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Case Number 10724

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M*A*S*H: Season Eleven

Fox // 1982 // 490 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // January 31st, 2007

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All Rise...

Judge Ryan Keefer learned about the word "hermaphroditic" when he watched M*A*S*H in syndication growing up. True story.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of M*A*S*H: Season Six (published July 28th, 2004), M*A*S*H: Season Seven (published January 19th, 2005), M*A*S*H: Season Nine (published January 11th, 2006), M*A*S*H: Season Ten (published May 15th, 2006), M*A*S*H (Blu-Ray) (published October 5th, 2009), M*A*S*H: Five Star Collection (published January 22nd, 2002), and M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell And Amen (published May 23rd, 2007) are also available.

The Charge

"Well, boys, it would be hard to call what we've been through fun, but I'm sure glad we went through it together."

Opening Statement

After some deliberation on whether to extend M*A*S*H past a tenth season when many people in the cast and crew felt that they were gassed, the decision was made to extend things to an eleventh season that would undoubtedly put an end to the show. And after 250 episodes, a February night in 1983 marked the end of the show, where three out of every four people were watching. How does the end look, and how does the season stack up to the rest?

Facts of the Case

OK, here are the 15 episodes minus "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," and they're split over the first two discs of this three disc set. The episodes are:

• "Hey, Look Me Over"
The doctors trash the operating room when the nurses are gone and help them bring everything up to speed for an inspection. Along with Hawkeye finally making nice with a longtime nurse, you can see the future Mrs. Tom Hanks in a role as a nurse to boot.

• "Trick or Treatment"
In the midst of the 4077's usual Halloween fun and festivities, things change pace a bit when the surgeons get a load of wounded to tend to. In more recognizable face news, George Wendt (Cheers) plays a Marine who has a billiard ball stuck in his mouth. And no, it's not the eight ball.

• "Foreign Affairs"
A North Korean pilot lands a Soviet plane safely and is suddenly propelled to fame by a public relations officer (Jeffrey Tambor, Arrested Development), while Charles falls in love with a French Red Cross worker. Get it? Foreign affairs?

• "The Joker is Wild"
Hawkeye tries to get himself back in the practical joke wagon when BJ decides he will successfully "punk" the camp. But he might decide to change his tune when he finds out the real truth.

• "Who Knew?"
Hawkeye is picked to deliver a eulogy to a nurse that he was seeing but didn't really connect with. After a decade of sexual conquest, to see the tables turned on Hawkeye this way was nice, but the table turning was several years too late in my humble opinion.

• "Bombshells"
Hawkeye and Charles decide to start a rumor around the camp that period icon Marilyn Monroe will pay a visit to the camp. In between that and the flare up of new cease-fire rumors, you kind of know where this one is heading.

• "Settling Debts"
Of the many legions of parties that the 4077 throws, the latest one is for Colonel Potter, whose wife writes to tell him that the mortgage is paid off. Meh.

• "The Moon is Not Blue"
Those wacky 40-somethings Hawkeye and B.J. decide to try to get a copy of the steamy David Niven film The Moon is Blue and show it to the camp, as the result of another booze ban for the camp.

• "Run for the Money"
Klinger tries to rustle up some gambling action for a race between the fastest runners of the 4077 and the 8063. The secondary story follows a much picked upon soldier that Charles takes a liking to, and is quite frankly better than the main one.

• "U.N., The Night and the Music"
A group of workers from the U.N. make various impacts on the members of the camp, and B.J. deals with a particularly tough issue with a wounded soldier.

• "Strange Bedfellows"
Colonel Potter receives some unsettling news that his son-in-law (Dennis Dugan in his second guest role, this time as a civilian) cheated on his daughter, while everyone else in camp is driven crazy by a snoring Charles.

• "Say No More"
Margaret contracts laryngitis through a series of circumstances involving a new perm, and Hawkeye is put in a difficult position of relaying health information to a General about his son who is staying in the 4077 hospital, and the father decides to set up shop in camp.

• "Friends and Enemies"
Another one of Colonel Potter's old cavalry friends gets a chance to command a group of troops in combat, but soon finds out the main reason for the assignment was to accommodate an old soldier's vanity.

• "Give and Take"
A wounded GI's prejudices are exposed when he is put in a hospital bed next to a North Korean. Nothing you haven't seen 20 or 30 times before, but one last time doesn't hurt too much. In wacky high jinks, Charles is tasked to collect money as part of the charity drive.

• "As Time Goes By"
Hawkeye and Margaret decide to collect some items for a time capsule to be buried in the camp. During the Linville era, a Hawkeye-Hot Lips collaboration would have been verboten, but what can you do.

As for Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, the episode starts quietly enough with a rather gaunt looking Hawkeye in a mental institution, recalling the details of a day at the beach that went horribly wrong. During this time, peace talks seem to resurface with much more credibility to them, and the camp has to figure out what to do with their lives. Charles frantically looks for a new job post-war (and connects with some Chinese prisoners of war along the way), and Klinger seems to have fallen in love in the last days there. B.J. gets orders to go home, which he does before Hawkeye is released to come back to camp. Everyone is forced to bug out when a fire approaches and eventually consumes part of the camp. And the doctor who is assigned to replace B.J. comes to camp, and we find out that it's…B.J. As the cease-fire draws near, more and more members of the 4077 realize they won't see each other again, and start to discuss what they'll like to do when they get home, where they'll go and what they'll do, leading to one of the more memorable final scenes in television history. The subplot with Hawkeye remains outstanding, and on its own could probably have been an excellent standalone episode.

The Evidence

The shifts in creative control had long since been made, the jokes about goofy practical joking doctors were futile at best, especially since Hawkeye (Alan Alda, The West Wing) and B.J. (Mike Farrell, Providence) were long past the irresponsible age. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit, Beer) couldn't really be looked at as the blonde bombshell nurse anymore. The hot temper of Colonel Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan, Dragnet) is pretty comical by this point, and the draft-dodging dress wearing Klinger (Jamie Farr, Scrooged) has become a get rich quick type of hustler. The best character transformation during the last few years had to be for Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers, Doc Hollywood), who went from being a stodgy blueblood to warming up and possessing more of the human touch as time went on.

Does it take away some of the luster of M*A*S*H when the later seasons hit airwaves? Probably. Admittedly, it did have its moments in later seasons, where shows were real effective messages and interesting choices of style, but the yuks were simply gone, whether you contributed to the laugh track that permeated all of the episodes or not.

Besides, after ten seasons of the show which can easily be divided into the Wayne Rogers/McLean Stevenson period and the Stiers/Morgan period, the only thing left for the show to be remembered for was the ending. With any luck, the brushfire that destroyed some of the sets was the final writing on the wall. And for all the talk and the reverence heaped on the last episode, it's just one good story and a bunch of goodbyes, which, after being on the air as long as it was, should really be what it's all about.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

This may be a bit of a broken record for other judges, but the lack of any extras at all for such a treasured show is an embarrassment. With all of the looks and examinations of the show through the years, including what I'm guessing was a lot of anticipatory press for "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," no one decided to include this on this season's run of discs? I would have expected this from Paramount or Universal, but not Fox, bunch of ferret faces.

Closing Statement

Well, the only reason to buy the season is to finally see the last episode on DVD, so watch it, enjoy it and move on. Otherwise, see if you can luck into the hard to find Martinis and Medicine boxed set collection that Fox put together. It may cost a lot, but it's got all the discs and some extras to boot.

The Verdict

Unhook the still, scramble the choppers, and get the nurses out of camp. The court is bugging out and trying to find a decent treatment for this television masterpiece, because it just isn't here.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 83
Audio: 80
Extras: 0
Acting: 88
Story: 84
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
• None
Running Time: 490 Minutes
Release Year: 1982
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Drama
• Television
• War

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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