This month, several posts will relate to final days of filming the series in January 1983. We conclude this week by watching the DVD bonus feature showing the cast rehearsing for the final episode.
The final episode of M*A*S*H was filmed in January 1983, and that episode was “As Time Goes By.” This month, we’ve looked at the quotes from a press conference with cast members following the wrap of the series, the script for the episode, and Arlene and Alan Alda’s fantastic book filled with photos and stories from those final days on set. This week, let’s look at some actual footage from behind that scenes.
When M*A*S*H was initially released on DVD in the early 2000s, Twentieth Century Fox released two seasons per year. After the final season was released, they concluded by releasing The Martinis & Medicine Collection. The collection included three bonus discs. One contained the original Robert Altman film, but the other two discs contained a number of bonus features including bloopers, cast reunions, archival interviews, and much more. The set was not cheap, but it was the only way you could get those bonus features. I bought the full set, as I am sure many other fans did as well. However, Fox then released a special Goodbye, Farewell and Amen DVD set that included three discs. One contained the series finale, but the other two were those bonus features from The Martinis & Medicine Collection.
You may be wondering what these two DVD sets have to do with the final days of M*A*S*H, but one of the bonus features is an eight minute video showing the rehearsals for “As Time Goes By.” As you watch the clips of the actors practicing their lines and talking between scenes, there is a lot of emotion and laughter. Loretta Swit struggles through lines during the time capsule scene, which would ultimately be the last scene filmed in the series. We see the entire scene as it is rehearsed including the occasional input from producer Burt Metcalfe. It is a great way to see what it was like on the set of the show, and it demonstrates the tight relationship the cast and crew had with each other.
As far as I know, the The Martinis & Medicine Collection and Goodbye, Farewell and Amen DVD collections are the only way to get this, and the other bonus features. Newer DVD sets only include the episodes, but the bonus features are left out. That is a shame too as they add to the appeal of the series.
Rather than droning on for several more paragraphs, the final days of M*A*S*H feature was uploaded to YouTube in 2008 and has racked up over one million views! I have embedded the video below for your enjoyment.