Monday, March 16, 2009

Episode 16 - The Ringbanger

Season 1, Episode 16: The Ringbanger
Original Air Date: 1/21/73
Written by: Jerry Mayer
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

Hawkeye and Trapper are operating on a near-celebrity: Colonel "Buzz" Brighton (Leslie Nielsen), whose battlefield exploits have been chronicled in Stars & Stripes.

Afterwards, they all share a drink together in The Swamp, and beneath Buzz's genial exterior, the doctors get a glimpse of the man inside--someone callous about losing the lives of his own troops, all in the name of earning himself some glory. He constantly bangs his ring on his chair, a sign of dominance.

Hawkeye and Trapper are sickened by Buzz's attitude, so they conspire to try and keep him in camp for a while, in the hopes that maybe he'll lose his command if he's off the battlefield for too long. They try to convince him his body and mind need time to rest, but Buzz isn't convinced.

Meanwhile, Frank and Hot Lips get involved, wanting to know why the doctors insist on keeping Buzz. Hawkeye and Trapper decide to pit them all against each other--they tell Hot Lips Buzz is suffering from a crippling lack of insecurity, and when Buzz asks them if he can go to Frank for a second opinion, they tell him that Frank is secretly a transvestite--something the macho Buzz steers clear of.

While Hot Lips tries to seduce Buzz back to health(!), Hawkeye and Trapper then try and get Henry drunk, so he'll sign a paper sending Buzz back to the states.

All this chicanery comes crashing down in Buzz's tent, when Frank discovers Hot Lips and Buzz in an embrace. Henry shows up, drunk, and Buzz accuses everyone of being out to get him. Hawkeye and Trapper manage to convince Buzz he needs a long rest--Henry signs the form, and Buzz is headed home.

Comments: A nice, macho performance by Leslie Nielsen, who of course most people my age only knew from being in Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Seeing him in this episode after first seeing him in those Zucker movies was quite a revelation.

This premise--getting someone Hawkeye considers dangerous off the line--was partly reused in a third season episode, and then again much more explicitly in the eighth season--but with very different results.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and Trapper are cluing Buzz in on Hot Lips' reputation. When they first mention her nickname, Buzz replies: "Oh, you call her Hot Lips?"

Hawkeye: "And not because she's left-handed."

...I have no idea what that means. When I first heard the joke as a teenager, I assumed it was some sort of adult reference that I'd understand later, when I got older.

Its twenty plus years later, and I'm still in the dark.


Anonymous said...

So, was this one directed by "the" Jackie Cooper?

I remember seeing this after seeing Police Squad and the Naked Gun movies, and having a hard time reconciling Leslie's badassness. But then I learned that's called "acting".

Robert Gross said...

I think the joke "and not because she's left-handed" means that the nickname "Hot Lips" is a *well-earned nickname*--- she is a great kisser and a promiscuous woman--- and not due to some arbitrary characteristic like, say, being left-handed.

This episode owes a little something to the 1938 play Gas Light.

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob,

One little thing. In the comments section, you have indicated that the plot for this episode was reused on two later episodes. The latter, where BJ and Hawkeye were at odds, is actually from season 7. I'm sure you are aware of this, as you have this episode listed in its correct place.

This is a fantastic blog. I stumbled upon it almost a year ago and frequent it often. It's a great read for a rainy day. I would like to commend you for your fine work and commitment to the fans. Well done :)

Anonymous said...

thank you for this. truly the internet has it ALL. i was watchig this episode in rerun on MeTV and had to play the scene back several times. i still don't get the joke, but i'm glad i'm not alone. sidenote.. i met leslie nielsen on a show i worked on as a PA.. i think it was called born famous (?) Fries Entertainment. Anyway.. he was a super pro with great respect for everyone. He also carried around this device that made fart noises. He was relentless. Anyway.. it's this type of blog and commitement to the trivial that makes our country great. ;) Onwards.

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