A Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Korea. It’s not an obvious idea for a TV comedy programme, yet MASH is one of the most popular and successful series ever made.
Each episode of MASH is a mixture of comedy and drama. The programme doesn’t ignore the pain and suffering of the war, but it shows the courage and humour of the doctors and nurses who have to live with it. Because of this, it’s possible to both laugh and cry when you watch MASH. That’s one of the things that makes it so unusual.
Unlike most TV series, MASH is made very democratically. Each episode takes a week and on the first day, Monday, everyone sits around a table and reads the script. Then they talk about the script together and make changes if they are necessary. Each actor knows his or her character so well that these changes usually improve the episode. The changes continue in rehearsal, too. Finally the episode is filmed on Sunday.
One other interesting thing about MASH is its laugh track. Alan Alda thinks that laugh tracks (which are always used in American comedy programmes) are unnecessary. So for American audiences the MASH laugh track is much quieter than usual and when the programme is
shown in Britain, there’s no laugh track at all. Audiences will laugh if they think something is funny. They don’t need any help. That sort of conviction is what makes MASH unique in TV comedy.
1. Say if the statements are True or False. Quote the evidence.
a. It takes seven days to film one episode of MASH.
b. MASH is made in the same way as any other TV series.
c. Alan Alda thinks that audiences need help to be shown what is funny or not.
2. Answer these questions in your own words. Don’t copy from the text.
a. What’s MASH about?
b. What makes of MASH a democratic TV series?
3. Rewrite these sentences without changing the meaning.
a. The MASH laugh track is much quieter than usual.
b. “Audiences will laugh if they think something is funny”, Alan Alda.
Alan Alda declared...
c. Let’s watch a video instead of a TV series.
d. I really liked the soundtrack. It was written by an American composer.
4. Write a composition (100-120 words) on the topic:
Why are TV series so popular?
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