MASH Season 7
3 DVDs
20th Century Fox

Although figuring out why anyone would buy a DVD set of a TV show when it is still widely available in syndication has always been a bit hard -although you do get the extra 2 minutes of the situation comedy that were cut for syndication and more commercials–, this reviewer is a Mash fan and has so far acquired all seven seasons of Mash. So far, 20th Century Fox had done a good job of releasing a couple of seasons in a box set a year, the price was very right, the packaging was good, and although there are no extra features, ever, just the simple option of being able to take out the studio imposed laugh track (something our British friends never had to live with) was in itself a bonus.

Then comes Mash, Season Seven, and Fox messes up. Our Finest Hour, that black and white one-hour special that plays like a Movietone News reel is perhaps one of the best Mash episodes ever. The key to its success is that the actors, Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Loretta Swit, David Ogden Stiers ( a welcome addition as Charles Emerson Winchester III) Gary Burghoff (in his last season) Jamie Farr, and William Christopher must answer in character to a question the journalist asks them, question they were not allowed to prepare for. The problem is the print used for this DVD season seven set is atrocious. Granted, 20th Century Fox does give the viewer a warning at the beginning of the show that this episode did not survive well over years of syndication, but this is really not an excuse. The black and white interviews have survived well; it is the color clips from past shows that are of atrocious quality (faded colors, too much green, grainy, fuzzy, and so on). It is difficult to believe someone at Fox could not have taken the time to rebuild the show clips part of this episode when it is clear from previous season box sets that 20th Century Fox does have high quality prints of the shows these clips were taken from. Then again, us mere mortals are not privy to all of the machinations of major studios and maybe, just maybe, there was some kind of union or contractual thing that did not allow the powers at be to do a decent restoring job on this very important episode.

Mash, season seven, is, like all the other Mash DVD sets, a good buy. Season seven features episodes like Inga with Mariette Hartley where Hawkeye gets his comeuppance from a Swedish doctor, A Night at Rosie’s where the entire camps decides to move to Rosie’s for the duration, Commander Pierce, one of the first shows where Hawkeye plays the bad guy, and the funny observational comedy episode Dear Comrade where Charles’ houseboy and communist spy writes home to his handlers. Season seven closes with The Party, an even organized by BJ for the folks back home.

Season seven of this war dramady is a solid collection that suffers from the one great big flaw of an unrestored and very bad print of one of the show’s best episodes. Otherwise, a good deal


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