Futurama’s iHawk Is A Perfect MASH Parody

Classic ’70s sitcom MASH left a major imprint on pop culture and in Futurama’s sardonic robot iHawk, the show received a perfect parody.

MASH broke new ground for sitcoms, and with the sardonic iHawk robot, Futurama fashioned the perfect homage. MASH was based on the novel and 1970 movie of the same name, but it soon formed its own identity. While it started as more of a wacky comedy, later seasons would explore previously taboo subjects on TV shows such as the death of major characters, PTSD, racism, trauma and much more. While it still took a darkly humorous approach, MASH wasn’t afraid to explore the ugly side of warfare. While it might have been set during the Korean War, the showrunners stated its message could be applied to any conflict.

MASH’s 1983 finale “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” also became the most-watched scripted episode in TV history, a record that’s unlikely to be broken. MASH’s influence on the television landscape is undeniable too, and its fingerprints are all over shows like Scrubs or Taxi. However, some critics of MASH have taken issue with its often abrupt switch between comedy and serious drama. MASH became more dramatic as it evolved, famously dropping the canned laugh track from its operating room scenes (before dropping it entirely). Alan Alda’s Hawkeye also became notorious for his funny/dramatic/funny routine, almost like he was flipping a switch.

Related: Why Colonel Blake’s Shock MASH Death Was Groundbreaking

Futurama Offered A Perfect MASH Parody

ihawk robot in futurama mash

This switch-flipping became very literal during Futurama season 2 outing “War Is The H-Word.” This saw the Planet Express crew signing up for the Army, only for a war to bring out shortly after. The episode takes jabs at several sources, including Starship Troopers and MASH (which had a reunion special). This is seen best when Bender is wounded and taken to a field hospital. Dr. Zoidberg’s skills as a surgeon leave a lot to be desired, especially working alongside the Hawkeye-inspired robot iHawk. He’s the kind of surgeon who operates with a cocktail in one hand and makes constant gags like “Geez, Zoidberg. Leave some for the enemy to kill.”

However, when he wants to get serious, he flips his switch from “Irreverent” to “Maudlin,” just like Alda’s Hawkeye would do. It’s not a particularly subtle gag, but not only did it capture MASH’s habit of abruptly switching tones, but iHawk’s Alda impression (courtesy of Maurice LaMarche) is also spot-on. Sadly, iHawk was only a once-off character and never appeared in another Futurama episode. That didn’t stop other Matt Groening-produced shows from paying homage to MASH – which has many spinoffs – however.

Why Matt Groening Cartoons Love MASH

dr hibbard reading mash in the simpsons

Fans of MASH can spot almost countless nods to the show in The Simpsons, especially during the early seasons. “Lisa’s First Word” from season 4 name-checked MASH with a flashback to the early ’80s, where Marge and several neighbors talk about “Goodbye, Amen And Farewell” shortly after it aired; “Brother from the Same Planet” also sees Dr. Hibbert getting distracted by Hawkeye and Farrell’s antics reading a MASH coloring book. “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” referenced failed spinoff AfterMASH, and as recent as The Simpsons season 30 outing “E My Sports” used a cover version of MASH’s iconic theme.

Next: Why Radar Left MASH During Season 8 (& Why His Spinoff Failed)

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