M*A*S*H - Season Seven (Collector's Edition)
The war in Korea wages on with no end in sight, but the medical corps at the 4077th valiantly battle on against soulless military bureaucracy, tedium, and insanity. The seventh season of one of television's most decorated series continued to break new ground, with episodes such as "Point of View," which unfolds under the subjective eye of a wounded soldier. And just when you think you have these characters pegged, the writers provocatively challenged them. One of the most powerful episodes of the season, and the series, is "Preventive Medicine," in which Hawkeye (Alan Alda) takes drastic measures to stop a gung-ho colonel from further endangering his men. "Inga," another series benchmark, written and directed by Alda, finds Hawkeye threatened by an accomplished woman doctor (Mariette Hartley).
Unlike Larry Linville's one-note Major Burns, David Ogden Stiers found new notes to play as Charles Emerson Winchester III. His character remains, as Hawkeye observes, "pompous, arrogant, conceited, and a total bore." But he's also "all right" in three of his finest half-hours: "Major Ego," in which he lets a magazine profile go to his swelled head; "Rally Round the Flagg, Boys," in which he outwits camp nemesis Colonel Flagg; and "Ain't Love Grand," in which he falls for a Korean girl he meets at Rosie's Bar (the setting for another essential episode, "A Night at Rosie's," in which the company seeks refuge from the war). The seven-year itch got to Gary Burghoff, who would depart the series in season 8. Episodes such as "Hot Lips Is Back in Town," in which Radar sweetly woos a new nurse, demonstrate why he would be keenly missed. The two-part "Our Finest Hour" is anything but. It is a rehash of the season 4 classic, "The Interview," that serves as a clip episode. This is a rare misstep in another satisfying season that did this series proud. --Donald Liebenson
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