M*A*S*H Complete Series; Seasons 1 - 11 DVD Box Set
USA Format; Region 1
Number of Discs: 33
MASH, spun from Robert Altman's Academy Award-winning film (included in this collection), proved a rare, record-breaking exception to the rule that television series based on hit films are doomed to failure.
Even without Altman or the original film's cast, it became one of the longest running and most beloved programs in TV history.
MASH follows the misadventures of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in the Korean War.
In the beginning, the characters remain somewhat familiar: Portraying the ringleaders of the Swamp are Alan Alda in Donald Sutherland's role as Hawkeye Pierce and Wayne Rogers assuming Elliott Gould's position as Trapper John.
The ensemble includes Loretta Swit's "Hot Lips" Houlihan and Larry Linville as Major Frank Burns (Hawkeye and Trapper's reliable foils), William Christopher's earnest Father Mulcahy, McLean Stevenson's leisure-loving Lt. Col. Henry Blake, and Gary Burghoff (the lone holdover from the film) as Corporal Radar O'Reilly.
In one of the more curious departures in prime-time history, Timothy Brown's "Spearchucker" Jones character disappears after the fifth episode. Meanwhile, Jamie Farr's clownish Corporal Klinger, who shows up in the fourth episode, proved popular enough to endure through the show's entire run. Klinger also became one of the show's more controversial characters, both for his Catch-22-like attempts to be declared insane and for his egregious taste in women's clothing.
Gelbart wrote several bang-up episodes along with Laurence Marks (Hogan's Heroes), walking the thin line between spirited irreverence and genuine disrespect and crossing it occasionally when the opportunity arose for a really big laugh.
As the war in Vietnam came to a close, MASH's success only escalated, with unending Emmy recognition beginning in 1974 and the later introduction of the memorable characters Captain B. J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell); Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan); and Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers).
At the end of its run, after winning a slew of Emmy awards along with adulation from both critics and viewers, MASH concluded with "Goodbye, Farewell & Amen," a two-and-a-half hour series finale (also on this set) that became the single most watched episode of any television series ever.