Although M*A*S*H had played to less than spectacular ratings during its initial season, there was enough staunch viewer support to warrant a renewal for a second season in the fall of 1973. CBS acknowledged this small but significant upsurge in ratings by moving the series from its "graveyard" Sunday night slot to a Saturday-evening berth at 8:30 ...
Although M*A*S*H had played to less than spectacular ratings during its initial season, there was enough staunch viewer support to warrant a renewal for a second season in the fall of 1973. CBS acknowledged this small but significant upsurge in ratings by moving the series from its "graveyard" Sunday night slot to a Saturday-evening berth at 8:30 PM, where it was in such distinguished company as All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show. Life at the 4077th M*A*S*H unit continued along the same lines as before, with a few minor changes. Gone were such marginal recurring characters as Spearchucker and Ugly John, while the screen time of two other former "marginals", Father John Mulcahy (William Christopher) and cross-dressing Cpl. Max Klinger (Jamie Farr), was beefed up considerably. Also, the intrusive background music had all but vanished, and the laugh track had been turned down a notch or two (and was still, happily, never to be heard during the series' more "serious" passages in the 4077th's operating room). Otherwise, surgeons Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and Trapper John (Wayne Rogers) continued making the Korean War tolerable for themselves by behaving in as zany and puerile a manner as possible; uptight Frank Burns (Larry Linville) persisted in attempting to impose his own notions of decorum and Americanism on the unit, all the while carrying on his extramarital romance with head nurse Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit; commanding officer Henry Blake (Maclean Stevenson) still maintained an even keel as benevolent despot of the O.R. and all-around Good Guy during his off-hours; and quietly resourceful company clerk Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff) was uncertainly straddling the gap between boyhood and manhood. Swept along with the rest of CBS's highly rated Saturday night lineup, M*A*S*H*'s own share of the audience grew apace, and it was not uncommon during the 1973-74 season for fans of the series to gather around the proverbial water cooler on Monday morning to discuss the plot intricacies of such classic episodes as "Radar's Report", "Carry On Hawkeye", "For Want of a Boot" and "George". It was during this period that the series won the first of several Emmy awards: Alan Alda for best lead actor in a comedy series, Jackie Cooper for his direction of "Carry on Hawkeye", and M*A*S*H itself for Outstanding Comedy Series. Hal Erickson, Rovi