Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Episode 207 - No Laughing Matter

Season 9, Episode 207: No Laughing Matter
Original Air Date: 2/16/81
Written by: Elias Davis & David Pollock

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

During some drinks in the O Club, B.J. has Hawkeye take a Reader's Digest quiz about how "secure" he is. When B.J. asks him the third question about feeling a need to make jokes, Hawkeye answers no. B.J. finds that ridiculous, insisting that Hawkeye jokes constantly.

Hawkeye says that he likes to make jokes, but he doesn't need to. He makes a bet with B.J. that he can go 24 hours without making a single joke.

That bet becomes a lot harder when Klinger brings news that they are about to get a visit from Col. Horace Baldwin, the same man who banished Winchester to the 4077th. Col. Potter tries to break the news to Winchester gently, and orders him to stay away from Baldwin. Despite this, Winchester promises, "upon all that is holy", he will have his revenge.

Klinger tries to convince Winchester that the right tack to take is to kiss up to Baldwin, who still has the power to transfer Winchester back to Tokyo, instead of trying to murder him. Winchester storms off.

Later that night, Baldwin arrives, and Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter are shocked to see that Winchester is indeed buttering Baldwin up, treating him with the utmost deference. Baldwin can barely remember who Winchester is, but he's receptive to all the flattery. Potter is deeply suspicious.

Winchester offers to play cribbage with Baldwin, throwing game after game so Baldwin wins back all the money he lost to Winchester back in Tokyo. He plies him with fine cognac, which Baldwin refers to as "First-class hooch."

Winchester keeps trying to steer the conversation back to Tokyo, and how much he misses it. Baldwin at first seems oblivious, but then he hints that he's...lonely, and if Winchester can procure him some female companionship, he "won't forget it."

Winchester, disgusted, nevertheless heads to the O Club to find a call girl to send to Baldwin's tent. Unbeknownst to him, Margaret heads over to Baldwin's tent to drop off some medical reports.

When Margaret enters, Baldwin thinks she's there to spend the night, and appears in some sort of fetish outfit (which, thankfully, we never see). Margaret is disgusted and shocked, and, from what we hear, kicks Baldwin repeatedly before bolting out of the tent.

Winchester hires a call girl, who arrives at Baldwin's tent to find him laying on the ground in pain. She finds Winchester at the O Club, demanding her money despite what happened, causing a scene. At first he refuses, but when the call girl's enforcer (a hulking brute) threatens to break Winchester's legs, he coughs up the money.

Margaret also storms in, accusing Winchester of arranging such a disgusting display. She storms out to get Col. Potter.

Then Col. Baldwin comes in, and says that he's planning on accusing Margaret of coming on to him...and if Winchester will go along with his story, he'll arrange to transfer Winchester to Tokyo.

Col. Potter, with Margaret in tow, asks Winchester what's going on. Winchester, whimpering, admits that "Col. Baldwin is lying through this teeth." He then levels with Baldwin, admitting he's been sucking up to Baldwin all this time, but he won't destroy a friend's career.

Baldwin, with his tail between his legs, leaves immediately, just in time to hear Hawkeye broadcast a string of jokes about the day's events. Since its after midnight, he has won the bet, and now he's free to say what's been on his mind...

Fun Facts: Its a fun B-plot, but the whole idea doesn't quite work as a psychological test: if you're instinct is to make a joke at every situation but you don't just to win a bet, that's not really the same thing as not feeling compelled to make jokes. That said, its a very funny plot, and Hawkeye's joke round up at the end is great.

Favorite Line:
Hawkeye is mad over B.J.'s assertion that he feels compelled to make jokes, sarcastically suggesting he "Needs to be restrained with a 'Yock Strap.'"


  1. Reuniting Baldwin and Charles is a decent idea and it generally comes off (and one can finally sympathize with Charles for Baldwin is a first class creep!). By now, the even the twists tend to be predictable, so it is no surprise that Charles decides to flatter his way back to Tokyo. The payoff is at the end where he refuses to lie on Baldwin's behalf.

    (I think that a month into his tour, he perhaps wouldn't have thought twice!)

    The Bplot is an interesting premise and remains amusing. Funny to see Hawk catching his tongue every time he wants to crack a bon mot.

  2. I always laugh at Margaret's shocked "Colonel, why are you wearing that hood!?"

  3. I remember this episode as it made me finally accept Winchester as a decent guy. Where was Burns was going to lie and cheat his way to the bottom, Winchester at least had decency, brains & a heart. He was still a jerk but he was ok.

  4. I remember wanting to watch this because of the return of Colonel Baldwin, and I remember liking that Charles actually admits to everyone that Margaret and the gang are his friends. Otherwise I thought the episode was a mess. Hawkeye really does bother me in these later episodes, and Baldwin was not funny.

  5. another un-realty epsiode of MASH...having baldwin just drive away at the end....