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Old 03-28-2007, 11:57 AM   #1
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Default About the character of Charles

This has been written at both jumptheshark.com and amazon. The writers doted Charles's character something fierce. He often had the best lines of anyone on the show. he was usually such a winner-what actor could fail in the role? Watching almost any ep with him in it it is obvious that half the reason the character is so successful is the writer-reasons already mentioned. Larry Linville, as Frank, actually was a better actor than Stiers. Linville had hundreds of different ways to play Frank. Alan Alda credited Linville and Lorretta Swit of having incredibly so many different ways to play their characters.



PS Personally, I think it would have probably been good if older actor Gene Barry (fomerly of Burke's Law) could have played Charles-a Charles older than Stiers's characterization. Barry is a very classy guy!

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Old 03-29-2007, 07:00 PM   #2
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I don't know. I thought Linville was good, but Stiers has a certain subtlety to him that I absolutely love. Granted, the character of Frank isn't big on the subtle, but I really enjoy watching the character of Charles, and think that DOS did an amazing job. It can be hard to take a character like that and yet still make the fans like him, no matter what lines the writers give you.
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Old 03-30-2007, 04:14 PM   #3
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The difference between Frank Burns and Charles Winchester is Charles, in spite of some of his self-absorbed cultural demeanor, knew how to eventually interract with Hawkeye and B.J., while Frank just let his overly arbitrary and political views get the best of him almost all the time. Hawkeye and B.J.(and Trapper, before him) found it real difficult to reason with him about anything. Frank never really interacted well with Hawkeye, Trapper and B.J. I still remember M*A*S*H's last regular episode where Charles spoke about Hawkeye and B.J. not leaving anything in the time capsule from Frank Burns. Moreover, during his speech, Charles wasn't hesitant to describe Frank as infamous, which was true. Afterwards, Hawkeye explained to Charles in regard to Frank's perceived life-threatening surgical skills that they wouldn't want to leave any "deadly weapons". At the end of that episode, as Hawkeye, B.J. and Charles, along with Klinger and So-Li(his future wife), were headed to the officer's club on the base and notice it's crowded. Charles planned to reduce the crowd congestion by using a fake grenade to scare off everyone. When it comes to interraction, I'd take Charles over Frank.
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Old 03-31-2007, 11:37 AM   #4
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I think that Charles grew more as a character throughout the show then Frank did, too. I agree that both Stiers and Linville are great actors, and trying to compare them is difficult.
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Old 03-31-2007, 11:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dynomite
The difference between Frank Burns and Charles Winchester is Charles, in spite of some of his self-absorbed cultural demeanor, knew how to eventually interract with Hawkeye and B.J., while Frank just let his overly arbitrary and political views get the best of him almost all the time. Hawkeye and B.J.(and Trapper, before him) found it real difficult to reason with him about anything. Frank never really interacted well with Hawkeye, Trapper and B.J. I still remember M*A*S*H's last regular episode where Charles spoke about Hawkeye and B.J. not leaving anything in the time capsule from Frank Burns. Moreover, during his speech, Charles wasn't hesitant to describe Frank as infamous, which was true. Afterwards, Hawkeye explained to Charles in regard to Frank's perceived life-threatening surgical skills that they wouldn't want to leave any "deadly weapons". At the end of that episode, as Hawkeye, B.J. and Charles, along with Klinger and So-Li(his future wife), were headed to the officer's club on the base and notice it's crowded. Charles planned to reduce the crowd congestion by using a fake grenade to scare off everyone. When it comes to interraction, I'd take Charles over Frank.
I believe that was the last M*A*S*H scene ever filmed.
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Old 04-05-2007, 01:34 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jaina
I don't know. I thought Linville was good, but Stiers has a certain subtlety to him that I absolutely love. Granted, the character of Frank isn't big on the subtle, but I really enjoy watching the character of Charles, and think that DOS did an amazing job. It can be hard to take a character like that and yet still make the fans like him, no matter what lines the writers give you.
I don't like Charles's character so please don't act like you speak for everyone when you say he was likable. He was really a creep. Often he did nice things for self-absorbed reasons or because of his family. like when the writers had him give the kids the chocolates. It was a family tradition to give poor folks candy at Christmas time. Charles was written to only show that stuttering guy mercy cause Charles's own sister stutters. He almost beat up the diplomat who wouldn't help the Korean baby really only
cause the man challenged him and said Charles's friends in high places were useless. BTW the man who played the diplomat may have been cast
good as Charles (in addition to my after-suggestion Gene Barry). Charles once admitted he was worried about a patient so not to get the man's possible death as a blemish on his service record (or something like that).

Look you've all missed my main points. Alan Alda in his own autobiography wondered how Linville and Swit managed to come up with so many different ways to play their characters. Frank was never the same guy twice. Stiers had no such talent to do that with Charles. He was almost always the same. I feel a greater actor than Stiers could have played Charles stuck up but
always really warm underneath. Gene Barry indeed would have been able to do that. Even the guy playing the diplomat in the Korean baby ep maybe too
. (Who is the diplomat-actor I am referring to I don't know his name) Stiers's Charles came off to me and some others as way too broad, one-dimensional
hateful and his kind actions often didn't come off kind enough and they seemed too much the invention of writers when they weren't really self-absorbed or family-absorbed motivated. And do not forget. the writers gave Charles all that great stuff to say! Stiers in real life may not have such incredible things to say all the time.

PS Gene Barry also played Bat Masterson, in addition to his playing
Amos Burke on Burke's Law. And hey Lorretta Swit was Linville's near equal in acting. And she was warm at times.

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Old 04-07-2007, 02:47 PM   #7
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First off, I'm not speaking for everyone, my statement saying that the fans like him was a generalization of opinions, just as your statement that Linville was a better actor than Stiers is a matter of opinion. I don't know enough about the acting world to say if one of the two was better than the other. One of the reasons I enjoy MASH so much is that I think all of the actors are absolutely amazing on the show, and I'm not here to criticize any of them.

Secondly, I never said that I would like Charles as a person, I just think that he interacted with the other characters in ways that Frank never could have, which opened up more doors for the writers, as Dynomite already pointed out.
Take for example the scene in the season eleven episode "Sons and Bowlers" where Charles comforted Hawkeye when Hawk's Dad went in for surgery. Frank would not likely be able to come across as sincerely showing such compassion, whereas Charles's character could. This doesn't mean that Stiers is a better actor than Linville, or vice versa, just that the character of Charles let the writers do different things than were possible with Frank.

I too read Alan Alda's autobiography, and what he said about Swit and Linville is that they played "scenes of comic passion in so many ways I wondered how they did it without repeating themselves" (Alda, 154). He also mentioned that Stiers "could so disappear into the character of the aristocratic Winchester that audiences who have seen him since in movies probably don't recognize him" (Alda, 152). It does not appear to me that Alan Alda was saying that one actor was better than another, and you can not use his opinions out of context to further your own ideas.

The writers also gave Frank many great lines and situations. For instance, as stated above by Alan Alda, Frank and Margaret had lots of "rendezvous'", and many other situations in which they got to showcase their acting talents. If the actors seemed to give Charles better scenes than Frank it was probably due to what Charles's character allowed for. Besides, saying he got better lines is also a matter of opinion. Frank himself had many fantastic lines as well, that were pulled off amazingly.

My point is, is that it is your opinion that Frank was a better character than Charles, and Linville a better actor than Stiers. That is a perfectly acceptable and welcome opinion, but when you post on these boards expect people to sometimes have opinions that differ from your own. Not everyone will agree with you, and that is the beauty of these boards as you get to hear everyone's ideas and then discuss them, not declare yourself right and everyone else wrong.

As a final note, it is hard to compare Stiers and Linville as actors solely based on MASH as their characters were so different. And neither would I want to as I think that they were both wonderful in what they did, and each brought something of their own to the show.
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Old 04-08-2007, 01:57 PM   #8
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I really liked the character of Charles, and like someone said earlier, he could interact on some level with Hawkeye and BJ. Although Charles could be arrogant and self-centered, there were times when he showed that he could be caring of others and fit in with the others even though he wouldn't admit it. Like the time Col. Flagg wanted him to spy on Hawkeye and he refused because he knew it was wrong. Or the time he was playing practical jokes on Margaret and Hawkeye and BJ making them think they were playing them on eachother. In the end when Margaret said she wrote a letter to BJ's wife telling her they were having an affair, Charles was genuinely concerned and admitted he was behind the practical jokes and in reality they were playing a joke on him. So even though he was aloof most of the time, he really did find himself fitting in with others.
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Old 04-21-2007, 03:54 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaina
First off, I'm not speaking for everyone, my statement saying that the fans like him was a generalization of opinions, just as your statement that Linville was a better actor than Stiers is a matter of opinion. I don't know enough about the acting world to say if one of the two was better than the other. One of the reasons I enjoy MASH so much is that I think all of the actors are absolutely amazing on the show, and I'm not here to criticize any of them.

Secondly, I never said that I would like Charles as a person, I just think that he interacted with the other characters in ways that Frank never could have, which opened up more doors for the writers, as Dynomite already pointed out.
Take for example the scene in the season eleven episode "Sons and Bowlers" where Charles comforted Hawkeye when Hawk's Dad went in for surgery. Frank would not likely be able to come across as sincerely showing such compassion, whereas Charles's character could. This doesn't mean that Stiers is a better actor than Linville, or vice versa, just that the character of Charles let the writers do different things than were possible with Frank.

I too read Alan Alda's autobiography, and what he said about Swit and Linville is that they played "scenes of comic passion in so many ways I wondered how they did it without repeating themselves" (Alda, 154). He also mentioned that Stiers "could so disappear into the character of the aristocratic Winchester that audiences who have seen him since in movies probably don't recognize him" (Alda, 152). It does not appear to me that Alan Alda was saying that one actor was better than another, and you can not use his opinions out of context to further your own ideas.

The writers also gave Frank many great lines and situations. For instance, as stated above by Alan Alda, Frank and Margaret had lots of "rendezvous'", and many other situations in which they got to showcase their acting talents. If the actors seemed to give Charles better scenes than Frank it was probably due to what Charles's character allowed for. Besides, saying he got better lines is also a matter of opinion. Frank himself had many fantastic lines as well, that were pulled off amazingly.

My point is, is that it is your opinion that Frank was a better character than Charles, and Linville a better actor than Stiers. That is a perfectly acceptable and welcome opinion, but when you post on these boards expect people to sometimes have opinions that differ from your own. Not everyone will agree with you, and that is the beauty of these boards as you get to hear everyone's ideas and then discuss them, not declare yourself right and everyone else wrong.

As a final note, it is hard to compare Stiers and Linville as actors solely based on MASH as their characters were so different. And neither would I want to as I think that they were both wonderful in what they did, and each brought something of their own to the show.
Jaina, a lota, lotta actors could have played Charles one dimensionally as a cultured winner. Not anywhere near every actor on Earth could do what Larry Linville could with mostly loser Frank.


Jaina, it is a minimum 10 times harder to play the same character so differently than it is to play a character so solidly. Proof Linville was a better actor than Stiers (Swit is better than Stiers too). You agree Charles's character had the best lines. Every ep I watch of the show doubly confirms Charles's strength actually laid less in Stiers's performance and more in the writers doting on the character of Charles something fierce!
Alda had praise for nearly all the Mash actors but his praise for Lnville and Swit was the strongest and by far most deserved (i wonder if Linville secretly taught Swit how to do that variation on the character trick).

Now to a question I sensibly raised no one answered. One: who was the actor who played the guy at the embassy in the orphaned baby ep?

(I'm adding this part in on Feb 20,2008)
No one has told me who that guy playing the diplomat was!

And Jaina if you are still there. I believe I never said Frank was a better character just that a better actor than Stiers played Frank!

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Old 04-21-2007, 03:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by retrochick9
I really liked the character of Charles, and like someone said earlier, he could interact on some level with Hawkeye and BJ. Although Charles could be arrogant and self-centered, there were times when he showed that he could be caring of others and fit in with the others even though he wouldn't admit it. Like the time Col. Flagg wanted him to spy on Hawkeye and he refused because he knew it was wrong. Or the time he was playing practical jokes on Margaret and Hawkeye and BJ making them think they were playing them on eachother. In the end when Margaret said she wrote a letter to BJ's wife telling her they were having an affair, Charles was genuinely concerned and admitted he was behind the practical jokes and in reality they were playing a joke on him. So even though he was aloof most of the time, he really did find himself fitting in with others.
Larry Linville could have interacted just as well as Stiers did if the writers had permitted Linville to. You are confusing actor ability with the way the writers wrote the characters.

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Old 04-21-2007, 03:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaina
First off, I'm not speaking for everyone, my statement saying that the fans like him was a generalization of opinions, just as your statement that Linville was a better actor than Stiers is a matter of opinion. I don't know enough about the acting world to say if one of the two was better than the other. One of the reasons I enjoy MASH so much is that I think all of the actors are absolutely amazing on the show, and I'm not here to criticize any of them.

Secondly, I never said that I would like Charles as a person, I just think that he interacted with the other characters in ways that Frank never could have, which opened up more doors for the writers, as Dynomite already pointed out.
Take for example the scene in the season eleven episode "Sons and Bowlers" where Charles comforted Hawkeye when Hawk's Dad went in for surgery. Frank would not likely be able to come across as sincerely showing such compassion, whereas Charles's character could. This doesn't mean that Stiers is a better actor than Linville, or vice versa, just that the character of Charles let the writers do different things than were possible with Frank.

I too read Alan Alda's autobiography, and what he said about Swit and Linville is that they played "scenes of comic passion in so many ways I wondered how they did it without repeating themselves" (Alda, 154). He also mentioned that Stiers "could so disappear into the character of the aristocratic Winchester that audiences who have seen him since in movies probably don't recognize him" (Alda, 152). It does not appear to me that Alan Alda was saying that one actor was better than another, and you can not use his opinions out of context to further your own ideas.

The writers also gave Frank many great lines and situations. For instance, as stated above by Alan Alda, Frank and Margaret had lots of "rendezvous'", and many other situations in which they got to showcase their acting talents. If the actors seemed to give Charles better scenes than Frank it was probably due to what Charles's character allowed for. Besides, saying he got better lines is also a matter of opinion. Frank himself had many fantastic lines as well, that were pulled off amazingly.

My point is, is that it is your opinion that Frank was a better character than Charles, and Linville a better actor than Stiers. That is a perfectly acceptable and welcome opinion, but when you post on these boards expect people to sometimes have opinions that differ from your own. Not everyone will agree with you, and that is the beauty of these boards as you get to hear everyone's ideas and then discuss them, not declare yourself right and everyone else wrong.

As a final note, it is hard to compare Stiers and Linville as actors solely based on MASH as their characters were so different. And neither would I want to as I think that they were both wonderful in what they did, and each brought something of their own to the show.
If you can catch old eps of Mannix or one of the original Night Stalker watch how incredibly varied Linville can be. He was virtually the single most talented actor to ever be on american tv as a regular. Fitting his first name was Larry (like Larry olivier).
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Old 04-21-2007, 04:02 PM   #12
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Also, no one has acknowledged my point that Charles's character was actually often written to do nice things for self-absorbed or family absorbed reasons. The character was written to be a better surgeon but personally mostly every bit the prig Frank was. Charles was meaner to Mulcahy than Frank was (courtesy of the writers).

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Old 04-21-2007, 04:05 PM   #13
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Question number two I asked no one has answered. Does anyone think Stiers can in real life come up (on the spur of the moment) with so many incredible things to say like Charles was written to?
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Old 04-21-2007, 04:11 PM   #14
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Check Gene Barry out in the 1953 film War of the Worlds or on an old ep of Burke's Law (available occasionally on dvd). See how classy but still nice he could play it and then somebody come back and tell me he probably wouldn't have been good as Charles ( a little more mature than Stiers's characterization).

Asking this question on Feb. 20, 2008: anybody here check Gene Barry's acting out on my advice?

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Old 02-20-2008, 06:50 PM   #15
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Frank's character was written worse than Charles's. The lines Linville often uttered, if spoken by a lesser actor, would have seemed vastly inferior! Most of David Ogden Stier's lines were great no matter who said them! In other words if Mash was transplated to say the stage and Frank Burns was written the same way there as he was on tv he would most likely seem intolerable, foolish and harrassing to the audience as well as those in the play because a definitely lesser actor would be playing. (Forget Robert Duvall making it well as Frank Burns as his Frank was written to be very tough) But if that Mash stage play also included Charles (written with some of the great lines he had on tv and also as a successful Harvard-educated blueblood surgeon) the character would probably score big with the audience as Charles was written better than Frank on tv but played slightly inferiorly in that medium!

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