Thursday, April 30, 2009

Episode 49 - The General Flipped At Dawn

Season 3, Episode 49: The General Flipped At Dawn
Original Air Date: 9/10/74
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Larry Gelbart

Yet another new General, Bartford Hamilton Steele, assumes command in Korea, overseeing, among other things, the 4077th.

He issues a series of orders, involving stricter dress codes and daily calesthentics, with makes Hawkeye and Trapper roll in their eyes in contempt. Henry tries to get them to take this seriously, and his worry is only exacerbated when Steele announces he will visiting the 4077th and staying there for a week!

Steele (Harry Morgan) arrives, and he is a bellicose, by-the-book type of guy. He snaps at Henry for not following formation exactly, and then has Henry assemble the troops for inspection.

He inspects Frank, Hot Lips, Radar, and Father Mulcahy, each finding something at fault. Henry and Radar are panicked when they see Klinger--in his finest frock--make a beeline for Steele.

Klinger introduces himself to Steele, who surprisingly responds with, "Not now, Marjorie--I'm inspecting the troops!" Not the response Henry, Radar, and Klinger were expecting!

Later that night, during inspection of the Supply Shed, Henry and Steele stumble upon Hawkeye and Nurse Baker on a date, ending with Hawkeye pretending to be a member of the Press. Steele actually buys this, and after further comments its obvious Steele is nuts.

They then make it over to the Officers Club, where they meet Trapper and chopper pilot Marty Williams (Teddy Wilson). He asks Williams how much gas he uses retrieving wounded from the front, and when he doesn't like the answer he gets, he says the 4077th needs to be moved closer to the front!

After scouting a new location for the 4077th with Henry and Frank--a location covered in heavy enemy fire, to Steele's indifference--he and Hawkeye have another run-in on the chopper pad, where Hawkeye commandeers it away from Steele so he can ship a wounded patient to Tokyo for further care. Steele calls Hawkeye "Insubordinate" and "Insolent", to which Hawkeye responds, "Right...and you're nuts!"

Steele brings Hawkeye up on charges, and puts together a formal hearing. He barks at the MP brought along to skip through all the formalities and get to he charges. The first witness is Marty Williams, but before he can testify, Steele insists Williams perform "A number."

When Williams--and everyone else--look dumbfounded, Steele insists "A number...a musical number! You've got it in your blood, boy, just let it out!"

Steele then breaks into "Mississippi Mud", an old-timey song, dancing a jig around the Mess Tent. He gets so caught up in his performance, he dances right out of the tent!

The MP, sitting beside Steele, grimaces, picks up his paperwork, closes his satchel, and walks out without a word. Hawkeye and Henry surmise this means that the 4077th is not leaving, only Steele is, to which Hawkeye adds, "In a rubber truck."

Later, Stars & Stripes reports that Steele has been promoted to a 3-star, and sent to the Pentagon. When Frank insists that means Hawkeye and co. were wrong about Steele being crazy, Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry sarcastically agree, breaking into their own version of "Mississippi Mud" and dancing out of The Swamp.

Fun Facts: For any obsessive M*A*S*H fan, obviously the big event of this episode is the chance to see the 4077th's two Colonels in the same frame (I feel the same way about The Cat From Outer Space).

Sure, Harry Morgan isn't actually playing Col. Potter, but its close, and growing up I just couldn't get enough of his scenes with McLean Stevenson, especially since the character of Henry Blake would haunt the show after his death. It just seemed so cool to me. Still does.

With this, the first episode of the third season, M*A*S*H was moved to a third time-slot, to Tuesdays. But by now, America had discovered the show, and its ratings dominance would continue apace.

Hawkeye once again mentions his sister, who in later seasons will not exist.

The opening lyrics to "Mississippi Mud" are fairly benign:

"When the sun goes down, the tide goes out,
The people gather 'round and they all begin to shout,
'Hey! Hey! Uncle Dud,
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud'"

...but to my ears, Steele sings some sort of racist alternate version, which goes like this:

"When the sun goes down, the tide goes out,
The dark gather 'round and they all begin to shout,
'Hey! Hey! Uncle Dud,
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud
It's a treat to beat your feet on the Mississippi Mud'"

When you think about it, the final scene of the third act is totally insane. Its so strange that you could imagine the whole third act of the show falling on its face, but Harry Morgan's performance is so perfectly daft that it works.

(By the way, when Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry reprise the song, they sing the offending line as: "
We all gather 'round and we all begin to shout")

This is the first episode of M*A*S*H written by the team of Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, who would write some of the show's most significant episodes.

Favorite Line: Frank complains that his part of The Swamp is neat and tidy, but the other parties "Who shall remain nameless", live like swine.

This leads Hawkeye and Trapper, who are cleaning up over the scrub sink after surgery, to turn to each other, shake hands and politely greet one another with:

Hawkeye: "Pierce."

Trapper: "McIntyre."

Hawkeye: "...The Swine Brothers."

Monday, April 27, 2009

M*A*S*H at The TV Land Awards

On last night's TV Land Awards show, M*A*S*H received an "Impact" award, recognizing the show's, well, impact on popular culture.

Appearing on stage were, from left to right, William Christopher, Jeff Maxwell, Alan Arbus, Loretta Swit, Mike Farrell, Burt Metcalfe, Alan Alda, Kellye Nakahara, Wayne Rogers, and Larry Gelbart.

Alda, Swit, and Rogers spoke, but I thought it was Larry Gelbart's brief--and to the point--remarks that were the most memorable (that, and Loretta Swit's gams!).

You can view the whole presentation here!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Episode 48 - A Smattering of Intelligence

Season 2, Episode 48: A Smattering of Intelligence
Original Air Date: 3/2/74
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks

Directed by: Larry Gelbart

After some wounded arrive, a chopper crashes--but the only person wounded is Col. Flagg (Edward Winter), who has a broken arm. Flagg is a uber-tough guy, refusing any pain medication and not finding Capt. Pierce funny at all.

After being bandaged up, Flagg goes to see Henry and admits who he is, including a list of all his multiple aliases. Flagg says he can't officially have been at the 4077, so Henry has to doctor the paperwork.

Later, an old friend of Trapper's arrives, Vinnie Pratt (Bill Fletcher). He tells them that he's part of G2, and he's here to follow up on what Flagg is doing. He reveals that each branch of the U.S. intelligence community investigates one other, which Hawkeye and Trapper find ridiculous and a giant waste of time. Henry is also displeased when he meets Pratt, and just wants the 4077th left out of all this skullduggery.

Flagg's arm heals, but to stay in camp he smashes it, breaking it all over again! He then sends a ridiculously coded message to his superiors, which Hawkeye, Trapper, and Pratt intercept.

To have some fun, Hawkeye and Trapper drop hints that maybe Frank is worth looking into--after all, wouldn't someone with something to hide be as gung ho patriotic as possible?

To lead them on futher, they doctor Frank's file with all sort of incriminating details, which Flagg finds. Then they replace it with a second file, which Pratt finds.

Later, both Flagg and Pratt come to arrest Burns, each for different and conflicting reasons. Frank insists he's innocent, but both Flagg and Pratt aren't moved.

Just as they're about to carry Frank off, Hawkeye and Trapper admit this was all their doing, and they did it just to highlight how wasteful and silly all this spy stuff is. Flagg isn't happy, but Pratt takes it a little better.

Wounded arrive, leaving Flagg and Pratt in The Swamp. They decide to get some coffee, but not before Pratt takes some pictures of The Swamp with a tiny camera.

The episode ends with Col. Flagg's report on M*A*S*H 4077, which "Strongly suggests further observation."

Fun Facts: This is actor Edward Winter's second appearance on the show, but his first as Col. Flagg. Trapper's pal Pratt is never heard from again, but of course Col. Flagg would come back to the visit 4077 several times.

I love how Col. Flagg is in a permanent, pseudo-tough guy squint in his every appearance. Winter's performance--and the show's take on the character--is an example of the concept of the Anti-Comic.

While Hawkeye, Trapper, etc.,
using humor to repeatedly goof on the whole notion of Authority, and point out the stupidity of violence, bloodshed, and a blinding, unquestioning obedience to one's leaders, Winter's Col. Flagg embodies all those traits--he doesn't make a joke, because he is the joke. He and Archie Bunker would have gotten along great.

In the last scene with Flagg and Pratt, Pratt calls Flagg "Sam." Is this really Col. Flagg's first name, or yet another alias?

This is the final show of the second season.

Favorite Line: When tells Trapper: "You really hit me below the belt", Trapper responds with: "Come see me, I do hernias."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Episode 47 - Mail Call

Season 2, Episode 47: Mail Call
Original Air Date: 2/23/74
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks

Directed by: Alan Alda

It's Mail Call at the 4077th, and each member of the camp receives something.

Hawkeye gets a homemade sweater, two sizes too big, from his sister. Henry gets a package of check stubs from his wife Lorraine so he can balance her checkbook for her. Trapper gets a letter and a picture from his two daughters. Frank gets a letter from his stockbrokers, telling him he's now $2,000 richer now than he was a month ago--all thanks to the war and Frank's investments in arms manufacturing.

While Frank heads off to Hot Lips' tent to share the good news, Hawkeye decides to pull a prank on him. He fakes a letter to his stockbroker, mentioning a tip about something called Pioneer Aviation, which will make Hawkeye rich beyond his wildest dreams.

Frank's lip quivers with excitement over the news. When he realizes the letter he's reading is missing a page, he tears up The Swamp looking for the rest. Hawkeye and Trapper watch from afar with amusement. Later, Frank tells his stockbroker to sell all his stocks and put everything into Pioneer Aviation.

Meanwhile, Trapper grows despondent over not being around his girls. He gets drunk and decides he's leaving, right then and there. Hawkeye tries to talk him out of it, but Trapper is so determined he pushes Hawkeye over and starts storming out.

He is interrupted by Frank coming the other way, who dismisses Trapper by saying, "I could buy or sell you!"

Trapper and Hawkeye decide to reveal the trick, having gotten a hold of Frank's letter to his stockbroker. They tell Pioneer Aviation doesn't exist, and Frank storms out.

As Trapper lay the floor, laughing hysterically, Hawkeye uses the opportunity to start unpacking Trapper's hastily-put-together duffel bag.

Fun Facts: Hawkeye mentions a sister in this episode, who basically gets fazed out of existence in later seasons (the same thing that happened to his Mom).

One aspect to Hawkeye's joke I don't understand--Pioneer Aviation doesn't exist. Wouldn't that mean it was impossible for Frank to lose his money? Wouldn't his stockbroker(s) still have Frank's money on hand? But in the final scene with Frank and Hot Lips, you get the impression Frank has lost all his investments.

Favorite Line: When Frank exclaims like a kid upon hearing he's richer, Trapper deadpans, "They're sending him his Captain Midnight ring."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Episode 46 - George

Season 1, Episode 46: George
Original Air Date: 2/16/74
Written by:
John Regier and Gary Markowitz
Directed by: Gene Reynolds

Amid the wounded that have just arrived, one of them is covered in bruises. Hawkeye worries, realizing those aren't the kind of bruises one gets in combat.

While Henry and Frank argue over whether a patient should get a week's R&R in Tokyo (Henry pro, Frank con, of course), Hawkeye's patient--a quiet guy named George--asks if he can talk to Hawkeye privately.

George wants to discharged as soon as possible and get back to his unit. Hawkeye tries to dissuade him, but George insists he wants to go back to combat. When pressed, George admits why: he says that two guys got beat up in his unit--"One colored, and one homosexual."

George insists that its important to him--now more than ever--that he return to his unit and finish his tour of duty. Hawkeye reluctantly agrees.

Later, Frank comes back to The Swamp, acting coy about something "Very interesting" that he's learned about a certain person. He tells that them Pvt. Weston is "One of those in camp", which gives Frank the willies.

Frank insists Weston is a pervert and a creampuff, even though Weston asked--demanded--to return to combat, and has been wounded in the line of duty four times.

He then has Weston moved off of his surgical schedule, and tells Hot Lips why. They both prepare to bring Weston up on charges, so Hawkeye and Trapper prepare a plan to thwart Frank.

They pretend to have an argument in The Swamp, with Trapper now saying he agrees with Frank about Weston. Frank is happy to have support, and they confide in one another, with Trapper--after Hawkeye's prodding--telling him that he cheated on his medical exams.

Frank, forgetting himself, admits he did, too. This enrages Hawkeye, who basically trade blackmail for blackmail, saying if Frank goes ahead with the paperwork on Weston, Hawkeye will report that Frank cheated on his exams.

When Frank looks for comfort from Trapper, Trapper says he was just kidding. Frank, feeling trapped, tears up the paperwork, defeated.

Fun Facts: Had the phrase been around at the time, this episode could've been called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

An amazingly progressive episode, especially when you think of when it aired, "George" manages to presage almost all the arguments about homosexuality--both in and out of the military--that are currently debated nowadays. Frank insists George, because he's gay, is a "creampuff", yet he's a brave combat soldier, something of course Frank could never be.

In the scene with Hot Lips, Hawkeye explains that Frank's pulse "Does the cha-cha" every time he's around Weston. Frank snaps, "What's that supposed to mean?!", hinting at the idea that anyone so rabidly anti-gay must have some deep-seated issue about homosexuality, independent of political ideology.

After Frank storms out of The Swamp, saying he's going to report Weston, Hawkeye talks to the picture of Frank's mother, saying that he's sorry to report that her son "Suffers from terminal righteousness." He bites off the olive on the toothpick in his martini with a snap, and his face contorts into a look of utter disgust. In this moment, at least, he absolutely hates Frank Burns.

Favorite Line: When Frank walks into The Swamp and acts all coy about "Knowing something about a certain person", Hawkeye asks "Is this person a well-stacked US Army Major nurse, who's bigger than a breadbox and you're seeing on the side?"

Frank, forgetting himself for a moment, answers just as coyly, "No...", then he catches himself, offended: "No!"

Again, not a line that reads funny, but Larry Linville's reading of it is priceless.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Episode 45 - Crisis

Season 2, Episode 45: Crisis
Original Air Date: 2/9/74
Written by:
Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: Don Weis

Henry calls a meeting of the senior staff, to announce a major crisis: the 4077th's supply line has been cut, meaning the unit won't be receiving virtually any of the basic materials they need--fruit, vegetables, fuel oil, bandages, toilet paper, electrical parts, no mail call, no winter clothing, not even shuttlecocks!

HQ promises there won't be any wounded either, but of course they're wrong, and the wounded start arriving in droves. To conserve materials so they have them for the wounded, Henry, Radar, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy all have to sleep in The Swamp.

Its crowded, but everyone gets along, but even more wounded stream in in the middle of the night. Afterwards, Henry tries to stress to HQ how desperate the 4077th is getting--everything not nailed down is getting burned for heat, and we see an example of that: Henry's desk is getting closer and closer to the ground, his office getting emptier and emptier.

The next night, they all bunk out in Henry's tent, since its smaller and requires less heat. Again, overall good cheer presides, at least until they discover Frank is wearing heated socks, and refuses to share!

They try and pull them right off Frank's feet, causing chaos in Henry's tent. But this tomfoolery is interrupted by more wounded!

During surgery, Radar shows up to announce that a supply truck has just arrived, filled with everything the 4077th needs. The crisis has ended.

Later, Henry thanks HQ, from inside his completely empty office.

Fun Facts: This episode features another instance of Frank, who is always so gung ho and patriotic, thinking only of himself, in this instance wasting and hoarding precious electrical power.

Favorite Line: During the meeting in Henry's office, Hawkeye is last to enter, and as he bursts in, he yells "Ten hutt!", causing everyone to rise to attention.

Everyone except, if you look close, Trapper, who of course is familiar with Hawkeye's pranks. When Henry admonishes Hawkeye for goofing around, Trapper, mostly off-screen, lets out a huge belly laugh.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Episode 44 - As You Were

Season 2, Episode 44: As You Were
Original Air Date: 2/2/74
Written by:
Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: Hy Averback

Without any wounded, the 4077th is bored, bored, bored!

Radar plays the same song over and over again in the O Club, Henry tries to get a tan, and Frank decides to organize and measure all the condiments on the Mess Tent tables.

Hawkeye and Trapper are of course also bored, and they play a practical joke on Frank, who finds himself waking up inside a giant crate, which causes him to not want to turn to the doctors when his hernia flares up.

Finally, Hot Lips convinces Frank to turn to them for the surgery, and neither of them are reassured when they find Hawkeye and Trapper playing cards in ape suits, which just came in the mail.

Hawkeye and Trapper do a medical consult, still in the ape suits, and agree to perform the surgery. But later, just as they're about to put Frank under, wounded arrive!

Frank is able to operate, until he strangulates his hernia causing him immense pain. None of the doctors have the time to work on Frank, so Hawkeye puts him in traction to help alleviate his pain.

Wounded keep coming, and bombs begin to fall all around the 4077th. As Radar tries to get the shelling moved, Frank's hernia gets worse, and Hawkeye does the operation.

The surgery goes fine, the shelling stops, and later in the O Club, Hawkeye is back in his ape suit, "putting the moves" on Henry.

Fun Facts: In the scene where Trapper and Hawkeye discuss whose going to work on Frank, Trapper says he isn't scrubbed, can Hawkeye do it?

Hawkeye agrees, and says: "Yeah, ok--George! Do you wanna, you wanna take over for me?", stuttering over the line.

This line always makes me laugh, because, A)Who the hell is George? Another surgeon we've never met? and B)Its the rare moment where it sounds like Alan Alda flubs a line.

My girlfriend
(another huge M*A*S*H fan) and I always say its because, deep down, Alda knew it was a cheesy, deus ex machina line, and even the great Alan Alda couldn't quite sell it. We never get to see who this mysterious surgeon is, and he's never mentioned again.

Favorite Line: When Frank feels around and realizes he's been "crated", he exclaims: "I'm boxed in!" to which Trapper replies, avoiding the subject: "We all feel that way at times, Frank."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Episode 43 - The Chosen People

Season 2, Episode 43: The Chosen People
Original Air Date: 1/26/74
Written by: Laurence Marks & Sheldon Keller & Larry Gelbart
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

A Korean family moves in at the 4077th, stating that this is their land, and the 4077th is trespassing. They start building a house, right there on the compound.

One of them is a young woman with a baby, who says the father's address is M*A*S*H 4077. Henry assumes (naturally) its "Pierce, and/or McIntyre", but she surprises everyone when she claims Radar is the father!

Henry asks a visiting Captain Pak for help, but he can't convince the villagers to leave. Henry then tries to get help from HQ's Civilian Affairs department, and asks them to send someone.

In the meantime, no one can believe Radar is the father, which gets him mad. He denies being the father, yet he starts acting like one, spending time with the mother and doting on the child. Hawkeye and Trapper take a blood test to get an answer once and for all.

Finally, a Lt. Harper (Dennis Robertson) arrives, to investigate the paternity suit, and sends Radar out of the room. Moments later, Hawkeye and Trapper show up with the results, proving Radar isn't the father.

Capt. Pak talks to the young girl some more, and she admits that the real father left her, and she's been ostracized by her family. Radar was kind to her, so she thanked him by making him the father.

Radar then bursts in, telling a tall tale about how he is the father, but they show him the blood test.

Outside, Frank is shoving all the Korean villagers into a truck, sending them further south to be with other refugees. They offer to take the young girl and her baby with them, so she now has a family.

Hawkeye asks Radar why he lied, and he admit he liked the way everyone treated him when they thought he did the kind of thing that could have made him the father. He admits, indirectly, that he's a virgin, and he worries he'll always be one. Hawkeye reassures him, which makes Radar feel better.

Fun Facts: This is the second, and last, appearance of Pat Morita as Capt. Sam Pak. He was very funny in the part, and fit in well with the gang, its a shame he didn't make more appearances.

There's a funny and unusual scene with Frank where he takes it upon himself to talk to HQ, and he's so chummy with the guy on the other end of the line that the guy makes some sort of verbal "pass" at Frank, which sends Frank into a tizzy, feeling the need to reaffirm his heterosexuality.

Favorite Line: The scene between Hawkeye and Radar when they talk about Radar lying about his "experience" is very sweet. Hawkeye tries to reassure him someday the moment will come, and Radar asks "You think?"

Hawkeye responds with a kind of shruggy affirmative yes, underlining the confidence he has in Radar. Its a very sweet moment, one totally because of Alda's perfect delivery.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Episode 42 - Operation Noselift

Season 2, Episode 42: Operation Noselift
Original Air Date: 1/19/74
Written by: Erik Tarloff
Directed by: Hy Averback

Henry is being driven nuts by the antics of one Pvt. Baker (Todd Susman), who is constantly trying to go AWOL.

When he is caught again, Henry sends Baker to Father Mulcahy for counseling. While talking to Mulcahy, Baker confesses what the problem is...and its his nose. Baker has a giant one, and he desperately wants cosmetic surgery to fix it, but he keeps getting turned down by HQ.

Mulcahy takes him to Hawkeye and Trapper, and Baker's desperation gets to them, and they volunteer to help him out. But since they're not specialists, they call in an old friend of Hawkeye's, a cosmetic surgeon to the stars, Major Stanley Robbins (Stuart Margolin). He initially refuses to come, but when Hawkeye promises him a night with a nurse he calls "The Barracuda", the way over-sexed Robbins hops in a jeep.

Henry approves of all this, but wants to kept in the dark. Hawkeye and Trapper get Robbins and Baker to talk, and he picks a nose(!) out a book of choices. They then begin "Operation Noselift."

It involves distracting Frank and Hot Lips, and then pretending that Radar has had his nose broken by an errant baseball--luckily world famous cosmetic surgeon Stanley Robbins just happens to be in camp!

Baker pretends to leave camp, and sneaks back in undetected. He makes his way to O.R., but Robbins is nowhere to be seen: he's busy making unwanted advances towards Hot Lips!

Hawkeye rescues Hot Lips, and gets Robbins to the task at hand. He performs the surgery, just as Frank notices that Radar seems to be fine. They demand to know who the surgery, which is against regulations, was on. They are sure they'll find out, since surgery on the nose can't be hidden.

Except...when they make it onto the compound, they see that everyone in camp, even the 4077th's camp mutt, is wearing bandages on their nose. Hawkeye and Trapper give them oh-so-innocent looks, and wander off.

As Robbins prepares to leave, he thanks Hawkeye for introducing him to The Barracuda. It then dawns on the doctors that there really is a Barracuda, and they interrogate a group of nurses trying to find out who The Barracuda is!

Fun Facts: Henry mentions that the camp had The Thing and The Blob in one week. Not that that wouldn't have made an awesome double-feature, but unfortunately The Blob wasn't released until 1958.

Stuart Margolin makes his second appearance on M*A*S*H, but as a different character. His character is such a lothario, that he pretty much sexually attacks Hot Lips, even after he begins to scream.

The scene with the two of them is just this side of disturbing, since Robbins is practically trying to rape Hot Lips, yet the scene is played for laughs. The only reason the whole sequence isn't just horribly offensive is that we've seen how tough Hot Lips is, so we can guess she'd really deck Robbins one if it got to that point. Still, kind of a creepy scene.

A much funnier scene is in Henry's office, when Hawkeye and Trapper are calling Major Robbins. Hawkeye has all the dialogue, but in the background we see Trapper playing with the little Japanese doll prop seen on Henry's desk in a couple of previous episodes. Not saying a word, he accidentally breaks it in two.

Trapper, partly panicked, stuffs the pieces into a small box on Henry's desk, and then they leave the office. A few scenes later, after Robbins arrives, Henry angrily yells across the camp, demanding to know who broke his doll--a great follow-up to a scene that looked and felt like an ad-lib.

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye and Trapper tell Nurse Mitchell (Patricia Stevens) to keep quiet about Baker's surgery, she deadpans: "I'll add it to the list."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Episode 41 - For Want Of A Boot

Season 2, Episode 41: For Want Of A Boot
Original Air Date: 1/12/74
Written by: Sheldon Keller
Directed by: Don Weis

Hawkeye is in desperate need of a new boot, the old one has a giant hole in the bottom of it, and with the brutal winter weather, its unbearable.

Hawkeye and Trapper decide to lean on the Supply Sergeant Zale (Johnny Haymer), who did order the new boots but can't explain why they haven't come in yet. Hawkeye complains, but Zale says he has it worse--he is in need of a bridge.

Hawkeye hits upon the idea that if he can get the camp dentist to fix Zale's tooth, will Zale expedite the boot order? Zale agrees, so Hawkeye go to see Dr. Futterman (Michael Lerner), who says he doesn't have the time for "cosmetic work." Futterman also mentions that he desperately wants to have some R&R in Tokyo.

The doctors then turn to Henry, trying to get Futterman a pass, which will get him to work on Zale, which will get Zale to order the boots...

This series of deals keeps escalating, eventually involving Radar needing a date, Klinger getting his Section 8 papers signed, which Hawkeye and Trapper hope they can get from Frank, after they butter him up with a big fancy birthday party (with presents!).

Everything falls into place, until Frank flatly refuses to sign Klinger's papers, which causes the whole house of cards to collapse. It ends with Hawkeye cursing the fates, screaming about how he debased himself just to get a lousy new boot.

Later, we see Hawkeye still waiting for his boots, using a golf bag as a temporary replacement. Fore!

Fun Facts: This episode features the first appearance of Sgt. Zale, played by actor Johnny Haymer.

This is the last mention of the 4077th having any sort of dentist on staff.

This is a generally silly (though still funny) episode, but the final scene with Hawkeye and Trapper heading off to eat, is sort of melancholy, a nice counterpoint to the rest of the episode.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and Trapper discuss how they'd be willing to bribe the powers that be to end the war, offering as much as $20.

Trapper: "I'd even be willing to go to $25...but don't tell them that in the beginning."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Episode 40 - Henry In Love

Season 2, Episode 40: Henry in Love
Original Air Date: 1/5/74
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: Don Weis

After a week in Tokyo, Henry returns with exciting news: he's in love!

Hawkeye and Trapper are dubious, and even more so when they see her picture, and see how young she is. But Henry is insistent, and worries what he's going to tell his wife Lorraine.

Hawkeye and Trapper tell him to let it go, but they get a better idea how serious he is when he tells them that the girl in question--a Miss Nancy Sue Parker--is coming to visit the 4077th!

Henry then begins to prepare for her visit, working out strenuously, dying his hair, and getting Radar to spiff up the V.I.P. tent. Hawkeye and Trapper continue to mock the whole thing, which irritates Henry. Radar, for his part, seems determined to keep reminding Henry about his wife back home.

Once Nancy Sue (Kathrine Baumann) arrives, Hawkeye and Trapper see what all the fuss is about--Nancy Sue is a well-built, bubbly cheerleader of a gal, who acts like she worships Henry and is very flirty with everyone she meets.

That night, they all meet up at the Officers Club, and everyone notices Nancy Sue. Frank and Hot Lips disapprove ("A married man fooling around with another woman!", Frank snorts), but are tersely polite to her.

After performing one of cheerleading routines, right there in the middle of the club, a patient of Hawkeye and Trapper's needs some medical assistance, but Henry steps in because Hawkeye has been drinking.

Hawkeye walks Nancy Sue home, and she goes from flirty to seductive, planting a big deep kiss on Hawkeye in her tent. Hawkeye, uncomfortable, breaks it off, and reminds her why she's here.

He meets up with Trapper, and tells him what happened. Trapper says Henry is on the phone with his wife, which causes them to run--not walk--into Henry's office.

But when they get there, they're relieved to see that Henry isn't breaking up with his wife. In fact, he's being a dutiful husband, agreeing to balance his wife's check book, even though he's on the other side of the world.

Radar steps in to say good night, and Henry points out that his wife was happy he called: "Which makes me wish I had."

Henry thanks Radar by saying that, tomorrow morning, they'll sleep in for fifteen minutes. Radar, all smiles, agrees.

The next day, Nancy Sue leaves, and Henry is polite but distant. As they all watch her drive off, Henry admits that, even though he couldn't wait for her to come, now he's glad she's gone.

Fun Facts: M*A*S*H was on an extraordinary streak of hot shows in the second season--nearly every episode around this point are classics, with virtually any extended dialogue scene between Henry, Hawkeye, and Trapper featuring a overload of killer jokes and quotable lines.

Actress Katharine Baumann later guest-starred on two episodes of Trapper John, M.D.--unfortunately not playing the same character!

Favorite Line: When Henry and Trapper are operating, Henry is going on and on about Nancy Sue, and even offers that even his wife Lorraine would probably like her.

Trapper, stunned, says: "Henry, step away from the ether."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Episode 39 - Officers Only

Season 2, Episode 39: Officers Only
Original Air Date: 12/22/73
Written by: Ed Jurist
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

During a session in O.R., Hawkeye and Trapper end up working on a Pvt. Mitchell, who is the son of Gen. Mitchell.

After he pulls through, Gen. Mitchell visits the 4077th andd wants to thank the doctors for their excellent work. They settle on three nights in Tokyo, and the doctors take off for their adventure.

While they're going, reports of their escapades make it back to the 4077th--sending a box of pipe cleaners to MacArthur's table in the grand dining room of the hotel, rickshaw races in the lobby, and the absconding of half the graduating class of a pearl-diving school.

When they return, Frank shows off another nice treat courtesy of the General--a pre-fab Officer's Club, complete with tables, a jukebox, a piano, and a (semi)stocked bar. They like it, but are less happy when Frank insists its just what its called--an officers club: no enlisted men allowed.

The enlisted take offense, and Radar in particular freezes out Hawkeye and Trapper, going so far as to bifurcating the Mess Tent's tables. They ask Henry to make it open to everyone, but he's not much help. But he does agree that if they can get other officers to agree to it, then the club will be open to everyone.

At the opening night of the club, they try and get Frank and Hot Lips to sign the form, but of course they say no.

Later, Gen. Mitchell arrives, and his son also shows up, on crutches. Hawkeye points out the club is officers only, but suggests to Gen. Mitchell that a special allowance be made for relatives. Mitchell agrees, which leads Hawkeye to invite all his relatives in: his son Radar, his daughter Klinger, his cousin Phil, his brother-in-law Leroy...

Fun Facts: In a scene in Henry's tent, we can see he's reading a (presumably) smutty paperback titled Special Nurse. A nice touch by the prop department.

As you could guess, this is the debut of the Officers Club, a set that would house many a scene in future episodes.

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye and Trapper are negotiating with Gen. Mitchell, Hawkeye immediately understands what Mitchell means when he says "Name it."

Mitchell, impressed, says: "The Captain is very good at catching my drfit."

Hawkeye: "I played Left Drift in high school."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Episode 38 - Hot Lips and Empty Arms

Season 2, Episode 38: Hot Lips and Empty Arms
Original Air Date: 12/15/73
Written by: Linda Bloodworth & Mary Kay Place
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

Hot Lips gets a letter from an old friend, Tricia Spaulding, telling her that She is getting married--to a man Hot Lips turned down.

Also in mail call, Frank gets a letter from his stockbroker, telling him his stocks--all from arms manufacturers--are going up, and Henry gets a film in the mail from the Tobasco Film Company of Havana, Cuba, which he is very excited about!

Hot Lips seems testy during O.R., and she's testy again with Frank when they're alone. Frank asks her why, and Hot Lips breaks down, saying she's deeply unhappy with the life she has, especially compared to the life she could've had with the doctor she turned down.

Hot Lips storms into Henry's office, into the middle of Henry, Hawkeye, and Trapper watching a girlie movie. She goes through her list of complaints, and demands a transfer. Henry tries to talk her out of it, but she's insistent.

Henry agrees to give her the transfer papers, but says they'll all keep mum until the transfer is complete. But Radar ruins it when he announces her departure over the P.A.

Later that night, as a goodwill gesture, Hawkeye and Trapper bring some booze to Hot Lips' tent, and she tells them she's writing a detailed report all about their behavior.

She then visits Frank in The Swamp, breaking up with him. She drinks some more, and starts to act tipsy. After that, she makes her way to Henry's office, where she drinks some more.

By this point, Hot Lips is hammered, and Henry tries to talk her out of leaving again. Radar then tells Henry that wounded are due soon, and he gives Hawkeye and Trapper the task of sobering her up.

They pour water over her in the showers, pouring coffee down her throat, and in her stupor she lets it be known she has a thing for Trapper!

She sobers up enough to help out in O.R., and she thanks Hawkeye and Trapper for helping her out, and keeping quiet about it. As she works through her hangover, she decides not to leave the 4077th.

Frank gets mad when Trapper acts romantic towards Hot Lips, and Hawkeye mocks Frank for doing so. Henry and Radar see this, and are happy all the children are together again.

Fun Facts: For whatever reason, I always curious as to what kind of girlie movie the doctors were watching. Hot Lips says its "disgusting", but how bad could it have been? This was 1951, after all...

Favorite Line: When Hot Lips storms into Henry's office, she calls Henry "A spineless, mealy-mouthed, fly-fishing imposter." Trapper responds with "He's not an imposter!", and Hawkeye adds, "Right--he's a genuine spineless, mealy-mouthed, fly-fisherman."

Henry begins to laugh, and says appreciatively "Pierce, you're the limit." There's something about McLean Stevenson's delivery that makes me laugh every time--you really feel the warmth Henry felt for Hawkeye and Trapper.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Episode 37 - Deal Me Out

Season 2, Episode 37: Deal Me Out
Original Air Date: 12/8/73
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: Gene Reynolds

The 4077th is visited by Major Sidney Freedman and Capt. Sam Pak (Pat Morita), who are here for an important conference: an all-night poker game in The Swamp!

As Hawkeye, Trapper, Henry, Sidney, Sam, and Klinger ante up, all sorts of mayhem breaks loose in the camp--Radar hits a local with his jeep, and a wounded CID man arrives, but Frank refuses to operate on him because regulations say another CID man must be present, in case the wounded man reveals classified information.

The game's players keep changing, as Henry, Hawkeye, and Trapper keep going in and out to deal with what's going on.

The second CID man, Capt. Halloran (Edward Winter) arrives, but Hawkeye and Trapper have gone ahead with the surgery. Once they assure him the CID man never uttered a word, Halloran is annoyed at Frank for having him drive all the way up to the 4077th for nothing. He ends up joining the game, driving Frank to storm out in frustration.

Later, another one of Frank's patients, an unstable Private named Carter (John Ritter) refuses to go back to the fighting, and takes Frank hostage in the showers!

While Sidney tries to talk Carter down, Trapper sneaks in from the back and gets the gun away from him. Sidney escorts Carter out, talking calmly to him.

Later, the guy Radar hit with his jeep--the famous "Whiplash Wang"--demands money, so everyone in the game antes up a few bucks to give to Radar. Radar pays him off, only to "hit" him again a few minutes later with an ambulance!

Acting like he's been injured again, Hawkeye and Trapper drag him back to Post Op.

Later, early in the morning, everyone is barely awake, having played poker all night. They all want to go to sleep, but groggily deal another hand.

Fun Facts: This is one of my all-time favorite episodes: every scene with the poker game has the flow and feel of an old-time radio show, with the jokes flying fast and furious.

This is the first episode featuring Pat Morita as Captain Pak, and while this is Sidney Freedman's second appearance, its his first as part of the gang. This slight adaptation of the character would turn into a major addition for the show.

Speaking of additions, this is the first appearance of actor Edward Winter, playing a character very similar to Col. Flagg, who Winter would play the next time he guest-starred on the show. Of course, given Flagg's penchant for using fake I.D.s, this could be Flagg pretending to be someone named Capt. Halloran!

There's a great little character moment in the scene where Pvt. Carter is taken away: Hawkeye and Trapper are talking to Frank, and Hawkeye is handed Carter's gun. Hawkeye holds it between two fingers, as if it was maggot-ridden, and drops it on a nearby shelf, his face contorted into a look of disgust. Hawkeye's deep, deep hatred of guns would be returned to in later episodes, but you get to see a glimpse of it here, as part of the background of a scene.

Favorite Line: Henry fiddles with his chips while staring at his cards, so Sidney suggests: "Fondling your chips is very infantile."

Henry, without even looking up from his cards, responds: "Not now, Sidney."

I realize that's not that funny a line just reading it, but McLean Stevenson's delivery is perfect, and you get a good sense how chummy all these guys are with one another.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Episode 36 - The Incubator

Season 2, Episode 36: The Incubator
Original Air Date: 12/1/73
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

Hawkeye and Trapper are frequently stymied in treating patients by the 4077th's lack of an incubator. They lose valuable time sending samples all the way to Seoul, so they set out to see if they can get one.

Their request brings a visit from Captain Sloan (Eldon Quick), who is from Supply. After offering them a jukebox and pizza oven, he turns down their request for an incubator.

Undeterred, they have Radar track some incubators down, and then head out to see if they can corral one themselves. They first meet a greedy Major, who has three incubators, but refuses to give any of them up, in the fear one might break, and then he'd only have two.

They move onto the Major's CO, Col. Lambert (Logan Ramsey), who says he'll give them an incubator...for a $627.00, cost. What an offer!

They keep moving up the chain of command, ending with Gen. Mitchell, who is in the middle of a press conference. Hawkeye and Trapper sneak into the group of reporters, and ask why field hospitals aren't equipped with incubators.

Mitchell won't answer, which causes a stir among the reporters, who begin to wonder if the Army is involved in germ warfare. The press conference becomes a free-for-all, and the doctors are escorted out by MPs.

Later, back at the 4077th, Henry admonishes Hawkeye and Trapper for violating of articles 13-27 of Army conduct, with a repeat on 26! The doctors fess up, and are unofficially put under arrest.

As they leave, they are delighted to see Radar has something for them--an incubator! How did he do it, they ask?

Turns out Radar traded in Henry's newly-requisitioned barbecue grill to get it, so Radar asks if the incubator can cook Henry's steak rare.

Fun Facts:
During OR, Henry tries to warn the doctors that they might meet a lot of resistance in their search for an incubator, and warns them not to show up "Looking like a couple of freelance abortionists." Wow, that's a hell of a line...

Favorite Line: During the press conference, Gen. Mitchell exclaims: "Now hold on, this is a press conference! The last thing I want to do is answer a lot of questions!"

The more things change...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Episode 35 - Carry On, Hawkeye

Season 2, Episode 35: Carry On, Hawkeye
Original Air Date: 11/24/73
Written by: Bernard Dilbert, Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

Almost the entire staff of the 4077th is sick with the flu, including Trapper and Henry.

Wounded arrive, so there's only Hawkeye and Frank, but the flu eventually claims Frank, too, leaving Hawkeye all alone. Wounded keep arriving, and in the few moments he has, Hawkeye keeps calling HQ to try and get them to send help, but they are no help.

Hot Lips insists on taking command of the camp, and people like Radar and Father Mulcahy are drafted into assisting with nursing duties, making the sessions in OR a shambles.

HQ then sends a serum to prevent the flu, and Hawkeye and Hot Lips give it to each other (Hawkeye insisting he get his in his back side, embarrassing both Hot Lips and Radar). After getting it, Hawkeye promptly gets the flu. But being the only doctor in camp, he can't let himself be out of the game, so he continues working.

After one more grueling session in OR, Trapper, Henry, and Frank are back to normal, where they can tend to Hawkeye, now sick in bed, with the help of Dr. O'Reilly.

Fun Facts:
There's a portion of the show that was always clipped out in the syndicated version, where Hot Lips comes to The Swamp to get Frank's Bible. She insists she is in command, and Hawkeye agrees.

But then Hot Lips keeps arguing, restating she's in charge, and Hawkeye can't believe she "Won't take 'Yes' for an answer." Its a great little insight to the mind of someone like Hot Lips, who simply can't fathom that someone wouldn't want to be in charge, if given the chance.

Favorite Line: In the scene described above, after Hot Lips asks where Frank's Bible is, Hawkeye points to a shelf, saying its "Underneath the catalog from the Japanese sex shop."

After Hot Lips protests, he adds: "You'll find a page creased in the Inflatable section." Zing!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Episode 34 - The Sniper

Season 2, Episode 34: The Sniper
Original Air Date: 11/17/73
Written by: Richard M. Powell
Directed by: Jackie Cooper

All seems normal at the 4077th--Hawkeye has a picnic date with a new nurse, Lt. Marquette (Teri Garr!), Trapper, sick with a cold, washes his socks, and Frank and Hot Lips are out in the hills doing target practice.

As Hawkeye leans in for a kiss with Lt. Marquette, a shot is fired, nearly hitting them. Hawkeye tells her to stay down while he runs after Frank, assuming it was his gun. Frank says he hasn't fired yet, but Hawkeye doesn't believe him.

He changes his mind however when more bullets start to fly--all over the camp, causing everyone to run for cover. Henry and Radar are stranded in the shower.

Henry "volunteers" Radar to run to the office and call for help, but a series of shots has him running all over the compound, driving him back into the showers.

With Henry stuck in the showers, Frank takes charge, sort of. No one listens to him, so all the decisions end up being made by Hawkeye. Trapper calls HQ for help, but they are told they're on their own until tomorrow.

To make matters worse, casualties arrive. How are they going to get the wounded inside without being shot?

Hawkeye says the only solution is to surrender, a suggestion Frank and Hot Lips rail against. But Henry ends up agreeing with Hawkeye, since more wounded are planned to arrive. Hawkeye and Trapper out with a white flag.

While waving it, they get the wounded inside. But the sniper starts firing again, and knocks out the 4077th's generator.

Without power, they perform surgery, and try and round up enough food and water for them all.

At night, Hawkeye continues to schmooze Lt. Marquette, and Hot Lips strongly suggests that if the 4077th had a "real man", he would go out and do something about the sniper.

Later, Hawkeye goes to get Frank, and notices he's gone. He goes outside looking for him, only to find Frank sitting in a corner, petrified.

Then both of them hear a noise. Thinking its the sniper, Hawkeye talks Frank into following him into the Mess Tent in attempt to catch him.

The plan works, except its not the sniper--its Radar, who is so hungry he was willing to risk his life for a Ketchup on Rye ("With butter and lettuce!", Radar adds).

The next morning, a chopper arrives, and a sharpshooter fires at the sniper with a hail of bullets. Hawkeye volunteers to go look for him, and finds the sniper--practically a kid--lying wounded in the brush.

Later, we learn that the sniper was separated from his unit, and he was cold and hungry, half out of his mind. He thought the 4077th was MacArthur's headquarters, leading Hawkeye and Trapper to dress up a sleeping Frank with sunglasses and a corncob pipe so they'll have a MacArthur to pay him a bedside visit.

Fun Facts: During Radar's scene being shot at, just as he reaches the Shower Tent, he drops his towel, and for a half-second you see his naked butt. How did the censors let that one by?

After the last of the wounded are brought in, the sniper fire starts again. Hawkeye begins to grab the door to the office and close it, and off-screen you hear Trapper yell "Hold it! Hold it! Hold it!" so its not closed before he gets in.

The tone of Wayne Rogers voice, and the fact that Hawkeye would not purposely do that to Trapper, makes me think this was a mistake on Alda's part, and Rogers just ad-libbed and went with it.

Favorite Line: Henry, mulling over whether to surrender: "Look, I can't surrender without orders. They emphasized that to me particularly, I don't know exactly why. But the guy said: 'Blake, never surrender without checking.'"

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Episode 33 - Dear Dad...Three

Season 2, Episode 33: Dear Dad...Three
Original Air Date: 11/10/73
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: Don Weis

Hawkeye writes another letter home to his Dad. This time, the problem is boredom...without lots of wounded to care for, there's nothing to do at the 4077th. Trapper is so bored he's playing cards with Frank (which quickly breaks down into a screaming match).

A few patients do require extra attention--one is Pvt. Condon (Mills Watson) who, when he sees Nurse Bayliss retrieving a pint of blood, asks Hawkeye to make sure he "Doesn't get any of that darkie stuff."

Another is a wounded solider who arrives in Pre-Op with an unexploded grenade embedded inside him. Surrounded by sandbags, Hawkeye and Henry pry it out.

Hawkeye and Trapper decided to pull a prank on Condon. While he is sedated, they paint him with some sort solution that temporarily paints his skin a few shades darker.

In the meantime, Hawkeye and Trapper watch a home movie of Henry's in his office, and we get our only glimpse of what Henry's life was like back home. We see his wife Lorraine throw a birthday party for his daughter Molly, ending with them holding up signs saying they miss him.

Everyone gets choked up, but the tears are changed to laughter when another piece of film shows up: Henry goofing around with his diminutive neighbor, Milt Jaffee, and romancing Jaffee's curvy wife Sylvia, silent film-style. They enjoy it all so much they decide to watch it all over again.

Later, Condon wakes up, and is upset at what he sees. He asks Lt. Bayliss about it, and she assures him that she won't give away his attempt at "passing." To make matters worse, Klinger comes by, and when asked if Condon seems different, Klinger asks "Are you sure you the right color blood? ...Its happened before."

The surgical staff has a monthly meeting, which quickly dissolves into a shambles once they Hawkeye and Trapper make fun of Frank's middle name, Marion. Frank and Hot Lips have an argument, which just as quickly turns into a moment of passion.

Later, in Post Op, Condon flags down Hawkeye and Trapper, angry about his change of skin color. They act incredulous, asking isn't skin all the same? Then they ask him if he's ever heard of Dr. Charles Drew.

Dr. Drew invented the process for separating blood so it can be stored--plasma. He was later in a car accident, but he bled to death: the hospital wouldn't let him in--it was for White's Only.

Later, during a party in The Swamp, Condon arrives, ready to ship out. He thanks Hawkeye for "Giving him a lot to think about", and takes a moment to salute Lt. Bayliss.

Hawkeye ends his letter on a happy note.

Fun Facts: During O.R., when Radar tells Henry about the patient with the grenade, Henry speaks to someone off screen and says "Collins, you take over here." Who is Collins, exactly? Another doctor we've never seen?

Lorraine Blake is played by Kathleen Hughes, who appeared in the classic It Came From Outer Space. Her memorable screaming scenes ended up turning her into the most famous icon from that movie.

The story about Dr. Drew bleeding to death because of a White's Only hospital is apocryphal--according to one of the people traveling with Drew during the accident, they received proper medical care, but Drew's injuries were just too severe.

Favorite Line: During Henry's home movie, he mentions that his next-door neighbor Milt Jaffee is a gynecologist. Trapper adds: "I hate to ask what's on the other side."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Episode 32 - The Trial of Henry Blake

Season 2, Episode 32: The Trial of Henry Blake
Original Air Date: 11/3/73
Written by: McLean Stevenson
Directed by: Don Weis

Henry and Radar, dressed up, leave on a trip to HQ, but don't say why. Meanwhile, Frank is walking around with a nasty grin on his face, and when Hawkeye and Trapper mouth off to him, he warns them that he might soon be in charge, so they better knock it off.

At HQ, we see why Henry and Radar are there--Henry is on trial, after charges were filed by Frank and Hot Lips. The trial is led by General Mitchell (Robert F. Simon).

Examples of Henry's supposed lack of leadership are shown, like when he was the announcer for a race involving doctors pushing nurses on gurneys. Or when he allowed Radar to hock Style-Rite wingtip shoes to everyone in camp. Or the time when, under Henry's command, Klinger almost went AWOL, via a hang-glider that he hoped would sail him out of Korea.

Henry doesn't deny these events, but says it doesn't mean the 4077th isn't doing its duty.

Gen. Mitchell is unimpressed, and places Henry under arrest. He tells Henry that he should have Cpl. O'Reilly head back to camp to collect material to defend Henry against the most serious of the charges--providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

Radar makes it back, and tells Hawkeye and Trapper what's happened. They plan to prepare a defense, but Frank has them arrested, and placed in a tent with just their boxer shorts on.

They get Klinger to drug the M.P. guarding them, allowing them to escape and head off to HQ.

In the meantime, Henry is accused of providing supplies to Meg Craddy, a nurse who lives and operates deep inside North Korea, but who doesn't ask people's politics when they need help. Henry, again, doesn't deny the charges.

Gen. Mitchell asks Henry why he shouldn't be found guilty, and Henry simply offers "I was only trying to help."

Hawkeye, Trapper, and Radar arrive, along with Meg Craddy (Hope Summers). Nurse Craddy gives a forceful speech to Gen. Mitchell and the rest, and as an example has brought along a young pregnant woman, who is alive because of Henry Blake's generosity. She says Henry Blake is a good, decent man, who just wants to help, "Which is more than I can say for any of you high-priced bellhops."

Henry then makes a speech of his own, admitting he is guilty, but not of giving aid to the enemy: he tried to do the human thing, and help people in need. He says he didn't deprive the wounded kids of one thing.

Frank and Hot Lips also arrive, and refuse to drop the charges, even after Gen. Mitchell suggests there isn't much of a case. This leads Hawkeye to show Frank "some new evidence", which causes Frank to drop the charges.

They storm out, and Henry asks what this new evidence is. Its a note, which Radar reads aloud, to Mrs. Burns telling her the sad news of her husband, who is she so proud of, that he is frequently out of uniform...and with whom.

The trial is over, Henry is free, and they all return home. Later, Gen. Mitchell comes by to see the 4077th in person, and everyone is there, in formation...wearing Style-Rite wingtip shoes.

Fun Facts: This episode is entirely credited to McLean Stevenson, and he showed a real facility at writing the show--its a great story, with lots of laughs and a fair amount of drama, and the scene where Henry defends himself to Gen. Mitchell is a great mini-monologue.

This is the first of two appearances of Meg Craddy. She would return in the fourth season, but played by a different actress.

With the debut of General Mitchell, this is the show's fourth General character in less than two years. I guess the Army had a tough time keeping the top brass in place during the Korean conflict! Also, the final scene with Mitchell states he is seeing the camp for the first time, implying that, in some fashion, he has replaced General Clayton.

In the scene where Frank refuses to drop the charges, he goes on one of his faux-patriotic speeches, declaring that his family "Came to this country in 1927."

Wait a minute--1927? This episode is set around 1950, 1951, and Frank Burns is at least thirty years old. That means Frank wasn't even born in America! What's his country club going to think?

After Henry gives his "I was only trying to help" line, there's a close-up on Gen. Mitchell. The camera holds on him for an extra beat, in total silence, just before Hawkeye and Trapper burst in. Its a wonderful little dramatic moment, watching Gen. Mitchell think about what he's just heard.

The scene with Klinger flying over Korea offers what is the first--and I think only--special effects shot M*A*S*H ever had.

Favorite Line: In an episode full of funny lines, its Gen. Mitchell who to me gets the best line: after the trial is over, he says he'd invite them all to the Officers Club, but it doesn't open for another hour.

One of the General's subordinates offers up that he has the key, to which a delighted Mitchell replies: "Fox! Put yourself down for a Silver Star!"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Episode 31 - L.I.P.

Season 2, Episode 30: L.I.P.
Original Air Date: 10/27/73
Written by: Carl Kleinschmitt, Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: William Wiard

Hawkeye is busy trying to make time with a new nurse, Lt. Hoffman (Corrine Camacho). After the movie, they wander back to her tent, but she rebuffs him, offering him a handshake. Hawkeye looks at her hand in disbelief.

Back in The Swamp, Hawkeye is drowning his sorrows, when a Cpl. Walker comes by, asking for Hawkeye's help.

Walker has a "wife" (a Korean woman who would only sleep with him if they were married, so Walker had the cook perform the ceremony), and a baby. The baby is sick, and Hawkeye diagnoses it as colic.

Walker also tells him another problem he has--he's being shipped out in a few weeks, and he doesn't want to leave his wife and kid behind. He asks Hawkeye for help.

Hawkeye gets Henry involved, who warns Hawkeye that the Army takes forever to clear all the paperwork, and its a red-tape nightmare.

The next night, Hawkeye has another date with Lt. Hoffman, and he is smitten. She's flirty, talks about loves doing things outdoors, as well as golfing. Hawkeye's in love!

The next day, a Lt. Willis (Burt Young) from C.I.D. arrives to look into the Walker matter. He needs to talk to Hawkeye as well as Walker, and starts asking about Hawkeye's past.

This drags Hawkeye from another date with Lt. Hoffman, and he is none too happy about that. But he dutifully answers Willis' questions, and in so doing let's it slip that Walker and the woman have a baby. Willis flatly denies the marriage application on the spot.

Hawkeye makes apologies to Lt. Hoffman, asking to give him just a little more time. He and Trapper decide to frame Willis--they drug his drink, knocking him out. He wakes up covered in lipstick and women's undergarments, with Hawkeye and Trapper promising they took pictures.

Willis thinks they're bluffing, but he can't be sure. After suggesting they're going to make a case either way, Willis gives in to Hawkeye and Trapper, approves the marriage, and hot foots it out of the 4077th.

Hawkeye finally makes it back to Lt. Hoffman, and she asks him what kept him. He tells her about Walker, and his wife and baby. Hawkeye then wants to return to romance, but Hoffman keeps asking questions.

She finally asks, incredulously, "..and so you had to arrange for a marriage between one of or guys and a gook?"

Hawkeye, his romantic interest rapidly fading, tries to assuage her, but once she starts talking about "our people", Hawkeye pulls away. He then gives her a handshake, saying he wants the original one back. He tells her that, even with all her beauty and charm, "There are some pretty unappetizing ideas in there and I don't think I can take the mix."

Lt. Hoffman is incensed at this, and asks, "Is that all?" Hawkeye, while stealing back the bottle of wine he brought, says no, offering her a big fat raspberry as he leaves her tent.

Later, Walker and his "wife" are genuinely married by Father Mulcahy, with Klinger catching the bouquet.

Fun Facts: The final scene with Hawkeye and Lt. Hoffman has genuine tension, partly because you don't see it coming. But then when Lt. Hoffman says that one word, you react the same way Hawkeye does--one of shock.

The show gives Hawkeye the chance to tell off the racist Lt. Hoffman in very clear, crisp--yet funny--terms. I wish, when I've been faced with similar comments, I had had the guts and quick wits to say something similar.

There's a running gag in this episode about John Wayne movies that don't show up when they're supposed to, leaving the 4077th with just Bonzo movies to show over and over.

They also show The Thing That Ate The Bronx, which Henry says he could "Watch that every night." Sadly, there is no such movie, which is really too bad--it sounds like a lot of fun! (I hope Ray Harryhausen did the effects)

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye tells Walker he'll try to help out the marriage paperwork, he offers: "When it comes time for the circumcision, ask me, not the cook."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Episode 30 - Kim

Season 2, Episode 30: Kim
Original Air Date: 10/20/73
Written by: Marc Mandel, Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by: William Wiard

One of the wounded in surgery is an angel-faced five year old boy named Kim. They ask Radar if he's can track down his parents.

In the meantime, Hawkeye and Trapper try and care for the kid, including reading to him from a trashy paperback and giving him a jar of pickled onions.

As Trapper makes toy balloons for him (made from rubber gloves), he grows attached to the boy. Meanwhile, Henry talks to a local orphanage, making plans for them to take Kim if his parents can't be found.

Radar draws a blank on finding Kim's parents, and Trapper decides he can't stand the idea of Kim going to the orphanage. He writes his wife, asking her if she'd be willing to adopt Kim. He wonders whether its a mistake, but Hawkeye assures him, "How can it be a mistake giving a kid his life?"

In the meantime, they all spend time with Kim--Trapper teaches him magic tricks, Hawkeye takes him to the movies, Hot Lips reads to him, Klinger plays catch with him.

Finally, a letter from Trapper's wife arrives, and she's agreed to adopt Kim! Hawkeye, Trapper, and Father Mulcahy enjoy a celebratory cigar.

That same day, Frank and Hot Lips take Kim on a picnic, but they're so busy making moon-eyes at each other they don't notice Kim has wandered into a nearby mine field!

Trapper runs into the mine field to rescue him, but stops halfway when he realizes what's he's doing. Hot Lips yells at Kim, sitting on a rock, in Korean telling him not to move.

Hawkeye grabs the maps for the mine fields, and Henry directs Trapper through it. But halfway through, they realize its the wrong map--its a World War II surplus map!

Just as they find the right one, a chopper pilot arrives, and lowers a rope to Trapper, lifting him up, over to Kim. He scoops Kim up, and they are carried to safety.

As they celebrate, Sister Theresa unexpectedly shows up, along with Kim's mother, who showed up at the orphanage looking for her son. They embrace, and Kim leaves along with them.

Trapper stands in the road, watching the truck leave. He tries to make the best of it, suggesting back home, he'd be the kind of kid who crosses against the lights. Hawkeye offers him a drink, and they walk back to The Swamp.

Later, Radar tells them Kim will come back for visits, which makes both Hawkeye and Trapper feel better.

Fun Facts: This episode's a nice change of pace, in that its Trapper who takes center stage in the second and third acts. Offering to adopt the boy is such a generous, kind, loving act, its amazing that Frank and Hot Lips would continually brand him a moral degenerate.

There's a scene in the Mess Tent where Hawkeye and Trapper goof on Radar for how much food he's eating, and it goes on so long that it becomes pretty mean. Radar finally storms off, and I would have, too!

Hot Lips makes an attempt to learn--and then teach--Kim the Korean language, not English. Her knowledge of Korean would come in to play in several future episodes, which I always thought was a nice touch, especially in contrast to Frank, who always insisted on speaking English, in some weird form of patriotic protest.

Favorite Line:The book Hawkeye is reading to Kim has no cover, so you can't see what it is. There's an amazing, hard-boiled line from it: "Margo smiled at me, and four hundred angels sang 'You Made Me Wanna Do It', the Cole Porter arrangement. Then she came close, and I could smell her perfume. It made me want to leave my wife and children, and I'm not even married. 'Hi, gorgeous, I said, then somebody hit me with a piano and the floor came up and smothered me.'"

I assume that passage was written by the show, since its so over-the-top hard-boiled that it can't be from a real paperback. But if it is, I really wanna read that book!

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