Take a trip back to the 4077. Help yourself to an extremely dry Gin-Martini as you reunite with some old friends, from Hawkeye to Hotlips, and everyone in between. (Hint from Hawkeye on how to enjoy the perfect dry Martini: "Take 6 double gins and go on drinking. Then take a look at a picture of Lorenzo Schwartz, the inventor of Vermouth.")
MASH stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. In this case, the MASH we've grown to know and love is stationed in South Korea, three miles from the front during the Korean war in the early 1950's and is known as the 4077. Actually, that setting was just a pre-text. Everyone knows that the guts and spirit of the 4077 is a take on the Vietnam War. But seeing as M*A*S*H started airing in 1972, it was impossible for them to set it in Vietnam. But if you listen carefully and pay close attention, the anti-war sentiment expressed by some of the characters is truly aimed at Vietnam and so M*A*S*H was almost, in a way, an antidote to the daily News programs. Don't get the impression that the show was a war profiteer. On the contrary, it provided an insight into what was happening on the other side of the Pacific that people didn't get from the News. It allowed viewers to follow endearing characters as they tried to preserve their sanity during wartime. The result was hilariously entertaining, sometimes thought provoking, and often touching in a way that no fiction TV show has even come close to since it went off the air in February of 1983, where the ratings for the final episode were a testament to people's love of the show. At the time, it was the most watched TV program ever! Actually, 77% of people in North America that were watching TV that night were tuned in to M*A*S*H. Now, that's saying something! This should remind us of the triviality of today's TV like Survivor or Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. Although I can't help but wonder who would get voted off the 4077 first. Or, what would Radar look like with a makeover from Carson.
Now available is the Collector's Edition of this classic of American TV. There is enough Mish Mash in these discs to quench any craving for good television. So, weather you've been a fan since episode one, or even if you've never seen it, now is the time to take a load off, sit in a hammock and enjoy that Martini. Now, promise me you won't tell Hawkeye, or especially the writers of M*A*S*H, but as any true Martini fancier knows, the real inventor of Vermouth is not Lorenzo Schwartz, but in fact Antonio Benedetto Carpano. Now that that's cleared up, here we go! Season by season…
"Look, all I know is what they taught me at command school. There are certain rules about a war and rule number one is young men die. And rule number two is doctors can't change rule number one."
Meet Hawkeye and Trapper. Their chemistry and constant back-and-forth banter will win the hearts of everyone in this outfit. Well, almost everyone, that is. Colonel Burns, the second in command, and Hotlips Hullihan, his eager follower and also Head-Nurse are exact opposites of the former two. They dream of a MASH where a superior is saluted and treated with respect. Of a place where there are no homemade Gin mills, or where officers are always in uniform.
Then there's Colonel Blake, the first in command, and his Clerk, Radar. Blake is one of those back-assward types that make you wonder how he manages to even make it through the day. Lucky for him, his heart is in the right place. Radar makes up for all the organization skills missing in his boss, ten fold.
In this season, the first and last episodes are by far the most memorable. In the Pilot episode, Ho John, the houseboy, is accepted to a university in the U.S. so the camp raises money for his flight there by raffling off a weekend in Tokyo with a Nurse. It's not so much the storyline of this Pilot that proves its strength, but rather the way that it's filmed, written and acted. The overall quality of the show is what made sure that it would last as long as it did.
The last episode is done in a style that is very reminiscent of Bob fosse films, especially All That Jazz. But all this is just coincidence seeing as that movie didn't come out until 6 years later. The editing is very quick, especially on the audio side. The writing is nearly genius and the cinematography is nothing like what we're used to seeing on TV today. In this episode, a stand up comedian and a troupe of women singers stop by to perform. Meanwhile a dentist who is being sent home does everything he possible can to ensure that he'll leave as planned. Then, Colonel Blake becomes a father and if it weren't for the war, he would be there with his wife and new son.
All in all, season one is as funny as it is tragic. The funny parts come from pranks, jokes and fooling around and the tragedy is courtesy of the war and everything that comes with it, from injuries and death, to not being able to see the birth of your first son.
This season saw a huge jump in the show's ratings, thanks to its new time slot, right after the hugely popular All in the Family. M*A*S*H was now officially a hit-show, and the actors were household names.
With the first episode of this new season, the
Producers knew that their viewership would be up thanks to the new time slot, so they decided to make a kind of 'second pilot' in which all the characters would be re-introduced. The plot follows a psychiatrist who is sent to the 4077 to examine the outfit. Colonel Blake tells everyone to be on their best behavior to impress the shrink and make sure that they don't get split up. What happens is typical M*A*S*H craziness that always leaves you wanting more. Luckily, there are 23 more episodes in this season alone!
In another episode, a bigoted sergeant is taught a lesson in life by the 4077, as he plans to force the outfit to move closer to the front. Then, in an episode titled Crisis, the 4077 has to make due with rations seeing as their supply lines have been cut off.
By the last episode, a secret agent from the CIA (or is it the CIC, or the CIB?) infiltrates the camp. At the same time, another agent from the secret service arrives. The two try to outdo each other to see who can find the most dirt on the personnel. Hawkeye and Trapper take full advantage of the situation by setting up Burns. They convince one agent that Burns is a communist while telling the other agent of Burns' fascist tendencies, proving once again, in its second Season, that the doctors at this M*A*S*H operate soundly and with care.
A few changes were made with the third season. Klinger becomes a more established character, with his pretty gowns, lovely dresses and the like. Also, between seasons two and three, the producers visited Korea and came back to L.A changed and fully inspired. "We got a taste of the real thing, and it was very hard to come back and be funny after that. I think that's what really made the difference in seasons three and four."
The episodes in this season are worthy of all the acclaim the show got over the years. Some noteworthy plot lines include Radar getting bit by a dog and having to scour Korea to find him. Or the time that Colonel Blake goes to Seoul for leave and Burns and Houlihan are in charge and they make Hawkeye officer of the day! In one episode, Trapper gets an ulcer and can go home. Unfortunately, a new regulation forbids him to leave.
The last episode of the season is by far the strongest. Colonel Blake is finally granted his discharge. His leaving saddens everyone, but at the same time obviously very happy for him. Burns plans how he'll run the place, seeing as he'll be the new one in charge. Then, in an unforgettable twist in TV history, after an emotional goodbye (hugs, kisses, tears and the zipping of Klinger's dress), the 4077 gets news that Blake's plane was shot down over the sea of Japan. Radar announces, "There were no survivors."
After three years on the air, the makers of the show were more certain of how much serious stuff they could fit in with the funny stuff. The result is the true backbone of the show: A classic mix of comedy and tragedy.
"Don't mind Pierce and Hunnicutt, they're both first rate surgeons. Sure, they'll show up to role call in their bathrobes. They keep a still in their tent. Once they ran all my underwear up the flagpole. But I want you to understand it's an honor to serve with these men."
This season begins with change. We knew from the last episode of season three that Colonel Blake would not be returning, but now, in episode one of Season Four, we follow Hawkeye as he just arrives from three days' leave in Tokyo and finds the 4077 with no Trapper. Apparently, Trapper got sent home. So what does Hawkeye do? He rushes to the base that Trapper is meant to take his flight from and does everything he can to find his best buddy and be able to say goodbye. He never ends up finding Trapper, but instead comes back to the camp with a new surgeon, B.J. Hunnicutt.
Along with changes in the outfit, M*A*S*H showed a true change in style, too. In the last episode of the season, the style was totally different. No laugh track, no colour, either. (It's funny to note that there's actually a voice over at the start of the episode that says that the show is in black and white! I could just imagine all these people slapping their brand-new colour TV's thinking that there was something wrong with it!) The episode is shot as a documentary with interviews with all of the major characters. This proves as a great insight into what they all think of the war – and each other.
The risks that they took in making this season is almost unthinkable in today's TV industry where it seems like everything is so aware of what it is that its afraid to change or experiment with anything. I guess that's what happens when there are hundreds of channels to chose from: you want the viewers get what they expect of your show, or else they'll change the channel.
The fifth season of the show opens with the 4077 getting instructions to 'bug out', otherwise known as retreating due to an incoming army of Chinese. The only problem is that a house full of ladies of the night already occupies the area that they're planning on moving to -. Finally, both sides agree on a compromise that leaves everyone happy, except for Clinger who was helpless in the situation and had to see his entire wardrobe of lovely dresses become Korean hooker garb.
Other highlights in this season include the plotline that follows Hotlips and her newly found fiancé. Of course, this leaves Burns fuming with jealousy. In fact, he get hit with it so bad, that ultimately, this is what'll cause his eventual demise into insanity, making this season his last on the show.
By the end of the season, the weeding finally arrives. Everything seems to be going as planned, and the bride and groom couldn't possibly look any happier. As the ceremony begins, a surge of helicopters full of wounded land, and the doctors have to get to work – STAT. So the wedding basically becomes a speeded up version of "do you take, and do you take?.. I do, I do."
"I've got a soft spot for Klinger. He looks a little like my son, and he dresses a lot like my wife."
Now that they find themselves without Frank Burns, due to his going nuts over Hotlips' marriage, the base needed a new stick in the mud to provide Hawkeye and B.J. with a straight man to play gags on. Enter, Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. He sports a fur coat, talks with the same type of accent that Katherine Hepburn did, and really gets on everyone's nerves. There are two things they like about him, though; one, he's a great surgeon. Two, he's no Frank Burns.
The story lines changed a bit in this season. Alan Alda started writing and directing even more episodes than ever before, and the change is obvious, and maybe even for the better. There is a shift away from typical comedy and more of a focus on the relationships within the unit.
One episode sees a power failure get the best of everyone , while in a two-part episode, Hawkeye and Hotlips find themselves behind enemy lines and end up comforting themselves in each others' arms.
The pressures of the war have more then settled in by now. At this point in time, the peace talks to end the war had been going on for over a year, and Hawkeye has had enough. He flees to where the talks are taking place, intent on being heard and making a difference. In the end, he is in fact heard, but little or no change will come from it.
This was to be the end of the road for Radar, the loveable company clerk who always ended up somehow saving the day. Other changes in this season are Hotlips and Hawkeye's relationship, Klinger's wardrobe and Charles' take on a waitress at Rosie's Bar. Also be sure not to miss episode 'Inga', where a stunning Swedish doctor surprises everyone with her OR talents.
Watching a whole seven seasons within a short period of time was really quite an undertaking. But to be honest, there is almost no show in TV history that I would have enjoyed watching as much of. I mean, the show has a production value the likes of which we're not used to seeing on TV any more. Helicopters, massive constructed outdoor sets, hundreds of extras, etc…
I wish they still made TV that needed writers, actors, art directors, costume designers and all the rest of the artistic crew, not just cameramen, editors and slimy producers that play on unstable people's emotions. I can't wait for the day where the shows on TV become an artistic medium again, and not just something that's on between commercials.
Over 11 seasons and 251 episodes, M*A*S*H garnered 14 Emmys, 6 Writers' Guild Awards, 4 Directors' Guild Awards.
Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Loretta Swit, Larry Linville, Gary Burghoff, Jamie Farr, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson.
Directors: Alan Alda, Gene Reynolds, Hy Averback, E.W. Swackhammer, Michael O'HerlihyBruce Bilson, Don Weis, Terry Becker, William Wiard, Jackie Cooper, Earl Bellamy, James Sheldon, Burt Metcalfe, George Tyne, Charles Dubin, Stuart Miller, William Jurgenson.
The only special features on this 7 disc set are the choices in viewing and audio formats: English Mono, Subtitled in English, Spanish Mono, Subtitled in Spanish, French Mono, Full frame, or Original Aspect Ratio.