Sunday, January 3, 2010

Episode 248 - Friends and Enemies

Season 11, Episode 248: Friends and Enemies
Original Air Date: 2/7/83
Written by: Karen Hall

Directed by: Jamie Farr

Wounded arrive, and one of them is an old friend of Col. Potter's,
Col. Woody Cooke (John McLiam), who was shuffling papers back at I-Corps the last time Potter saw him.

In Post Op, a couple of wounded G.I.s mention that Col. Cooke showed up on the front lines, unannounced and unwelcome, and started issuing bizarre and downright dangerous orders. Even after artillery started falling, Cooke wouldn't budge, leading to a bunch of them getting hit.

Meanwhile, B.J., stuck in the Swamp due to an ingrown toenail, is being driven mad by his inability get away from Winchester's dreadfully grim classical records. He even goes so far as to file down Winchester's phonograph needle, forcing him to turn to Margaret, who just received a new record player--but no records.

Hawkeye goes to Col. Potter to tell him about what the wounded men said, but Potter gets enraged, calling them "wet behind the ears" and even accusing Hawkeye of being that, too. Hawkeye tries to talk some sense into him, but Potter is having none of it, ordering Hawkeye out of his tent.

The next day, Potter and Woody share a drink in his tent, and Potter gently tries to draw some information about what happened at the front, but Woody insists he was the only one there who knew what he was doing.

Potter does some looking into it, via the wounded soldiers' POV. One of them, a Sergeant named Zurilli (Jim Lefebvre), tells Potter that even though his CO told the Sergeant to stay away from a particular hill, Woody showed up and countermanded those orders.

Potter asks why Zurilli didn't mention this to his CO, but he was sure it would just get covered up by one of Cooke's friends. When asked why he didn't mention it when he got to the 4077th, Zurilli answers, "Same reason, sir."

Potter, now convinced, finds Hawkeye in the O Club and apologizes, downing a stiff drink in anticipation over what he has to do his old friend.

Back in his tent, over a game of checkers, Potter tells Woody what he knows and that its going to go in the report he has to file with I-Corps. Woody protests, then begs, but Potter says he's not willing to let one more young man get hurt by allowing Woody back on the line. Woody, furious, claims their friendship is over, and wheels himself out of Potter's tent.

Later, Potter finds Hawkeye on the compound, and they walk to the O Club to get a drink--just in time to see B.J. burst out the door of the Swamp, hopping like mad to get away from Winchester's music, now playing at full blast from Margaret's record player.

Fun Facts: Over 251 episodes, any show of that long a run is going to repeat plots occasionally. This episode is probably the single most obvious example--Col. Potter had the exact same problem with an old friend in Season Five's "Ping Pong."

This is this season's "Angry Potter" episode, although that element of the show is the shortest of them all this time around--basically lasting only two brief scenes. (Its the last "Angry Potter" episode ever, unless they did them on AfterM*A*S*H!)

This episode is directed by Jamie Farr, who does a fine job (I particularly liked the final scene, as we see B.J. hopping double-time out the Swamp, to the tune of Winchester's classical music instead of the normal M*A*S*H closing theme). Of all of the show's final cast, only Loretta Swit and William Christopher never ended up going behind the camera.

Favorite Line: Winchester brags about his newly-arrived classical records. One is called Kindertotanlieter, aka "Songs for the Death of Children."

Not only is the look on Klinger's face, when he hears that grim title, priceless (it goes by in a flash) but it begins a runner of sorts of where different characters refer to the record--all in different, incorrect ways, none more funny than when B.J. calls it "The Dead Children's Glee Club."


Russell said...

I think the scenes between Potter and Woody are staged exceptionally well. Watch how the camera starts off far away, getting closer to the actors' faces as they become more heated. A very well done scene.

What the Parrot Saw said...

This was the better of the two plots that revolved around Potter having to confront a longtime RA friend. The scene in which Zurilli recounts Woody's ineptitude on the battle line remains fairly harrowing ("we all thought [he] was a joke; well, no one's laughing now")- it makes one wonder how often this happens in war.

William Manchester, in writing about the dogfaces in WW2 had a sharp observation that has stayed with me: (paraphrasing) "Frontline soldiers soon learn to distrust warrior legends."

A fine dramatic a-plot, with a nicely played b-plot for comic relief.

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