Saturday, August 8, 2009

Episode 130 - M*A*S*H Olympics

Season 6, Episode 130: M*A*S*H Olympics
Original Air Date: 11/22/77
Written by: Ken Levine & David Isaacs

Directed by: Don Weis

Hawkeye and B.J. agree to help out a Sergeant named Ames (Michael McManus) who is so overweight the Army is going to discharge him. They put him on a strict diet and an exercise regimen so he'll lose just enough weight at his next weigh-in not to be kicked out.

Later that day, an ambulance overturns, so Col. Potter has a bunch of the staff get together to flip it back over on its wheels.

When the group lacks the strength to do it, Potter accuses his people of being terribly out of shape. Hawkeye, B.J., etc., protest, but when four MPs come by and do what the 4077 could not, Potter says starting tomorrow there will be morning calisthenics, to the audible protests of everyone.

The next morning, the 4077 is grumbling all through the exercises, and eventually they all start wandering off. Potter, watching all this, summons them all to the Mess Tent.

Understanding that morning exercise is boring and unmotivating, he comes up with the 4077 Olympics, where two teams--headed up by Hawkeye and B.J.--will compete in events. Whichever team wins will get three days of R&R, an incentive which gets everyone excited.

Interspersed with real footage of the 1952 Olympics, we see the two teams (B.J.'s Pink Elephants and Hawkeye's Blackbirds) compete. There's a race on crutches, which Hawkeye's team wins.

When they get to a race where one of the men carries a nurse on his shoulders, Klinger (who has been eating non-stop so he'll get too fat to serve) is too sick to carry Margaret. B.J. asks the visiting Donald Penobscott (Mike Henry) to fill in. Hawkeye objects, but Penobscott manages to goad Hawkeye into relenting.

As expected, Penobscott dominates, bringing the 4077 Olympics to a tie. Potter devises a tie-breaking obstacle course. The names are drawn from a hat, and its a race between Penobscott and...the hefty Sgt. Ames.

The race starts, and Penobscott takes an early lead. But he starts goofing off, playing to the crowd, even though they scream at him to stop showing off and get to the finish line. Ames begins to catch up, and Penobscott, not paying attention to where he's going, gets caught in some of the netting that hangs all over the compound.

While temporarily tangled, Ames crosses the finish line, winning the race for Hawkeye's Blackbirds!

Later, Penobscott and Margaret leave for a vacation in Tokyo. She's mad that they've lost the three extra days of R&R they could've had, had her husband not been goofing off.

Ames finds Hawkeye and B.J., delighted. He beat the weigh-in by three whole ounces, and he's off to celebrate--in the Mess Tent.

Fun Facts: This is Donald Penobscott's second and final appearance on the show, but he's played by a different actor this time, in this case by Mike Henry, who I was most familiar with growing up as Jackie Gleason's dim-witted son in the Smokey and the Bandit movies.
He plays Penobscott as sort of dim-witted here, too, and I never really bought Margaret would marry a guy like this, unlike the Penobscott played by Beeson Carroll in Season Five's "Margaret's Marriage."

Loretta Swit has a great moment, when B.J. asks Margaret to try and motivate their team after losing two events. Her speech starts quietly, but eventually devolves into screaming, admonishing her teammates to "take it to" Hawkeye's team, and "cut out their hearts!"

Radar does not appear in this episode.

Favorite Line: Winchester, standing aside while everyone prepares to lift the jeep, points out a place where Hawkeye can stand.

Potter, noticing this, barks, "What's wrong with you, Sad Sack?"

1 comment:

What the Parrot Saw said...

Seems that at this point in the series the creators were consciously trying for levity. This attempt at recapturing earlier hi-jinks, intended perhaps to leaven out the greater seriousness already present, falls generally flat; the humor seems forced throughout. After all, calisthenics was the frequent butt (pardon the pun) of much derision earlier in the series. Such derision is present here, as well, but the joy of the muddy tug of war of S2’s “As You Were” is nowhere to be found. Even the revival of nurse relay-racing
(remember “bouuuncccing Betttty!!”?) does little to retrieve this from the yawn pile (by MASH standards, of course).

Then again; perhaps the unit’s lackluster effort at righting the jeep did indicate a general lassitude? It’s the funniest scene by far, so perhaps Sherm was on to something…

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