Season Eight of MASH was most notable as the year one of the most beloved characters left the series. Radar, that down-home country boy, was perhaps the most reality based character in the run of the series. I’ve spoken to many G.I.’s who have informed me that the company clerk really runs any Army outfit. Radar had an element of innocence and sincerity that was skillfully portrayed by Gary Burghoff. Burghoff was the only cast member from the original film to reprise his role for the series. Year Eight would feature the first of a few appearances by Alan Alda’s real life father and 1950’s film star Robert Alda.
As miraculous as an 8 year run might be for any sitcom, MASH still had 3 additional seasons to go before leaving while still artistically on the ball. MASH set the stage for multiple cast changes long before Dick Wolf would claim the practice as his own invention with Law and Order. By the time the series ended, only three actors from that first episode remained: Alan Alda, Jamie Farr, and Loretta Switt. (While the character of Father Mulcahy appeared in the pilot, a different actor portrayed him.)
This is an old sitcom, and therefore we can’t expect anything more than the Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix provided. What’s important is that the sound is clean and free of any distracting distortion. The addition of the ability to turn off the laugh track is a nice feature; however, it really does lose something that way. It was almost a little unnerving.
Each episode of MASH is presented in its original broadcast 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio. Again we’re talking about a vintage sitcom, and the picture is generally in fair condition. The biggest flaw I found was how uneven the quality tended to be. Some short scenes would offer a decidedly inferior and softer picture, while most of the episode was OK. I suspect that syndicated edit cuts being replaced could account for the flaw. There will be both grain and print specks to contend with; however, the transfer is certainly watchable at all times. There’s a lot of Army Green to be seen and it does show up in the drab palette the producers were probably intending. Since most of even the outdoor shots were filmed on set, lighting is often a little unnatural and perhaps too even.
None. The menus often attempt to be too cute and therefore are a pain to navigate. Also once again you cannot simply step past the opening credits.
We’re talking classic here, so I’m not sure there is much I can say to change your mind. If you love the show, and most of us do, it is a treasure to finally own these uncut episodes. I was a bit surprised at how much the syndicated versions had chopped off. Of course, there are those of you who find this series to be classless and in bad taste. I suspect you guys are just bucking for a section eight. The set is available now. So “March”.