101 Best Written TV Series

Aired: CBS, 1972-1983

M*A*S*H remains the only long-running series, comedy or drama, set around a war zone. Based on the iconic film by Robert Altman (who had himself adapted his movie from the Richard Hooker novel), the TV series, developed by writer-director Larry Gelbart and producer Gene Reynolds, found a more TV-friendly tone than Altman's movie without sacrificing bite, that tricky alchemy of antic comedy and casualties of war. As critic F.X Feeney noted in 2009, Gelbart, at 22, had flown to Korea as a writer for Bob Hope just as the war started, which came to inform the tone of M*A*S*H. "I am convinced," Gelbart wrote in The New York Times in 1983, before the two-and-a-half-hour finale, "that we achieved a creative freedom unheard of in the medium before or since." The finale drew 105 million viewers, the largest audience to have ever watched a single episode of television.

A chronicle of the life and career of Larry Gelbart

Credited Writers

Alan Alda
Richard Baer
Larry Balmagia
Linda Bloodworth
John Bonaduce
Hank Bradford
Sheldon Bull
Glen Charles
Les Charles
Richard Cogan
Bob Colleary
Elias Davis
Bernard Dilbert
Walter D. Dishell, MD
Sid Dorfman
Hal Dresner
Mike Farrell
Jay Folb
Allyn Freeman
Jim Fritzell
Larry Gelbart
Gary David Goldberg
Johnny Graham
Ronny Graham
Lee H. Grant
Everett Greenbaum
Karen Hall
WC Heinz
John D. Hess
Richard Hooker
Bill Idelson
David Isaacs
Arthur Julian
Ed Jurist
Allan Katz
Sheldon Keller
David Ketchum
Robert Klane
Carl Kleinschmitt
Dennis Koenig
Ring Lardner
David Lawrence
Ken N. Levine
Marc Mandel
Mitch Markowitz
Gary Markowitz
Laurence Marks
Jerry Mayer
Burt D. Metcalfe
Rick Mittleman
Jim Mulligan
Thad Mumford
Simon Muntner
Paul Perlove
Mary Kay Place
David M. Pollock
Richard M. Powell
Burt Prelutsky
John H. Rappaport
Tom Reeder
John Regier
Gerry Renert
Don Reo
Gene Reynolds
Paul Richards
Sy Rosen
James Jay Rubinfier
Don Segall
Bruce Shelly
McLean Stevenson
Burt Styler
Erik Tarloff
Keith Walker
Reinhold Weege
Dan Wilcox
Jeff Wilhelm