"You can cut me off from the civilized world. You can incarcerate me with two moronic cell mates. You can torture me with your thrice-daily swill. But you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester. My voice shall be heard from this wilderness, and I shall be delivered from this fetid and festering sewer."
With those words, the TV series M*A*S*H took a turn for the better. The arrival of Charles Emerson Winchester III, played to perfection by David Ogden Stiers, revitalized the show. Not that it was suffering all that much. But it's safe to say that the Frank Burns character had run his course. Larry Linville was wise to go when he did.
The sixth season of M*A*S*H was released today to the delight of many who spend copious amounts of their hard-earned cash on DVD TV box sets. I don't buy too many, mostly because the flow where my cash is concerned does a great quicksand imitation. But this series is a must have.
I grew up watching this show, and it's fair to say that my ever-so slightly warped sense of humor was somewhat inspired by the zaniness from Doctors Pierce and Hunnicut. They would get their jollies torturing the doltish Burns. But with the arrival of the ever-so pompous Winchester, whose nose was forever aimed at the heavens, they met their match.
This season had some classic episodes, including "Fade In, Fade Out" (Winchester's debut), "The Smell of Music" (Pierce and Hunnicutt give up bathing in protest of Winchester's terrible French horn playing), and "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde" (Winchester experiments with speed and gets burned).
M*A*S*H was also known for its guest stars, many of which were relative unknowns who went on to bigger gigs. Episodes from the first five seasons included visits from Ron Howard, John Ritter, Teri Garr, Brian Dennehy, Pat Hingle, Larry Wilcox and Ned Beatty. The sixth saw appearances from James Cromwell, John Ashton, Michael O'Keefe, Peter Reigert, and Jerry Hauser. The amiable Allan Arbus makes another appearance as psychiatrist Sidney Freedman.
All in all, a good 24 episodes. It was the hump year for the show (it ran for 11), and it ranks among the series' best seasons. If you've seen M*A*S*H, and you didn't like it, well, nobody's perfect. If you haven't seen M*A*S*H, you don't know what you missed. Go to your nearest DVD retailer and find out what the fuss was all about.