Gary Burghoff wrote a script for a Radar-centric M*A*S*H episode

The series co-creator loved it. So why didn't it get made? Burghoff blames Radar's reputation.

The Everett Collection

It wasn't uncommon for actors on M*A*S*H to double as writers. Alan Alda is the most obvious example, but McLean Stevenson and Mike Farrell slipped into the writer's room as well.

Gary Burghoff, Radar himself, almost joined them before he left the show.

In the book TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book, Burghoff talked about watching the episodes that came after his departure from the show in season eight. Specifically, the episode "Dreams". "Dreams" is a polarizing episode, due to how unusual it is — some fans think it's a great character study, others think the episode is just too strange. 

Count Burghoff among the "Dreams" fans.  "I loved 'Dreams'," he said in the book. "I found it fascinating. I loved it."

However, he did have one issue with it. "It was a little frustrating because I had written a script called 'Radar's Dream'. In it, you know how they would sometimes show Radar reading comics. Well I had Radar having a dream [where] he became a superhero... just like in his comics. I had Radar actually getting taller, having him walk on unseen 6-inch ramps that inclined on the floor. And, he ends the war."

He gave the script to Larry Gelbart, the series co-creator, co-producer, and frequent writer and director. "Gelbart loved it and wrote me a letter saying we'll do it."

Alas, we did not get Radar as a superhero. "Someone put the kibosh on it," Burghoff said. "Well, I honestly think that they (some M*A*S*H people) honestly thought of me as this man/boy like Radar was. So I think that contributed to my not getting to direct or having a script produced... I guess I didn't have that persona on the set that I could do it (write or direct). I think Gelbart knew. I look at that script of mine and think, 'this could have flown'."

Alas, it seemed that Burghoff played Radar too well. "Funny thing is, I'd already had a lot more experience than some of the others on the set. But I just couldn't convince them that I was not this man/boy."

What do you think? Would you have tuned in for "Radar's Dream"?

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11 Comments

John 8 days ago
Enough MASH already. 2 hrs a day! Help! I feel like a MASH potato. MeTv programming execs on acid
NickG 8 days ago
That could have been fun. Hunch: Alan Alda killed it because he could be shows only hero
BradBeall 9 days ago
I actually like the episode "Dreams" for the fact that it's kinda weird. And, the entire episode isn't centered around Alan Alda for a change. Also, in that episode, I would've really liked to see a bit more of the "Father Mulcahy" dream sequence... they could've done some seriously off-the-wall stuff with that.
musicman37 10 days ago
I would have watched. It would be great seeing Radar getting an episode like so many other characters did. My favorite episode is "I Hate A Mystery" (Season 1, Episode 10).
mankatojoan 10 days ago
I would totally have watched that! Radar’s Dream would have been great!
JeffPaul76 10 days ago
Yes, I would've watched "Radar's Dream" if it got made and produced. If it was well written and acted that is.
tootsieg 10 days ago
“Dreams” was way too strange for me. I haven’t watched in years and most likely never will again.
Kommish 10 days ago
“Dreams” was by far my least favorite episode. I maybe have watched it twice compared to the 70 times I’ve seen most of the other episodes. I found it boring and too strange.
I concur. MASH became too political, probably due to liberal actor Alan Alda.
MASH was created to protest Viet Nam using Korea as a cover. At that time, CBS would not have let them use Viet Nam as the setting. As it continued it became more about liberal political talking points.
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