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!"


Richard said...

This is one of those episodes I haven't seen since its first airing, so I may be off in paraphrasing it...but the bit I've always remembered is Meg Craddy bursting into the room with the young Korean mother and pointing to her while she says something like "I want you to see the work of Henry Blake!"

Also, Hawkeye protesting that if he's going to be arrested in his shorts he should be given a jockstrap displaying his insignia.

Anonymous said...

Radar wears service ribbons-yet in the Novaince Munitny and the one where he leaves Korea-he wears no ribbons at all....

Anonymous said...

Set an example, Burns and Houlihan, they are breaking army regulations when they arrested Hawkeye and Trap, who were going to defend Henry. It falls under interference of a trial and stripping them down to their boxers is cruel and unusual punishment.

Mike said...

The actor who plays the General's subordinate, named Fox at the end --- the guy with the key to the officer's club --- that actor is an extra in almost every MASH in the first few seasons. What is his name?????

Robert Gross said...

Really, Rob? Hands down the best line in the show is when they bring in a pregnant Korean peasant woman and Nurse Craddy declares "This is an example of the work of Henry Blake!"

Laugh out loud every time.

Anonymous said...

It might be helpful to some of your younger readers, Rob!, if you also mention that Hope Summers cut her teeth on shows like "The Rifleman," "Wagon Train" and "Dennis The Menace." But most folks would recognize her as Clara Edwards from "The Andy Griffith Show."

mark said...

Moral for Frank and Margaret: If you want to play fink, more than one can play that game! Interesting they never tried anything like that on Potter - he put and kept them in their places much better than Henry ever did.

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