Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Episode 155 - Dear Comrade

Season 7, Episode 155: Dear Comrade
Original Air Date: 11/27/78
Written by: Tom Reeder

Directed by: Charles Dubin

Hawkeye and B.J. return to the 4077th after some days of R&R, and they are dismayed to see that the Swamp is not the same Swamp they left--i.e., clean. Winchester introduces the man responsible--a Korean man named Kwang (Sab Shimono), whom Winchester has hired as a houseboy.

After wounded arrive, we learn that Kwang is not what he seems: he's actually a North Korean officer, going undercover as what he calls "a grinning lackey" to "an American capitalist fool"--namely, Winchester. He is writing a letter to his commander, giving him the details of just how the 4077th operates.

Kwang is shocked and dismissive of how the Americans operate. He says the OR is chaotic, and their behavior off-hours (which includes drinking and gambling) is "decadent."

The doctors are stumped by a rash that has infected several wounded soldiers. They call a dermatologist in Tokyo, but he is no help, flatly refusing to come out to the 4077th to look and see what's going on. Stumped and stuck with a Post Op filled with itchy soldiers, they take the advice of Kwang, who has worked up his own homemade remedy--which stinks to high heaven.

Kwang, writing his superiors, is aghast that all these educated doctors can't figure out how to treat a simple rash. The doctors are thrilled to find that, despite its stink, Kwang's mixture works!

Later that night, Kwang prepares to leave, saying that the 4077th methods of success are so unorthodox and haphazard that they can't possibly attempt to duplicate them. He quits working for Winchester, letting him know what a lousy boss he was in the process.

As he's leaving, he's stopped by Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter who thank him for the remedy, letting him know how well it worked. Potter even gives him an official commendation from the U.S. Army, as a way to say thanks.

Kwang is touched, and lies to his commanders, saying he needs to stick around and observe the 4077th some more--in reality, getting drunk with all of them in the Officers Club. Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter notice that Kwang's english has mysteriously improved over the course of the night, which he chalks up to the whiskey.

Fun Facts: Actor Sab Shimono would return to the series, in a tenth season episode.

Another episode in the "Dear..." format, this one stretching the boundaries of that conceit--an episode narrated by not only a guest star, but by a character we've never even met before!

Radar does not appear in this episode.

Hawkeye makes a joke about B.O. Plenty, a character from Dick Tracy. Tracy was still in most newspapers in 1978, not so much nowadays. I wonder how that joke plays to younger audiences? Poor Plenty didn't even get to appear in the 1990 Dick Tracy movie!

Favorite Line: Hawkeye is horrified at returning to a clean Swamp. Looking under his mattress, he exclaims in mock outrage: "All the fleas are dead--murderer!"


What the Parrot Saw said...

This is a genuinely funny episode, and one of my favorites this season.

I did a little research and was surprised to find that all of my favorite episodes this season were written by Tom Reeder (who was never heard from here again after this season). This is a pity, as all three episodes capture well the easy humor of the first three seasons, updated for the more serious overall tone of S7.

Potter [saluting]: "Uncle Sam salutes you!"
Kwang [offering a quick wave of fingers in response]: "'yankee doodle!' "

Russell said...

I'm a sucker for any episode that has anything to do with Korea or Koreans, so I always liked this episode. Sab Shimono is, of course, of Japanese descent and doesn't actually speak any Korean in the episode.

I have never heard of B.O. Plenty before, and never got that it references anything other than just smelling bad. I understand your comment about playing to younger audiences, though; I just watched an episode with a reference to The Okefenokee Swamp and alligators, and I'm betting most people nowadays have never heard of POGO.

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