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M*A*S*H - Goodbye, Farewell and Amen


TITLE: M*A*S*H - GOODBYE, FAREWELL AND AMEN


Info:

Release Date: May 15, 2007 (20th Century Fox Entertainment)
Color/1983
MSRP: $29.98
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 1
Running Time: approx. 120 minutes
Total Running Time of Special Features: approx. 300 minutes
Audio: English/French: Mono
Subtitles: Spanish, French
Closed-Captioned
Special Features:
*Just the FAQs interactive trivia game
*MASH: Television’s Serious Sitcom, as seen on Biography
*Blooper Reel
*My Favorite MASH promo spots
*Cast interviews and clips from the last day of filming
*Public Service Announcements from the Cast
*Jocularity compilation featurette
*MASH 30th anniversary reunion
*Memories of MASH documentary
*Unproduced episode script: Hawkeye on the Double
*Fan Base featurette


Introduction:

OK, so I thought that was all folks. After reviewing the 11th season set, I expected to be done reviewing MASH DVD sets; however, FOX has pulled out one more release from the veteran franchise. You see, several months ago, FOX released the “Martinis & Medicine Complete Collection” release with the entire series. When they did this however, there were 2 discs available in it that weren’t released with the main sets: The unused special features FOX had held back on us over the previous 11 sets.

Still, FOX wanted the fans to own these features obviously, and the Martinis & Medicine collection appears to have only had a limited thus-far production run. So, what to do? Why, package it with the series finale, of course. And as a plus you get to attract customers who might have wanted a copy of the finale, but didn’t want to bother with the rest of the series.


The Episode:

The following is a reprint from my original review of M*A*S*H: The Complete 11th Season Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen.

On February 28, 1983; 1 day short of exactly 3.5 years before my birth, M*A*S*H ended its run with the show that is to this very date the most watched single program in television history. (And, with cable having fractured the broadcast audience permanently, it’s quite possible the show’s record will never be defeated). On that night, 77% of all television viewership watched the two-and-a-half-hour TV movie “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” the final chapter in the 11 year show about the 3 year Korean War. Interestingly enough, this is the only episode in the entire series run to display the show’s title IN the episode. The show starts with Hawkeye in a mental institution, writing a letter to his father. As Hawkeye’s repressed memories come to light, we discover that the event that drove him to the breaking point was the mother of a small infant choking her infant to death to stop its crying, to prevent discovery by the North Koreans. Honestly, seeing something that tragic would make just about anyone in a normal state of mind nearly break ­ let alone someone who’s been in Korea for all this time. Meanwhile, at the 4077, a tank crushes the latrine, while Charles befriends a group of ragtag Chinese musicians and teaches them to play Mozart's "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581." He’s also attempting to best a competitor back in Boston for an administrative position at Mercy General. Margaret pulls some strings, which works to Charles’ benefit, but naturally he’s not that happy. B.J. gets his discharge papers. North Korea sees the tank at the 4077 and starts bombing the camp. Father Mulcahy goes out to try to save a group of POWs, but it knocked cold by a bomb. When he comes to, he learns his hearing is beginning to deteriorate. At this point, real life interjected itself into the episode. A wildfire in the show’s shooting location destroyed the outdoor set, meaning a new location had to be used in the episode until it was safe to return to what was left--hence, the fire in the episode forcing a bug out. In a POW trade with the Koreans, Charles loses his musicians. A short time later however, one returns, this time needing urgent medical care and barely alive; the rest are dead due to an attack. This causes classical music to become unbearable-to-listen-to for Charles --­ despite it being his one solace during the war. This seems like a minor plot point, but it’s a big character development issue for Charles. Finally, a truce/cease-fire is signed, and the war…is over. Bit by bit, the 4077 disbands, and everyone goes home ­- some with a temporary detour to another MASH unit.

The last scene is one of my favorite moments in television. It’s down to just BJ and Hawkeye. Hawkeye’s chopper is about to leave, while BJ is about to ride off on his motorcycle. BJ can’t bring himself to say goodbye…they try their best, and then Hawkeye gets in the helicopter. As the helicopter pulls up, Hawkeye ­ and the camera ­ sees that BJ has spelled out “Goodbye” in stones (This served as a dual-message from the show creators as well). And that is...that.

Among other things, this episode was also an ancestor to the very reason we’re here at the moment. In 1983, this episode was released on VHS, and sold well. This paved the way for other TV show releases on VHS and later, DVD. Also, despite 77% of the country having watched the episode, large areas of California, particularly the San Francisco Bay Area, didn’t get to see the show originally, as they were experiencing power outages due to unusually strong winter weather in the area. The famous 77% figure would most likely be even higher were it not for this.


Packaging:

With all of the previous releases using the hard plastic black box, one might reason they’d use the same set-up here as well. Nope. As with most modern TV DVD releases, especially their own, FOX is using an outer box-inner slimcase setup. The outer box is olive green, with the M*A*S*H logo at the top, and a green-tinted black & white photo of the final cast taken on the final show. Below it is the episode title written in a “handwriting” style font, in front of a red cross. The rear cover features a clipboard, with “4077th” written at the top of the “paper”, several photos along the left side, some dog tags on the right, and various text, photos, and the features list being on the “paper.” Each of the two slimcases is black-colored plastic, with both featuring a different green-tinted B&W photo from the finale. On the series finale slimcase is the entire cast gathered in front of the directional/mileage signpost, while the features box has Hawkeye & BJ, the still, and an inflated rubber glove. One strange quirk, well, strange when not compared to the following, is that it lists Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen as the season finale on the slimcase, rather than the series finale.

Opening the slimcases is when things get interesting. You see, FOX didn’t press new discs for this set; they used existing ones already in inventory. So while the series finale disc’s slimcase says Disc One, the disc says Disc Three, as it’s actually just a copy of the Season 11 set’s final disc -- which contained the finale. The two special features discs are also presumably reprinted, this time from the Complete Collection set. The left disc is olive green with the silhouette of a martini glass, while the right disc, disc 2, is mud-colored.


Menu Design and Navigation:

As the final episode’s disc is merely taken from the season 11 set, it uses the same menus as season 11. The episode title is written in the stencil font on a jeep wagon, with a bullet hole denoting episode selection. The episode menu is again the Goodbye photo, with M*A*S*H appearing below it, and the episode title below that. From the episode menu you can choose to play the episode, select a chapter, change the language, or go home.


Video and Audio Quality:

The video is the same generally good, but slightly grainy, and slightly warm, video as seen in the season eleven set. It’s identical. Audio is a “nice as the limitations of mono sound allow” Dolby Digital mono track. There are no real defects. The finale runs 2 hours, 18 seconds. Chapter stops exist in sync with the chapter selection menus.


Special Features:

And now we get to the real point of this set, the special features. This is the real selling point for the set, no matter how the product is actually targeted. With these two discs, fans can now own the entirety of the Martinis & Medicine Complete Collection -- the M*A*S*H movie, while not released with the TV DVD releases, has been available on the format for some time now at a low cost.

The menus on the special features discs are nice. On a table is a book with the special features listed out in handwriting. In the background, on three picture frames, various still photos animate in and out of the frames. A rendition of the MASH theme plays in the background. If only the season releases had used menus like this.

And now, the features:

Features Disc 1:
M*A*S*H: Television’s Serious Sitcom (43:22): This is a *full episode* of A&E’s Biography from 2002, regarding the series. It features modern and older interviews with the cast and crew. If you wanted to see what the episodes looked like, video-wise, before remastering – this is a good indication. Even mentions and shows a clip from AfterMASH.

Bloopers (3:41): Amazingly short. Based on the video quality though, it’s amazing even these survived. They’re not in good shape at ALL. And remember, this was before the era of the blooper shows.

My Favorite M*A*S*H (9:40): Videotaped interviews with cast members with several cast talking about their own personal favorites. Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, Loretta Swit, William Christopher, Harry Morgan, and Jamie Farr are interviewed.

Archival Interviews (15:16): Various interviews with the cast asking them questions. These were filmed at various points over the years.

Last Day of Filming (7:40): Behind the Scenes footage of the last episode PRIOR to Goodbye, “As Time Goes By.”

PSAs (2:18): Mike Farrell on talking with your kids about sex (2 PSAs). Mike Farrell doing a PSA on high blood pressure. Mike Farrell on Down syndrome. Alan Alda on Juvenile Diabetes.

Jocularity: A 26 minute montage of all the wildest funny moments of the show, plus interviews with cast members, how they got along with each other, etc.

Episode Promos: 9:51 worth of 19 promos from M*A*S*H’s syndication run.

Just the FAQs: Game: No time running. Some questions begin with a video clip and are about the clip. Some end with one, and are just for giggles. Your rank depends on your ability to answer questions properly.

Disc 2:
M*A*S*H: 30th Anniversary Reunion (1:26:42): The 30th anniversary show that aired on FOX in 2002 with cast and crew interviews.

Fan Base (23:59): Interviews with M*A*S*H fans regarding their love for the show. Where was I when they were looking for interview subjects?

Memories of M*A*S*H (1:09:08): Special with Alan Alda, Gary Burghoff, William Christopher, Jamie Farr, Mike Farrell, Larry Linville, Harry Morgan, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, David Ogden Stiers, Loretta Swit, that was hosted by Shelley Long. This aired for the show’s 20th anniversary in 1992.

Unproduced episode script. Uses the chapter forward and back buttons to navigate script pages. Interesting script, browse at your own pace.

Runtime of Special Features: approx 300 minutes (approx 5 hours).


Final Comments:

And that’s it. And this time, I think that actually *IS* it. There’s nothing else to release. Whether or not you should buy this comes to one thing: Do you own the complete collection. If so, don’t buy this, you already have all of this already. If not, then it depends on whether you own the season sets or not. If you own the season sets, buy this. If not, just search for the Complete Collection (Amazon still has them in stock, for one). Also, if you have no interest in owning the rest of the series, pick this up. Recommended.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4/5
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Seth Thrasher Seal of Approval

-- Reviewed by Seth Thrasher on 05/13/07

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000OT6V1E/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20

Questions or comments about this set? Post on our message board:

http://www.sitcomsonline.com/boards/showthread.php?t=200729


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