Jun. 7th, 2012

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I've been working my way through M*A*S*H. Of course I'd seen several episodes (probably a third or so of the show), but it's good seeing it all in order.

The episode "Yankee Doodle Doctor" encapsulates so much about what is great about this show. An army film-maker wants to make a "documentary" about the 4077th, starring Hawkeye. Only after the thing is shot do they realize it's actually propaganda with little relation to the truth of their situation. So Hawkeye and Pierce ruin the film and the director leaves in a huff. The gang decide to remake the film, and this is what they produce. (The voiceover is from the original "straight" version of the documentary.) There's slapstick, of course, but then there's an almost seamless transition into the dramatic monologue. It's all just so thoroughly human, with all the richness of life.

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Here is the monologue at the end, which is my third quote for the 100things challenge:

Three hours ago, this man was in a battle. Two hours ago, we operated on him. He's got a 50-50 chance. We win some, we lose some. That's what it's all about. No promises. No guaranteed survival. No saints in surgical garb. Our willingness, our experience, our technique are not enough. Guns, and bombs, and anti-personnel mines have more power to take life than we have to preserve it. Not a very happy ending for a movie. But then, no war is a movie.


I think if more talk about war, honoring soldiers and all the rest kept this in mind, we'd all be better for it. And I'd probably be a bit less pacifistic. Hearing that monologue for the first time last night was like a breath of fresh air. Coming right after all the hilarious slapstick just made it work that much the better.

(Origihally posted at LJ; please comment there.)

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