Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Episode 26 - Five O'Clock Charlie

Season 2, Episode 26: Five O'Clock Charlie
Original Air Date: 9/22/73
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks and Keith Walker
Directed by: Norman Tokar

The 4077th is giddy with anticipation, for the arrival of "Five O'Clock Charlie" is imminent.

Five O'Clock Charlie is North Korean's most indefatigable bomber pilot, who flies over the camp the same time every day--hence the name--and drops one bomb, in a pathetic attempt to destroy the camp and a nearby ammo dump. His aim is terrible, and he always misses, so no one at the 4077th is particularly worried.

Except for Frank and Hot Lips, who are apoplectic over everyone's lack of seriousness. This is an enemy attack!

Radar takes bets on where Charlie's bomb for the day will land, and on this particular day Henry wins the bet. He's busy counting his pot of cash when Frank requests he place a call to General Clayton.

Before he knows it, Henry is requesting that the 4077th get a 40mm gun to fight off the enemy, something Hawkeye and Trapper are completely against.

Clayton decides to visit the camp and check it out for himself, and initially he doesn't think the 4077th needs the gun. Hawkeye and Trapper are relieved, until Five O'Clock Charlie gets lucky and drops a bomb right on Clayton's jeep. The 4077th is getting its gun!

Frank of course loves it, and even forms his own platoon (consisting of all of three soldiers) to provide defense against Five O'Clock Charlie's attacks, hoping that the Army will start outfitting all the field hospitals with artillery. Hawkeye, Trapper (dressed as MacArthur), and Radar come by and goof on Frank, just to irritate him.

That night, Hawkeye and Trapper drown their sorrows with Captain Cardozo (Corey Fischer), the camp's dentist. Cardozo offers the idea that they should try and get rid of the ammo dump, which would get rid of Charlie, which would get rid of the gun.

The next day, Hawkeye and Trapper leave a series of giant arrows (made up of sheets stolen from supply) pointing to the ammo dump, so Charlie can't miss it. To give him time to try and hit it, they mess with the clocks in Post Op so Frank thinks its 4:30, not 5:00.

Frank catches on, and hurries outside to fire at Charlie. Hawkeye and Trapper make a shambles of the attempt, yelling out different numbers randomly, confusing the soldiers Frank has aiming the gun.

Frank, frustrated and impatient, finally demands they fire, and they do--missing Charlie entirely, instead hitting the ammo dump!

With the ammo dump gone, so is the need for the gun. And so is Five O'Clock Charlie, who Hawkeye and Trapper admit to sort of missing.

Fun Facts: This episode was directed by Norman Tokar, who later went on to direct The Cat From Outer Space, which starred...McLean Stevenson and Harry Morgan.

In the scene in Henry's office, Frank restates his disgust at the rest of the doctor's behavior, and threatens "Some day...all this will come out."

Having seen each episode of M*A*S*H so many times, I have occasionally let my imagination wander, leaving me extrapolate what might have happened to some of these characters after they went home.

And with Frank's threat (which he says in more than one episode), I imagined him writing a tell-all book about the 4077th, where he tells the story from his own demented viewpoint, branding Doctors Pierce, McIntyre, and later Hunnicutt as godless communists. And this being the McCarthy era, it might have even led Frank into politics...

This episode features the first (uncredited) appearance of Pvt. Igor Straminsky, played by actor Jeff Maxwell.

Favorite Line: The P.A. Announcer welcoming Charlie: "And now, direct from North Korea, here he is for the sixth hit week: Five O'Clock Charlie, his airplane, and his Astigmatism!"


Anonymous said...

I noticed that the jeep was already wrecked before the grenade hit it.

Domino said...

Because Russell and the Parrot never critiqued it. I'll do it. It's a funny episode and one of the few times where I think is more about Frank. The running gag of his gun getting replaced is hilarious. I've always wanted to know who played Charlie though. Overall a good episode though Alda gets most of the good lines. Oh one more thing, I loved Trap's impersonation of MacArthur.

Robert Gross said...

This is the first of several times where Frank talks about writing a book about his time at M*A*S*H.

I always thought it was an intentional jab at Richard Hornberger, who complained about the politics of M*A*S*H being too liberal. What better way to jab back than by subtly suggesting that Hornberger is more appropriately characterized by right-wing Frank than by left-wing irreverent Hawkeye?

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