Actor Wayne Rogers, who played Trapper John on "M*A*SH" for the show's first several seasons, accepted the news graciously Monday upon learning the series' 1983 finale at last had been eclipsed as the most-watched program in U.S. TV history.
"Records are meant to be broken and we were lucky at the time that we did 'M*A*S*H' there weren't all of these competing networks," Rogers told Fox Business Network.
"The fact the show did as well as it did - I was very excited about it and I think it's terrific that it did. I'm excited for those guys at the Super Bowl."
(Sandomir of The Times got an email from Alan Alda on this subject.)
The Feb. 28, 1983, "M*A*SH" finale averaged 106 million viewers in a nation with about 75 million fewer people than today. Super Bowl XLIV averaged 106.5 million Sunday, according to Nielsen.
Still, Rogers noted, "That Super Bowl is never going to earn what 'M*A*S*H' earned, that's for sure, because there's no reruns for that Super Bowl. Nobody's going to be interested in that and 'M*A*S*H' reruns have been on for 30 years."
Rogers said he does not lament losing the record.
"No, not really," he told Fox. "I'll tell you why. There is so much advertising leading up to the Super Bowl. If we had had that, by the way if anybody had that kind of advertising leading up to it and all of the hoopla that goes on before it . . . "
I was living in Anchorage in 1983, when most entertainment programs in Alaska were shown two weeks after the Lower 48 saw them.
An exception was made for "M*A*S*H," because of the huge interest in the finale.
We got to watch it later the same night everyone else did.
I'm through writing about Super Bowl XLIV now. Except for answering emails from all the readers over 45 who are furious with my less-than-kind assessment of the Who.
I'd bet the house the NFL will hire a younger act in 2011. Young America's punishment for the behavior of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson has gone on long enough.