Hulu’s version of “M*A*S*H” is an HD restoration, so it looks fairly bright and crisp despite its 50-year-old footage. The streaming version of the show, which can also be purchased on Amazon, Apple TV, and Google Play, is also in a letterboxed format, which means the shots look different than they originally did when airing on CBS. As pop culture history writer Matt Baume pointed out in a Twitter thread earlier this year, “M*A*S*H” is one of several classic shows that has been adjusted into a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning that the screen is wider with more space to fill. Instead of just replaying “M*A*S*H” in its original, more square-shaped 4:3 ratio (something that remasters of shows like “The Twilight Zone” have done), Hulu and other streaming versions show a wider angle version of “M*A*S*H” in which characters are often more centered, with empty frame space around them.
This might not sound like a major change, but for a show as visually creative as “M*A*S*H” it makes an impact on the viewing experience — and can lead to continuity errors if a random background area is now visible in a shot. The DVD versions of “M*A*S*H” may not feature the remaster, but they also reportedly include the show’s original aspect ratio. There’s another key difference, too: the laugh track.