2/28/83. A day that would live in Neilsenfamy for ages. It still ranks as the highest share for a series finale
than any other to precede or follow.
It was titled "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," and from a tiny screen in an Eggertsville apartment more than halfway through law school, I said all of the above to Hawkeye, Klinger, and the few that remained from the original concept of the series.
It is also the only one of hundreds of M*A*S*H airings that I have seen once and only once. All the other 30-minute time slots were syndicated, repackaged, and shown on umpteen occasions on CBS and syndicated channels in New York, Rochester and Syracuse over and beyond the long history of the series. At one point when I was still in Ithaca, we could, and did, watch six episodes a day on Mondays in season- twofers out of a Syracuse station (5 and 7, I think), two more from channel 5 in New York then carried on Cerrache Cable (7:30 and 11 p.m.), the still-new Monday night 9:00 installment on CBS, and finally their fairly recent rerun (on either 5 from the 'Cuse or 12 from Bingo) that they put up against Carson and Nightline at 11:30 p.m.
All of them were virtually committed to memory by the time I reached Rochester in 1984, but the official finale was the one I had, and still have, only seen the one and only time it was aired on US television. "GFA" wasn't even the final episode to be filmed; that was the final-aired 30-minute one, about the 4077th's placement of a time capsule, "As Time Goes By"
-with an unfit chopper pilot contributing a broken fan belt and Hawkeye and Hot Lips agreeing to bury "the hatchet" along with everything else.
I'd forgotten the occasion until pictures of the final scene started showing up on the Book earlier today-
- and I remembered, as I occasionally do, that they'd never worked the "GFA" finale into any of the syndication packages that have run on CBS and Hallmark and other cable channels (duplications like Syracuse and NYC's Channel 5s having been eliminated in the 80s by FCC rules limiting cable transmissions of the same show into the same systems). But Netflix does have it. I queued it earlier today. Given our backlog, it will be months before Hawkeye's 90-minute breakdown finally arrives here. I could jump the queue and get it here by next week, or I could keep my one-time memories as they are and delete it.
Whatchoo think, Private Willis?