Season 4, Episode 96: The Interview
Original Air Date: 2/24/76
Written by: Larry Gelbart
Directed by: Larry Gelbart
A war correspondent, Clete Roberts, has brought a camera crew to the 4077th to interview the men and women of the unit, and to record their thoughts and experiences.
Hawkeye is his anti-establishment best, mocking the Army and its discipline, even cursing at one point, right on film. (He also propositions Bess Truman)
Klinger talks about the delights of home, B.J. talks of missing his family. Col. Potter talks about what its like being in command, and being so much older than everyone else in camp.
Radar talks about his hobbies, Father Mulcahy talks about how much being here has changed him, and Frank is his usual hard-line, pro-war, pretend-patriotic self. (When asked if the war has changed him, in any way, he answers, "Certainly not", amazed at the question)
Col. Potter talks about his career in the military, but admits that whatever medical advances are made in the war, its not worth all the destruction, the loss of life, the waste. When asked if anything of value will come from this war, Potter bluntly answers, "Not a damn thing."
Hawkeye, B.J., and Col. Potter make an extra effort to praise the nurses and how hard they work. (Frank describes them as "Competent...competent.")
When asked about heroes, Hawkeye says he doesn't have any. Col. Potter offers up Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman.
In the end, Hawkeye is at a loss for words as to how to describe what its like being here, what they have to do, and the war itself--"it's crazy."
Fun Facts: One of M*A*S*H's most format-busting episodes, this one is in the running by most fans as the best M*A*S*H episode ever.
This is the only episode of the series entirely in black and white.
Incredibly, Hot Lips does not appear in this episode. Given Loretta Swit's non-presence in so many episodes this season, I used to assume she was off filming Race With The Devil. But looking at that film's IMDB page reveals that the movie was released in June 1975, meaning it was probably filmed sometime in late 1974. So why did she miss so many episodes this season?*
This is the last episode of the fourth season, arguably the show's finest season. It is also writer (and in this case, director) Larry Gelbart's final show. Talk about going out with a bang!
Favorite Line: Hawkeye is asked if he brought any "creature comforts" over with him, and he says: "The Dictionary--I figure its got all the other books in it."
That line is so brilliant, I almost can't believe that Alda and/or Gelbart wrote it--it seems like something that just existed in the culture.
*(Update: Read the comments for this post--from Mr. Gelbart himself--to find out some details about this episode!)