Tuesday, March 9, 2010

AfterM*A*S*H Episode 10 - Fallout

Season 1, Episode 10: Fallout
Original Air Date: 12/5/83
Written by: Larry Gelbart

Directed by: Larry Gelbart

Col. Potter has insomnia. Mildred finds him in the kitchen, and he tells what's bothering him: the endless bureaucracy of General General and how it affects the care he's able to give. He talks about quitting and retiring, something Mildred is perfectly happy to do.

At the hospital, Dr. Pfeiffer tells Col. Potter about an offer he's received to become part of another doctor's private practice. It would prevent Dr. Pfeiffer from becoming Board Certified, but the money and easier hours is vastly tempting. Pfeiffer ends up deciding that, even though the offer is great, the medical experience he's gaining is too good to give up--not to mention the chance to learn under Col. Potter, whom Pfeiffer deeply respects.

During Movie Night, Dr. Pfeiffer overhears one of his patients, named Joe Warner, (William Sadler) mention that he's been present for six different nuclear bomb tests--a patient who has been diagnosed with leukemia.

Pfeiffer does some research, and learns that his patient was part of a troop that was sent to clean up Nagasaki after the bomb was dropped. Father Mulcahy tries to comfort the man, and we see he's having visions--visions of his old Army chaplain, promising that what he's being told to do is "perfectly safe."

Col. Potter and Dr Pfeiffer write up a report about Joe Warner, and how he developed leukemia, and submit it to Mike D'Angelo, who tells Potter in no uncertain terms the report is unacceptable. D'Angelo, reflecting on the financial implications of this, flat out refuses to send the report up the chain of command.

Unable to change D'Angelo's mind, Col. Potter has to break the news to Pfeiffer, who is furious about his report being buried. He threatens to quit--what's the point?--but Potter takes him to task, saying that if Pfeiffer really wants to make a difference, he needs to be in the trenches, helping people like Joe Warner, not playing golf in during his days off from private practice.

Pfeiffer agrees, promising to keep trying.

Fun Facts: There's a female voice coming over the hospital's PA at various times, and to my hear it sounds like Kellye Nakahara. The voice is not credited, and there's no mention of it on IMDB, so I can't be sure.

Mike D'Angelo has a scary line when Potter quotes a scientific study saying that the effects of leukemia could be so long lasting they might even affect Warner's unborn baby.

D'Angelo asks who wrote the report, Potter says, "A bunch of scientists." D'Angelo replies, "So they say the government is lying?" Potter responds with, "No, they just have a different opinion." D'Angelo counters with, "Scientists have opinions. The government has facts."

Soon-Lee does not appear in this episode.

This episode is probably the finest of the series so far, dealing with a tough, real world issue, and not providing any pat answers. The character of Mike D'Angelo, mostly a buffoon up until now, takes on a darker cast when we get to see how unwilling he is to criticize the government in any way, mostly for the sake of a buck. He would've gotten along great with Frank Burns.

Favorite Line: Klinger tells Dr. Pfeiffer what it was like being in the Army. Pfeiffer says, "You must have loved it."

Klinger answers, "Loved it? I wanted to get out the minute I got in. In Basic Training, I wet my bunk every night for a week. Didn't work for me, but the guy below me got out for Pneumonia."


Neal said...

I had no idea that Larry Gelbart wrote, let alone directed, any of the AfterMASH episodes. No wonder this one stands out among the rest. Too bad he didn't do more. He may have been able to save the show. I only saw a few episodes when it was on the air and they all were pretty dull.

Tom said...

I watched these shows back then and I felt they didn't measure up to MASH. But I would like to see them again, to see what my opinion of them would be now.

What the Parrot Saw said...

Reminiscent of "For the Good of the Outfit," this episode seemed to me at the time relatively predictable- exactly the sort of theme and event I'd expect AfterM*A*S*H to cover.

In viewing it again... Gelbart hits the right notes, but there is no element of surprise. Well-written and played, for sure- but it resembles nothing so much as a later period M*A*S*H episode transplanted Stateside.

Not at all bad- just rather familiar.

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