M*A*S*H: The Evolution

From a simple book turned into a movie then to one of television’s greatest legend, M*A*S*H had beautifully evolved to a work of art. Its popularity and stretched life p is enough testimony for the show’s quality—not to mention several nominations and awards. It was one of the most watched television shows of its time. Much of the show’s success is the fruit of fine ensemble acting, beautifully written witty script, and the most noticeable of all: the innovative use of the camera.
The script’s satirical charm has won the loyalty of fans through its clever use of humor. Overlapping dialogues was a device frequently used by the show. This gave the script wit and it sounded very natural. It also made way for some of the show’s most famous punch-lines. The script can be easily followed by the audience even though it’s episodic. It followed a solid story that has kept the audience entertained. It debunked the idea that war story genre had to be have a serious atmosphere.
M*A*S*H is considered as a show ahead of its time. The show had stood firm through the years even though it underwent several changes like changes of cast members and important people behind the camera. The early episodes of M*A*S*H, though lacking the production equipment we have now, was shot in style. Stylish zooms were used and quite got the attention of critics.
Camera techniques were very important in the storytelling.  The zooming and panning used in the show is now a convention in television shows. We should also appreciate the show’s long shots. This is not done much in television productions, even today with all the advancement in camera technology. To think that M*A*S*H was able to produce such kind of high-quality show is very impressive even to today’s most acclaimed directors.
As a war story, the cinematography has to give the audience a war story feel. M*A*S*H has succeeded in that aspect and continued to further improve the quality of cinematography.  The early years of production had to work with average level equipments. As time had gone by and the pilot show promised popularity, they were given more money to take the show to the next level and set the show apart from the other shows of that time. More money is now available to acquire equipment to improve lighting and sounds.
The improved lighting, let’s just say that it made the show more easy to the eyes. The lighting made the shots eye candies. It highlighted the colors of the situation and delivered the feel of war to television screens. The close-up to actors is now reduced of unwanted shadows that maybe distracting to the audience. The costume, especially in the later episodes was given more color and character by the improved lighting. The long shots and the other camera shots made in the exterior were improved to a point that the audience can feel the situation. The shots made in the interior were also improved by the lighting. It gave a more in depth feel of rooms for medical attention in the gory times of wars.
The improvement of sounds also contributed much to the show’s success. From the opening credits to the closing, the tunes are catchy enough to keep the audience attention intact. The background music doesn’t over power the actor’s voice while he or she is speaking his or her line. This is very important to a television show and M*A*S*H seems to be very aware of that fact. The background music is just there to heighten the emotion of scenes, not to be the scene itself.  Audibility is a major factor to be considered in every production.  M*A*S*H has also improved in this aspect. From gunshots to door creeks, from shouts to whispers, audibility has definitely improved.
Multiple editing also became an important facto to the show’s success. The pursuit of quality is clearly meticulously pursued by the show. This is vey hard for a production because aside form the fact that it is costing the production more money, it is causing the production precious time. Wastes in time in a television production are unforgivable in the genre. There is never a day that a television production has no tight deadline to meet.  But the sacrifice made by the production to further improve the quality of their show is really impressive, especially during their time where editing equipment is rather slow by the standard of today and the budget is tight.
M*A*S*H is a television show that the shows of today is modeled. M*A*S*H has all the necessary factors for a hit show. It is the recipe that should be followed by the shows of today if they want to run for more than a decade like M*A*S*H did.  M*A*S*H may have been to several heavy changes, but the important thing they did is that kept the quality of their show high and kept giving their audience entertained and laughing even to the most serious of situations like war.
This show has shown us how effective the camera is in the aspect of storytelling. The exploration of M*A*S*H in the use of camera is phenomenal. They are one of the pioneers of such effective use of the camera. This show has proven that an expensive camera is not the formula for a hit show. It is the use of that camera that is very important. Today’s television shows that lacks on this aspect should look back and study M*A*S*H as their model show.
To think that M*A*S*H can still stand toe to toe to a television show of today really proves its legendary reputation. If only the use of cameras now has the same motivation and passion just like the people of M*A*S*H, I am very excited to think of the possibilities. The cameras of today are way beyond the capabilities of the cameras back then. If the new technologies is only used and pushed to its full potential, who knows how high the level of quality we can achieve.
Editorial Reviews. 2000. Mash- Season One on TV. Retrieved 0ctober 29, 2007

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