By the time M*A*S*H closed up the 4077th on CBS, Larry Linville was long gone. But that didn’t keep him from comments about the finale.
Oh, you mean the finale that drew millions of viewers titled Goodbye, Farewell and Amen? Yep, that one. Apparently, Linville, who played Major Frank Burns on the show, didn’t like it. He thought it was boring. We’re going to get a little more information on his thoughts with this article from MeTV.
Back in the show’s first season, Burns (no relation to The Simpsons‘ Montgomery Burns, by the way) did have some villain vibes as a foil for Major Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, played by Alan Alda.
‘M*A*S*H’ Star Refers To First Season Episode As Best In Show, Not Finale
Linville appeared on M*A*S*H for five seasons, then left. Back in 1986, Linville, who said he had no regrets about leaving, gave The News and Observer a short, tight review of the series finale.
“Boring as hell,” Linville said. Sometimes, we thought Burns could be boring as hell, too, but we digress. Linville, in the interview, said that, to him, the best M*A*S*H episode was from the first season: Sometimes You Hear the Bullet.
Longtime fans know this episode had Ron Howard as a guest star. Linville, though, said when they were filming the episode, he ended up giving notes to Hawkeye. It just changed the way that Hawkeye behaves in a scene where one of his oldest friends dies on the operating table.
Script Change Due To Linville’s Notes Steering Hawkeye In Different Direction
The script had Hawkeye leaving the O.R. in tears; he, though, went to work on another patient. Linville said he preferred the drama of episodes like that one over the finale.
Alda said that he did a final season because he wanted to do that finale episode. Heck, he even had a powerful scene with Mike Farrell at that episode’s end. It probably meant more to Alda than for Linville. Larry had been gone for six years at that time.
Also, remember that Alda was involved in scriptwriting as the series went forward. Linville, in interviews, expressed feeling detached from the show right from the beginning. Linville just auditioned for the show because M*A*S*H producer Gene Reynolds asked him to do so.
He just had a negative view about the show from the start of his time to the finish.
“When the show began, we thought it was a disaster,” Linville said. “We were on the shirttails of a brilliant motion picture. The public and critics thought we were going to be doing F-Troop. They were all over us; they hated us.” And that was Linville’s mindset about that show.