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1980s / AfterMASH
TV networks can't leave well enough alone. In February 1983, MASH exited the airwaves in a blaze of glory after 11 successful and brilliant seasons of quality television. Seven months later, CBS reunited a few of its characters in a sequel titled AfterMASH. (The title was intended to be a pun on "aftermath".) The show was set immediately following the end of the Korean War and chronicled the adventures of three characters from the original series: Colonel Potter (played by Harry Morgan), Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher). By several quirks of fate, all three end up working at a veterans' hospital in Missouri. Rosalind Chao rounded out the starring cast as Soon-Lee Klinger, a Korean refugee whom Klinger met in the last two episodes of MASH and married at the end of the series. AfterMASH premiered on September 26, 1983 in the same Monday night 9:00 p.m. EST. time slot that MASH once had. Curious and faithful MASH fans provided vast audience numbers for that first broadcast. AfterMASH debuted at #1 in the weekly TV ratings--the first time a new show had done that since Laverne and Shirley. It finished 10th out of all network shows for the 1983-1984 season according to Nielsen Media Research television ratings. For its second season CBS disastrously moved the show to Tuesday nights at 8:00 p.m. EST., opposite NBC's top-ten hit The A-Team. CBS launched an optimistic marketing campaign featuring illustrations by Sanford Kossin of Max Klinger in a nurse's uniform, shaving off Mr. T's signature mohawk, theorizing AfterMASH would take a large portion of The A-Team's audience. The exact opposite occurred: AfterMASH's ratings plummeted to near the bottom of the television rankings and the show was canceled just nine episodes into its second season. Twenty-nine AfterMASH episodes had aired, one was shown as late as May 1985. A thirtieth episode was completed but was never broadcast. Comparisons to the original MASH were inevitable and largely unfavorable. In 2002, TV Guide listed AfterMASH, perhaps uncharitably, as the seventh-worst TV series ever.