Here's an inside peek at how they filmed the M*A*S*H finale

The finale that we know and love had quite a journey getting there.

The ending of M*A*S*H was a conclusion that was eleven years in the making, even more, if you include the film as part of the journey. Because of that, it was obvious that the show's final act would be a labor of love from everyone involved.

However, nobody seemed to realize just how much labor would be involved when they began production on the M*A*S*H finale.

According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, over half of the M*A*S*H finale had finished production when the trouble began. Brush fires destroyed the ranch area where many outdoor scenes were filmed, forcing the crew to pause production. After that, David Ogden Stiers became ill, causing him to miss four weeks of work in order to recover.

After all of those hardships, you might have thought that the M*A*S*H team was out of the woods. You would be wrong. Apparently, after that, filming Los Angeles outdoor scenes was impossible to shoot as rains and floods raged the area. 

Apparently, a spokesperson for 20th Century Fox Television said, "We really think that maybe somebody upstairs is trying to tell us something." However, the team was determined. The spokesman continued, "As long as the rains don't start up again, our plan is to go back to the ranch this week and film the remaining portions of the two-hour special."

Some might argue that this 20th Century Fox spokesman may have a point and that these deterrents were really just interventions from a universe begging the series not to come to a close. However, Burt Metcalfe, executive producer of the series, cleared out any lasting wishes with some good old-fashioned logic.

He explained, "We've been on the air almost four times longer than the Korean War later. And when you consider that we've done 24 or 25 shows a year with two or three storylines in each script - that's a terrific strain on the writers. Now's the time to close it out, while we're still attaining quality every week."

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9 Comments

JDWJDW2 7 months ago
I watched the final MASH episode on February 28, 1983. (I think that was the date) I was a patient inside of Harding Hospital here in Columbus, Ohio. Harding was an institution like the hospital where Hawkeye was in the last episode. People had drug addiction, depression, alcoholism etc. when the final episode aired, literally most of the patients sat in front of the TV just to watch. Our unit held about 30 patients and about 25 of them was sitting there watching the episode. I've watched it on Metv several times since then and the scene that always hits me hard is the one where Hawkeye yells at the woman to keep her chicken quite. Only after intense therapy, does he realize that the woman killed her baby to keep it quite so the North Koreans wouldn't catch the entire group. This is an intensely powerful scene. People had to make these decisions during the war. I couldn't have made a decision to kill a baby just to keep the group safe. I could not have made the self sacrifices that the people made back then. To me, the MASH final episode is very enlightening.
57Tbird 7 months ago
The finale was ok. The ending was great but they could have given some actors a bow". Edward Winter as Colonel Flagg. Richard Lee Sung as the cart pushing artist who made Potter's bust, "That's me!." Soon-Tek Oh, who played many parts including Ralph who kept surrendering to Hawkeye and BJ.
CurtX 7 months ago
Liked/loved MASH, but the comments made by Alan Alda & one of the producers saying that "...the whole world was watching the finale was arrogance & egomania to the 10th degree.
I DIDN'T WATCH IT, AND IM SURE MY BROTHERS & SISTERS AROUND THE WORLD WHO HAVE NO ELECTRICITY OR TIME TO PULL THEMSELVES AWAY FROM THEIR DAILY TOILS WATCHED IT EITHER. SUCH SELF- CONCEIT MADE ME UPCHUCK MY DINNER!!!
WordsmithWorks 7 months ago
Incorporating the fire into the story line was a smart move.
JHP 7 months ago
? for the crowd..

MASH was filmed close to the same place that Kobe Bryant's crash was?

another off topic tid-bit
Also Gene Reynolds and Howard Morris did a lot of Hogan's Heroes eps
boston2lalaland JHP 7 months ago
Within some miles, but seperated by many canyons & hills &, now, roads & homes. I lived in ‘The Knolls’ a similarly both green & craggy area of hills & canyons & valleys. All throughout, so very many films were made, especially back in the day’ before more & more housing came up. The specific location where MASH was filmed is still mostly green & beautiful to see.
Andybandit 7 months ago
That episode was the best episode of MASH.
cperrynaples 7 months ago
It is well known that GFAA was shot in pieces! The wrap party was AFTER the time capsule episode!
Pacificsun cperrynaples 7 months ago
True, as are many "finales" like it, given scheduling challenges in terms of labor and talent,. And dealing with studio and external set conflicts (as the articles now and earlier, explain). Especially during those decades, California's weather pattern was very cyclical. We'd have one decade famous for flooding and mudslides. And then another over overrun by Santa Ana winds and wild fires. Once damaged (visually) which had existed for half a century, studio backlots couldn't be rebuilt. And the acreage turned into prime opportunity for property development. Meaning, they were purposefully cleared after a catastrophe. MGM's famous and fascinating "Back 40" is a prime example, turned into Condos among other things. Nobody in this day can imagine how interesting that space used to be. And how many Features used the backdrops. It's a shame it didn't turn into a Historic Preserve. Twentieth/Fox and what Sony eventually acquired, went through the same thing. Only a few spaces turned into true (profitable) tourist attractions. But they've been so modified (commercialized), that they're were far from the original effect, too.

What's fun to watch during some long terms Series, when filming on location. Is when they shot after a rain and the streets were wet. And yes, they were cleaned every twenty four hours. But heavy rains, didn't let them dry thoroughly. You can see the effect ILTB and Mannix episodes, especially.
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