M*A*S*H Season Seven

It may have seemed a bit late in the game but season seven really was a transition year of sorts for M*A*S*H. The producers of one of the most acclaimed shows in television history started to feel the seven-year itch and sought to shake up the routine of shooting each week's episode. For the most part, viewers noted these changes visually, as writers tried to vary the scenery a bit by setting stories outside of the familiar confines of the 4077's main camp. Subsequently, more shooting was done off-set, outdoors, at night and with new surroundings, such as Rosie's Bar. The differences are subtle but may have meant the world to the cast and crew. Any "behind the scenes" antsy-ness was bound to bleed through and enter into the plot lines of the show, and its recurring "I want to go home" tension seems even heavier than normal this season. By the second episode, "Peace On Us," Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) is so frustrated that long-standing peace talks have accomplished nothing that he roars off in a jeep to try and convince the negotiators to end the war as soon as possible. Major Margaret Houlihan's (Loretta Swit) fireball temper is fueled further by news that her husband has been granted his request to return to the U.S. for an assignment. Her spell of homesickness is soon quelled by her resolve to divorce him for good. Contributing to the show's new decorative policy, Captain B.J. Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) grows a moustache, which the other characters ridicule him for. While such ribbing is all well and good, the pressures of wartime soon get to bunkmates Hunnicut and Pierce, and the two men have a stir-crazy battle before making up in "Ain't Love Grand?" With cast members Alda, Farrell and Harry Morgan (Colonel Potter) all writing/directing the occasional episode, there is a real sense that the experience of making the show truly informs the stories of season seven. In spite of its awkward, ill-timed laugh-track, this collection is still a bold and fascinating document of a confident show willing to take on new challenges. (Fox)