Thursday, June 4, 2009

Episode 78 - The Bus

Season 4, Episode 78: The Bus
Original Air Date: 10/17/75
Written by: John D. Hess

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

On the way back from a medical conference, Hawkeye, B.J., Frank, Col. Potter, and Radar get stranded in the Korean hills when their bus breaks down.

When Radar can't get the bus started after hitting a huge rock, Col. Potter has everyone scout around to see if they see anything familiar. No one does, so Potter orders everyone to stay on the bus for the night.

With nothing to do, the doctors spend the time chatting, including telling stories about their "first time." The mood darkens a bit when Hawkeye makes a careless comment about it being Radar's fault they're lost.

When its Radar's turn to tell his story, he begs off saying he has to go the bathroom. He leaves the bus, and the doctors continue telling their stories--even Frank, in between sneaking bites from a chocolate bar he's hiding from the rest of them.

It then dawns on them that Radar has been gone too long, and Hawkeye asks to go looking for him. Potter refuses.

When they hear a noise outside, they think its Radar, but it turns out to be a wounded North Korean soldier (Soon Tek-Oh), looking to give up. The doctors take care of him, except for Frank, who insists he could be booby-trapped. When all the doctors get some sleep, Frank stands guard, delivering a monologue to the soldier (who doesn't understand a word) so loony and self-deluded it's frightening.

Radar then returns, discovering that Frank has been eating chocolate on the sly. The rest of the doctors wake up, happy to have Radar back. He says that since he got them lost, he thought he should try finding them a way home.

Radar says he never found any enemy soldiers in the area, so they're safe as long as they can fix the bus. Luckily, the North Korean solider is a mechanical whiz, and fixes the bus for them!

On the way home, they all mention how hungry they are. Radar hints about Frank's chocolate stash, which forces him to pretend he just found some in his duffel bag. He "generously" gives them all a candy bar a piece.

Fun Facts: This was the first of many fourth and fifth season episodes where M*A*S*H toyed with its format--the entire episode takes place on the bus and in the surrounding countryside, with no scenes at the 4077th.

This episode features another appearance by actor Soon Tek-Oh, playing a different character than he did in his first episode, Season Three's "Love and Marriage."

Since this episode has no scenes at the 4077th (a first), Hot Lips, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy do not appear.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter's story about his first time involves a French nurse named Collette, and while its not funny (its not supposed to be), Harry Morgan delivers it so pitch-perfectly that it sounds like a real memory, not some writer's concoction.

Col. Potter telling exciting/funny/weird stories from his illustrious past became a M*A*S*H staple, and they were always so interesting that I would've loved to have seen a Young Sherman Potter Adventures spin-off show.


Unknown said...

I like this episode but one thing seems weird to me. If all the doctors are there, what happens if wounded arrive? Also, nobody seems too concerned that Margaret (I assume) is in charge while they're gone.

What the Parrot Saw said...

I'd assume that the 4077th would try to get some replacement doctors- then again, who would order them? Good point, actually...

Anonymous said...

In the Syndicated Versions there is a part thats cut out-there is a part at the end where Hawkeye and BJ give the POW the other walkie Talkie to talk Korean into. Frank thinks he is being contacted by the enemy and makes a fool of himself again! Also the Machine gun Frank holds is a German MG from World War II!

Bill said...

B. J. comes out looking the best from this episode in terms of pure character. While Potter unnecessarily snaps at Frank and Hawkeye at Radar, B. J. keeps his cool in a stressful situation, playing peacemaker and trying to cheer everyone else. He even deserves an assist on getting the bus working, as he was the one who let the POW work on the engine.

B. J. sometimes gets lost in later seasons as Hawk's tagalong or, later on, a too-earnest Boy Scout type, but here he stands out as a very distinct personality with his own point-of-view.

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