The network refused to allow just one M*A*S*H script

"The network said that it implied dalliance."

The Everett Collection

M*A*S*H pushed boundaries on television. That's an understatement. It broke records, went places where other TV shows were afraid to go, and became a major force in pop culture.

The writers of M*A*S*H were able to get a lot of scripts involving controversial topics at the time on air, which is one of the reasons it became so memorable. However, there was one script that the network refused to let the team produce.

That script was for an episode in the first season called "Hawkeye on the Double". In it, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is two-timing with two different nurses on two different shifts. When the nurses learn that neither of them is the only one he's seeing at the moment, they get payback by claiming that Hawkeye has gotten them both pregnant.

According to an interview with The Archive of American Television, Larry Gelbart, the co-creator of M*A*S*H, said that "Hawkeye on the Double" was "one and only script that CBS said under no circumstances will you be able to do this script."

Apparently, the idea of Hawkeye juggling two women at once was too risqué for television audiences in the early 1970s. In the book The Complete Book of M*A*S*H, Gene Reynolds said the script got blocked because "the network said that it implied dalliance and we couldn't do that." He felt that the reasoning was absurd, pointing out "What were Frank and Hot Lips doing?"

While this was the only script the network out-and-out said they couldn't do, that doesn't mean it was the end of M*A*S*H's battle to continue pushing the envelope. "Most of the battles with Army brass on the screen," Gelbart said in the same book, "came out of our battles with the network."

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34 Comments

BrianThetubewatcher 4 months ago
Maude had recently had an episode where she gets pregnant, and she and Walter decided to have an abortion. CBS drew flack from anti-abortion groups, and even had to give a spokesman for the Catholic Church a few minutes of air time to denounce the episode. The network was clearly wary of stirring the extremists with suggestion that an abortion or two would be in the offing.
Moverfan 4 months ago
What were Frank and Margaret doing? I could have told you what Frank and Margaret were doing...and I was only TEN when M*A*S*H premiered!
epickett 4 months ago
That doesn't make sense. There's an episode where Hawkeye makes a date with one nurse while walking into the mess tent, then 10 seconds later makes another date with a DIFFERENT nurse when he's getting something from the serving line. So there ARE episodes that deal with Hawkeye being a 'ladies man'.
Coldnorth epickett 4 months ago
Ladies man? seemed more like a s*x addict to me. No female was safe around him
MadMadMadWorld Coldnorth 4 months ago
Maybe those women wanted to be with him, so it isn't a matter of being 'safe'. They wanted to be wanted by him!
Tresix 4 months ago
I agree with the show’s producers: Why give Hawkeye’s double-dipping a thumbs-down but okay Burns and Houlihan’s indiscretions?
epickett Tresix 4 months ago
And Blake, Trapper, Zale...
Adamtwelvia Tresix 3 months ago
Cause Hot Lips and Frank were only doing it with each other?
Tresix Adamtwelvia 3 months ago
Still stepping out.
Wiseguy70005 4 months ago
I bet if the credit had read "written by Alan Alda" it would have been made.
Adamtwelvia Wiseguy70005 3 months ago
No doubt about that.
And we're coming up on those seasons soon!
Null88 4 months ago
Ridiculous, if true, of CBS to prohibit the double affairs of Hawkeye. Did CBS ever watch the movie or TV Show? MASH was all about coping in a crazy situation.
BradBeall 4 months ago
I remember when other shows like The "A" Team and Happy Days were aired during the 6:00 time slot. They didn't stay around for long... mainly because Happy Days became "The Fonzi Show" after the first 2 seasons, and The "A" Team hasn't aged well, although it was never really that good to begin with. However, after seeing every episode of M*A*S*H at least 700,000+ times, I usually use that "time slot" to do just about anything other than watch TV. Plucking my eyebrows come to mind... Seriously though, MeTV, howzabout replacing 2 or more episodes of M*A*S*H with something - ANYTHING - else? I wouldn't mind seeing The Dick Van Dyke Show or Hogan's Heros during that time slot, and maybe move M*A*S*H to later in the evening? And what ever happened to "Get Smart"?
John BradBeall 4 months ago
Yeah, I've been watching other channels 6-8pm
MeTv isn't noted for paying attention to viewers
Adamtwelvia BradBeall 3 months ago
WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!
WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!
Adamtwelvia BradBeall 3 months ago
Well, let's not forget that halfway through season 8 and all of seasons 9 and 10 MASH became The Hawkeye Show!
John 4 months ago
You guys are MASH nuts with your current schedule of 2 hrs a night

I really think your programming ideas need a major revamp.
As a long time viewer I'll say you are going to the dogs.

ENOUGH ALREADY!!
Adamtwelvia John 3 months ago
WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!
WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!
WE WANT SOMETHING ELSE!
(sorry, had to)
10john10 4 months ago
Anyone only knowing the MASH TV show was shocked by later watching the 1970 movie! I remember becoming familiar with MASH with all the hype of the new cast members in the fall 1975 premiere(and later surprised by the early season antics!). I went to high school in February 1983(in character) for the Monday finale. The funniest character to appear on the series was Pat Morita's in "Deal Me Out" and "The Chosen Few"(great titles too!). As the son and nephew of Korean War Veterans, the program was important to me growing up(no disrespect to Vietnam Vets!). "Five O'clock Charlie" is a romp also!... name is a play on the forgotten WW2 term: "Washing Machine Charlie".

God Bless, Please support overseas VFW Posts!
JohnBates 4 months ago
The script for this episode appeared as a special feature on the "Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen" stand alone DVD.
JimDandyToTheRescue 4 months ago
We have a friend who was a semi-permanent extra on the show and have a drinking game of watching old episodes and drinking whenever we see her. (Cheers Shari!)
Charleshorse 4 months ago
But it was okay for Trapper to cheat on his wife left and right ( that always bugged me. Almost ruined the character for me )
WGH Charleshorse 4 months ago
What happens in the war zone stays in the war zone.
Adamtwelvia Charleshorse 3 months ago
That's why she left him in the spin-off.
clemensm91 4 months ago
An episode dealt with the families getting together during the war. It would be great to see an episode of the cast in modern times with memories and memorials of lost characters.
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babaluche1 clemensm91 4 months ago
There was a short-lived series called After Mash, Pottery and Mildred, Radar, Klinger and his Korean bride, and Father Mulcahey which focused around their work after the war at a VA Hospital where Potter was the Chief of Medical. It was Brilliant and dealt with PTSD etc. The public seemed not ready for that yet and it was cancellled. Look it up. I loved that show!
Timewarp clemensm91 4 months ago
Actually, it just happened. On New Year's Day, Fox had an hour long show called "Mash: The Comedy That Changed Television". It was a reunion of the surviving actors and a retrospect of all the characters of the show. Unfortunately, I didn't know about it and stumbled across it 15 minutes in.
And don't forget Col. Flagg ( Edward Winter ) It would be faster to list those who haven't passed away. Sad. RIP to all of them.
Bullitt2019 djw1120 4 months ago
I think that what Mr. Clemons is referring to to is the ages of the characters, not the actors. My father was in WW2 and the Korean war. He would be 105 now.
AgingDisgracefully 4 months ago
Try again. Call it The Real Nurses of South Korea.
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