To some extent, genre expectations will militate against any radical change in a television series. From the start M*A*S*H did not fit into the genres of its closest predecessors, the service comedy or the doctor series. It was indeed a situation comedy, but as I have just suggested, eventually M*A*S*H remade itself into a genre unique on television. In an industry that banks
on reliability and predictability, M*A*S* H confounded expectations. Although the series never entirely dropped its dependence on silly sitcom plot devices (e.g., convincing Frank that there is gold to be found in the local hills—"Major Fred C. Dobbs," season one), M*A*S*H was what its creators called a "dramedy" (in a documentary called "Making M*A*S*H "). Its creators had insisted that the war not serve just as a background for high jinks (as a Nazi POW camp had for Hogan's Heroes ). During the first season they battled with CBS over one episode in particular ("Sometimes You Hear the Bullet") in which a sympathetic character, an old friend of Hawkeye, dies on the operating table. When the episode aired it became clear that the audience would accept a mixture of reality and comedy previously unheard of on a television sitcom. As recently as 1967 Bonnie and Clyde had caused a critical uproar with its mixture of comedy and violence. Its popularity with movie-theater audiences may have helped pave the way for American audiences to accept a mixed genre on television.