- MASH was an incredibly popular sitcom and its finale remains the most-watched of all time, making it unlikely that its record will be broken.
- MUSH, an animated parody of MASH featuring canine versions of the characters, was produced by Filmation but received poorly and eventually got cancelled.
- The failure of MUSH led to the cancellation of the entire Uncle Croc’s Block show and marked Filmation’s first-ever cancellation from a network, ending their relationship with ABC.
MASH‘s popularity led to a very strange parody, MUSH, which ultimately failed. Regarded as one of the best sitcoms of all time, it shouldn’t be surprising that MASH was also immensely popular during its time on the air. MASH‘s finale remains both the most-watched finale of any show and the most-watched episode of a scripted series. Considering the many viewing avenues now, it’s unlikely that its record will be broken. Before it even reached that, however, MASH was already making waves during the middle of its run.
As an adaptation itself, the people who worked on the MASH series knew that they were standing on the success of its original source material, Richard Hooker’s 1968 novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, and its 1970 feature film adaptation directed by Robert Altman. Led by Alan Alda’s Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce, MASH toed the line between comedy and drama as the 4077 made the best out of their time in Korea in the middle of the Korean War. Considering its subject, parodying MASH was tricky, but that didn’t stop one animation company.
MUSH Was A Cartoon Based On MASH Starring Dogs
On the heels of Filmation producing a cartoon version of Star Trek, they attempted to give MASH the same treatment. It’s unclear the circumstances around the company’s decision to parody the critically acclaimed war dramedy, but in 1975, just 3 years after the original series premiered, Filmation produced its animated parody called MUSH (short for “Mangy Unwanted Shabby Heroes), which was broadcast on ABC as part of the Saturday morning children’s show called Uncle Croc’s Block. MUSH essentially featured canine versions of the iconic MASH characters, and while they slightly changed their names, it was clear who was who with names like Bullseye, Cold Lips, Col. Flake, and Sonar.
The premise of MUSH was also inspired by the iconic war dramedy. In it, its canine ensemble was sent to some frozen Arctic outpost, where, like their 4077 counterparts, they had to make do with their situation while also engaging in their own hijinks. MUSH episodes were short, however, only running for six minutes. Behind the scenes, Robert Ridgely provided the voice for Bullseye, Trooper, and Sonar, while Kenneth Mars did Sideburns, Cold Lips, Sideburns. Unfortunately, despite Filmation Studios co-founder Lou Scheimer being a fan of the project, MUSH wasn’t received well, with the series eventually getting canceled.
The Failure Of MUSH Cost Filmation A Major Network Deal
Alongside the MASH parody, the whole Uncle Croc’s Block was eventually dropped, which marked Filmation’s first-ever cancelation from a network, and that was also the last time that ABC bought anything from the animation studio. Despite this, Filmation continued to create content for other broadcasters. Two years after it was canceled, MUSH was bundled with Filmation syndication package called The Groovie Goolies and Friends. Despite its falling out with ABC, Uncle Croc Block’s cancelation benefitted Filmation as they were already paid by ABC for episodes they no longer had to produce.