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Friday, December 2, 2011

I've seen so many reruns of M*A*S*H, the TV series, that most of them don't interest me anymore; but I make exceptions for Sidney Freedman episodes.

Perhaps you remember that Freedman was a psychiatrist who visited the camp occasionally. Wikipedia says there are only 12 episodes with Freedman, including the series finale that was more dramatic than comedic. I'm sure Wikipedia is correct, but the influence of the Freedman character goes much farther in my mind. Laconic, witty, perceptive, caring, quietly courageous, and cautiously optimistic, the Freedman character is very appealing to me.

Unlike other minor characters in M*A*S*H that were buffoons -- such as the dim-witted and paranoid Colonel Flagg -- the Freedman character was crafted sympathetically. Many people had a hand in writing M*A*S*H, and I don't know who originated the Freedman character. Allan Arbus, the actor, should get credit for his crisp performances. He retired in 2000 and is still alive at age 93. Harry Morgan, who portrayed Colonel Potter, is also still alive -- at age 96. Perhaps comedy is good for one's body.

Two other sitcom characters that I really like: Sergeant Dietrich on Barney Miller, brilliantly played by the late Steve Landesberg; and Larry Paul on Ally McBeal, given life by the troubled but ever so talented Robert Downey, Jr.