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  • English: Dolby Digital Mono
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    English, French, French - Hearing Impaired

    M*A*S*H - Season Three (MASH)

    20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 600 mins . PG . PAL


    By the time the second season of M*A*S*H wrapped up, the show was a winner. It was rating well, the characters were becoming household names and the show had refined itself into a fairly slick, occasionally predictable sitcom that continued to mix laughs with some more sobering moments. So does Season Three stand out any more than any of the other series'? Yes - and no. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    The premise has been well discussed, but should there be anyone who does not know what M*A*S*H is, here goes. Set in a mobile army surgical hospital (hence the title) during the Korean War - the 4077th to be precise - the 24 episodes per season are not linked, nor do they flow into each other, but there are numerous major and minor characters that flit in and out of the episodes. The themes are varied, but usually meander back to the underlying message that, to quote Boy George, "War is stupid..."

    Alan Alda and his character, Captain Benjamin 'Hawkeye' Pearce, are the focus of most of the laughs and action more than ever before, and his Grouch Marx styled performance is as solid as ever, but there are ample opportunities for his offsider 'Trapper' (Wayne Rogers) to shine, and plenty of jokes at the expense of Frank Burns (Larry Linville), Margaret 'Hotlips' Houlihan (Loretta Swit), Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), 'Radar' O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff), Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher). Irregulars include Captain Spalding (the guitar-toting folkie, Louden Wainwright III), and Sidney Freedman (Alan Arbus). The most 'irregular' guest actor must be Henry Morgan who pops up (then pegs out) as General 'Iron Guts’ Kelly in Episode One only to return in Season Four as Colonel Potter after the departure of McLean Stevenson.

    McLean Stevenson departed in Season Three in a very sobering final scene that even the cast were not expecting, with only Gary Burghoff knowing the scene and lines as the cameras rolled. Before that, though, there are nurses to be snogged, wounded to patch up, air-raids, Frank Burns in charge of the 4077th (more than once), compulsory medicals for all enlisted personnel, alcohol bans and the usual assortment of mayhem and even tragedy. Some episodes are very light in flavour with japes, hi-jinks and pranks the order of the day, while other episodes are very heavy going indeed, including O.R., filmed entirely in the operating theatre, the first episode to have no laugh track.

    M*A*S*H Season Three is one of the better seasons for the gremlins had been worked out, and the cast were more than familiar with the sets, their characters and each other. The writers, directors and many of the crew had worked on the show since day one, and this continuity shows through in the consistency and quality of all 24 episodes.


    The previous two season boxes have not been first rate as far as video quality is concerned, and while this set is still far from reference quality, there is a slight overall improvement. The full frame aspect ratio is a constant (as expected), and although there are some fluctuations, colouring is mostly solid. Some scenes do appear a little washed out, but this season is almost 20 years old so some aging has to be expected. There is minimal bleeding and noise, but grain is a minor constant. Black levels are nothing fantastic, but shadow detail is generally good.

    There are some film artefacts to contend with, but not as many as the previous sets. Aliasing and shimmer is generally not an issue, and layer changes are placed between two of the eight episodes that are to be found on each disc.


    Originally broadcast in mono, this set comes to us in glorious Dolby Digital... mono! That's all we can hope for folks, and if it is any consolation, it is slightly louder, clearer and hiss-free than the previous two sets - but only just. Naturally, there is no separation or panning of such things as trucks, planes and bombs, and the rear channels and subwoofer are missing in action. Oh yeah, you can listen to it in French mono where the dialogue is a little louder than the English mono.

    There are no synchronisation issues, but there are numerous examples of post-production dubbing that are somewhat noticeable should such things normally bother you. There are no annoying dropouts however, nor clicks or pops.

    Essentially this is a standard mono audio track to go with a very straightforward video, only slightly better than it would appear on television. BUT! Again there is the option of turning off that bloody awful laugh track. This does mean a few pauses where actors are leaving space for the canned laughter, but it is an infinitely more appealing way to watch the show.


    Again, annoyingly, there are no extras included.


    M*A*S*H has plenty of fans and none will need any DVD reviewer to entice them to add this set to their collection. By Season Three the show had hit its stride and would continue to roll along, essentially until the end, which is still many box sets away.

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      And I quote...
    "The gang from the 4077th is back for a third season - and there's plenty more to come..."
    - Terry Kemp
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
    • TV:
          TEAC CT-F803 80cm Super Flat Screen
    • Receiver:
          Pioneer VSX-D409
    • Speakers:
    • Centre Speaker:
    • Surrounds:
    • Subwoofer:
          Sherwood SP 210W
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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