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."


Rob As Well said...

I am right with you on the creepiness of the scene with Maj. Stanley Robinson. With such progressive episodes such as "George" and others, I can't believe this kind of stuff was allowed to make it out of the initial discussion phase. This actor's previous character was pretty much a sleazebag too.

Additionally, can we talk about the horrendous prosthetic nose that poor Pvt. Baker is forced to sport? I don't know about you folks, but it looks horribly greyish and not very close to his actual skin color. Just a riot to see.

Katelyn Betterton said...

Though the comedy show M*A*S*H ended a long time ago, its legacy remains widespread. In fact, its ending was one of the most-watched in US TV history. I miss their antics, and I wish they're still broadcast on TV.

Domino said...

A pretty strange episode. I could easily tell that nose was fake. Everyone wearing a bandage on their nose was a good touch though. Still Hawkeye gets most of the good lines
By the way, Katelyn, I found MASH on Tvland. Try that channel if you have cable.

Robert Gross said...

This episode is another installment in my M*A*S*H-was-progressive-for-its-time-but-not-so-much-by-today's-standards observations. The reason they played rape for laughs is frankly because rape wasn't seen as *that big a deal* in the early 1970s.

Even today you still get people asking "what was she wearing" and "did she lead him on" and "was she asking for it" all as quasi-reasonable defenses for rape. You get well-meaning celebrity women writing blogs giving advice to younger girls on how not to get raped, what not to wear, etc. Meanwhile, we are barely in our infancy in teaching our sons *not to be rapists in the first place*.

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