Series / AfterMASH

A long long time ago — After M*A*S*H but before AfterMASH....
Family Guy (the intro to the Return of the Jedi parody)

This follow-up to M*A*S*H is one of the most infamous Spinoffs of all time.

What do you do after you've spent the last eleven... ahem, three years serving at an army hospital in The Korean War? Come back to the U.S. and restage the whole shebang in a veterans hospital, of course! With the show's least interesting characters and Expies of the ones whose actors refused to come back! How could it fail?

Fail it did. Why? The wrong hands got ahold of the franchise and decided to overplay the comedic elements of the series. What was once a Comedy Drama devolved into pure Slapstick, and from there, things just smoldered out.

The three M*A*S*H regulars to return were Potter, Klinger and Mulcahy, although Radar and Flagg dropped by as Special Guests. What, you say? But didn't Klinger Choose To Stay in Korea in the parent show's Grand Finale? Well, don't worry - that was Hand Waved away in the pilot, because Soon-Lee's parents are safe and sound. Oh, and Mulcahy got his hearing back because we can't have deaf people on television. (Actually, Klinger and Mulcahy end up returning to resolve some lingering plots from the M*A*S*H finale.) Anyway, the result is essentially the same show as M*A*S*H except without the war. Too bad the war was the dramatic driving force behind the whole thing.

Premiering on CBS in the fall of 1983, AfterMASH was cancelled after two seasons. The last episode never aired.

AfterMASH provides examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Father Mulcahy became one of these after returning home, which is why he moves to Missouri to make a fresh start with his old pals from Korea.
  • Christmas Episode: "All About Christmas Eve"
  • Cliffhanger: The first season ended with Klinger put in jail just as his wife, Soon-Lee, is going into labor.
  • Courtroom Episode: Season 2's "Trials", which sees Klinger defending himself on assault charges (and old "friend" Col. Flagg brought in as a witness for the prosecution).
  • Disguised in Drag: Klinger dons a nurse's uniform to elude the cops in one episode.
  • Dr. Jerk: Subverted with Boyer, who's initially rather caustic to staff and patients alike but soon softens considerably.
  • Expy: Several of the supporting characters were these for former M*A*S*H regulars.
    • Gene Pfeffier/Dr. Boyer = Hawkeye/Trapper/BJ
    • Mike D'Angelo = Henry Blake
    • Wally Wainwright = Frank Burns
    • Alma Cox = Early-seasons version of Margaret Houlihan
  • Local Hangout: A bar is conveniently across the street from the hospital.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: A pair of these are the main source of conflict now that the war's over.
  • Photo Montage: Used for the opening credits in season 1.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Mike D'Angelo, the hospital administrator in season 1.
  • Pun-Based Title: AfterMASH! It sounds like "aftermath"!
  • Put on a Bus: Neither Pfeiffer nor D'Angelo made it past the first season. The former actually disappears without explanation, while the latter is transferred to a different hospital in Montana.
  • Repetitive Name: Potter works at Gen. Pershing Veterans Hospital, familiarly known as "General General".
  • Retool: The second season. Season one went quite well. The show recognized its limits, and ended up placing 15th — great for a brand-new show — unless you happen to be CBS, which wanted the numbers its predecessor always pulled (in later seasons — early on, it too took a while). So Klinger went back into drag, Soon-Lee became a caricature, and Barbara Townsend's sturdy competent Mildred Potter was replaced by Anne Pitoniak's shrewish airhead, meant to make her "more like Gracie Allen". S1 had 22 eps and placed 15th; S2 had 8-10 eps and placed 90th. Executive Meddling, much?
  • Running Gag: The hospital sits beside a railroad, so trains are frequently heard rumbling past.
  • Shoot the Television: On the episode "All About Christmas Eve", Father Mulcahy gets a TV so that the long-term patients at the Missouri Veteran's Hospital can have it for Christmas and beyond. However, the airing of a soap opera with a story about a cheating wife infuriates a vet who fears that his wife is running around on him, and he summarily shoots the TV. Some vets are still staring through the hole in the set when all is done.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Alma Cox, although the "sugar" side is mainly reserved for her unrequited crush D'Angelo.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Thanksgiving of '53"
  • Wrap It Up: The three main characters seen from the parent show come back and get resolution for their greatest troubles:
    • Soon-Lee finds her parents, allowing Klinger to finally go back to America with his wife and in-laws in tow.
    • Father Mulcahy has struggled with depression after losing his hearing, but Potter helps him go in for surgery that will fix it.
    • Potter has a long-awaited reunion with his beloved wife.