Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episode 112 - Ping Pong

Season 5, Episode 112: Ping Pong
Original Air Date: 1/18/77
Written by: Sid Dorfman

Directed by: William Jurgensen

The 4077th is watching with bated breath an inter-camp ping pong tournament, and their best player, Cho Lin (Richard Narita) is facing off against the player from the 8055th.

Cho ends up winning, and of course everyone is thrilled--except for Frank, who bet against his own unit. "I got 3 to 1 odds", he protests.

After surgery, Cho brings his fiancee, Soony (Sachiko Lee) by the Swamp, where he announces they're going to be married. Hawkeye and B.J. offer to hold the ceremony at the 4077th, and even pony up money so Cho can afford a wedding ring. Frank scoffs at Hawkeye and B.J.'s naivete, insisting its foolish to trust an "Oriental."

Cho left for Seoul to get the ring, and Soony becomes worried--and then inconsolable--when Cho doesn't come back on time. Soony begins to cry, saying she doesn't think Cho is coming back. Hawkeye tries to reassure her, and Frank thinks all of it is very funny.

Later on, wounded arrive, and one of those hurt is Cho! Turns out that when he was in Seoul, a South Korean Army truck came by, grabbed Cho, put a uniform on him, and sent him into battle.

After tending to his rather minor wounds, Frank demands to know why Hawkeye and B.J. haven't shipped Cho out. They try and bluff their way out of it, but Frank is adamant, even drawing up a formal list of charges against them for various infractions.

Col. Potter asks Hawkeye and B.J. why Cho hasn't been shipped out, and they tell him about the upcoming wedding. At first that doesn't mollify Potter, but he changes his mind when Hawkeye says Potter will be giving away the bride! Potter, beaming with pride, agrees to let the ceremony commence.

The wedding--a Buddhist ceremony where no words are spoken--is performed, with everyone watching and bursting into applause when its over. Frank wanders over to the wedding cake, taking a taste of it while no one's looking.

Later, Radar and Col. Potter play ping-pong, and Radar can barely contain his laughter as he beats Potter so easily.

Fun Facts: The subplot--involving an old friend of Col. Potter's whose incompetence on the battlefield gets some soldiers killed, and Potter has to step in--would be virtually repeated in an 11th season episode.

Frank is at his worst in this episode--he's racist, rude, and completely insensitive, even when Soony runs away crying. What a dick.

The divide between Frank and Hot Lips of course started when she got engaged, but there's a subtle, telling moment in a scene where Hot Lips has Radar wear Soony's wedding gown so she can hem it properly (Radar being the same size as the bride).

Radar tells her a story about a guy back home, Boris, who wore women's clothes, "and wasn't even in the Army like Klinger, if you know what I mean." Hot Lips, while working on the dress, says quietly, "To each his own"--an astoundingly open-minded view, and a very different answer than the Hot Lips of previous seasons would have given.

Favorite Line: Potter, discussing Frank's list of grievances: "We all know, when the Good Lord gave out Paranoia, Frank Burns got in line twice."

Hawkeye, holding up four fingers: "Three times."

B.J. bends back one of Hawkeye's fingers, and Hawkeye adds: "Thank you. The third time he denied ever being in line."


Russell said...

Another great one. I always wondered where all these supporting characters come from; they arrive "on air" as if the camp has known them forever, but then are never seen again...
Anyway, since I'm a sucker for anything Oriental, this is another one of my favorites. And somehow, Larry Linville makes racist pig Frank work; I guess because we know he isn't right.

What the Parrot Saw said...

Radar's pep talk to Billy is one of Burghoff's best performances- in my mind, perfectly executed. Radar obviously learned a thing or two from watching the doctors' (save Frank) bedside manner. He is able to draw Billy out of his self-pity with a warm surefootedness that remains a joy to watch.

Hawkeye's earlier scene is as good. And Henry Brown turns in a terrific performance throughout. You truly witness his fear and despair as he slowly lifts the blanket, terrified to look but knowing that he has to.

Also agree with you one re: the match cuts in the opening- very effective and its a pity that the series didn't indulge in this more.

(The "If my dog had your face..." insult was often bandied about in junior high when I was young. Wouldn't be surprised if M*A*S*H introduced it to the lexicon or at least gave it a wider airing...)

What The Parrot Saw said...

^^Whoops- comment meant for "End Run"

Mark said...

"Frank is at his worst in this episode--he's racist, rude, and completely insensitive, even when Soony runs away crying. What a dick." Was he ever - but Margaret put him in his place. When Frank grumbled, "General Harrison's going to hear about this!", she said, "Shut up, Frank!" Time was she would have agreed with him.

Mark said...

Potter's friend, a Lt. Col. Harold Beckett, was bucking for a Combat Infantry Badge, which would have all but assured his promotion to full Colonel. After Beckett's foul-up was confirmed, Potter ordered him sent back, saying: "I don't give a damn about your promotion or your lousy C.I.B.! All I care about are those kids- and if ONE gets hurt the price is too high!"

Anonymous said...

the part where Soony is applying for a job gives me a little smile. Frank being at his worst here however. "any papers proving these are your papers... wow

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