High Definition
Marathon This TV Show

Bob Chipman | 19 Jan 2015 12:00
High Definition - RSS 2.0

Yes, fine, the not-too-coherent Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration likely killed any revivalist interest in this series for a long while. But even still, the fact that a gothic soap opera featuring vampires and all manner of ghoulish goings-on was so damn popular for a hot minute in the U.S. is noteworthy part of Boomer TV legacy. The best way to appreciate how oddly this series transformed as its story developed across episodes (eventually incorporating time-travel and ghosts, among other plot twists) is to see it happen step by step.

Let's dispense with the formalities here: Yes, M*A*S*H the beloved television series is a rather different being than M*A*S*H the critically lauded Robert Altman movie comedy - to the point that they end up as almost diametrically-opposed entities despite sharing an origin, premise and some of the same cast. Yes, it's amusing to note that a series about the Korean War actually lasted longer than the Korean War itself did. Yes, that "Korea" is being utilized as an obvious metaphorical stand-in for Vietnam is thuddingly obvious in both versions. Finally, yes, the series' carefully-maintained balance between comedy and sanctimony suffered awkwardly when star Alan Alda gained creative control in later seasons.

But y'know what? It's still one of the greatest things ever broadcast on network television, and a miracle series that endured cast-changes, tonal shifts and demographic realignments with an aplomb that any showrunner today would envy. At one point in TV history, the final episode of M*A*S*H was the most-watched event not involving a moon-landing ever - maybe it's about time we were reminded of why.

Honestly, though, the show that needs marathoning the most is the one that kicked off the would-be craze: "Every Simpsons Ever" wasn't simply a well received stunt for fans of the series, it was an event that swept a huge area of popular-culture. It's the sort of thing that, frankly, ought to become a yearly tradition. I can easily imagine FXX bringing the 'thon back as a yearly event, like the Macy's Thanksgiving parade or the Super Bowl, with a new season's worth of episodes added every year. I know I'd watch it.

*Note:* List does not include Anime because the frothing message-board rage of self-professed Otaku demanding to know why [insert-450-episode-series-about-promiscuous-schoolgirl-mecha-pilots-of-your-choice-here] was "somehow overlooked" is marathon-entertainment of a kind in and of itself.


Comments on