Alan Alda worked closely with late producer Burt Metcalfe on M*A*S*H and is sharing his thoughts about him after Metcalfe died. The classic TV star went to Twitter on Sunday morning. Among his thoughts on Metcalfe, who died at 87 years old, is a reminder that he was a producer in every season. Then, Alda also reminds us that Metcalfe was a showrunner for some time. Both men would come up with a lot of magic to make those episodes stand out. While some viewers might think they are dated, others still laugh and smile at the antics of the 4077th. Let’s take a look and see what Alda is writing about his beloved friend.
If you are an avid viewer of the show in reruns, then you might notice a subtle shift in the tone on M*A*S*H. Through some of its early seasons, the show was a laugh-a-minute riot. Seeing Alda’s Hawkeye get into trouble along with Trapper John would be an ongoing storyline. Then, of course, you had Margaret hanging around with Frank Burns. Lest we forget Col. Henry Blake, played memorably by McLean Stevenson.
‘M*A*S*H’ Changed Its Focus, Tone With Burt Metcalfe In Charge
The interaction between him and Radar would always bring about lots of laughter. That was the influence someone like Larry Gelbart had on the show. In fact, Gelbart was responsible for taking the Robert Altman movie and turning it into a TV show. After some time, though, Gelbart and Gene Reynolds would step away from M*A*S*H. This opened the door for Alda and Metcalfe to take on more responsibilities.
Yes, Alda had been involved from a script perspective a little bit. That ramped up with him and Metcalfe working together. Through their guidance, the show still had laughs but would look at the effects of war. They presented not only the view from a doctor’s perspective but the Koreans, too. M*A*S*H solidified its place among television’s most impressive shows with this shift.
As Alda mentions, Metcalfe would run the show for its final seven seasons on CBS. Cast changes did take place with additions like Mike Farrell and David Ogden Stiers on there. Getting a veteran actor like Harry Morgan to play Col. Sherman Potter was a fantastic addition. Morgan had made a name for himself alongside Jack Webb in Dragnet.
What did Metcalfe think about working on the show? He talked about it one time in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I’d like M*A*S*H to be remembered for its statement about war, though sadly we’ve learned nothing,” Metcalfe said. “It’s life. It’s not all perfect and hopefully never all that sad. That we could portray that is very gratifying.”