Friday, June 5, 2009

Episode 79 - Dear Mildred

Season 4, Episode 79: Dear Mildred
Original Air Date: 10/24/75
Written by: Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell

Directed by: Alan Alda

Col. Potter writes a letter home to his beloved wife Mildred, telling her all about the 4077th.

Radar seems very unsure of himself around Potter, nervous about what he's supposed to do when he doesn't have any work to do.

Frank and Hot Lips come in, asking to take a picture of the Colonel, claiming its for a camp yearbook. Col. Potter find them "curious", to which Radar responds "Only with each other."

Radar is so nervous he comes to The Swamp, to vent to Hawkeye and B.J. B.J. tries to reassure him that Potter's okay, but Hawkeye points out that Henry Blake was like a father to Radar, and the difference is tough for Radar to handle.

A chopper arrives, delivering mail only. The pilot mentions there's a wounded horse up in the hills, and if the 4077th has a sharpshooter, he'd like to put the animal out of its misery.

Radar is, of course, horrified at this suggestion, and guilts Hawkeye and B.J. into coming with him to corral the horse into a truck back to the 4077th. After they manage this (Hawkeye and B.J. failing miserably, Radar managing to calm the horse down just by talking to it), they try and get the piece of shrapnel out of the horse's rump.

The horse is a difficult patient, nearly kicking Hawkeye and B.J. to death after they stick it with a tranquilizer. They tell Radar he's on is own, and he takes it upon himself to take care of the horse. Hawkeye and B.J. try and talk some sense into Radar, telling him he won't be able to hide a horse in camp for long, not from an old Cavalry man like Col. Potter. Radar won't listen--he's not giving up the horse.

Turns out that the photos Hot Lips and Frank took were to have a bust of the Colonel made, as a present for his anniversary. Potter likes the bust a lot, but it stunned into silence by Radar's present--the horse.

Potter is moved to tears at the gesture, and Radar is also happy, now that the horse isn't going anywhere. Frank is repulsed when Sophie craps right there in the office, but Potter, nearly slipping from it, is delighted.

The episode ends with Col. Potter, astride the horse, on his way to the chopper pad, leading his people to the incoming wounded.

Fun Facts: Another episode in the "Dear..." format, where you can have various story threads that don't necessarily fill up an entire show.

This episode--with Radar and the rest still a little uncomfortable around Col. Potter--seems like it was run out of order. It really should've come oen or two episodes after Potter's debut, "Change of Command."

This episode features William Christopher's real-life wife, Barbara Christopher, as Nurse O'Connor. They sing a duet from an upcoming talent show, and there's a brief moment where Christopher puts his arm around her in a very un-Father Mulcahy-like manner, only to pull it back a second later.

This episode features actor Richard Lee-Sung as Cho, a Korean who makes the bust of Col. Potter. He's a riot in the role, at point showing off an oblong hunk of wood he claims "used to be round." Frank says, matter of factly, "It looks like a two-by-four", to which Cho responds, reverently, "Thank you."

The addition of the horse--soon to be named Sophie (even though the horse is mentioned as being a male here)--was a wonderful plus for the series. Not only did Sophie become a plot point for a couple of episodes, but it gave the writers a chance to show a wonderfully gentle, kind side to the Col. Potter character.

Favorite Line: This episode has a number of killer lines (see above), but I guess my favorite is when Potter is writing to his wife, and he quotes her cousin Natalie back to her: "As your Cousin Natalie said, and she's been quoted by so many, 'War Is Hell.'"


Russell said...

This is one of my all-time favorite episodes!! I love everything about it. Cho was hilarious, as is that whole scene with him, Frank, and Margaret. Classic! (and I didnt know that nurse was William Christophers wife. Thanks for the info)

What the Parrot Saw said...

I didn't realize that Nurse O'Connor was William Christopher's real-life wife, either- always thought the two characters had a certain *chemistry* when they sang their duet...

Radar's discomfort around Potter is somehow touching- there is a real tenderness extant already between the two (even if he Potter finds Radar a little "squirrely"- of course, Radar looks up instantly as Potter writes this- and as we hear it in voiceover)

Anonymous said...

A goof has Potter writing to his wife on the 27th Weding Anniversary; since Potter arrives at MasH Sept 19, 1952 this would mean they were married in 1915; however in later epsidoes Potter was married in the 1920s!

Anonymous said...

the scene at Cho's shop always makes me roll. Cho, showing his great carving ability, pulls up a piece of wood. "Used to be round". Frank "That looks like a 2x4", Cho "thank you"...great prop shot there

Bill said...

Radar's nervousness around new guy Potter is especially evident at the show's outset, when we see he has his shirt uncomfortably buttoned up to the neck - a wardrobe note I never saw Radar sport before or since. His business around Potter's desk is likewise "squirrely": wiping the colonel's desk he pauses a moment to wipe the cleaning-fluid bottle, too!

Potter also seems on edge with Radar, not just what he says to Mildred in his letter but his stumbling way of trying to make small talk with the boy. A reminder that Potter as new commander was an unknown quantity to the camp, and vice versa. The uncomfortable silences between the two are really well done. I sort of wish this idea could have been extended for a couple more episodes.

Anonymous said...

I loved Hawkeye's chad at Radar 'wooing' the horse. "I wish I could do that with nurses."

B. man said...

What happened to the wooden bust?

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