Father Mulcahy's life after M*A*S*H

William Christopher made sure Father Mulcahy had a long, realistic life.

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A heartfelt moment with Father Mulcahy.
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By the time M*A*S*H ended in 1983, Father John Patrick Francis Mulcahy was arguably America's best-known Roman Catholic priest. Over the eleven years William Christopher spent with the 4077th, his character turned from a caricature into an actual person. The character of Father Mulcahy shifted away from being a series of cliches and developed a real depth and believability.

Part of that credit belongs to the writers, while another big reason for Mulcahy's authenticity is the work William Christopher continued to put into the character. Around the show's fourth season, when Father Mulcahy became a more integral part of M*A*S*H, the actor began consulting an informal sounding board of clerical experts. There was a genuine effort on the part of William Christopher to elevate his role from punchline to a real, breathing entity.

"In my talks with priests, I wasn't looking for anything particular; I wasn't really sure what I was looking for," Christopher told The Charlotte News in 1983. "I knew I wanted to be comfortable with him... I wanted the right wording for a line or the philosophy or thinking that might lie behind his actions."

It should follow then, that such a detailed, lifelike character would have a full life. As such, when M*A*S*H came to an end, Father Mulcahy was one of three characters who were revisited in the sequel series AfterM*A*S*H. In it, the remnants of the 4077th are reintegrated back into American society, wherein each faces a new set of conflicts. No, they're not under any enemy fire, but life was nonetheless still dramatic and compelling enough for television.

"He, of course, comes back from Korea and returns to Philadelphia, and he has not found it easy to get started again," said Christopher of Father Mulcahy. "He comes back and runs into some problems, probably because of what he's been through. There are some subjects there that we will be taking a look at. Reactions to the war, the problems of readjustment, and, of course, Mulcahy has this hearing problem now. All of that doesn't make life very easy for him."

Mulcahy is reunited with Harry Morgan's Col. Potter and Jamie Farr's Cpl. Klinger in a VA hospital. Potter hears of Father Mulcahy's ongoing health issues and tries to help out. Mulcahy lost his hearing as a result of an explosion in the final episode of M*A*S*H.

AfterM*A*S*H put Mulcahy "in a much more traditional religious situation," according to Christopher. 

"A hospital chaplain has a more natural, extended relationship with patients than Mulcahy had in Korea," said Christopher. "I'm really looking forward to seeing how he handles the new situations he faces. I think he'll do OK."

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MrsPhilHarris 11 months ago
Can’t say I ever watched AfterMASH.
Pacificsun 11 months ago
𝑭𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝑴𝒖𝒍𝒄𝒂𝒉𝒚 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒓𝒆𝒆 𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒘𝒉𝒐 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒗𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒒𝒖𝒆𝒍 𝒔𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝑨𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓𝑴*𝑨*𝑺*𝑯. 𝑰𝒏 𝒊𝒕, 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒎𝒏𝒂𝒏𝒕𝒔 𝒐𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 4077𝒕𝒉 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒆𝒈𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒐 𝑨𝒎𝒆𝒓𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒔𝒐𝒄𝒊𝒆𝒕𝒚, 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆𝒊𝒏 𝒆𝒂𝒄𝒉 𝒇𝒂𝒄𝒆𝒔 𝒂 𝒏𝒆𝒘 𝒔𝒆𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒇𝒍𝒊𝒄𝒕𝒔. 𝑵𝒐, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚'𝒓𝒆 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓 𝒂𝒏𝒚 𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒎𝒚 𝒇𝒊𝒓𝒆, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒏𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒔𝒔 𝒔𝒕𝒊𝒍𝒍 𝒅𝒓𝒂𝒎𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒆𝒏𝒐𝒖𝒈𝒉 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒕𝒆𝒍𝒆𝒗𝒊𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏.

First, I'd never really heard anything about AfterMASH (which was a dumb title). But, 1983 was a busy year. So read about instead in Wiki. You would think the Producers and Financers would learn that you can't recreate magic. MASH was successful and wildly popular, not because of those 3 characters in particular. But because it was an ensemble group of casting. Meaning (obviously) that the focus on those characters shifted around. And also interplayed among themselves in different combinations. Plus it took years, and the interchange of characters over time. Which is just not something that's going to happen in two years. MASH (especially as is started) was a dramady. And from what was described in Wiki, those situations (especially if they're dealing with PTSD) are not exactly the height of comical situations. Viewers didn't want to see a compromised Mulchay, or Klinger. They were the spark of comedy within MASH, and not very frequently the subject of pathos. It was also a VERY complicated storyline, as well as relationships. "Klinger goes to jail." Really.

Too bad, because each of those actors demonstrated potential and range, and should've been given their own stories, within a limited scope.
cperrynaples Pacificsun 11 months ago
If you think AfterMASH is stupid, there was going to be a Radar spinoff called W*A*L*T*E*R! Beside the fact that viewers knew him as Radar, the astericks were stupid! MASH was an abbreviation of Mobile Army Surgecal Hospital, wereas the letters in Walter have no meaning!
I never heard of W*A*L*T*E*R until I saw it mentioned in articles on this website. But I gather it never actually aired.
Pacificsun cperrynaples 11 months ago
When I saw you in my list of notifications, I thought, oh gad I'm going to get chewed out (again) for criticizing anything about the beloved MASH series. I mean, one guy was threatening with a (loaded gun) over my transgression. So am pretty careful now.

Anyway, the writers and producers came away from that experience with very exalted egos. And you can imagine (if you read the AM premise in Wiki) they were writing for themselves. Like, we'll just build into the premise all these possibilities. And then we'll have endless storylines. Except that a war (Police Action) is a very different reality than civilian life, even if they were adjusting to it. And then, how did they expect to make a comedy out of PTSD. (Note to self: who was more desperate than all of them to get out of the Army?). Wouldn't it have been inspiring if they turned Klinger into a beacon of hope, for helping some other kinds of unconventional characters (like Ted Danson and Bob Newhart).
Runeshaper 11 months ago
I did not know there was an AfterM*A*S*H, but it's cool to be able to continue following the lives of some of the characters after the war was over.
I watched AfterM*A*S*H sometimes, but eventually lost interest. It didn't quite last 2 years.
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