MASH Season 8
Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, Harry Morgan,
David Ogden Stiers, William Christopher
3 DVDs 24 Episodes
Fox Home Entertainment
One of the many reasons Mash managed to stay on the air for so long is that it always managed to renew itself. True, this sitcom lasted longer than the Korean conflict it is set in, and it seems, mathematically, that people in Korea celebrate Christmas at least twice a year, but Mash never overstayed its welcome because the turnover in and growth of main characters allowed the writers to keep this classic television series fresh.
Season Eight, 1979-80, features the double episode Good-Bye, Radar and its follow-up show Period of Adjustment where Klinger, no longer bucking for a section eight, takes over Radar’s job as company clerk. This is also the season during which the very eerie, touching, and brilliantly written and filmed Dreams episode which, amazingly, was only nominated for one Emmy Award, for directing, and did not even win. Granted, Harry Morgan and Loretta Swit won for supporting actor (we thank imdb.com for having the information so we could check our facts).
Mash was always known for managing to tackle both comedy and drama in the same show. Season Eight is no exception with shows like Are You Now, Margaret where Houlihan has to decide if she is going to participate in the naming of supposed communists during the McCarthy era. Nurse Doctor explores the sexism of not allowing male nurses in the army the same rank and privilege as their women colleagues. Most politically to the point is the episode Yessir, That’s Our Baby where a Korean-American baby is left at the 4077th and we discover the United States is the only country that does not acknowledge the children left behind by its soldiers.
In addition to the Dreams episode, this DVD set includes Life Time, the show that is in real time when the doctors only have 25 minutes to save a patient before he becomes paralyzed.
Of course, laughs and comedy are the mainstay of his great situation comedy so there are many laughs in episodes such as Dear Uncle Abdul (one of the many letters home shows), Good-Bye Cruel World, basically Klinger’s last hurrah for a section eight, and the very funny April Fools where Colonel Potter pulls the rug under his underlings
Although the DVD release of Season seven had a horrible version of the hour-long Our Finest Hour, the twenty-four episodes in this DVD set are all in pristine condition. Even the opening credits have been cleaned up and look crisp. Fox Home Entertainment has to be congratulated for keeping the sale price of this 3 DVD set in the reasonable price range (somewhere around a dollar fifty per show) and also thanked for keeping the look of the season box sets uniform over the last 8 seasons. Sometimes, the major studios get it right and treat their great series and customers with due respect.
Why own a Mash DVD set when you can still catch it on television? Well, first of all you have the option of removing the annoying laugh track the studio imposed on the series, and, most important, you get each episode in its entirety and not truncated by some 2 minutes so someone could fit in more commercials.
Our wish list for future Mash releases includes a picture of Loretta Swit on the spine, the only original character who has not appeared there although both Radar and B.J. have twice, and, some extra features. It is hard to believe there are no interviews, blooper reels, and so on and so on out there.
Too Many Cooks
Are You Now, Margaret?
Guerilla My Dreams
Good-Bye, Radar 1 and 2
Period of Adjustment
Mr. and Mrs. Who?
The Yalu Brick Road
Dear Uncle Abdul
Stars and Stripes
Yessir, That’s Our Baby
Lend a Hand
Good-Bye Cruel World
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