M*A*S*H: SEASON ONE
Review by Michael Jacobson
Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, Loretta Swit, Larry Linville,
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: Optional Laugh Track Deletion
Length: 624 Minutes
Release Date: January 8, 2002
man on guard duty is wearing a dress!”
he has the legs for it…”
have to confess something to you…for my entire life, I’ve lived under a rock
as far as the M*A*S*H television show went. Of course, I knew about the show, I knew what it consisted of
and who starred in it…heck, I could even hum the theme song as well as
anybody. But, despite being one of
the most popular shows in American history, despite accolades, awards, and
legions of fans, I had never gotten into the show.
My best friend had even remarked on more than one occasion, “Let
everybody else mourn Seinfeld…I still miss M*A*S*H.”
in life, you get a second chance. Mine
came in the form of a new DVD release from Fox. M*A*S*H: Season One Collector’s Edition is a
terrific three disc set containing all 24 episodes from the show’s first year,
including the pilot. And though I
may not have gotten into the show when it was on the air, I’m definitely into
it now. It was smart and daring,
filled with sharp dialogue, witty observations, and terrific performances by one
of the best ensemble casts ever brought together for a television show.
Best of all, it was funny. Damned
got a chance to peruse the first disc of the three disc set, which featured the
first 8 episodes in broadcast order. Right
from the pilot, which introduced the hijinks of two American Army surgeons in
the Korean War, Captains Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alda) and
“Trapper” John McIntyre (Rogers), the show proved it was smarter, chancier,
and fueled by considerably more talent than most other shows on air at the
time…it’s no wonder the program ended up running for 11 years, about three
times longer than the actual Korean War!
the early episodes, most of the conflict came between the free-spirited Hawkeye
and Trapper, and the more rigid (and basically, sillier) Majors Frank Burns
(Linville) and Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Swit)…both representing the
“real” Army, and neither approving of the Captains’ blatant disregard for
respect, authority, and all things military.
all work at the 4077th M*A*S*H unit, not far from the fighting.
Periods of restless boredom give way to marathon hospital
sessions…these are what helps keep Hawkeye and Trapper’s butts out of the
proverbial sling most of the time; despite their antics, they are amongst the
best surgeons the Army has to offer.
the comedy, the show also touched on more serious issues, as evidenced on this
first disc. Be it racism (in “The
Moose”), public relations (in “Yankee Doodle Doctor”), or simply the day
to day toll war has on a human being (“Cowboy”), M*A*S*H was a show
to tickle your funny bone, but touch your heart and feed your head at the same
that I’m finally embracing the show (about 30 years too late, but hey, better
late than never), I can only hope that this introductory set won’t be the last
we’ve seen of the 4077th on DVD.
As my own experience proves, M*A*S*H is definitely a show that can
be visited and re-visited.
did a great job with these old shows on disc…they look pretty terrific, one
and all; in fact, even better than the movie release! Having seen one or two reruns on TV now and again, I can say
that this DVD set marks a noticeable improvement in brightness and coloring.
Images are well detailed and sharp, with clean lines and natural tones
throughout. The prints are quite
clean, save for a few noticeable scratches during the opening of the shows
(probably caused by assembling it from different sources).
Fans should be extremely pleased with this offering!
original mono soundtracks are perfectly good, if unspectacular by nature.
Dialogue is most important, and it rings out cleanly and clearly, with no
noticeable noise or distortion. A
M*A*S*H ran on television in Great Britain, it aired minus the laugh
track. Once, an episode ran with
the track in place, and the BBC received a number of complaints about it!
On this DVD set, you have the best of both worlds…you can watch the
show with or without its original American laugh track…a nice touch.