M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell And Amen Alan Alda

M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell And Amen Alan Alda
Ever since this aired in 1983, series finales have been trying to top it in both content and impact; however, this remains the most-watched show in the history of television. And unlike The Sopranos,, there are no vagaries here: the war is over and everyone is going home. Alan Alda’s script delves deep into the psychological toll the conflict has taken on the characters, not the least of which is his own Hawkeye Pierce. At the beginning of the episode, he’s in a psychiatric hospital and alienated from everyone, even the friends that have helped him retain some sense of sanity all these years. Never has Alda been more like Woody Allen, dropping flippant one-liners like "the mortar merrier” in the middle of Bergman-esque psychotherapy drama. The other significant character here is Charles Winchester, who teaches Mozart to a group of POW North Koreans. His transformation from suspicion to love to loss is rendered profoundly and it’s one the series’ most effective portrayals of how the war can rob you not only of friends and loved ones but of precious parts of yourself. In this case, his deep love of music, which he can no longer bear to listen to. As always, the stoic dignity of Harry Morgan’s portrayal of Col. Potter immediately elevates any scene he’s in but the other characters are given peripheral subplots that are little more than serviceable nods to the show’s conclusion, which is to be expected when a 22-minute episodic sitcom (or "dramedy”) is stretched to two hours. The final farewells are weepy even for virgin viewers and when Hawkeye and B.J. finally let themselves become emotional it’s the most gloriously gay goodbye in the history of television. The plentiful extras in this three-disc set provide everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the series, including three feature-length documentaries. One is an A&E episode of Biography; one focuses heavily on interviews with the creators and cast, including the late McLean Stevenson and Larry Linville; and one reunites the surviving cast members for a panel discussion. There’s also an entirely extraneous featurette where the uber-geeks talk about how they can recite every line of every episode. Plus: promo spots, footage of the last day of filming, un-produced script, bloopers, trivia. (Fox)