Every show has at least one episode a year that is just a clam. The trick is not to have nineteen.
So that is what we’d routinely do. Put our weakest show in that slot. (The scary thing is that whatever terrible number we got back then would probably be good enough for renewal now) However, in season seven we aired a pretty good episode. So why was it there? Read on.
The name of the episode was Preventive Medicine. The story seemed very intriguing. The number of arriving wounded had increased because of one careless Colonel. Hawkeye slips him a mickey then to keep him from returning to the front removes his appendix. This was before malpractice suits and HMO’s but there was still that pesky question of ethics. It created a nice debate between Hawkeye and BJ. We did a lot of rewriting on that episode, the cast was happy, we were happy, and they went off to the ranch to make it.
On Friday night David tuned in to the MASH rerun that CBS was airing at 11:45. After watching a few minutes he came upon a horrible discovery – IT WAS THE EXACT SAME SHOW THAT WE WERE FILMING. Identical. Same plotline, same argument. The only difference was it was better (no surprise there – Larry Gelbart vs. us).
We were mortified. I mean, it’s one thing to steal from other shows, but to steal from your own? We looked like a couple of blithering idiots. The amazing thing is that no one on the cast or crew caught it. And a lot of them were there for the original episode.
So that became our Oscar show, not because it was bad but because it was the only original episode of MASH that was also a rerun.