Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘M*A*S*H’ Star Mike Farrell Claims Executives Expected the Series to Flop

‘M*A*S*H’ Star Mike Farrell Claims Executives Expected the Series to Flop

Mike Farrell joined M*A*S*H at a critical time and became a part of the show’s cast as the show started making tweaks. When the show first started on CBS, an emphasis was placed on comedy. M*A*S*H, in later seasons, started taking a more critical look at social issues. These issues were around what was taking place in Korea, both in society and with soldiers.

Mike Farrell, who played B.J. Hunnicutt, noticed this shift, too. When speaking about being on the show with Fox News, Farrell said that some network people were nervous. “I remember a studio executive, or maybe a network executive, contacting us after a couple of the things we did, saying, ‘You’re going to knock yourselves off television with these things, people are expecting laughs,’” Farrell said.

Mike Farrell of ‘M*A*S*H’ Says Show Respected Its Viewers

While the viewers wanted laughs, the show’s writers took it in different directions. Alan Alda, who played “Hawkeye” Pierce, was quite active in the script preparation process. Mike Farrell admits that M*A*S*H tried to encompass both the humor and serious side, too.

“We tried to provide the laughs, but we also wanted to provide a realistic situation,” Farrell said. “I remember coming to the understanding later that the show had become a social phenomenon, and not because it was a comedy and not because it was a drama, but because it was a situation that people understood.”

Mike Farrell made his comments in connection with a recent Fox Network special honoring the show’s epic finale, Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen. In the special, Farrell, Alda, Loretta Swit, Gary Burghoff, and Jamie Farr added comments about it and their time on the show. An unaired interview with the late Wayne Rogers also made it on there. It’s worth noting that Farrell started around the same time that Harry Morgan joined the cast as Col. Sherman Potter.

The B.J. Hunnicutt actor could see where viewers were drawing a connection between the show’s finale and their lives.

“Everybody understands having to leave home for some reason, and sometimes for a good reason, and leave their loved ones behind. And it struck a chord,” Farrell said. “We knew it was a terrifically popular show, but it took a while for us to understand, and maybe it was at the end of the show, we understood it would become a social phenomenon.”

During its run, M*A*S*H took home 14 Emmy Awards. The show’s finale grabbed 105 million viewers to their TV sets. That remains one of the biggest audiences for a show in television history. Will that hold up for a long, long time? Mike Farrell believes it will. He told Fox News Digital that there’s “no way for the record to be broken today” because of streaming services. “But I’m happy to wear that crown. It’s not a bad thing.”

Mike Farrell noted that the “ratings went in the tank the first year that I was there, I’ll wear that around my neck for the rest of my life.” The actor also feels great that the show has impacted so many people over the years. “I remember, I think my second season on the show, I had been in Southeast Asia and I met a guy and he was talking about how much the show meant to them,” Farrell said.