"M*A*S*H: SEASON 11"
by Rachel Buccicone
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Alan Alda as “HAWKEYE” PIERCE
Mike Farrell as B.J. HUNNICUTT
Harry Morgan as COL. POTTER
Loretta Swit as MARGARET HOULIHAN
David Ogden Stiers as CHARLES WINCHESTER
Jamie Farr as MAX KLINGER
William Christopher as FATHER MULCAHY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Created by Larry Gelbart
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While by the end of the show’s 11-season run it saw less humor and more drama, “M*A*S*H” was a phenomena. The 11th season on DVD includes the final episode that had most of the nation’s eyes peeled.
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“M*A*S*H” is a dark comedy/medical drama about the horrors of war from the viewpoint of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Set during the Korean War, the show’s final season follows the routines of best friends “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda) and B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell). With them is their commanding officer Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan), head nurse Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit), highbrow snob Charles Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers), Chaplain Mulcahy (William Christopher), and overall goof-off Maxwell Klinger (Jamie Farr).
The group consists mostly of the surgeons who are party to the grimmest horrors of the war, operating on the frequent shipments of wounded brought to their unit. Luckily, Hawkeye and Hunnicutt have strongly comedic personalities that bring much relief to the doctor and nurses of the 4077th.
The episodes of season 11 take place among rumors that the end of the war is drawing near. Throughout the season this MASH unit dresses up for Halloween, plays the ultimate prank on Hawkeye, survives a number of inspections, and builds a time capsule to symbolize their time in Korea. Many of the episodes were written or directed by cast members, most prominently Alan Alda (“The Aviator”).
Thanks to this DVD, the final episode, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”, can be watched commercial free for the full two hours. This episode still holds the record for the most watched television episode of all time, drawing in 77 percent of viewership on February 28, 1983. The 106 million Americans who were glued to the set that night likely found it to be touching, heartbreaking, and truly funny. The show went out with a bang with the account of Hawkeye’s institutionalization and the end of the war. Many changes occur for the group and many futures are planned as the doctors and nurses of the 4077th dream of home while scrambling to save the increasing number of wounded being shipped in.
The DVD is a bit disappointing. We have come to expect great bonus features on our DVDs these days, and “M*A*S*H: Season 11” just doesn’t have any. Yes, all 15 half-hour episodes are there, and the third disc holds the complete final episode, but fans are sure to want more out of this “collector’s edition”.
You can’t watch “M*A*S*H” on TV as frequently as “Friends”, so owning this piece of history would be worthwhile to any fan. And if I haven’t made it clear already, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” is priceless.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Full Frame (1.33:1). English, Spanish, and French Language Tracks. English and Spanish