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QUESTION: Is Mash the movie supposed to be canon?

ANSWER: Hi John!

Legal Dictionary defines canon as a regulation or doctrine decreed by a church council; provision of canon law; an accepted principle or rule; a body of principles, rules, standards, or norms.

So no - the movie MASH has nothing to do with the Church, with rules and regulations, or with much of anything.   The movie was done pretty much without a script - just an idea of how the story would go.   The bits were so "spastic" that in order to join them together to make sense, the P.R. was introduced - as its own character, in order to bind the pieces together with announcements.

The movie MASH was not actually about the Korean War, and in fact the word Korea is not used anywhere in the movie with the exception of the introduction where it is written "and then, there was Korea".   The movie was about Viet Nam, which explains the haircuts, the attitudes, the football, and the marijuana.  (you will see it being smoked during the football game) - but no movies were released about the Viet Nam War during the war save one - the Green Beret, which was a PRO war movie.   

It was more of a romp through the incompetence and the ridiculousness of how Altman felt the Viet Nam war was fought, and the general attitude of the people who served there against their will, for a cause they did not understand.   True the book MASH was about Korea, but I promise you the movie was not.

I hope this is helpful.   I hope I have understood what you meant by "Is the movie Canon" - and if I have misunderstood, please let me know what it is that you meant.   Thank you for asking, and VIVA LA MASH!!!!!!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: When I asked if the movie is canon, I meant whether the movie is canonical. That is, is the movie in the same "timeline" as the television show? On the movie, for example, Frank Burns is carted away in a straitjacket. Did that event happen to the "real" Frank Burns? In the movie, John sports a mustache. Did the real John shave off the mustache prior to the events of the TV series? And so on.

Hello again John!   Sorry for the delay in writing, but Christmas had me pretty busy!

The television show is based on the movie and thus the book - however the two really have nothing to do with each other.

In the movie - Trapper John is single, and the chest cutter, and Hawkeye is married with kids.
Of course on the show, Trapper is married with kids, and Hawkeye is single and the chest cutter.

In the movie Duke is one of the main characters, and he isn't even in the television show.

Dish is Married in the movie, and not in the television show, not to mention that her name isn't really "Dish" in the movie, but I think it is in the television show (and she goes from a brunette with short hair to a blonde with long hair).

Frank Burns is not married in the movie, and is in the television show.

The characters are pretty loosely based on the movie characters, and while they are supposed to all be in Korea, the movie for SURE is really Viet Nam, and the television show pretty much is, it is just they couldn't make negative shows about that war while the war was going on, hence "Korea".  

So no, not Canon.   Hope this helps, and have a wonderful day - and as always, VIVA LA MASH!


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Judy Mitchell


Questions about the characters on MASH, the cast, the television show and different episodes, about bloopers on MASH, about quotes and if I don't know the answer, I'll do my best to find out!


I have been watching MASH since it was an original show, I also watch it 4 times daily in reruns, I can tell when something has been cut from a show (as it was on FX much more frequently than it has been on Hallmark).

Graduated High School in 1974

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