Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Episode 118 - Souvenirs

Season 5, Episode 118: Souvenirs
Original Air Date: 3/1/77
Written by: Burt Prelutsky and Reinhold Weege

Directed by: Joshua Shelley

A batch of wounded include some young Korean kids who were out looking for scrap metal (to sell for money), which leads to a discussion about the curious need for people to collect souvenirs.

One of the biggest souvenir pushers is a chopper pilot named Stratton (Michael Bell), who buys a lot of the stuff the kids are risking their lives collecting. While hawking his wares in the Mess Tent, he runs afoul of Hawkeye and B.J., who are disgusted by Stratton's creation of the market that is getting so many kids hurt. Stratton is unimpressed, and walks out.

They ask Col. Potter for help, who gives a lecture in the Mess Tent, all-but-officially banning the buying and selling of such material at the 4077th. Stratton is the only one who seems uninterested in following Potter's "advice."

Later, in the Swamp, an M.P. (Brian Dennehy) arrives, on the trail of an antique Chinese bowl which was stolen. The trail leads to...Frank, who insists he doesn't know anything about it. Turns out its a priceless treasure, and owning it is illegal. The M.P. leaves, leaving Frank to chortle uncontrollably.

Hot Lips also wants something from Frank--a ring she gave him when they were a couple, and now that they're not together, she wants it back. Like the Chinese bowl, Frank says he doesn't have it, leading Hot Lips to get drunk in the Officers Club, depressed at how poor a friend Frank is.

While drunk, Stratton shoots his mouth off, which gets Hot Lips so riled up she decks him. As Stratton lays on the floor unconscious, Hot Lips returns to her drink.

Later that night, Frank packs up the Chinese bowl he doesn't have, sending it to his wife Louise. Hawkeye and B.J. follow him, remove the bowl, and replace it with a bed-pan, returning Frank's dryly-written note to his wife about it being a "priceless object."

Frank catches someone rifling through his stuff in the Swamp, and they fight. Frank of course is pinned into submission within a few seconds, and thief is...Hot Lips!

Hot Lips was looking for the ring Frank said he didn't have, and she waves in front of him in disgust. Frank apologizes weakly, but Hot Lips storms off.

This leads to a confrontation the next morning, where Col. Potter admonishes Hot Lips, saying she can't go around "getting loaded and beating up our officers."

Hot Lips, despite this being from a superior officer, is having none of it, and she says she feels she was justified in her actions. Potter tries to argue his side of it, but she won't listen. Potter gives up, sarcastically saying he's "glad we had this little talk."

Back in Post Op, Hawkeye and B.J. are disgusted by Stratton's gift to one of the wounded scrap-metal collectors: a cigarette lighter in the shape of a pistol. They drag him outside and demand he stop, but he is unmoved, defiant even.

Hawkeye and B.J. then suggest that Stratton has some vague symptoms that might mean he's very sick, so sick he can't even fly as a chopper pilot anymore. Stratton thinks they're bluffing, but he's worried enough about losing his "wings" that officially agrees to get out of the business of souvenir selling.

Stratton, disgusted, mocks the doctors' noble efforts, pointing out that there are "A hundred other guys out there like me--what are you going to do, change the world?"

B.J. answers, "No, just our little corner of it."

Fun Facts: Brian Dennehy as the M.P. continues the tradition of future big stars (John Ritter, Teri Garr, Ron Howard, etc.) playing a tiny role on the series, then going on to stardom.

M*A*S*H never did cut-aways back home, of course, but man I've always wanted to see a scene of Louise Burns (played by the same actress who player her in Season Three's "There Is Nothing Like a Nurse") opening up Frank's package and pulling out the bedpan.

Favorite Line: While in the O Club, Hot Lips, threatening Stratton and slurring her words, says: "You know, its a good thing for you my fiancee, Col. Donald Penobscott, isn't here. You know what he'd do if he was here?"

B.J., interrupting: "Buy an ash-tray?"


What the Parrot Saw said...

Two great things about this episode:

1) Loretta Swit is always a treat to watch when she plays Margaret drunk. When it comes to slurring words together, she's a Lionel Barrymore.

2) Potter's sarcasm here is hysterical- so dry, it's parched!

Poor Frank- by this point, it seems as if his character had been painted into a corner. While sending home a priceless Korean artifact is in character, he seems so shifty and downright mean about it. Nonetheless, I do feel sorry for him come next episode...

Shawn / kryptonkylie said...

I MAY be wrong here - but - isn't Michael Bell a voice actor on Super Friends?

Didn't he voice Zan?

Russell said...

I was going to point out the Super Friends connection, too. That is definitely Zan. :-)

This is a fun episode, but Frank comes off as being pretty stupid. My favorite line is, after he has denied knowledge of the vase, he tells the MP, "I hope you catch the creep who's been using my face!" It's funny, but not what a different Frank Burns would have said....

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Klinger's Section 8 plot in this epidose. 'Pole Sitting.' The scene when Father Mulcahy hears the voice from above is one my favorites of Mulcahy's. He executes it with such sincerety.

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