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M*A*S*H is an American television series developed by Larry Gelbart, adapted from the 1970 feature film MASH (which was itself based on the 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, by Richard Hooker). The series is a medical drama/black comedy that was produced in association with 20th Century Fox Television for CBS. It follows a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War. M*A*S*H's title sequence featured an instrumental version of the song "Suicide Is Painless", which also appears in the original film. The series premiered on September 17, 1972, and ended February 28, 1983, with the finale becoming the most-watched television episode in U.S. television history, with about 125 million viewers. The show is still broadcast in syndication on various television stations. The series, which covered a three-year military conflict, spanned 251 episodes and lasted eleven seasons. Many of the stories in the early seasons are based on real-life tales told by real MASH surgeons who were interviewed by the production team. Like the movie, the series was as much an allegory about the Vietnam War (still in progress when the show began) as it was about the Korean War. The series creators wanted M*A*S*H broadcast without a laugh track, but the TV network, CBS, refused to allow this. As such, in America the series was shown complete with laugh track, but in the UK it aired as originally intended. The only exception to this were scenes in the Operating Room, which caused one episode, set entirely in the O.R., to be broadcast without a laughter track in the US. When M*A*S*H was filming its last episode, the producers were contacted by the Smithsonian Institution, which asked to be given a part of the set. The producers quickly agreed and sent the tent, signposts, and contents of the "swamp", which was home to Hawkeye, BJ, Trapper, Charles, and Frank during the course of the show. The Smithsonian has the "swamp" on display to this day. Originally found on the Ranch, Radar's teddy bear, once housed at the Smithsonian, was sold at auction on July 29, 2005 for $11,800. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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