Tuesday, March 23, 2010

AfterM*A*S*H Episode 24 - Trials

Season 2, Episode 24: Trials
Original Air Date: 10/9/84
Written by: David Isaacs & Ken Levine

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Klinger's day in court has arrived, and, despite his lawyer's advice, he pleads
Not Guilty. Col. Potter and Father Mulcahy question this, but Klinger's view is that, if he's found Guilty, Soon-Lee and his son will be sent back to Korea--Klinger wants to take the chance, even if it is "all or nothing."

Col. Potter is brought on as a character witness, but the prosecution brings up Klinger's constant attempt to get a Section-8, his penchant for wearing dresses, etc. Potter does his best to defend Klinger, despite his checkered Army record.

Father Mulcahy testifies next, similarly trying to defend Klinger's character. The prosecution brings up Mulcahy's past drinking problem, which Mulcahy objects to: "Hey, I'm a priest!"

Bob Scanell and Mildred Potter also testify, doing probably more harm than good. The prosecution then calls a surprise witness--Col. Flagg!

Potter, Mulcahy, and Klinger are shocked, to say the least. Flagg enters, and we see he's the same gung ho lunatic he was in Korea, asking the baliff where he'd land if he had to jump out the window. Walking to the stand, he looks at Klinger, mimics drawing an "X" on his forehead, and says, "Hello, fruitcake."

Col. Flagg, on the stand, launches into a tirade against Klinger, accusing him of being a communist because, after spending years trying to get out of the Army, stayed in Korea for two months. Klinger protests that was to help Soon-Lee find her family, but of course Flagg cannot be reasoned with.

Flagg, over the years, has seemingly gotten worse, and he goes on a long tirad about Klinger, Communism, Capitalism, and more, despite the judge's admonitions to settle down. While Klinger testifies, Flagg rushes the stand, supposedly with proof Klinger associated with communists--a photo of him and a Korean civilian, who Klinger says "a dung salesman."

The judge has had enough, and has Flagg subdued. He then makes a decision to end the trial by getting Klinger's lawyer (an inexperienced, easily swayed young man) to change Klinger's plea to Not Guilty Due To Mental Insanity, and orders him to be put under the care of the Psychiatric Ward of...General General!

Klinger is carted away, sort of a free man. Flagg, left alone in the courtroom with the judge, is horrified. He keeps ranting, and eventually the judge gets up and walks out, leaving Flagg alone, testifying to an empty room.

Fun Facts: With this episode, the opening credit sequence changes again--the bland Season Two theme is retained, but the pastel drawings are replaced by photos of the cast members and stills from the show.

Obviously, this episode makes an explicit connection to M*A*S*H, with the guest appearance by Edward Winter as Col. Flagg, who had not appeared on the original series since the Seventh Season. Too bad Klinger couldn't call Winchester to defend him again!

Favorite Line: After Flagg goes on another tirade, Klinger objects: "This is America, not Korea--you can't destroy people over here like you did over there!"

Flagg responds: "I know, McCarthy is stealing my thunder."


What the Parrot Saw said...

The Flagg character was admittedly no Hamlet, and cynics might well say "Winter reprises his role? So?"

This is one of the highlights of this series, nonetheless.

Winter hits all the right notes- but its not M*A*S*H nostalgia solely at work here. His final scene, delivered solo when even the judge has left in disdain shames McCarthy himself in its self-righteous, blind near-anger.
It's the soliloquy the parent series never allowed, and its decidedly chilling

(can totally imagine a now greyish Flagg as one of Nixon's 'plumbers' ranting that while Nixon went to China, the goods on the chairman are located in Daniel Ellsberg's files).

I wouldn't suggest that AFTERM*A*S*H is alone justified by Flagg's presence here. The series had many fine moments for fans. It showed signs of promise, even if it was rather lightweight. But Winter delivers one of his best ever appearances as Flagg here- precisely because he was stateside, where perhaps he could do real damage as McCarthy's understudy. He's truly malevolent. Perhaps Winter didn't want to reprise this role on cue longterm.

Klinger finally gets his 'Section 8.' This could have been an interesting idea to pursue (even if overly ironic- hell, he decided to stay in Korea in G,F&A!) if it didn't seem like a touch too familiar.

Unknown said...

I wish I had seen this episode. I as much as I hated the character of Flagg (who appeared in a few RPG's I ran in later years), I think Winter did a great job with it.
BTW Rob, a question, where are you watching these episodes from? I didn't think AfterMASH had been released on DVD (though I could be wrong).

rob! said...


The commenter known as What The Parrot Saw generously sent me the entire series (minus 1 episode) on some...er, bootleg DVDs. We have them to thank for these episode recaps!

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