Thursday, January 12, 2012

Art imitates life imitates art (M*A*S*H)

M. Hugh Steeply’s father’s M*A*S*H addiction began when the show went into syndication:

“The show was incredibly popular, and after a few years of Thursday nights it started also to run daily, during the day, or late at night, sometimes, in what I remember all too well was called syndication, where local stations bought old episodes and chopped them up and loaded them with ads, and ran them. And this, note, was while all-new episodes of the show were still appearing on Thursdays at 2100. I think this was the start… .

“The fucking show ran on two different local stations in the Capital District. Albany and environs. For a while, this one station even had a M*A*S*H hour, two of them, back to back, every night, from 2300. Plus another half an hour in the early P.M., for the unemployed or something.”

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest (Boston: Little, Brown, 1996).

Art imitates life: “this one station” sounds an awful lot like east-central Illinois’s WCIA, which for years offered ample servings of M*A*S*H after the early and late news (one episode early, two late). How many times did I hear it: “M*A*S*H is next.” Wallace, as you may know, grew up in east-central Illinois, in Urbana.

Life imitates art: two cable channels now offer three hours of M*A*S*H on weekdays: 5:00–7:00 p.m. Central (TV Land) and 6:00–7:00 p.m. Central (Me-TV), six different episodes. On Sundays, TV Land runs M*A*S*H from 4:00 to 7:30 p.m. Central. Check your local listings. Or don’t.

Related reading
All David Foster Wallace posts (via Pinboard)

[It’s a good thing I never got started watching M*A*S*H.]

comments: 2

Pete said...

M*A*S*H was on right after the elderly Mr. Roberts delivered the weather report at the end of the 10 o'clock newscast. (Yes, they actually called him "Mr.", and never by his given name.) He finally retired around 1985, replaced by the impossibly effervescent Judy Fraser.

Michael Leddy said...

Mr. Roberts must have been before my time. Judy Fraser still does the weather once in a while — it’s always a treat to see her again.