MASH: Season 6


Reviewed by: Max Blinkhorn

MASH, ah MASH! Something to bring back the better memories of the Seventies... and the Forties and Fifties and again in the Eighties (rpt). If there was a MASH cult, I was in it. The light-hearted story-cum-saga of doctors saving lives in that war that "we" nearly lost was compulsory viewing for sophisticated twenty and thirtysomethings between 1973 and 1980.

In case you didn't know, MASH stands for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and was always character driven, but each episode had a distinct moral - or slightly immoral - tale at its centre. The "I told you so" line was almost always delivered by one of the anti-hero doctors, incessantly by Hawkeye, played by Alan Alda, who has probably never needed to work again since. Given that he directed 30 or so episodes, too, he must have done well.

The picture quality and sound on this latest season to be released is really excellent, but how peculiarly short each episode is - under 20 minutes, if you take off the classic opening sequence and end credits. Seen together in quick succession it is easy to recognise how repetitive the storylines are. Doctors are always perfect. Loretta Swift slimes her way round Major Potter (the second incarnation of a hate figure in the series - Frank Burns was the original). The Major is the minor villain, who's pompous petulance is usually trumped by something nasty that makes everyone pull together. And redemption - lots of that, too.

But enough cynicism, really; MASH is lovely - a long lost friend returning. You can guess the ending within a few minutes of the opening credits, sure, but it is nice. All those old characters, some dead, some gone, many both, represent a landmark in the lives of the over thirties. I especially like the buddy approach Dr. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell), who is hooked on morphine, has to soldier. It's very sweet and makes modern drug addiction therapies seem so... long. Farrell incidentally is now an active human rights worker and assists many different causes. Hunnicutt never quite replaced Trapper John as Hawkeye's sidekick

At this point, Corporal Klinger (cross dresser of necessity, but stylish with it and somehow committed in a way no real cross dresser is) commences a full flowing and lengthy description of his outfits. These passages fill a regular slot and, I guess, fulfil his contract requirements.

MASH is a trip down memory lane par excellence, a reminder of what we used to like and how nostalgia can still be what it was. One for your library and likely to fill that "What shall I watch now" slot with ease.

Reviewed on: 21 May 2005
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Nostalgic reminder of the long running mobile army doctors classic American sitcom.

Director: Hy Averback, Don Weis, Gene Reynolds, Alan Alda, William Jurgensen

Writer: Alan Alda, Ken Levine, David Isaacs, Paul Prelutsky, Jim Fritzeel, Elliot Greenbaum

Starring: Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Harry Morgan, Loretta Swift, David Ogden Stiers, Gary Burghoff, Jamie Farr, George Lindsay, Alan Arbus

Year: 1977

Runtime: 600 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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