MishM*A*S*H 20: M*A*S*H DVDs from China

We’ve seen websites like Wish.com and AliExpress where you can buy direct from China products. The majority of the products are knockoffs of popular items, especially electronics. There are also a lot of bootleg DVDs available in that market. I do not recommend buying items in this way because in the end, the product you receive rarely resembles what was advertised in the listing. There’s a reason that it only cost a few dollars and not the retail price of the real product. But when I saw that there was a Chinese version of M*A*S*H available, I was curious. Would it be bootleg? Would the DVDs be region locked? Would the show be dubbed or subtitled? I had a lot of questions when I submitted my order. What I received was a surprise! In some ways, I was a disappointed, and in other ways, I was disturbed. Let’s take a look at a M*A*S*H DVD set from China!

The DVD set contains seasons seven to nine, or as the translation puts it, “Complete works from seven quarter to nine quarters.” Bad translation on packaging is common on this type of product. The packaging, however, is where this set is the most…interesting. Starting with the back cover, there is a bizarre tagline, “Bring about the troops life alternative make to smile the classic.” The English translation of the description is well translated. It gives a history of the series, and it really doesn’t indicate that the set only covers seasons seven through nine. There are three photos on the back with portions of the M*A*S*H cast, and strangely, there is the peace sign with legs, which is commonly seen on posters for the Robert Altman MASH film, not the series. Believe it or not, the back cover is actually the sanest part of this set.

Open the DVD box set, and you’ll find the discs on the right side in sleeves. They are placed in an inset cardboard area that has been lined with red velvet (more on DVDs soon). On the left, there is a photo of BJ, Hawkeye, and Klinger playing poker. The tagline “Bring about the troops life alternative make to smile the classic” appears once again along with some Chinese characters. The strangest part of the inside of the set is the bikini clad woman, holding the machine gun while wearing a nurses headband. I have watched M*A*S*H many times, and I don’t recall ever seeing a nurse in a bikini and holding a machine! It is very out of place imagery for the series, and that could have been the strangest part of this DVD set were it not for the cover…

The cover of the M*A*S*H DVD set from China is where I want to look away. There are four photos of cast members, and another poorly translated tagline that says, “When the romantic doctor meets the coquettish nurse in top.” That is strange enough by itself, but what, WHAT is that image in the middle of the cover?! It appears to be a human back with a face and two creepy hands. It is, quite simply, nightmare fuel. The anthropomorphized back is wearing an Army helmet with an American flag, no wait, that isn’t the American flag because it has 15 stripes and 80 stars! I think what they were trying to do was replicate the peace sign with legs from the film without actually replicating it, although this doesn’t make any sense either because they used that on the back cover. What was created instead is something that will live in my mind for far, far too long.

Since the DVD box is so bizarre, the DVDs themselves must be interesting right? Sadly, no. The 18 discs themselves are custom printed with English and Chinese writing on each. However, once you put the DVDs into a player, they are simply Region 1 discs with the English version of M*A*S*H and the available Spanish and French dubbing and English and Spanish subtitles. They are essential the same DVDs that have been sold in the United States since the mid-2000s. In a way, I was hoping for something different. I wanted to see M*A*S*H dubbed in Chinese or, at the very least, subtitled. So discovering these DVDs are the same as the ones I already have was disappointing.

So why did I choose to share this quirky M*A*S*H DVD set? Because I think it is interesting since it is from a different part of the world. It leaves me with many questions, however, including why was the particular box art chosen and who did the translations since there are some good and bad translations present? My biggest question is whether this set is officially licensed by 20th Century Fox Television. It has the Fox logos and copyright information on the back, but considering that the copyright lines also state, “Made in the USA,” I highly doubt that the text is accurate. I would be willing to bet that this boxset a bootleg. The moral of the story is, something that is so cheap that it seems to be too good to be true generally is just that. In fact, this box set wasn’t really even that cheap since it is only for three seasons! You can find the full series boxset on Amazon for around $50, and it has even been on sale for less. There are far more interesting, and officially licensed, M*A*S*H sets from around the world to collect including sets from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany!

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