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Case Number 06017

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M*A*S*H: Season Seven

Fox // 1978 // 676 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 19th, 2005

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All Rise...

Okay, here's a fun fact. When Judge David Johnson was a little guy, he came down with a serious case of hives, forcing his parents—huge fans of M*A*S*H—to miss the series finale, much to their chagrin.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of M*A*S*H: Season Six (published July 28th, 2004), M*A*S*H: Season Nine (published January 11th, 2006), M*A*S*H: Season Ten (published May 15th, 2006), M*A*S*H: Season Eleven (published January 31st, 2007), 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

"Live! That's an order!"
—Major Charles Winchester
(from "Major Ego")

Opening Statement

The boys and girls from the 4077th M.A.S.H. unit march out in this release of their seventh seasonal outing in the war-torn landscape of Korea. With only their wit and home-made hooch to lean on, Hawkeye, B.J., and the rest of the crew must reconcile their own sanity with their duty as smart-ass doctors.

Facts of the Case

Season Seven in the 4077th marked a few highlights in this long-running "dramedy" series. B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) developed an impressive mustache, "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda) started to shy away from his womanizing tendencies, Radar (Gary Burghoff) was in his final tour of duty, "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit) was treading the uncertain path of divorcee, and Klinger (Jamie Farr) was enjoying one final season of cross-dressing.

Fox has put together all 25 episodes from the 1978-1979 season, on three discs. They are:

Disc One

• "Commander Pierce"
Hawkeye is surprised at how challenging being in charge can be.

• "Peace on Us"
Hawkeye takes an impromptu trip to the peace talks to give a piece of his mind.

• "Lil"
Radar is uncomfortable with Potter's chumminess with a woman named Lillian Rayburn.

• "Our Finest Hour, Parts 1 and 2"
This two-parter is a follow-up to a prior installment of war correspondent Clete Roberts's new story. The episode is filmed as a news piece.

• "The Billfold Syndrome"
Potter calls in psychiatrist Sidney Freedman to analyze a young soldier who lost his memory.

• "None Like it Hot"
A brutally hot stretch of weather motivates B.J. and Hawkeye to order a portable bathtub—which soon becomes the hit of the camp, much to their chagrin.

• "They Call the Wind Korea"
On their way to Seoul, Charles and Klinger take a detour and embark on their own little adventure.

• "Major Ego"
Charles successfully brings back a patient from cardiac arrest, and is soon swept up in his own haughtiness.

Disc Two

• "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
Charles becomes unpopular as he flaunts his winter wear in front of the freezing camp.

• "Point of View"
An innovative episode shot entirely from the point of view of an injured soldier.

• "Dear Comrade"
Charles gets a Korean servant, whom he works hard; Charles's bunkmates suspect there might be more than meet the eye with him, though.

• "Out of Gas"
Father Mulcahy arranges a black market drop for badly need sodium pentathol, and Charles rides along for what turns out to be a dangerous sojourn.

• "An Eye for a Tooth"
Father Mulcahy unleashes his ire after learning he's been passed over for a promotion.

• "Dear Sis"
A third consecutive Mulcahy-centric episode finds the father grappling with his perceived uselessness in the camp.

• "B.J. Papa San"
B.J. consumes himself with helping a destitute Korean family. Meanwhile, an accident-prone general endures a living hell at the 4077th.

• "Inga"
Pierce confronts his sexism face-to-face when a ravishing Swedish doctor upstages him in the O.R.

Disc Three

• "The Price"
Hawkeye and B.J. aid an AWOL Korean soldier.

• "The Young and the Restless"
A medical demonstrator turns the 4077 upside down with his newest techniques.

• "Hot Lips is Back in Town"
Radar seeks girl advice from Hawkeye, and Houlihan lives it up after her official divorce.

• "CAVE"
Hawkeye confronts his claustrophobia when the 4077th bugs out to a cave.

• "Rally Round the Flagg, Boys"
Conspiracy theorist Colonel Flagg returns to the 4077th with his craziest scheme yet.

• "Preventative Medicine"
The docs of the 4077th intercede when they discover a reckless Colonel is responsible for massive casualties.

• "A Night at Rosie's"
Hawkeye bonds with an AWOL sergeant at Rosie's bar.

• "Ain't Love Grand?"
Charles and Klinger each find themselves enveloped by the affections of the gentler sex.

• "The Party"
B.J. organizes a reunion for the 4077th's family members in New York City.

The Evidence

Season Seven of M*A*S*H trumpeted an evolution in the series. Some may say it improved, others may yearn for the days of Wayne Rogers, but it did change. Aside from the character changes—and some, especially Hawkeye's, were steep—the narratives started down a different path.

Hawkeye focused his energy less on debauchery and more on his anti-war attitude; indeed the series, known for its strong anti-war messages, laid it on thick this season, and set the table for even more vigorous anti-war episodes (not that this made it any less entertaining, in my opinion).

I was never fond of the first three seasons of M*A*S*H and intensely disliked the Trapper John and Colonel Blake characters. B.J.'s appearance in season four and Potter's ascent to the throne were both welcome changes for me. Most of all, I appreciated the swapping of Charles Winchester with Frank Burns. Burns was funny enough, but he was too one-dimensional, with no redeeming qualities at all. And he was no match for B.J. and Hawkeye. Charles offered a better foil for the two—here was skillful doctor with wit who could go toe to toe with his bunkmates. Obnoxious, sure; but not as overblown a caricature as Frank Burns.

Anyway, all these changes had taken place long before season seven, but what stands out is the way the writers (including Alan Alda, who became a major scribe) involved these characters in increasingly innovative and experimental episodes. "Point of View" is an excellent example. An episode like this is a herald for upcoming unique episodes that find the docs operating in real time (with a ticking clock on screen), or each having surreal dreams. The show certainly changed in its run, and that I think is evidence of the writers trying to take it new directions.

"Inga," the Emmy-winning episode written and directed by Alda, represented a turning point for Hawkeye's character. It was if the writing staff determined that this was to be the moment that Hawkeye turned away from his rakish lifestyle—and indeed the forthcoming seasons placed his hormones on the back burner. (A case can be made that his womanizing was subsiding substantially following the early years, anyway.)

Basically, if you're a fan of the "mustache years," marked by B.J.'s upper-lip growth, a non-cross-dressing Klinger, and less focus on clowning around and more on ending the war, this is the set that ushers in that era.

Though I usually praise Fox for its television treatments, I am continually disappointed by its handling of M*A*S*H. There are no special features at all—no commentary tracks, no featurettes, nothing. This is one of the most beloved shows of all time, and the lack of anything supplementary is ridiculous. The packaging is pretty shoddy as well.

Fox transfers the show to DVD format well. Presented in its original full-screen format, the video quality is clean and the colors are solid. For evidence, compare "Our Greatest Hour," which was taken from syndication because the original prints were lost, to any other episode on the set. The difference is striking. The original mono sound does its job.

Closing Statement

These releases have always been mainly for M*A*S*H completists. With extra features being AWOL, this is a sub-par DVD, but the strong content found within this season makes up for it.

The Verdict

Not guilty, though the 4077th deserves some more love.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 75
Extras: 0
Acting: 90
Story: 90
Judgment: 83

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)
Subtitles:
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 676 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Drama
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

Accomplices

• IMDb








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