I don't remember the show having a laugh-track either (NZ then Australia). The original movie was great, but something of a shock to watch after years of watching the series - it seemed much darker somehow. The final movie-length episode 'Goodbye, Farewell & Amen' nearly broke my heart.
I always wanted that show to push Alan Alda's acting talent to the limit and place Hawkeye in the position where he had no choice but to shoot somebody. That would also be a great excuse for another Sidney Freedman episode.
I was fond of the TV series but I loved the movie, which I saw with my Dad and the rest of the family -- I think at a drive-in! My Dad said it was the only movie he ever saw that depicted surgery and surgeons accurately. It is also a dynamite combination of comedy and tears. The TV series always seemed sweet but watered down greatly by comparison.
Yes, and I have wondered ever since whether the producers had a similar idea for Hawkeye but considered it too far outside his character. The episode where he and Margaret are holed up in an abandoned hut would have been an excellent set-up.