Monday, November 2, 2009

Episode 198 - Father's Day

Season 9, Episode 198: Father's Day
Original Air Date: 12/8/80
Written by: Karen L. Hall

Directed by: Alan Alda

Margaret gets
news that her father--"Howitzer Al" Houlihan--is coming to visit her at the 4077th.

This sends Margaret into fits of
nervous anticipation, insisting that everything at the camp be in perfect shape. She even suggests Col. Potter's hair could use a little trim!

After driving everyone crazy, "Howitzer Al" (Andrew Duggan) arrives, and Margaret is either to show the camp off to him. She has her nursing staff submit themselves for inspection, and she's beaming with pride. But her father takes little notice, only giving her a brief acknowledgment of them and her efforts.

Later, when they're alone, Margaret slips and mention her parents divorce, which seems to put Howitzer Al in an even more terse mood. Later, in OR, Margaret is so nervous about the doctor's normal tomfoolery that she slams into a tray of instruments, causing them to crash to the floor. Right at that moment, she sees her father storm out of the OR.

Later that night, Margaret tries to talk to her father back in his tent, but he blows her off. After she leaves, he heads off to the O Club, where he joins Col. Potter for a drink.

He warms up a bit to Col. Potter, but his mood seems to darken again when Potter mentions how much he's looking forward to going home to his wife. Moments later, Hawkeye and B.J. wander in, and decide to try and make nice with Howitzer Al, "For Margaret's sake."

But within a few moments of sitting down, Howitzer Al attacks them both, calling them both a disgrace to their country. Hawkeye and B.J. try and ignore him, but Howitzer Al gets so mad he knocks over their table and storms out.

The next morning, Margaret angrily confronts Hawkeye and B.J., blaming them for the confrontation the night before. They protest their innocence, but Margaret doesn't believe them, and is sure they're the reason her father has chosen to leave early.

Margaret then runs into Col. Potter, and breaks down in tears, revealing her shame at being such a disappointment to her father. Col. Potter tries to comfort her, and tells her that Hawkeye and B.J. were not the ones spoiling for a fight.

After she walks off in tears, Col. Potter visits Howitzer Al in his tent, telling him how shabbily he's treating his daughter. Potter's disgusted when he learns that Howitzer Al left the OR, not because of Margaret, but because he couldn't stomach all the blood--and he's willing to let Margaret think it was her fault rather than admit he couldn't hack it.

Potter then suggests that, now that Howitzer Al is in retirement and newly-divorced, "You don't have your men or your woman", but he does have his daughter.

Later, Margaret is stoic when her father packs up his jeep to leave. He begins to drive off, but then stops a few feet away. Margaret runs to catch up, wondering what's wrong. Howitzer Al takes her hand, and asks Margaret to visit him in Tokyo. Overjoyed, she agrees, and then he admits that he is, in fact, proud of her.

After driving away, Margaret beams with pride and joy.

Fun Facts: The character of Al Houlihan is well written and well performed--seeing this guy, you have a better understanding of why Margaret is the way she is.

Its never mentioned explicitly, but you get the sense from this episode that Margaret is an only child--even though in several earlier episodes (mostly in the second and third seasons) it was stated that she has at least one sister.

This episode features a very silly--but also very funny--B-plot about a giant slab of frozen beef a patient sends to Hawkeye and B.J. as a way to say thanks for their excellent care. The only problem is, its beef meant for a General, who sends out a search party to find out where it went.

Favorite Line: Potter asks her if there's anything he can do to help Margaret get the 4077th ready, and that's when Margaret gingerly suggests: "Now that you mention it, sir, your hair could use a little trim",
driving Hawkeye and B.J. into hysterics.


What the Parrot Saw said...

Duggan was a good choice to play (at last!) Margaret's dad; he is more or less how I'd always pictured 'Howlitzer Al Houlihan.' He portrays an semi emotionally distant father well, but while I appreciate Potter's stepping in to tell Al that he has neglected his daughter's attention, he seems just a tad too self-righteous in his scene. I tend to agree with Houlihan when he tells Potter to butt out. If Morgan had dialed it down a notch ("Good God, man!!") his scene would have been more effective.

The Bplot with the purloined beef is funny enough, but the funny plots are starting to come off a little threadbare. This angle of the verboten contraband (the miraculous field cook/patient, the artillery gun) having to be hidden, etc has already been done enough that the hijinks seem predictable.

Unknown said...

The thing that gets me about this episode is earlier on in the series Margaret mentions that her dad is dead.

Anonymous said...

Houlihan mentions he was in the with Potter...never mind that earlier epsiode he was a Artilleryman..or that he has a younger daugther who enguaged to be married is only a Captain....

Donald said...

The only time I remember Margaret mentioning her father's death was when she was DRUNK to Henry in "Hot Lips and Empty Arms." otherwise I think she hardly ever mentions his status until then. If he was meant be alive I wonder why he wasn't present at her wedding.

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