M*A*S*H: Season Six
DVD | Box Set
As the sixth season opens, Margarets marriage has finally driven Frank Burns over the edge. Unfortunately, his subsequent replacement, Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, soon drives B.J. and Hawkeye over the edge as well. From his fur-trimmed coat to his shiny French horn, he almost makes B.J. and Hawkeye wish Frank were still there. Almost.
But as Winchester slowly finds his place within the OR, things get back to normal or as normal as they ever get. Radar goes off in search of the perfect tattoo. Black marketeers steal all the units penicillin. Hawkeye and B.J. refuse to shower unless Charles stops blowing his horn. And Hawkeye and Margaret find comfort in each others arms...if only for one night.
From a human standpoint, things are pretty tight at the 4077th. But adding a new character to a long-embedded, close-knit ensemble is a delicate operation. By M*A*S*H's sixth season, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and BJ (Mike Farrell) were partners in outrage against the war and army bureaucracy. With the departure of Larry Linville's Frank Burns, the much decorated series was in need of some new blood. Enter David Ogden Stiers as Charles Emerson Winchester III. Just as Henry Morgan's authoritative Col. Potter was the anti-Henry Blake, so was Charles just what the doctor ordered to give Hawkeye and BJ a worthy foil. Charles was pompous and arrogant, but, unlike Frank, he was Hawkeye's equal in the operating room. And he gave as good as was given to him, as witness the conclusion of his inaugural Emmy-nominated episode, "Fade Out, Fade In," in which he turns the tables on one of Hawkeye and BJ's reptilian practical jokes. In season 6, Gary Burghoff's Radar is mostly missing in action (he would transfer out of the series in season 8), but he figures prominently in "Fallen Idol," one of Burghoff's and Alda's finest half-hours, in which Hawkeye lashes out at Radar's "Iowa naivete" and hero worship.
The season's primary dramatic arc is Margaret's (Loretta Switt) marital woes, culminating in the Emmy-nominated two-parter, "Comrades in Arms," in which Hawkeye and Margaret, trapped by enemy fire, engage in a little close-order drill. The humanization of Margaret continues in "Temporary Duty," which also features one of the most memorable visitors to the 4077th, George "Goober" Lindsey, as the wild and wooly Roy Dupree, a temporary transfer who drives BJ and Charles crazy. Alan Arbus's psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Freedman, one of the series' most welcome recurring characters, makes a memorable return in "War of Nerves," one of his most dramatic episodes, in which a soldier Freedman sent back into combat, is unforgiving in blaming Sidney for his injuries. Two excellent ensemble episodes are "The Light That Failed, "in which the reading-starved camp shares a mystery novel, but doesn't have a clue what happens after the last page is missing, and "Mail Call Three," in which the camp reacts to news from home. Demerits again for no cast commentary, but this set once again offers viewers of the option of watching the episodes with or without a laugh track. --Donald Liebenson
- 24 episodes on three discs
- Viewer can watch with or without the laugh track
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Nothing much needs to said or added to the enduring legacy of a Classic TV series which, for me, is better than the movie. The fact that they could propagate the writing as long as the series went on is amazing. The interplay of the ensemble cast was and is fabulous.
I wish Amazon streaming would pick up the rights...and keep them.
1) I watch these on a portable DVD player, and with seasons 1 - 5, I could just hit forward and bypass the opening credits and the spot right as the actual show starts. Now with season 6, they've decided I MUST watch the opening credits, because hitting forward on this set puts me well beyond the beginning of the episodes.
2) My complaint from the first has been about the plastic case these come in. They almost seem as though they're designed to inflict damage on the discs. Fortunately, my long term storage is in something better than these cases. When these DVDs see this case do they cringe?
My dad worked for men like Frank in the military; I went to school with people like Charles.
By the way, in what season did the shower stall come down on Hot Lips; I must have slept through it on Apple TV.
Like with Season 5, my only real complaint is in these slim versions there is no option to remove the laugh track.
Welcome Major Cogsworth--- er, Charles Emerson Winchester III. If you remember watching the last season of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, you may recognize this man. Just a season ago, David Ogden Stiers portrayed the stuttering station manager at WJM-TV for two straight episodes. Now, he's dropped his stutter and put on a Boston Brahmin accent. You'll probably know him best as Cogsworth in the original Beauty and the Beast.
Cogs-- er, Charles gets a rude awakening to camp life, at one point begging his parents to "Get me the hell out of here!" However, he soon finds himself at home, making B.J. his servant boy over a $200 loan. However..... .the major whistles, loudly, when he's bluffing at poker. Later on, he becomes a temporary drug addict. Yes, much of the plots are about him, only about as much as the subplots are about everyone else. I'll say that Charles is much more civil than Frank. We'll see more of that in future seasons.
Audio and video are great.