Gary Burghoff wrote a script for a Radar-centric M*A*S*H episode
The series co-creator loved it. So why didn't it get made? Burghoff blames Radar's reputation.
It wasn't uncommon for actors on M*A*S*H to double as writers. Alan Alda is the most obvious example, but McLean Stevenson and Mike Farrell slipped into the writer's room as well.
Gary Burghoff, Radar himself, almost joined them before he left the show.
In the book TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book, Burghoff talked about watching the episodes that came after his departure from the show in season eight. Specifically, the episode "Dreams". "Dreams" is a polarizing episode, due to how unusual it is — some fans think it's a great character study, others think the episode is just too strange.
Count Burghoff among the "Dreams" fans. "I loved 'Dreams'," he said in the book. "I found it fascinating. I loved it."
However, he did have one issue with it. "It was a little frustrating because I had written a script called 'Radar's Dream'. In it, you know how they would sometimes show Radar reading comics. Well I had Radar having a dream [where] he became a superhero... just like in his comics. I had Radar actually getting taller, having him walk on unseen 6-inch ramps that inclined on the floor. And, he ends the war."
He gave the script to Larry Gelbart, the series co-creator, co-producer, and frequent writer and director. "Gelbart loved it and wrote me a letter saying we'll do it."
Alas, we did not get Radar as a superhero. "Someone put the kibosh on it," Burghoff said. "Well, I honestly think that they (some M*A*S*H people) honestly thought of me as this man/boy like Radar was. So I think that contributed to my not getting to direct or having a script produced... I guess I didn't have that persona on the set that I could do it (write or direct). I think Gelbart knew. I look at that script of mine and think, 'this could have flown'."
Alas, it seemed that Burghoff played Radar too well. "Funny thing is, I'd already had a lot more experience than some of the others on the set. But I just couldn't convince them that I was not this man/boy."
What do you think? Would you have tuned in for "Radar's Dream"?