M*A*S*H: Season 2
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Set near the front during the Korean conflict of the early '50s, this long-running smash had countless loyal fans. Hilarious, sometimes cynical, and always engaging. Alan Alda leads a stellar cast through its second groundbreaking season. 10-1/4 hours on 3 DVDs.
M*A*S*H redux. Sign up for another stint with the 4077th. This three-disc set contains all 24 episodes from the superb second season (1973-74) of the series ranked by TV Guide as among the top 25 television shows of all time. The season opener, "Divided We Stand," is a deft reintroduction to these now iconic characters: bleeding-heart surgeon Hawkeye Pearce (Alan Alda in his signature role), kindred misfit spirit Trapper John (Wayne Rogers), clueless administrator Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), buttoned-up Frank Burns (Larry Linville), and unbuttoned head nurse "Hot Lips" (Loretta Swit). In this episode, a visiting psychiatrist evaluates the 4077th to determine whether the unit "can function as a team." His evaluation can serve as this series' mission statement: "These impossible people are in an impossible place doing totally impossible things. They're mad--quite mad." M*A*S*H experienced no sophomore slump from its Emmy Award-winning first season. It continued to subvert sitcom convention with multiple-story episodes such as "Radar's Report." Scenes in the operating room play without a laugh track (this DVD gives viewers the option of watching entire episodes minus the intrusive chuckles and guffaws). M*A*S*H also tackled such issues as racism ("Dear Dad... Three," "L.I.P.--Local Indigenous Personnel"), homophobia ("George"), and war atrocities (Hawkeye and Trapper try to get the Army to take responsibility for the accidental shelling of a South Korean village). Not that M*A*S*H forgot how to be funny. "Five O'Clock Charlie" and "For Want of a Boot" are strictly for laughs. Hawkeye and Hot Lips memorably exchange flu shots in "Carry On, Hawkeye." Loyal viewers will note the emergence of several supporting characters, including Jamie Farr's Klinger and William Christopher's Father Mulcahy. One also sees the (to some) unfortunate transformation of Gary Burghoff's savvy, crackerjack clerk Radar into a naïve innocent. Allan Arbus makes his first appearance as compassionate psychiatrist Dr. Sidney Friedman in "Radar's Report." This second-season set is representative of why M*A*S*H was a cut above. --Donald Liebenson
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However, as far as the "packaging" and extras go, it leaves a LOT to be desired. The only extra to speak of is the ability to delete the laugh track. There are no bloopers, no cast interviews, no "behind the scenes" nor any other of the "extras" almost all DVD's come with. The insert is plain and boring. The episode descriptions are extremely limited, and look as though they were written by someone who had never even watched the show. There is little or no additional information about, for example guest cast or directors, etc.
As for the release schedule, well, come on FOX ... get with the program. Your loyal M*A*S*H fans do not want to wait six or seven years for the last season to finally come out. Take a lesson from Paramount and how quickly they got the entire series of Star Trek: The Next Generation out on DVD. Make it your resolve to get out all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H by the end of 2003 and give us the DVD we really want.. no, deserve!
And, make sure you include the final episode "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" as part of the package!