Wednesday, July 10, 2013

M*A*S*H on VHS

In the dark days before DVDs and streaming, everything was put on VHS. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions (the original Dark Shadows, for one), TV shows that had very long runs didn't get put onto VHS, I guess because most studios figured people didn't want to own dozens, hundreds of cassettes. So, for the most part, you got a lot of "Best of" compilations, and that had to do.

But 20th Century Fox obviously thought there was some sort of audience for M*A*S*H, so they put the entire series out through Columbia House Video, where you subscribed to the series for a flat rate, and you got sent tapes of the shows every month or so.

A friend of mine, another obsessive M*A*S*H fan, signed up, and while it was being able to see these shows uncut, whenever we wanted, it was enormously frustrating because the shows weren't put out in order! If you read the ad above (click to see a bigger version), you'll see that they decided to release tapes by theme. At least, that was the idea--the first volume contained Season One's "M*A*S*H The Pilot", Season Two's "Radar's Report", and Season Three's "Bulletin Board"--about an random as it gets.

Actually, strike that--it did get more random. If memory serves, there were other tapes in the series that season hopped even more severely, so you had different mixes of cast members across one tape. A truly bizarre decision, because who else would buy these but die-hard M*A*S*H fans? And what die-hard M*A*S*H fan would want to see the episodes all jumbled up like this?

And also, if memory serves, they never even finished the series--at some point DVDs came in, pushing VHS tapes into the dustbin of history. I wonder how many M*A*S*H fans got left in the lurch?

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