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review added: 3/5/03



M*A*S*H: Season Three
Collector's Edition - 1974/75 (2003) - 20th Century Fox

review by Jeff Kleist of The Digital Bits

M*A*S*H: Season Three

Program Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B-/F

Specs and Features

648 mins (24 episodes total), NR, full frame (1.33:1), 3 single-sided, dual-layered discs (no layer switch), triple-disc Alpha keep case packaging, laugh track free audio option, program-themed menu screens, scene access (10 chapters per episode - see episode listing below), languages: English, French and Spanish (DD mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

The 4077th continues their journey in season three of M*A*S*H, just barely passing the twenty-five percent mark in what would be an eleven year run, one of the longest in the history of television. Season Three contains many of the episodes that are the core of the show's syndication package, so there's not nearly as many episodes that will be new to most people. These include The General Flipped at Dawn (with a cameo by soon-to-be Potter Harry Morgan), House Arrest and one of my personal favorites that never seems to get shown in syndication, Adam's Rib. There's just something pure about a man's quest of the perfect barbecue that really connects with me.

In terms of video, there's a bit more print damage in this set, possibly because the masters got used more for syndication. Following in the tradition of the previous sets, the video quality is slightly improved. One of the beauties of older shows is that they were finished on film, which means that they have the ability to be re-transferred to better masters and can more easily be restored to better quality. Gorgeous texture, detail and color abound here, and only the scratches, nicks and dirt (that show up about four or five times an episode) keep it from getting an A.

The Dolby Digital mono tracks stand on par with the two previous sets. The audio is totally acceptable presentation of original source material with limited dynamic range. Notable here is that the quality of the sans-laugh track seems to have increased significantly, and it should be fairly pleasing to those who prefer to watch the show that way.

Extras are once again non-existent, aside from the laughless track... and therein lies a real problem. At least three episodes on the first disc default to the laughless track, and one episode (O.R.) lacks the original laugh-inclusive track completely. What's up with that? I could understand Fox NOT having the no-laugh for an episode, but not having the main audio? Maybe the episode aired without one and I don't know it, but I'm mystified. [Note: As many readers have since informed me, M*A*S*H never carried a laugh track while in the O.R., therefore there is only a single audio track available for this episode.]

In any case, how can you go wrong with M*A*S*H? Honestly, it's one of the greatest shows in the history of television, and at less than $30 a season (at your discounter) you're paying under $2 an episode. Fox continues to strive for excellence in TV on DVD, and remains the LEADER in quality and quantity. Give them an ovation with your wallet.

Episode Listing

The General Flipped at Dawn
Rainbow Bridge
Officer of the Day
Iron Guts Kelly
O.R.
Springtime
Checkup
Life with Father
Alcoholics Unanimous
There is Nothing like a Nurse
Adam's Rib
A Full Rich Day
Mad
Dogs and Servicemen
Private Charles Lamb
Bombed
Bulletin
Board
The Consultant
House Arrest
Aid Station
Love and Marriage
Big Mac
Payday
White Gold
Abyssinia, Henry


Jeff Kleist
jeffkleist@thedigitalbits.com




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