Saturday, April 11, 2009

Special Edition

Parallels between ‘Jericho’ and ‘M*A*SH*’ by Captain Video

I would like to devote my standard digression to Ratkeeper and my fellow rangers, my people call them freedom farmers, for their intense support during my tenure as the “TV on DVD” Examiner for what turned out to be the interim government at This support was particularly strong and especially appreciated when that relationship ended last Friday. A future entry will discuss the “Jericho” elements of this separation.

In related news, I am pleased to announce that I will be reviewing DVD sets of TV shows for The liberal editorial policy of this site will also allow to me write general articles about “Jericho” and other great shows. My essay last week on the specific elements that make “Jericho” so special prompted a conversation with Ratkeeper regarding how the “Jericho” characters had special characteristics that were comparable to the characters on other shows; she made an insightful comparison to Kirk and the boys on the original “Star Trek.”

I agreed with Ratkeeper but found what I considered to be an even more fitting parallel while speaking with another friend. We were discussing 1970s shows that were very good but lacked compelling characters and other shows from that era in which we came to care about the characters. I mentioned “M*A*S*H*” as such a show and as one of the last in which I both eagerly awaited the series finale and cared about the fates of the characters.

This conversation combined with my exchange with Ratkeeper prompted thoughts about the similarities between “Jericho” and “M*A*S*H*.” At the outset, they were both low-rated shows on CBS during their first seasons; of course, CBS gave “M*A*S*H*” a chance to develop an audience.

The shows are also set in highly stressful wars and have characters who responded to this much better than I know that I would. I recall specifically that a special on “M*A*S*H*” commented that even Klinger, who cross-dressed in an effort to get discharged from the army, worked hard and well when duty called. I think that any of the “Jericho” men would look better in a dress than the extraordinarily hirsute Jamie Farr.

Many parallels also exist between characters on the two shows. In the interest of not turning this essay into a novella, I will limit my thoughts to the “big three.”

Jake has many similarities with Hawkeye that extend well beyond the scruffy look. Both characters are the de facto leaders of their groups and inspire tremendous loyalty despite being the equivalent of middle managers. They also never hesitate to speak up or literally put themselves on the firing line despite the consequences of their actions.

Stanley’s counter-part is B.J. Hunicutt, who was the second character that filled the role of Hawkeye’s sidekick. Both characters started out as clean-cut “aw, shucks” innocent types and changed in response to being thrust in a war. At the same time, their essence remained unchanged.

Dale and “M*A*S*H*” company clerk Radar are another obvious pair. They were far younger and much more naïve than Stanley and B.J. when they were thrust into war, and the maturity that their circumstances caused was much more noticeable. They also seemed to be more abandoned than the other characters and still had the role of kids despite their active involvement in the war-related efforts. Finally, both of these characters were the scavengers of the group.

I do hope that we are spared the pain of after “Jericho” in which characters are roadies for the rock band “Eric and the Raiders.” This would be worse than no new “Jericho’ content at all.

Thank you for this forum, which has also provided a valued outlet for my “Jericho” thoughts, and for indulging me as well by providing an opportunity to continue inviting folks to share comments as e-mail to:

Captain Video (AKA John Stahl)

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