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4.8 out of 5 stars166
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2010
Made in the 1970s and early 1980s, this series follows the adventures of a group of drafted medics in the Korean War who have the unenviable task of stitching back together soldiers who aren't old enough to shave. It's an obvious point that this situation and the issues it raises are as relevant today as they ever were. For the most part the show isn't laugh out loud funny, being more of a subtle character-based series in which the more you get to know the characters the more enjoyable the show becomes. And as the characters are perhaps the best ensemble cast ever assembled, that makes it very enjoyable indeed. This is an episodic show with only mild continuity and minimal arc stories, but nevertheless there are spoilers ahead...

The show changes over the years and its development can be broadly split into three sections. Each have their strengths and some weaknesses. The first section comprises the first three seasons and presents the show at its most anarchic and comedic, basing itself around three double acts. Henry Blake is in charge of the surgical unit and his performance is a comic master class. He's a man out of his depth, lacking all authority, usually drunk and his only interests are his girlfriend, fishing and golf. His clerical assistant, the mild-mannered Radar, at one stage jokes he really runs the unit, but he does and his double act with Blake in which Radar always knows what Blake is about to do has superb comic timing. The second double act is Hawkeye and Trapper John as the liberal minded, and usually drunk, surgeons who hate authority but do like chasing nurses. They provide the soul and core of the show, but perhaps not the funniest element as their wise-cracking is obvious and tiring. Best of all is the subtler pairing of Hotlips and Frank Burns, two military types who seek comfort in each other while plotting, and failing, to bring down Hawkeye and Trapper. Their lines are deadpan and funny, and for me Frank Burns is one of the great unsung comedy characters, with his endless inability to ever do the right thing.

Throughout these years the liberal anti-war values gives the comedy a tragic and often poignant edge. But for the second period of the show from series 4 to around 8 the show becomes more of a comedy drama. The moment of this transition comes when Blake (gulp...) and Trapper leave and as if often the case with shows that gradually become formulised they are replaced with less appealing and less anarchic characters. Potter takes charge as a loud authoritarian cowboy and BJ replaces Trapper's nurse-chasing antics with being a married, faithful man. During those years Frank also gets replaced by the snobbish Major Winchester. These changes help to keep things fresh, but the number of stories in which the war is hell message is rammed home in an unsubtle manner grows. Having said that, these years are perhaps the best showing the full range of what the show can do.

This period ends around the time that Radar leaves. Although if you're tracking the change of the show carefully I believe you can spot the moment it becomes a drama with comedy (as opposed to a comedy with dramatic elements) as being when Hotlips becomes Houlihan, thereby stopping being a promiscuous thorn in Hawkeye's side to being a dedicated nurse. This unwelcome change of character (as Hotlips is a magnificent creation and Houlihan is nothing special) forces the show to abandon the internal conflict in the unit in which the doctors fight amongst themselves to concentrate on them pulling together to fight against the horrors of war. This makes the drama repetitive and less interesting than the machinations Hotlips and Frank would go through to destroy Hawkeye. In reality this change of focus occured behind the scenes with changes in the writing staff and the greater involvement of Alan Alda who tried to use the format to highlight issues, but on screen Radar and Houlihan are the obvious change points. Watching again I enjoyed these episodes more than I had the first time round, largely because this time I appreciated Winchester more. In essence Winchester is Frasier, being a wine-loving, opera-loving character who finds himself stuck in Korea with a load of slobs. I rooted for him more this time. There's also greater experimentation in these years with many unusual story-telling formats, most of which work.

There are many other delights: Klinger permanently trying to get out of the army on a psychological discharge by wearing dresses, the ever understanding Father Mulcahy, and the bizarre recurring role for the most gung-ho CID agent in history. Many later stars also appeared in minor roles such as Leslie Neilsen, John Ritter, Patrick Swayze, Keiko from Star Trek and that shouty bloke from the Police Academy films. And it's also nice to see many bit part characters grow over the years such as the Hawaiian nurse and the cook, many of whom can be spotted from early episodes through to getting full speaking roles later.

For over 200 episodes the series presents an entertaining comedy that also says something important and this box set presents the full story. It includes every episode along with the earlier Robert Altman film and various later tribute shows containing contributions from pretty much everyone which are worth watching if only to hear Frank Burns cackle for one last time.

This is the greatest comedy show that has ever been made, but the final word really should go to Henry Blake: there are certain rules in a war. Rule Number 1 is that young men die. And Rule Number 2 is that doctors can't change Rule Number 1.
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on 12 March 2016
A spoiler free review - I promise!

A bit of background information first, then my thoughts.....

The is the story of a fictional military hospital in the American - Korean 'conflict' of 1950-1953. M*A*S*H stands for mobile army surgical hospital. These were real hospitals that were designed to be packed up and moved at short notice, either closer to the 'front' or 'retreat' to safety. M*A*S*H* hospitals did exist, but the #4077th in this show is fictional. The show is the story of the doctors, nurses, patients and soldiers that pass through the 4077th. The show ran from 1972 - to 1983, raking up 11 seasons and 256 episodes of approximately 25 minutes long.

When the final episode aired on American tv, it was the most watched TV programmed in US history, it held that record for 27 years until finally being beaten by the 2010 Super bowl. That gives you an idea of how loved and enjoyed this show was when it aired originally in the 80's.

But how does the show hold up in the year 2016? Exceptionally well is the answer. The show was a period piece to start with, so it doesn't look dated at all. If it wasn't for the fact that the image is 4:3 and not 16:9 it would still look fairly modern. To describe the show as a comedy would be wrong, as although it is genuinely funny it's often very serious with dark humor and some very hard topics are being tackled. Because of the length of the shows the plot lines were very tight and sometimes multiple plots ran in one episode, this in 2016 works in the shows favour still, as the show doesn't drag and doesn't feel out of pace with modern editing and pacing of shows. The episodes still zip along nicely.

As a show they made the decision not to show gory blood on screen and for a show that is dealing with causalities by modern standards it's not graphic at all. Instead the focus is on the situations and the treatment those war casualties receive. The show isn't preachy, it doesn't try to ram home a moral message. It is a show set in a war, but it's not a war show. If there is a message from the show it is that all life is precious and that people who may not even believe in the cause are there trying to preserve life. It also often pokes fun at those in high ranking positions whilst simultaneously pointing out that the least ranked individual in the base is actually the most useful!

To this day it's fairly unique as a character and story driven show. Now I promised at the top of the review that I wouldn't have spoilers in the review and I'll stick to that. That's why I'm not mentioning story lines or even characters. . But what I will say that the show is still laugh out loud funny and often extremely sad, even as I'm writing this I'm getting a lump in my throat thinking about a particular episode. This really is the magic of the show, you care for each character in the show and are genuinely affected by what happens to them.

To conclude my review - yes in 2016 the show is still funny, touching and genuinely moving. In many ways the story is timeless and still as relevant today as it was then. Watch the first 5 episodes and I promise you'll be hooked like millions before you.
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on 27 June 2008
Nice collection. All shows included, the original movie, and a couple of "Extras" DVD's.

However, it is important for you to know that the MEGASet comes in a large binding book. All the DVD's are pushed into cardboard slots (a lot like the coin collector books). This means if you take the DVD's out a lot they are going to get scratched - EVEN If you are careful.

I have a soft, CD carrier that works very much the same, and I'm meticulous about not putting pressure on it. Still my CD's have gotten marred over the years using this.

If the DVD's were mounted on a spindle holder (like a normal case) this would be much much better. There is a reason that design was chosen, it protects the product.

If you just want these DVD's to sit on a shelf, okay then. But if you are going to use them, *****BE AWARE***** you may wind up damaging them. Put them in real cases as soon as you get them.

The cardboard slots are also quite tight, causing lots of pressure. And they have a tendency to break easily (the glue comes off, causing the DVD to slip down - more opportunity for scratching).

Highly recommended that you get a real storage system for this excellent collection.

Should also know that the original movie is provided in Widescreen format, whereas the TV series is provided in Full Frame.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 August 2012
Excellent presentation of a much loved comedy drama. And for £34 a brilliant price. I already had series one, two, three, eight, eleven and the movie on dvd with the rest recorded on vhs from various channels over the years. This box set tidies things up nicely. Ease of access to any series and much better shelf space. And there's always the chance that I shall view an episode that I have not seen before.

Hope my video is helpful, must say that the dvds were not as expected but on reflection they couldn't really be packaged any better.
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on 5 January 2011
To start with: anyone that wonders where the actual MASH movie is: it's on the very last DVD in the same case that contains series 11.

Having all 11 seasons plus the movie in one boxed set is a real boon. So many episodes I either can't remember or must have missed when they were aired: and so far, I've only watched up until episode 5 of season 3.

Overall though, I can't recommend this series highly enough!!!
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on 12 January 2007
This is the ultimate MASH box set. Not only does it contain the full 11 series of MASH but also an extra two disc of special features and the original MASH feature film (1 Disc Version), so no need to buy it separately. MASH was a consistently good programme, ranging from full on comedy episodes to some brilliant dramatic ones. You cant go wrong with this series and for a programme that ran for 11 seasons, remains suprisingly high quality throughout.
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on 20 November 2009
at last i can watch the episodes that never seem to be on the tv (notice its always the same ones that are shown)
all 11 season on dvd and well presented with 2 seasons per vhs size box and complete in a sleve to keep the 6 together.
also contains special features such as the mash movie and bloopers/interviews & 30th anniversary reunion.
perfect for a present or to treat yourself (i gave up with hints so treated myself) worth every penny!!!!
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on 25 May 2016
I am not going to review MASH. If you don't know how good the programme is, then this is not for you. I am also going to award it 5 stars but will have a good moan about disk menus.

The good bits
1. Physical presentation is fine. 36 disks in 6 plastic boxes (not cardboard). A little booklet giving minimal information. All you need really.
2. Includes the original Altman film.
3. Assorted extras.
4. Picture quality is very good for a 1970s TV show.
5. Allows you listen without the awful canned laughter track (just as the BBC used to show). Call me strange but I tend to know when something is funny.

The meh! bits
1. Given there are 250-something episodes, the DVDs are not set up for binge watching. At the end of each episode, you select home, locate the next episode and choose play. Groan.
2. They give you a different menu display for each episode based on its content which is cute for the first 3 and irritating after 4. You have to think before you press. (Sometimes it is down and sometimes across and sometimes both.)
3. The sound option is per episode. So at the end of one episode do the following. Select Home->Choose next episode->Choose sound options->Find "Without Laughter Track"->Click Resume. Each and every time!

You think someone might have twigged that when a pack of 36 disks is bought the likelihood is the person wants to just sit down and rattle through several episodes in a sitting. You just want the disk to play the next episode right after the last, or at worst click the next button. Being somewhat of a simpleton, more than once I have started playing the episode, I have just watched!!!

That said its a fantastic and bargain set. if you like MASH, buy it.
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on 11 April 2008
From the first episode through to the finale, you know that you are watching a classic. Over the years, characters come and go, some are loveable, some you'll hate, some you'll love to hate.
This set is well presented and documented with a load of extras filling in the back stories.
In terms of writing and acting, much of it is great. Some episodes are below par, but bounce back with a few minutes of genious. It help to understand the torment of the situations and have an empathy with the characters.
I only have a few complaints and they are all managable.
The first 6(?) series have the laughter track as default. This is absolutely uneccessary as the timing of humour in this series is often juxtaposed with tradgedy. The laughter track detracts from the real purpose of the comedy and I would strongly suggest watching without it.
The inclusion of the movie completes the set, however I would suggest that the two do not necessarily compliment each other. I have found it hard to enjoy the movie since watching the series. But that may be my problem, not that of other viewers.
We started watching this from episode one, averaging two or three a week week. It's been a great couple of years. I'll actually miss the characters.
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on 2 November 2015
This has all the episodes of the series along with the film (which had a completely different cast, though mostly the same characters). Personally, I think the later series weren't as funny, as they tried to tone down the womanising and drinking of the Hawkeye / Trapper days to Hawkeye / BJ. Almost as if political correctness was creeping in long before we had ever heard the insidious term. Plus the cast got to direct a lot of the later episodes and they were rarely as funny when they focussed on one alternative main character rather than Hawkeye and a bevy of superb supporting characters. However, the whole lot is still worth watching and many of the later episodes I don't remember seeing as a child.

If you like almost slapstick comedy with doctors drinking, taking advantage of the (willing) nurses, playing tricks on each other whilst there is the background of the Korean war, which they almost all hate, you will love the early series. The later ones took the anti-war message much more seriously and lost some of the innocent humour for it (or perhaps just got a bit too deep for me at times).
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