscription, it’s not like a normal job either. Once you sign, you’re not allowed to quit for X long, and at the height of the Iraq war they had this thing where they would add extra terms to people who thought they’d only signed on for one, and they also activated quite a few reserves, so people who had signed up to play soldiers on weekends suddenly found themselves in a shooting war on another continent. And I understand the recruiters can be pretty high-pressure and somewhat misleading, so if you’re young and dumb and impressionable and it all sounds so great and you sign up and then it’s (however things actually are in the armed forces, which I don’t know what that is but I’m betting it’s less fun than like what a recruiter said it was).
              So there could be a fair supply of people with a reasonable basis to say “I didn’t sign on for this!”

    2. SlothfulCobra says:

      That wouldn’t be a good setting for criticizing war though. With zombies it’s way too straightforward, us versus them, and no peace treaty is ever going to happen, they just need to be wiped from this earth like the bland yet overwhelming threat they are.

  14. SlothfulCobra says:

    Setting the reboot in the present would be a mistake, what you really want to do is set it at least 10-20 years in the past so you can criticize current wars from the safety of a setting that most of the controversy has died out of. That was the point of setting MASH in Korea when everybody watching it was thinking about Vietnam.

    You’d want to put it in the first Gulf War.

    1. Neil W says:

      The problem with the First Gulf War is that it’s kind of short for a series (although you could do it 24 style).

      Of course you could set it during the build up. An anti-war comedy set during a phony war. I could get behind that.

    2. BruceR says:

      Great idea, but James Fallows in the Atlantic this week actually explains why it’ll probably never happen:

    3. Decius says:

      I agree that MASH was about Vietnam, even though it was set in Korea. I disagree that the First Gulf War is the appropriate setting, because it was too short for fatigue of a long war to set in.

      We also need to avoid entering the Islamaphobic sphere, so anything in the war on terror is too recent.

      Set it around a UN “peacekeeping” operation in an unnamed Eastern European country going through a civil war.

  15. Anonymous says:

    You have an antenna Shamus? We get MASH on ME-TV even where we live out in the middle of nowhere.

  16. Tizzy says:

    Completely off-topic.
    Except for the timeline and cluelessness of using old TV shows aspect, I guess…

    I saw these ads on TV for apple pay (I think? probably some company advertising with apple pay featured). The ad shows a woman shopping around a department store; it is a take on the credits of the original Get Smart credits, complete with music and automatically opening doors.

    Of course, all of this is done WITHOUT ANY explanation or overt reference to the show.

    I have to wonder: what is the size of the demographic of people who will get and apreciate the reference and are likely to use apple pay? Or is it the marketing department’s private joke? I just don’t get it…

  17. Phantos says:

    Shamus, you’re the only person in the world who could convince me that a reboot might be a good idea.

    I think I’m the only fan of MASH under 40, and now I really want this to happen.

    1. krellen says:

      I am under 40 and Hawkeye Pierce is my role model.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        You dont count almost-as-old-as-Shamus-man.

        Anyway,29 here,and Ive liked mash as a kid,and rewatched it with glee three years ago.So a fan under 40 as well.

        1. krellen says:

          I actually have memories of the airing of the MASH finale. Not watching the finale itself (I was six), but of it as an event, a thing that happened.

      2. Corran says:

        What Krellen said.

        And I own the box set. It’s the only movie/tv dvd(s) I ever bought. For me M*A*S*H is in the top three of best comedy series ever made.

    2. I’m under 25 and I love MASH.

    3. 26, and love MASH too.

      The thing for me would be that they get the tone right. The strange thing with me is that I love the black comedy and satire of the Movie/First season of the show more then later series of the show, but I prefer PJ/Potter/Winchester over Trapper/Blake/Burns. That particularly goes for Winchester – he’s a better rounded character with more development then Frank, who has characteristics beyond ‘Petty’. I find the fact that he is uptight (and almost intentionally so), but still has heart (see – for instance, how he defends Hotlips and the orphanage candy).

      I like to have likeable characters!

    4. Eric J. says:

      My son, who’s 13 discovered the reruns on MeTV (with some recommendation from my wife and me) and is a huge fan.

    5. lucky7 says:

      My 9-year old brother loves the show. As do I.

  18. Neery says:

    You can’t replace Klinger with a generic crazy character without losing one of the things making MASH great. The whole point of Klinger was, there’s actually nothing wrong with this man who wears women’s clothes. He wasn’t a transsexual or even a “real” transvestite, and maybe having a man who dressed in women’s clothes out of a genuine desire to do so would have been too transgressive for mainstream TV at the time anyway, but the show still used him to make the point that *there’s nothing wrong with this guy who likes to wear women’s clothes.*

    They still used him as a cheap laugh all the damn time, but that was the central point of the character, and it wasn’t just generic “lulz I’m so crazy, watch me be crazy” Knoxville type craziness.

    You could probably get the same effect these days with a character who’s acting the part of the cliche effeminate homosexual, if you set the show pre-DATD-repeal, but I cringe at what a mess Hollywood would probably make of that.

    1. Decius says:

      The thing that Klinger does all the time is “malingering”, or pretending to be sick/crazy to get out of work. The rest of the hospital defeats Klinger by ignoring him, because Klinger doesn’t actually shirk his duties.

      The counterpart would be someone doing everything possible to get out of the military, except that they actually do their job; and their commanding officer thwarts them by ignoring the harmless misbehavior.

  19. hborrgg says:

    Then instead of the Korean war you can set it during the French and Indian war! This is going to be great!

  20. Tizzy says:

    So, I’m wondering… How many people are familiar with the MASH *books*?

    See, before MASH was a series, it was a movie. That movie was adapted from a novel, an adaptation of true stories of the Korean war circulated by young medical professionals drafted into the conflict.

    Now, the book is much older than the movie. I have to assume that, when it came out, the tone was too caustic to interest 1950’s Holywood.

    But the book was a huge hit, and spawned DOZENS of sequels [EDIT: after checking, I realize that it was really ONE dozen sequels… ] that follows the characters once they’re back stateside. I read the original book, but couldn’t lay my hands on any of the sequels.

    Anyone knows anything about them? Are they any good, or just cashing on the success of the first one? The characters sure are interesting, but it is hard to imagine what kind of things they could run into at home that would beat the wartime stories…

    1. Eric J. says:

      I remember reading the first couple of books. The first one was a lot of fun, and I think plot-and-character-wise tracked the movie. One thing I remember is that a third doctor in the Swamp, Duke, was just as major a character as Pierce or Trapper John. I don’t remember much about subsequent books, but I’ve heard that as the series went on, they got very right-wing reactionary, and Hooker hated the movie and TV series.

    2. Joshua says:

      So, the book M*A*S*H is one of the great English-language comedies of the 20th century. It was written by Richard Hornberger, who was a surgeon at the 8055th in the Korean war, and a sportswriter W.C. Heinz. The movie kind of tracks the incidents in the book, but makes pretty arbitrary changes, like Hawkeye being mistaken for/pretending to be a driver and Duke & Hawkeye stealing the jeep that takes them to the 4077th [movie] vs. Duke and Hawkeye meeting and deciding who was going to drive with a baseball bat that Hawkeye happens to have with him (“Always use your own bat” he tells Duke, after winning) [book]. The book version of Hawkeye is a lot savvier than either the movie or TV versions, I think, or at least more up-front with explaining things as he sees them.

      Hornberger went on to write M*A*S*H Goes to Maine, which was decent, but without the stakes of the war to heighten everything, and without authority figures to bamboozle or weasel around, it’s comparatively slight.

      The series was continued by William Butterworth (credited as a collaboration, but I think really all him), with M*A*S*H Goes to [various places, like Morocco, London, etc.]. These are more farcical, more forgettable, and the characters get a bit (or a lot) Flanderized. Like Hot-Lips resurfaces as a character, but in the meantime she’s gone from being a nurse to being the head of a gay church in San Francisco (The God Is Love In All Forms Christian Church, Inc., iirc). A bunch of new characters are introduced, like an eccentric Saudi Sheikh, an oversexed Russian opera singer, a slimy newscaster, and they have actual plots, unlike the Hornberger books, the ones I think of as the “real” M*A*S*H which are basically slice-of-life.

      Eventually, Hornberger wrote one more book, M*A*S*H Mania, about which I can recall absolutely nothing.

  21. Ricky Gervais as Frank Burns
    Nobody can deadpan stuff like Gervais

    Jim Carrey as Maxwell Q. Klinger
    The bulk of the stuff Klinger does would probably be ol’Jim just adlibbing stuff. A guy acting crazy (or is crazy) trying to get out of the millitary, but for some reason gets denied, despite his antics (perhaps a higher ranking officers like to see him suffer? a general and father?).

    Sarah Silverman as Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan
    Mature but still hot, able to pull of the “blonde look” without actually being blonde.

    Tommy Lee Jones as Colonel Potter
    Good pick.

    Jonah Hill as Walter Eugene “Radar” O'Reilly
    Also a good pick.

    Liam Neeson as Father Mulcahy
    I like this.

    Chris Rock as McIntyre
    Some color is needed (pun intended) in the main cast, Chris Rock might seem like a possible lead, but Chris is able to also pull back and do a great “Dude, that’s insane, no way I’m doing that, I’ll get my black ass whupped by the Colonel!”) but he’s also able to do the “I’ve got a herb garden under my bed!” thing if needed.
    And he and the priest can have a ongoing thing about the last name (a black guy named McIntyre has to have a great backstory). It would also make it possible to do a few race jokes and observations, and CHris can deliver quite a few dry lines when needed, also great potential for adlib stuff.

    Robert Downey Jr. as “Hawkeye” Pierce
    Great pick.

    And set the action at a NATO reserve base (good excuse for multi-national passing though characters) and as it’s a reserve base nothing happens and the gang gets into real trouble when trying to waste time. Some drama can be achieved with the gang eventually ending up sent into combat (perhaps with one of the main characters killed) possibly a cliffhanger, a sequel could then have a new addition to the main characters (aka “the new guy/gal”), where such a dramatic “mission” would take is hard to say but Afghanistan would be a good bet, if two movies then them going to would be the end of the first movie and them returning would be the start of the second (the combat is not the focus after all).

    Also calling it MASH would not do, but it could be called M*A*S*H*U*P
    Standing for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital Unit Preparation with Unit Preparation basically meaning it’s a MASH university/graduation program, supposedly readying them for later deployment.

    That way they’ll be able to call the sequel M*A*S*H*U*P*2 (oh stop groaning folks).
    That way they could use the movie(s) to draw folks in and do a new M*A*S*H TV series (with mostly unknown names) where the action could take place in say Afghanistan, the MASHUP characters could make cameos in the first few eps to tie the new movies and series together.

    And if the first MASHUP movie fails to relaunch the TV series, well no harm no foul, as a standalone movie it’ll probably be good anyway, as would a sequel IMO.

  22. Dev Null says:

    They’ll do it too. JJ “Lens Flare” Abrams will direct. Schwartzenegger will play the hard-bitten ex-sniper-turned doctor Hawkeye, who finally takes up his guns again when the hospital gets bombed, leaving him the only survivor. From there, he’ll embark on an explosion-riddled one man campaign of bloodshed and revenge, single-handedly ending the war, saving the day, and winning the heart of the girl (There will be one. She will not speak.)

    1. blue_painted says:

      The girl might not move either, being constructed entirely of silicone.

  23. Mechaninja says:

    … I feel like you wrote this entirely based upon the idea of casting RDJ as Hawkeye.

    This is not a complaint.

  24. Eric J. says:

    As I said above, my 13 year old son is a huge fan of M*A*S*H reruns on MeTV.

    I don’t think you can really have a Klinger-equivalent. Mental illness issues among soldiers, and the inadequate response from the military and VA are just too well-known to make it a subject for comedy. Unless you went super-dark and had him repeatedly making fake suicide attempts, to the point that everyone knows they’re fake, and he’s not in any real danger, so no one takes them seriously. Another option would be to model him off of late-season (post-Radar) Klinger, and make him the camp’s wheeler-dealer, Milo Minderbinder type. Maybe play off of Jamie Farr’s Lebanese ancestry, and make him an Arab-American who knows the language and communicates and deals with the locals.

    Morgan Freeman is precisely wrong for Father Mulcahy. The whole point of the character was that he was a pure innocent, completely unsuited to minister to the more worldly doctors and soldiers who’d been facing the hellish experiences they’d been through. A kind and good man, way out of his depth.

    1. silver Harloe says:

      the character of “trying too hard for a section 8 for anyone to believe he’s really crazy enough to get a section 8” doesn’t really apply without a draft, anyway

  25. Namfoodle says:

    Okay, those casting choices are brilliant.

  26. Purple Library Guy says:

    Silly Shamus. That was then. This is now. We’re not allowed to make anti-war movies now. And if we were, nobody would give them buzz.

  27. Blackbird71 says:

    My first reaction would be: “attempts to recreate a masterpiece always end in disaster”.

    But if this were to actually happen, I’d have to say that both of your casting choices for Father Mulcahy are completely wrong. You allude to the fact that Morgan Freeman is too old for the role, and there is a reason for that. A big part of the character has always been a measure of the naiveté and optimism of youth and inexperience. Neither Freeman or Neeson could pull that off, I’m afraid.

  28. Frans says:

    Please, call Sam Rockwell before you go to Knoxville.

  29. Agnostick says:

    Dear Hollywood,

    When was the last time a movie based on an old TV series °really° hit paydirt at the box office?

    Think about it. I’ll wait.

    Yeah. Exactly. See what I mean?

    Here’s a better idea, Hollywood: Instead of continuously raiding the vaults because you’re too spineless or cheap or whatever, let’s try something different.

    Ready? This is, by the way, cutting edge, revolutionary stuff.

    Hire writers.

    Remember them? They sit, maybe in front of a typewriter, maybe with paper and pen… and they come up with stories. Not all of them are keepers, but some of them will be good. And every so often, you’ll get a J.K. Rowling, or Stephen J. Cannell. Someone like that. Those people don’t come along often, but they’re worth the wait.

    Hire writers. Pay them some money for the good stuff, pay them more money for the great stuff. Make sure you at least pay them enough so they can eat, sleep under a roof, maybe have a dog, so they can clean dog barf off the carpet when they have writer’s block.

    The original “M*A*S*H” television series gave us 11 great years of quality, groundbreaking, *timeless* comedy, drama, life lessons. Don’t worry about the alarmists like Shamus, who think this stuff will fall off the face of the Earth. We’re still watching Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Katherine Hepburn. “M*A*S*H” isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.

    Shamus: That settles it. No more Japanese food before you go to bed.

  30. Scott says:

    Um,nope,leave it alone

    1. They could do it better in the 70s by following the novel and film and adding material. Imagine Aaron Sorkin writing the teleplays.

  31. I’m not exactly sure who Colonel potter or Hunnicut are you do have some pretty good casting. Interestingly enough one of the major characters from MASH that you missed was Duke Forrest who Johnny Knoxville is more suited to play than Corporal Klinger. I’m afraid there is not a Colonel Potter in MASH but wow would he be perfect to play General Hammond. Kill them kill them god dammit! I could hear him saying that! Keifer Southerland is probably too old to play Hawkeye Peirce by now but otherwise it would be great to see him try to fill his fathers shoes. Too many there will be only one Hawkeye Peirce and that is definitely Donald Southerland. Again there isn’t a Hunnicut character in MASH but Owen Wilson could play the second neglected character in this article which would be Trapper John Macintre. Robert Downey is too old to play Hawkeye to I’m afraid. Hawkeye was almost thirty as were Duke and Trapper. Which actually takes Owen out of the running as well. That’s funny because its a series about three army surgeons and I can’t think of how to cast the main characters is a crying shame. I did read somewhere some thought Tim Allen could play the role of Henry Blake. Blake would be important as he was the one part of the show that was probably better on the show than he was in the movie although Stevenson was a little bit too slapstickish for the character but Tim Allen could add the touch more smarts and backbone that Blake would need without making the character too serious. You really need a mix of novel, movie, and series Blake for series. He should be just as funny without being silly. Tim Allen could do that with the right writer. I wish I could be more help on casting but I can’t think of who else could fit.

    The series would be simple as it would be a one season expansion of the book. Of coarse the show would be put into an hour format. Duke and Hawkeye ride a jeep together to the 4077 drinking the whole way there. Nothing wrong with copying the movie a bit and letting them borrow the jeep. Each episode has gags from the novel and movie and surgery. The film should have the back ground between Duke and Spearchucker. They should show the fundraiser to send Hojon to college stateside in Maine. Add some antics and surgery here and there. The movie neglected to mention that Melayyoulay adopted the baby that Trapper and Hawkeye worked in Japan. Even though it wasn’t in the novel they must keep the bet if Hotlips is a real blond or not. Also when they get rid of Frank Burns they need to show the mic under Frank and Hotlips cot. Nothing wrong with adding stuff from the film. To make a full season the writers are going to add allot of stuff before the last episode when Hawkeye and Duke go home much to Trapper Johns envy. One season of good quality episodes taken from the novel like so many other shows today. And Klinger is not in the book or the movie book there is a place for him someplace. Piece of trivia Klinger’s character is based on comedian Lenny Bruce.

    1. Pufnstuff says:

      You have no idea who Colonel Potter or BJ Hunnicut are?

      SO you’ve never watched the series?

      Then how do you know who Klinger is? He makes no appearance in the movie.

  32. fourthords says:

    I saw this Bill Hader video ( today and though about this post.

  33. PPX14 says:

    They’re too old now I’m sure, but the cast of Platoon might have done a good job, mostly versatile actors with some propensity for comedy. I do like John C McGinley.

  34. Nate Winchester says:

    Sir Ben Kingsley as Winchester

    I too would kind of support that, though the original David Ogden Stiers performance will be so hard to beat. As an alternative, I would enjoy Michael Caine as him.

    (speaking of both, Shamus, you ever seen the film “without a clue”?)

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