My Henry Blake Rant

As a fan of M*A*S*H, I struggle with the first three seasons.   There are so many who say that those seasons were the best of the run.  To each their own, but to me, there are a lot of problems with it and one of my problems is the esteemed commander, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake.

McLean Stevenson did a great job and he is the responsible for what I consider to be the funniest scene in the whole series (“nope, taped the wrong leg”).

However, the problem is that this version of Henry Blake is a buffoon and I do not see how, even in-universe of this comedy, Henry is at the rank and position he is at.  As a Lieutenant Colonel, and having seen the original movie, MASH, we have to believe that Henry served in World War 2 and that he was not a draftee.  In the movie, he even says that he has been proud to wear the uniform since the early days of Pearl Harbor.  Even as clueless as the movie Henry was, he still had the credentials to be where he was.  The TV Henry is said to have been a draftee.  This takes away the entire back story of the commanding officer which was extremely important for the character.  If you are going to show the cluelessness of the character, you have to show a history that has led to where he is and why he is the way he is.  As a draftee he would never be at this rank and he would not be the commanding officer.  There are really only two references to the Henry that gives him the back story necessary.  In The Trial of Henry Blake he finally shows some backbone, but only when Nurse Cratty shows up and in Henry Please Come Home, he stands up to Frank and says that they had nothing when they came over that hill, showing how much work it was to build the 4077th.

I really don’t know how important all of this is for those first few years since the comedy was more important than the drama was and McLean Stevenson played to the comedy brilliantly.  As a character, he was not believable and I think that hurt a show that was based in the reality of war.  Henry was not really a hero, but he should have been.


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