Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Episode 97 - Bug Out

Season 5, Episode 97: Bug Out
Original Air Date: 9/21/76
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

A rumor starts flying around that, due to an upcoming enemy attack, the 4077th is bugging out.

Col. Potter tries to stamp out all these rumors, but it doesn't seem to help. When a patient with spinal-cord damage arrives, Hawkeye is initially reluctant to operate because, once he's been worked on, the patient can't be moved for 24 hours. But Potter insists they aren't bugging out, so Hawkeye (with Hot Lips and B.J. assisting) goes ahead.

But as soon as they start, the 4077th gets a word from HQ that they are, in fact, bugging out!

This sends everyone into a frenzy. Col. Potter puts Frank in charge (he has no choice, since Burns is second in command) while Potter scouts locations for a new MASH.

Hawkeye says he's staying behind to look after the patient, and Hot Lips volunteers to stay as well. And, at the last moment, as everyone is riding out of camp, Radar stays behind, too.

Col. Potter, B.J., and Frank lead the caravan to the new location for the 4077th, and walk up to what looks like an abandoned hut. Except that--its not abandoned, its full of "business girls."

Frank wants to evict them by force, but Potter wants to try and bargain with them. No matter what he offers, they refuse to turn over the building. That is, until they see Klinger's array of clothes, which they moon over. Potter asks Klinger to give up The Klinger Collection, as an act of patriotism. Klinger reluctantly agrees.

Meanwhile, back at the 4077th, the spinal cord patient seems to be recovering well enough to be flown out by chopper. After the patient is sent off, a battalion of troops arrive. When asked by Hawkeye where the front is, the soldier replies: "You're standing on it."

The troops drive on, leaving Hawkeye, Hot Lips, and Radar in the eerily-quiet 4077th compound. They climb in a jeep to catch up with the rest of the unit, but the jeep won't start. When they hear a loud clamor of people coming up the road, they assume its the Chinese and try to hide--a little hard, since all that's left of the tents are the framework.

They start to panic as the noise gets louder, but are relieved to see that it's the rest of the 4077th, led by Col. Potter! He tells them that the U.S. retook the same piece of land, so they have been ordered to return to home.

Relieved, Hot Lips climbs aboard Sophie, her arms around Col. Potter as he manages the traffic. Everyone, for the moment, is happy.

Fun Facts: The second of three consecutive hour-long season premieres.

William Christopher was finally added to the official cast, and for the first and only time, a production credit--Executive Producer Gene Reynolds--was added to the credit sequence for this season.

The montage, with Col. Potter and Hot Lips on Sophie, is sweet. There had been occasional moments where we got to see how she looked upon him as a father figure--eventually pulling her away from the Frank and Hot Lips team that had been the standard for the previous seasons.

There's another moment, just before Hawkeye, Hot Lips, and Radar leave the 4077th. Hawkeye stops for a moment to ponder how much of their lives they've spent here, and Radar chimes in with "Yeah, think of all the guys we've operated on."

Hawkeye sarcastically replies, "Right, doctor", and you can see Radar lower his head, a little ashamed of the "we" in that sentence. I always thought that was a great moment, for the show to allow its main character to be, even for a moment, a jerk.

Favorite Line: When Potter catches Burns giving a private an order, which is the exact opposite of what Potter wanted, he rolls his eyes, and says to no one in particular: "Why didn't I shoot my foot and stay in Honolulu?"

Saturday, June 27, 2009


During the week-long "summer break" between each M*A*S*H season profiled here, I generally try and work on other stuff because once I start writing the episode summaries again, I'm seeing a whole lot of the show in a very short period of time. But, sometimes, I just can't escape the show, even if I might want to.

Case in point: today I sat down to watch the 1946 film Dragonwyck, a gothic horror film starring Gene Tierney (hubba hubba!) and Vincent Price.

About a half hour into the movie, and guess who shows up?:
...yes, that's a young(ish) Harry Morgan--then being billed as Henry Morgan--playing a particularly ornery member of the small town that the grand mansion that is Dragonwyck looks down upon!

In Morgan's first scene, he is brought before Vincent Price's character Nicolas. He doesn't take off his hat, and when this act of rudeness is pointed to him, Morgan barks: "I'm a free American citizen! I take my hat off for no man!"

Which, when you think about it, is something you could imagine a very young Sherman Potter saying.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

M*A*S*H The Comic Book?

In 1975, DC Comics started up an unofficial sub-line of their books, featuring new titles based on then-running TV series.

Titles like Super Friends and Isis were labeled "A DC TV Comic" complete with a little TV-shaped icon on the cover. But DC didn't stop there--no, they went further, and decided to create a comic book based on a non-superhero-based TV series.

That series was Welcome Back, Kotter, which hit the newsstands in August 1976.

But its been reported (most recently in TwoMorrows' Back Issue magazine) that DC considered other TV series to turn into a comic book, including, improbably, M*A*S*H!

Apparently, the idea of M*A*S*H comic book never got past some informal pitch meetings at DC, which makes sense--the mind reels at the idea of how such a performance and writing-based series, dealing with such adult topics, could ever work as a comic book.

But just the idea of a M*A*S*H comic book got my imagination going, so I wondered...if DC had gone through with it, what might a mid-70s DC M*A*S*H comic book have looked like?:

Monday, June 22, 2009

Episode 96 - The Interview

Season 4, Episode 96: The Interview
Original Air Date: 2/24/76
Written by: Larry Gelbart

Directed by: Larry Gelbart

A war correspondent, Clete Roberts, has brought a camera crew to the 4077th to interview the men and women of the unit, and to record their thoughts and experiences.

Hawkeye is his anti-establishment best, mocking the Army and its discipline, even cursing at one point, right on film. (He also propositions Bess Truman)

Klinger talks about the delights of home, B.J. talks of missing his family. Col. Potter talks about what its like being in command, and being so much older than everyone else in camp.

Radar talks about his hobbies, Father Mulcahy talks about how much being here has changed him, and Frank is his usual hard-line, pro-war, pretend-patriotic self. (When asked if the war has changed him, in any way, he answers, "Certainly not", amazed at the question)

Col. Potter talks about his career in the military, but admits that whatever medical advances are made in the war, its not worth all the destruction, the loss of life, the waste. When asked if anything of value will come from this war, Potter bluntly answers, "Not a damn thing."

Hawkeye, B.J., and Col. Potter make an extra effort to praise the nurses and how hard they work. (Frank describes them as "Competent...competent.")

When asked about heroes, Hawkeye says he doesn't have any. Col. Potter offers up Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman.

In the end, Hawkeye is at a loss for words as to how to describe what its like being here, what they have to do, and the war itself--"it's crazy."

Fun Facts: One of M*A*S*H's most format-busting episodes, this one is in the running by most fans as the best M*A*S*H episode ever.

This is the only episode of the series entirely in black and white.

Incredibly, Hot Lips does not appear in this episode. Given Loretta Swit's non-presence in so many episodes this season, I used to assume she was off filming Race With The Devil. But looking at that film's IMDB page reveals that the movie was released in June 1975, meaning it was probably filmed sometime in late 1974. So why did she miss so many episodes this season?*

This is the last episode of the fourth season, arguably the show's finest season. It is also writer (and in this case, director) Larry Gelbart's final show. Talk about going out with a bang!

Favorite Line: Hawkeye is asked if he brought any "creature comforts" over with him, and he says: "The Dictionary--I figure its got all the other books in it."

That line is so brilliant, I almost can't believe that Alda and/or Gelbart wrote it--it seems like something that just existed in the culture.

*(Update: Read the comments for this post--from Mr. Gelbart himself--to find out some details about this episode!)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Episode 95 - Deluge

Season 4, Episode 95: Deluge
Original Air Date: 2/17/76
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner

Directed by: William Jurgensen

A massive deluge of wounded hits the 4077th, and all the various cases are intercut with actual, black and white Newsreel footage from the time--some of it important and newsworthy, some of it silly, like a ping pong-playing cat.

In addition to the casualties, landmines start to explode, set off by the extreme weather changes outside. News breaks that China has ruptured the U.N.'s front line, kicking off "an entirely new war."

The news gets so bad that orders are sent for all the nurses to be shipped out temporarily. But Hot Lips refuses to leave, even in the face of great danger. She feels so strongly she walks in in the middle of Col. Potter taking a shower, demanding she stay: "I was born to serve, Colonel, you must let me!" Potter reluctantly agrees.

Tensions start to flare, with Frank prattling on about how he's happy the Chinese have entered the war, and now the U.S. can "obliterate them all."

To make things worse, a carelessly-tossed cigarette starts a fire in Pre-Op, which Radar and Klinger struggle to put out. They finally do, arriving in O.R. just in time for a bomb to go off just outside, blowing out the O.R.'s windows and causing all sorts of chaos.

Eventually, the deluge subsides, leaving everyone exhausted. Potter walks in on Hot Lips as she is showering (leaving a bewildered Frank, waiting outside), thanking her for staying.

Fun Facts: This is another example of M*A*S*H's timeline being out of whack--in "The Late Captain Pierce", earlier in the season, Dwight Eisenhower is now President. But during one of this episode's Newsreel snippets, Harry Truman is still in office.

Favorite Line: Klinger talks about a kid he knew back in Toledo, Archie Jaglaw, who fell on down a sewer as a kid and was a Nazi ever since. He got turned down by the Army because of flat feet.

Klinger: "You know how he got flat feet? Goose-stepping in his basement!"

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Episode 94 - The More I See You

Season 4, Episode 94: The More I See You
Original Air Date: 2/10/76
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Gene Reynolds

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

It's a boring day at the 4077th. Hawkeye and B.J. are so bored they are sitting around, basically talking nonsense to one another.

But things start to look up, when they see a jeep arrive carrying two new nurses. Hawkeye and B.J. watch from the Swamp, and then Hawkeye is stunned--one of them is an old flame, Carlye Breslin. More than an old flame, actually--Hawkeye reveals to B.J. that he and Carlye were deeply in love, lived together for over a year, and then it "busted up", as Hawkeye says, trying to sound casual.

Later, they go to visit the nurses in their tent, bringing gifts as a way to say welcome. Carlye (Blythe Danner) is just as stunned to see Hawkeye, but they both pretend they've never met. But little things slip through--Carlye already knows where Hawkeye's nickname comes from, and even finishes a joke Hawkeye tells, as if she's heard it before.

They invite them to drinks after dinner, and later that night Carlye comes to visit Hawkeye, who is alone in the Swamp.

At first Hawkeye is guarded and defensive, but soon he drops the facade and they talk, openly, about the old days. Hawkeye is mad Carlye--now Carlye Walton--is married (to an ad man named Doug). Carlye is having none of it, reminding Hawkeye that he was always married to to medicine first, and that's what busted them up in the first place.

The conversation turns into an argument, and Hawkeye admits "There's been no one since you--faint copies at best."

They resolve to have to try and work together, despite their history. Carlye leaves, leaving Hawkeye to grimace and mutter, dismissively, "Doug."

Later, Hawkeye and Carlye work together in surgery, but Hawkeye is snappish and mean, unable to stay professional. Carlye suggests they talk again, after work.

They meet up in a small hut with a dirt floor away from the camp. They have some drinks, talk some more, and Hawkeye reveals how devastated he was when she left him. Eventually, though, they are embracing another. Hawkeye kisses Carlye, promising things will be better this time. Carlye is hesitant, but eventually responds.

A few days pass, and while filing some paperwork in Radar's office, Hawkeye and B.J. (who is waiting for a long distance call to Peg to go through) talk, with Hawkeye sort of apologizing for not being around much lately.

This becomes a discussion of Hawkeye having an affair with a married woman, and Hawkeye asks if B.J. has ever been unfaithful. B.J. says no, but he's gentle and unjudgmental with Hawkeye in explaining that he hasn't cheated on Peg because "God will send me to Hell without and electric fan or its not the Right Thing to do...I simply don't want to."

Radar finds Hawkeye and shows him that Carlye has put in for an immediate transfer. Hawkeye heads to Carlye's tent, demanding an explanation. She says she can't continue on this path, and will tell Potter the truth so she can be transferred immediately.

Hawkeye tries to get to her to stay, even feebly offering to propose to Caryle. Carlye isn't buying it, and points out to Hawkeye how shaky his commitment really is, and that his first love will always be--and should be--medicine.

Hawkeye accepts this, and they embrace one last time. Hawkeye makes a final, half-hearted joke, and leaves.

Later, Hawkeye and B.J. are back to being bored again. Eventually, though, the talk comes back to Carlye. Hawkeye says he doesn't mind that she's gone again, its just that "she never altogether leaves."

Fun Facts: As a kid, this was always one of my least favorite episodes, because it was all "mushy stuff." Now its one of my all-time favorite episodes, having had the chance to grow up (hollow laugh) and see this episode for the brilliant, mature character piece it is. Alda and Danner have an easy, informal chemistry, and it really feels like two people who were once in love. Their scenes together are brilliant.

Also, B.J.'s talk with Hawkeye about why he doesn't cheat on Peg is one of the most simple, most profound pieces of character motivation I have ever seen on a TV show. It registered to me as a kid, for reasons I couldn't understand at the time. In a TV landscape where most male characters are written as horndogs or overgrown man-children, B.J. expresses the thoughts and feelings of a smart, adult man.

Hot Lips and Frank do not appear in this episode.

In the final scene, there's a weird joke making fun of George Raft. Huh?

Favorite Line: Carly, having had her first meal at the 4077th, tells Hawkeye he was right about how bad the food is.

Hawkeye: "Yeah, I'll never understand how the cook got off at Nuremberg."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Episode 93 - Smilin' Jack

Season 4, Episode 93: Smilin' Jack
Original Air Date: 2/3/76
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner

Directed by: Charles Dubin

The 4077th gets a visit from Smilin' Jack (Robert Hogan), a hot-shot chopper pilot, who is working on attaining the record of Chopper Pilot of the Year, by bringing in the most wounded.

Jack visits Hawkeye in O.R., and then asks out a nurse. He then visits his old friend Col. Potter.

Potter and Jack talk about old times, and work out a trade for some supplies. Before Jack leaves, though, Potter notices an old scratch on Jack's hand that he says he patched up months ago. Jack dismisses it, and leaves.

Later that night, Jack is having drinks in the O Club with Hawkeye and B.J., and he's hustling them for drinks by pulling off a trick involving a hypodermic needle. The jovial mood is broken when Potter arrives, officially grounding Jack upon completion of a physical.

Hawkeye and B.J. do the work up, and Jack seems in good shape, except he's unwilling to give them a urine sample. He's so hostile, the doctors bluntly ask him what Potter suspects. Jack fesses up--he's got diabetes.

Hawkeye and B.J. try and press upon Jack the risk he's taking being up in the air while having diabetes. Jack insists no one is grounding him--no one.

Later, Jack jumps in his chopper and heads to battalion aid, in an attempt to pick up four wounded soldiers at one time, therefore beating the record in what he knows will be his last chance.

Col. Potter tries to get him to land, but Jack won't listen. He does manage to bring four wounded back to the 4077th, setting the record. Jack is thrilled to have set the record, only to see Dangerous Dan come in, carrying in more wounded, once again taking the record.

Jack, knowing when he's beaten, hands over all his flying credentials to B.J., and ruefully accepts his fate.

Fun Facts: This is the first episode directed Charles Dubin, who would helm 44 episodes of the series.

Another installment of The Young Sherman Potter Adventures: he mentions another pilot he knew, Duncan McShane, who used to throw grenades from his chopper at targets.

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye and Smilin' Jack are discussing how many wounded he's brought in while Jack flirts with a nurse. He asks her out, and she accepts.

Hawkeye asks: "How many will this make for you, Jack?"

Smilin' Jack: "839--Dangerous Dan's got 842. I need three to tie."

Frank, sitting nearby, exclaims: "Oh, now--that's disgusting!"

Hawkeye, stunned at Frank's mistake, looks at Jack in disbelief. It doesn't read funny here, but the look on Hawkeye's face is priceless.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Episode 92 - The Novocaine Mutiny

Season 4, Episode 92: The Novocaine Mutiny
Original Air Date: 1/27/76
Written by: Burt Prelutsky

Directed by: Harry Morgan

This episode opens in a military courtroom, with Hawkeye as the defendant!

A Col. Carmichael (Ned Wilson) is officiating, and he hears testimony about the alleged mutiny, a charge leveled by Frank.

Col. Potter testifies, as does B.J., who gives the Colonel some examples of Frank's insanity as commander--a ban on gambling, snap inspections, parades--he even has the entire unit do a practice bug-out, moving across the road, only to move back to the same spot the very next day.

Frank testifies to the events that led to the "mutiny". He insists that during a long session in O.R., he had to do nearly everything, operating on several patients at once while giving blood--directly from his arm--to a third. He even does Father Mulcahy's job, saying a prayer (in Latin, no less), when Mulcahy collapses in exhaustion.

Bombs are falling, and everyone is scared and panicking, except for Frank. He insists more and more wounded be brought in. Hawkeye, unable to match the pace Frank is insisting on, grabs a hypo and knocks Frank out, screaming "I'm taking over!"

Hawkeye then testifies, commenting on the bizarre fantasy Frank has concocted in his mind. He makes a joke, but seems genuinely sad realizing that that's how Frank actually sees the world.

Then he gives the real story--Frank was doing a pathetic job prepping the patients, not sending them in in the right order, and not even preparing the ones he is sending in for surgery. Hawkeye and B.J. scold him for not doing his job, but he won't listen.

The argument gets heated, then at one point a nurse accidentally slams a door into Frank, knocking him out. Hawkeye and B.J.--and everyone else--are relieved. Father Mulcahy takes over in Pre-Op, while Klinger drags the unconscious Frank--face down--out of the O.R.

After hearing all the testimony and looking into everyone's records, Col. Carmichael concludes that Capt. Pierce, while being thoroughly un-military, is a "top flight surgeon", and concludes that no case for mutiny exists. He dismisses the case, throwing in a shot at Frank in the process.

Fun Facts: This is the first episode directed by a cast member other than Alan Alda, in this case Harry Morgan.

Hot Lips makes no appearance in this episode.

There's one part of this episode I never quite understood--when Potter is leaving, he directly tells Frank, who will be in charge in the interim, not to go overboard with the discipline.

Frank clearly does go overboard, even having the 4077th do a practice bug-out. Wouldn't Frank get in a lot of trouble from Potter once he returned?

There's a great line by Hawkeye, after he (and everyone else) has heard Frank's version of the event. He at first jokes that Frank's testimony is closer to perjury than the truth, but then says he believes that that's how Frank really sees it. Looking at Frank, he adds a quiet, "More's the pity."

Favorite Line: When Frank, searching for the stolen money, says that he doesn't believe Hawkeye and B.J. didn't take it, because "Officers don't steal."

Hawkeye and B.J. laugh at that, sarcastically agreeing:

B.J.: "Right...we don't go to the bathroom, either."

Hawkeye: "We just explode when we're fifty."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Episode 91 - Some 38th Parallels

Season 4, Episode 91: Some 38th Parallels
Original Air Date: 1/20/76
Written by:
John Regier and Gary Markowitz
Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

The 4077th is busy with wounded, all from Col. Coner's unit. Coner is willing to risk the lives of his soldiers in an attempt to retrieve the bodies of the fallen, causing even more casualties.

There's other things going on--Frank gets excited over the idea of selling the 4077th's garbage to local contractors, Radar helps save a patient when he alerts a busy B.J. to a "funny look" on the patient's face, and Hawkeye suffers his first bout of impotence with Nurse Able.

More wounded arrive, along with their commander, the Col. Coner (Kevin Hagen). Hawkeye and B.J. try and talk him out of his determination to risk so many lives, but he dismisses them.

Hawkeye turns to B.J. for advice about his "problem", then Col. Potter. They both give him the same advice--his nerves are so brittle from being at the 4077th, no wonder this is happening. Hawkeye seems unsure.

Frank starts holding garbage auctions, but Hawkeye ends up buying one of the bundles. Later, Hawkeye, B.J., and Col. Potter are in the Mess Tent, when Col. Coner announces he's leaving. He is indifferent to another one of his men dying the night before, rattling off his "kill ratio" as a defense.

As Col. Coner prepares to leave, Hawkeye instructs them all to follow him outside. A chopper flies by, dumping the bundle of garbage right onto Col. Coner, covering him in filth. B.J., Klinger laugh, Frank is mad, and Potter, while smiling, insists he hasn't seen a thing.

This "letting go of the reins" (as Potter put it), invigorates Hawkeye. He searches out Nurse Able, seemingly ready to resume their romance.

Fun Facts: Actor Kevin Hagen would return to M*A*S*H in Season Seven, playing a different, and much more agreeable, character.

Hot Lips makes no appearance in this episode.

Favorite Line: Frank and Col. Potter discuss Frank's idea for selling the 4077th's garbage, and he mentions that "The late Col. Blake said I was the best rubbish officer we'd ever had", beaming with pride.

Potter, mostly to himself, replies, "The man knew talent when he saw it."

I love that line, mostly because its just very funny, but also because, in that moment, Col. Potter realized that his predecessor also knew what an idiot Frank was.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Episode 90 - Hawkeye

Season 4, Episode 90: Hawkeye
Original Air Date: 1/13/76
Written by:
Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner
Directed by: Larry Gelbart

On his way back from an aid station, Hawkeye almost hits some kids playing the road. He swerves to avoid them, crashing his jeep and hitting his head. Bleeding, and with the help of the kids, he staggers into a nearby hut, populated by a pair of Korean parents.

None of them understand a word of English, but Hawkeye keeps babbling, trying to keep himself awake. Sure he has a concussion, he writes a note for someone to come and get him, giving it to one of the kids, who will hopefully bring it to the 4077th.

In the meantime, Hawkeye keeps talking--he talks about his time in med school, a particularly stacked waitress he dated, great musicals he's seen, an old math teacher (who had three nostrils, supposedly), and his life in Crabapple Cove.

As he waits for someone to come and get him, and he gets more worried about his concussion, Hawkeye's thoughts turn more serious. He ponders about war and the sheer awesomeness of the human body. He even does some juggling.

Finally, as night begins to fall, he hears a jeep outside. Radar has arrived, and Hawkeye grabs his stuff, thanks them for all their hospitality, and leaves.

A few days later, Hawkeye returns with presents for the entire family, who are happy to see him, even offering him some dinner.

Fun Facts: This episode divides a lot of M*A*S*H fans--some of them find it insufferable, that Hawkeye--who already got the lion's share of screen time on the show--literally got an entire episode to himself.

Others (like myself), find it an interesting experiment (the one M*A*S*H "spec script" I have written in my head is a variation this show, featuring just two of the show's characters in an extended conversation. I'll tell you about it sometime).

This episode, naturally, features no appearances by any of the cast except for Alan Alda. Even when Radar comes to get Hawkeye, he's not seen or heard.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye gives the two smallest kids some treats--candy and comic books. He then pauses, and says, "Not very good for you. You better read the candy and eat the comic books."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Episode 89 - Der Tag

Season 4, Episode 89: Der Tag
Original Air Date: 1/6/76
Written by:
Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell
Directed by: Gene Reynolds

With Hot Lips in Tokyo for a medical conference, Frank is miserable--even more than usual.

He's so miserable that Col. Potter asks Hawkeye and B.J. to do him--and the whole camp--a favor: be nice to Frank, buddy up to him.

Reluctantly, they agree, first by having him play in the regular poker game. Even though he doesn't know the rules, he wins a bunch of the hands, giggling maniacally after each time.

They eventually take him to the Officers Club, where Frank gets loaded, flirts with Nurse Kellye, and then passes out.

Hawkeye and B.J. drag Frank home, and in their drunkenness, write up a toe-tag and put it on Frank, declaring the body is "Emotionally exhausted and morally bankrupt."

In the middle of the night, Frank gets up to go the Latrine, still drunk. He wanders by an open ambulance headed back to the front, and falls into it. He's carted off without anyone noticing.

The next morning, a medic at a battalion aid station calls Col. Potter, telling him they have one of his doctors there. Potter instructs Hawkeye and B.J. to go get him, and while on their way there Potter gets another call from the medic, saying the aid station is under enemy attack!

Hawkeye and B.J. arrive as bombs are falling, and help out with wounded. They don't even bother to wake up Frank, still passed out. Eventually, the shelling subsides and they cart Frank home.

Just a few minutes later, Radar wakes up Frank, refreshed and ready to go. He also tries to stir Hawkeye and B.J., who are exhausted.

Frank assumes everyone is still friends, and is confused when Hawkeye and B.J.--sick of the sheer effort it takes to be friends with Frank Burns--tell him they're back to hating his guts.

Frank is happy, though, when he sees Hot Lips return.

Fun Facts: This episode opens with Radar asleep, with a comic book on his lap:
The only problem is that the title Radar is reading--The Avengers--didn't start until 1963, and this particular issue is from 1969. How'd Radar do that?

The poker game scene is a classic, with everyone having to deal with the reality of what its like to be friends with Frank.

Favorite Line: As Hawkeye and B.J. are carrying the drunken Frank back to the Swamp, Col. Potter happens by. Potter commends them for being nice to Frank, saying things "will be a lot better around here" from now on. Hawkeye responds, "Only if we bury him."

Potter, without missing a beat: "I'd buy that."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Episode 88 - Dear Ma

Season 4, Episode 88: Dear Ma
Original Air Date: 12/23/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Alan Alda

Radar writes a letter home to his mother, telling her about the recent goings-on at the 4077th.

Radar has been helping Hawkeye in giving the camp a monthly foot inspection, which goes smoothly except for Hot Lips,who can't stand Hawkeye's joking around.

Meanwhile, B.J. buys an expensive watch on the cheap from a former patient, claiming he needed the money for an operation for his wife. Hawkeye has to break the news to B.J. he's been scammed, showing him that there are no works inside it. B.J. is infuriated--"And I operated on that guy's chest!" Hawkeye finds the whole thing funny, having heard of this scam before.

Another day, Radar came across a North Korean soldier who wandered into the Mess Tent to get some food. At first he doesn't realize the guy is North Korean, but it dawns on him just as the soldier runs out of the tent with a tray full of food. He bumps into Frank chasing him, spilling food on Frank's shirt. Frank is not amused.

Hawkeye, still doing the inspections, tells Frank its his turn, but Frank is hostile and refuses. Hawkeye lets it go for the moment.

That same night, Col. Potter gets shot in the butt by a sniper while he and Hot Lips were delivering supplies to some locals. Hawkeye and B.J. remove the shrapnel, with Potter having to pretend he's fine while on the phone with his wife--she called, having a premonition that something bad has happened to her husband.

Wounded arrive, and one of them is the solider that scammed B.J. Laying on the table, he gulps in fear when B.J. promises he'll have him "working as well as that watch you sold me."

At the end of the night, Hawkeye and B.J. lay in wait for Frank. They grab him, and pull his shoes off, to reveal...painted toe-nails?

Frank is ashamed, and B.J. asks if that isn't Hot Lips' color. Frank fesses up and asks it not be mentioned in the report. Hawkeye agrees, writing that Frank suffers from some discoloration "due to actions involving a hostile manicurist."

Radar ends his letter to his mother, telling her how much he misses her.

Fun Facts: Another episode in the "Dear..." format, this time it's Radar's turn.

Favorite Line: After Hawkeye shows B.J. he's been scammed, he says he'll return to inspect B.J. at 9 o'clock.

B.J., slightly disgusted but partly amused: "How will I know?"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Episode 87 - The Price of Tomato Juice

Season 4, Episode 87: The Price of Tomato Juice
Original Air Date: 12/16/75
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Gene Reynolds

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

Radar sits down to lunch with a glass of tomato juice, which Col. Potter takes notice of, having not seen it in years. Radar offers him his glass, which Potter gratefully accepts, savoring every drop.

After Potter leaves, Radar gets the idea of procuring tomato juice regularly. He asks Klinger how they can get more, but Klinger says there's no chance--the can of it arrived by mistake, so it would have to be ordered specifically by the Requisition Officer--Frank.

Radar enlists Hawkeye and B.J. in the cause, to see if they can help. They go to Frank, who will order the tomato juice in return for a favor--getting a pair of stockings, for...someone.

They agree, and go to Klinger for the stockings, who says he'll give them up only if he gets a two-day pass for some R&R. They agree, and get Radar to sneak a pass by Col. Potter. Potter notices, and refuses to sign, but Radar lays it on thick, saying Klinger is really stressed and needs some relaxation.

Potter goes along, but needs to check with Gen. Barker, who has asked all commanders to not issue any R&R passes to Seoul for the next few days. He calls Barker and asks if he can send Kllinger. Barker agrees, but asks if Potter wouldn't mind sending Hot Lips to Seoul, as well.

Potter asks Hot Lips, and she's thrilled at the idea of going to cocktail parties on the arm of a General, but she tries to pretend its a selfless act.

With Hot Lips packing to leave, the whole house of cards begins to collapse. Without Hot Lips around, Frank is depressed, and refuses to order the tomato juice.

Radar, in a panic, turns to Hawkeye and B.J. for help, so they try something desperate--sending Hot Lips some flowers and a card proposing marriage from Frank!

They then go the other way, sending a note "from Hot Lips" to Frank (who is getting drunk in the Officers Club) saying she wants to get together. While he's in a good mood, Radar gets him to sign the requisition for the tomato juice.

Frank and Hot Lips get together, and the whole thing falls apart. Meanwhile, a car for General Barker arrives, ready to pick up Major Houlihan. Hawkeye and B.J. offer up a dolled-up Klinger, looking like a 1940s movie starlet, ready for a night on the town.

The next morning, Radar delivers another can of tomato juice, complete with white towel over his arm and served on a tray. Potter refuses it.

Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar are stunned--doesn't he love tomato juice? Potter does, but he forgot he's allergic to it!

Fun Facts: This episode is reminiscent of the Season Two episode "For Want of a Boot", where one favor begets another, and then another, and then another...

Favorite Line: In the showers, Frank is talking, when Hawkeye interrupts him, staring at the top of Frank's head. He says "Wait a minute", grabs his towel, and smacks Frank in the head. Frank says, "Did you get it?"

Hawkeye: "Get what?"

Friday, June 12, 2009

Episode 86 - Mail Call Again

Season 4, Episode 86: Mail Call Again
Original Air Date: 12/9/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: George Tyne

It's Mail Call at the 4077th, bringing it with all kinds of news.

Col. Potter gets a letter from his son, telling him that soon he will be a grandfather. Potter is so delighted that he goes along with Radar's idea of having a baby pool, where people guess when the baby will be born.

Hot Lips gets a new nightie from Frederick's of Hollywood, which she figures ought to drive Frank crazy. But Frank gets a letter from his wife--which Radar "accidentally" read--saying she wants a divorce! Someone who was in Korea came back home, and told Mrs. Burns about Frank and Hot Lips' relationship.

Col. Potter has Radar call back home, trying to get news about his grandchild, but Frank asks to interrupt so he can talk to his wife.

Col. Potter agrees, and Frank calls his wife, being as oily and insincere as possible. He professes his love to his wife (while insulting Hot Lips' looks, which she overhears), but sneaks in a question about making sure he hasn't been removed from his father-in-law's will. Unbelievably, it works--at least until Hot Lips, enraged, nearly takes Frank's head off for his nasty comments regarding her looks.

Later, Hawkeye, B.J., Col. Potter, Klinger, Father Mulcahy, and Radar watch some home movies his family sent him of life back in Iowa. We see Radar's mother (played by Gary Burghoff himself, in drag), plus his Uncle Ed, and some others.

At the end, Radar's mother mouths "I love you, Walter" to the camera, nearly causing everyone watching to break out in tears.

The moment is interrupted by a call from Potter's son, telling him he now has a granddaughter! Later, we see the doctors throw a party in The Swamp, celebrating.

Fun Facts: Col. Potter's family is strangely inconsistent throughout the years. Here he has a son, but in later episodes he seems only to have a daughter.

Hawkeye spends some of the episode reading stories from his hometown newspaper aloud, including a bit about "shaving mugs", a line he seems to flub. But he keeps going, trying variations on the correct pluralization--"shavings mugs, shavings mug," etc.

Having Burghoff in drag play his mother seems an insane, cartoony idea, but it somehow works, and is even very touching. (This is the third member of the 4077th whose home life we got to see via home movies--the first being Henry, the second being Frank)

Favorite Line: Klinger tries another scam to get a discharge, making up a story about two dead brothers, killed in an accident. Potter is dubious of their existence, and says, "Klinger, you gotta live before you die."

Klinger, refusing to give up the ghost, responds with "Oh, you said a mouthful, sir!"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Episode 85 - The Gun

Season 4, Episode 85: The Gun
Original Air Date: 12/2/75
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Gene Reynolds

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Wounded arrive at the 4077th, including a Col. Chaffey (Warren Stevens), who is carrying a rare, antique pistol as a side-arm. Radar takes it and locks it up in the gun bin--Standard Operating Procedure--but not before Frank takes a few moments to drool all over it, in a display of machismo.

Later, when Radar returns to the gun bin, he sees that the Colonel's gun is missing!

He tells Col. Potter, who starts an investigation to find it--otherwise, Radar could go to jail for years. Radar is paralyzed with fear: "I won't get out until I'm thirty--that's almost dead!"

Col. Potter fails to find the gun, and has to break the news to Col. Chaffey, who is enraged and wants to speak to the "Non-compoop" who lost his gun.

Meanwhile, Frank shows Hot Lips an antique gun that he "got from home." He asked it to be sent because he "missed his old pal."

Hawkeye and B.J. confront Frank, insinuating he took the gun, and now that its gotten Radar in trouble, he should give it back. Frank, not giving an inch, notices how everyone is entitled to be innocent until proven guilty, except for him. Hawkeye and B.J., annoyed that Frank is actually right for once, back off.

Radar gets drunk, sure is he is going to the stockade. In the middle of the night, he staggers over to visit Col. Chaffey, to protest his innocence. While there, they both hear a gun go off, causing everyone to run outside.

In the confusion, Frank makes his way to Hot Lips' tent, with a gun shot wound to his foot. He at first tells a tall tale about getting into a fight with someone he saw lurking in the Supply Shed, but Hot Lips forces him to tell the truth--that gun isn't his, it never was. While he was trying to return it, it accidentally went off.

Hot Lips is mad at Frank for stealing and lying, but Frank has learned his lesson: "Yep--when you steal something, don't ever try to return it."

The gun now returned, all of the charges against Radar are dropped. Col. Chaffey apologizes to Radar, and Col. Potter suggests the gun is more trouble than its worth, maybe he should think about donating it to a museum. Col. Chaffey will have none of that, insisting he'll keep it until the day he dies. He rides off.

The next day, Hawkeye and B.J. hint at the true source of Frank's wound. Just a guess, really--a "shot in the dark."

Fun Facts: Col. Potter tells a story about a time when he almost got crushed by a runaway portable latrine. Another installment of The Young Col. Potter Adventures!

Favorite Line: When Radar, drunk, points his teddy bear at Col. Chaffey, we hear a gunshot from outside.

Radar, shocked, stares at his teddy bear and exclaims, "My bear went off!"

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Episode 84 - Soldier of the Month

Season 4, Episode 84: Solider of the Month
Original Air Date: 11/28/75
Written by: Linda Bloodworth

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

Col. Potter holds a surgical staff meeting in the Mess Tent, giving doctors the latest news on Korean Hemoragic Fever, which some soldiers in Post Op are suffering from.

There's also a new directive--in a way to boost morale, there's a Soldier of the Month contest, where the top-rated enlisted man from each camp will win a trip to Tokyo, causing Radar, Klinger, and others to try and curry favor from the judge, Frank.

But Frank can't make the decision, because he comes down with the fever, as well. He ends up bed-ridden and delirious, convinced he's going to die.

Hawkeye and B.J. fill in, and hold a quiz for Radar, Klinger, Zale, and Igor, to see who knows the most about U.S. history. Klinger, having cheated by writing the answers all over his body, is revealed, and Radar--who seems actually prepared--wins the contest.

Frank, sure he's going to die, asks Father Mulcahy to write a will for him, and all his chicanery and dishonesty is revealed--prescription kickbacks, doctored books that hide his real income from the government, even another affair he's bee having back home.

The final straw for Hot Lips--overhearing all this--is when Frank tearfully leaves Hot Lips all his...clothes?

Eventually, Frank recovers (thanks to fine doctoring by Hawkeye and B.J.). Hot Lips takes him to the Latrine for the first time since getting sick, and when he emerges feeling normal, Hot Lips pays him back for the slight by slapping him across the face--"Next time leave your clothes to somebody your own size!"

A few days later, Radar comes back from Tokyo, totally drunk and in custody from the MPs for his "disorderly" conduct. His stumbling, slurring behavior in front of Col. Potter causes Hawkeye and B.J. to fall over in hysterics.

Fun Facts: Hawkeye makes a joke about "Albert Anastasia's doorman", a reference about his murder, which took place in 1957.

The level of Frank's hypocrisy is ramped up to 11 in this episode--despite his endless pronouncements of morality and patriotism, we learn he's been cheating on his wife at home with his receptionist, he gets kickbacks from drug manufacturers, and he lies to the government about his income. I think if Frank Burns was alive today, he'd have a show on FoxNews.

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye and B.J. pick Frank up off the ground, asking him what happened, Frank says: "She hit me--right in the chin!"

B.J.: "How'd she find it?"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Episode 83 - Of Moose and Men

Season 4, Episode 83: Of Moose and Men
Original Air Date: 11/21/75
Written by: Jay Folb

Directed by: John Erman

Sgt. Zale gets a disturbing letter from his wife, confessing to an affair. In a drunken rage punches a metal barrel in the Mess Tent, breaking his hand.

B.J. takes him to the hospital, and Zale asks him to help him write a letter home, since his writing hand is out of commission.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye runs afoul of a Colonel, who he accidentally splashes with mud when his jeep hits a puddle. The Colonel, named Spiker (Tim O'Connor), ends up getting wounded and brought to the 4077th, but he demands Hawkeye not touch him.

But he's so gravely wounded Hawkeye ends up working on him anyway, and its only through his superior surgical skill that he pulls through.

Later, B.J., having finished Zale's letter, tries to track him down. Radar tells him he's with his "Moose"--a Korean girlfriend. B.J. hands Zale the letter, but lets his dismay be known: Zale is mad at his wife for cheating, yet here he is with a woman! B.J. talks Zale into forgiving his wife, and sending the letter he wrote.

Col. Spiker wakes up, in Post Op, still enraged at Hawkeye--he finds his clothes, his lack of a shave, his whole demeanor "a disgrace." He fully intends to file a Court Martial against Hawkeye.

It isn't until Col. Potter tells Spiker that it was Hawkeye who worked on him--and that Hawkeye, while being "an oddball officer" is nevertheless a top-flight surgeon. "Suffering saddlesoap--you owe your life to that man!"

Spiker reconsiders, and decides to drop the charges, albeit grudgingly. Hawkeye is thankful, but can't help being a little sarcastic, too, ordering up "Another bottle, here--put it on my tab!"

Hawkeye and B.J. meet up in the Swamp that night for drinks, relating to each other the events of the day. They also pop inflated rubber gloves on the count of three, causing the always-paranoid Frank to jump out of his bed, pulling the trigger on his gun, which is actually just a harmless lighter.

Fun Facts: This is the first episode employing the standard sitcom format--having an "A" and "B" plot, running on two different tracks, ideally meeting up at the end. Despite the title, this episode feels like its more about the Hawkeye story.

Potter's scene with Striker is a great one--talking to him as an equal, with respect, but also not
taking any crap from him, either.

Favorite Line: Zale makes an excuse as to why he's got a Korean girlfriend: "Who knows when we could be knocked off, doc? We're pretty close to the action!"

B.J. amusedly replies, "Some of us are a little closer to the action than others."

Monday, June 8, 2009

Episode 82 - Dear Peggy

Season 4, Episode 82: Dear Peggy
Original Air Date: 11/11/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

B.J. writes a letter home to wife Peg, and tells her about some of the events at the 4077th. Sadly, there's not much going on--without wounded to tend to, everyone's bored out of their minds!

He tells Peg about Frank, and how bad a doctor he is. Frank's patient starts to fade during the operation, and when he loses a pulse, Frank just gives up. B.J.--doubling as the anesthetist--jumps in and saves the patient.

Father Mulcahy is worried about the impending visit of Col. Hollister, Divisional Chaplain, who is coming to inspect the job Mulcahy is doing, and he confides in B.J., who tries to reassure him.

B.J. tells Peg about the time Hawkeye tried to break the Guinness World Record, by cramming fifteen people into a jeep. Hot Lips and Frank are against it, but when Hawkeye insists its for the glory of the 4077th, Hot Lips joins in. Frank complains to Col. Potter, who blows him off. Moments later, Col. Hollister (Ned Beatty) arrives, just in time to see Father Mulcahy spill out of the crammed jeep.

The next morning, everyone in camp shows up for Father Mulcahy's Sunday services, as a show of support. Afterwards, Hollister isn't impressed, saying Mulcahy is too meek--he insists Mulcahy must "lead the attack, Father, with a Bible in one hand, and a sword in the other!"

Hollister also gets involved in the case of the solider B.J. saved earlier, and tells Mulcahy he should write the boy's parents telling them their son will be okay. Mulcahy is unsure, thinking he should wait until the young man becomes more stable. Hollister won't listen, and demands Mulcahy write the letter.

Hollister leaves, after approving of Mulcahy's letter. Moments later, the young man starts to get worse, causing Mulcahy to have a crisis of conscience, thinking he's done the wrong thing, not standing up to Hollister when he should have.

Mulcahy paces outside as the doctors work on the young man, but they eventually come out and tell Mulcahy he's going to be fine.

The next day, B.J. ends his letter while playing chess with Hawkeye.

Fun Facts: Another episode in the "Dear..." format, this time it's B.J.'s turn.

When Mulcahy is waiting to hear how the solider is doing, he kneels onto the compound, about to pray when the doctors come out. Its a completely silent scene, subtly executed and nicely done.

Favorite Line: B.J. asks Hawkeye if he's going to go the cockroach race being held in another part of the camp, Hawkeye says: "Nah, people who go to those things only want to see a cockroach crash."

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Episode 81 - Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?

Season 4, Episode 81: Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?
Original Air Date: 11/7/75
Written by: Burt Prelutsky

Directed by: Larry Gelbart

Wounded arrive, and Radar is shocked when one of them--who arrived without dog-tags--says his name is Jesus Christ.

Hawkeye and B.J. try and get the soldier's real name, but he insists he really is Jesus Christ. His wound is superficial, so they assume he's doing this to get out of the Army. The soldier remains unruffled by the doctor's doubt.

Frank and Hot Lips try and get Col. Potter to step in, since they are sure that "liberal, bleeding heart" Hawkeye and B.J. will try and fill this soldier's head with all kinds of anti-American ideas.

Potter refuses to humor them, so they take it upon themselves to meet with Col. Flagg, who shows up to investigate this solider claiming to be Christ.

Flagg reveals the solider is actually Captain Arnold Chandler, a bombadier who has flown 57 bombing runs. Potter thinks it sounds like battle fatigue, but Flagg couldn't care less. Flagg demands Chandler be released immediately, but Potter goes with Hawkeye's idea: getting the advice of an expert on cases like this, Major Sidney Freedman.

Sidney Freedman arrives, and Flagg tries to talk him into backing his position. He first tries cajoling, then moves onto threatening him, referencing his "subversive" background. Freedman is unmoved.

Sidney meets with Chandler, who, still as Christ, reveals a deep sadness about having to bomb people who never did anything to him. He weeps at the thought of dropping bombs on "my children." They discuss the notion of faith, and identity.

Later, in a meeting in Potter's office, Sidney gives his professional opinion: he's Christ. Potter replies: "As you can see, I'm not laughing."

Sidney then explains that Chandler has suffered a mental breakdown, feeling so tormented over the killing he's done that his mind has shut down, refusing to allow him to do any more fighting. He grabbed the most peaceful identity he could find--Jesus Christ--and Chandler disappeared inside.

Col. Flagg of course doesn't buy any of this, and now threatens to "blow the whistle" on Freedman and his pro-Commie background, particularly Sidney's refusal to sign his Officer's Loyalty Oath.

When Hawkeye and B.J. congratulate Sidney on not signing ("Where do we go to not sign?!"), Flagg thinks he's being played, and insists that Sidney is staying right where he is--in the Army, where he'll have to be "loyal to the organization that's going to hound your every step." He storms out, revealing Frank and Hot Lips listening outside.

Potter shakes his head at Flagg's lunacy, and ultimately decides to follow Sidney's advice.

The next day, Capt. Chandler--after blessing Radar's teddy bear, upon request--boards the bus to be taken home. He still believes he's Christ, leaving Hawkeye, B.J., and Father Mulcahy to sadly watch as he departs.

Fun Facts: One of M*A*S*H's most brilliant episodes--it manages to tackle some huge dramatic--even controversial--issues while also being hysterically funny. The interchanges between Freedman and Flagg are masterpieces of comic timing.

This episode features pretty much the only time Sidney Freedman and Col. Flagg would appear together (they were both in the Season Two episode "Deal Me Out", but Edward Winter was not playing Col. Flagg, at least officially).

There's a great exchange between Col. Flagg and Col. Potter--meeting for the first time--when Flagg demands Potter make a decision, and says "The last C.O. they had here couldn't make a decision without a month's warning." Potter, clearly angry, says, "I'm not fond of personal abuse, Colonel--I was in this man's Army when the only thumb you cared about was the one in your mouth!"

Sidney Freedman also gets his shots in at Flagg: "You're a victim too, Flagg. But you're such an example of walking fertilizer it's hard for me to care."

Favorite Line: After Col. Flagg unleashes a typically loony tirade, Sidney Freedman shakes his head and says: "He's what Freud used to call 'spooky.'"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Episode 80 - The Kids

Season 4, Episode 80: The Kids
Original Air Date: 10/31/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Alan Alda

After a long session in O.R., the 4077th gets news that massive shelling is threatening the makeshift hospital run by Nurse Meg Craddy. Potter offers the 4077th to her and her orphans for the time being.

Meg Craddy (Ann Doran) and the kids arrive, and everyone is gentle and kind to the kids, except for Frank, who considers them all "foreigners" and little more than thieves.

Some of the kids bunk in The Swamp, some in Col. Potter's tent (who puts them asleep by reading them an Army manual about how to field-strip a rifle), some with Hot Lips, some in the Officers Club (one thinks Klinger is a woman, and keeps calling him "Mama-san").

One of Craddy's charges, a pregnant teen girl, stopped along the way to visit some relatives. She later staggers onto the compound, wounded. As she collapses onto the ground, Radar calls for help.

Both girl and baby are in jeopardy, and B.J. takes the case, with Hawkeye and Potter taking on other patients as wounded start to arrive. Frank, for his part, is wandering the camp complaining about how all these "foreigners" do is steal. Radar tries to remind him they steal because they're dirt poor, but it barely registers through Frank's thick head.

B.J. gets the girl stable, and then delivers the baby safely--though it arrives with a tiny nick in its butt from the bullet.

Later that night, Col. Potter bestows on the baby a Purple Heart, "donated" by Hawkeye and B.J. Hot Lips wonders sarcastically where they got it from, but you can see she's okay with what they've done.

The next day, the shelling has stopped, and Nurse Craddy and the kids leave to head back home.

Fun Facts: This was Nurse Craddy's second appearance on the series (after Season Two's "The Trial of Henry Blake"). She is played by a different actress in this episode.

Col. Potter knows Meg Craddy already, before she arrives at the 4077th--another example of the many Untold Adventures of Sherman Potter.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and B.J. are enraged at Frank for putting in for a Purple Heart. They tell him to give it back, and when he refuses, Hawkeye grabs Frank's blood-stained surgical gown and says: "Frank--you don't get medals for other people's blood."

The comment hangs there for a beat, in total silence, as Frank takes it in. Or, more precisely, doesn't.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Episode 79 - Dear Mildred

Season 4, Episode 79: Dear Mildred
Original Air Date: 10/24/75
Written by: Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell

Directed by: Alan Alda

Col. Potter writes a letter home to his beloved wife Mildred, telling her all about the 4077th.

Radar seems very unsure of himself around Potter, nervous about what he's supposed to do when he doesn't have any work to do.

Frank and Hot Lips come in, asking to take a picture of the Colonel, claiming its for a camp yearbook. Col. Potter find them "curious", to which Radar responds "Only with each other."

Radar is so nervous he comes to The Swamp, to vent to Hawkeye and B.J. B.J. tries to reassure him that Potter's okay, but Hawkeye points out that Henry Blake was like a father to Radar, and the difference is tough for Radar to handle.

A chopper arrives, delivering mail only. The pilot mentions there's a wounded horse up in the hills, and if the 4077th has a sharpshooter, he'd like to put the animal out of its misery.

Radar is, of course, horrified at this suggestion, and guilts Hawkeye and B.J. into coming with him to corral the horse into a truck back to the 4077th. After they manage this (Hawkeye and B.J. failing miserably, Radar managing to calm the horse down just by talking to it), they try and get the piece of shrapnel out of the horse's rump.

The horse is a difficult patient, nearly kicking Hawkeye and B.J. to death after they stick it with a tranquilizer. They tell Radar he's on is own, and he takes it upon himself to take care of the horse. Hawkeye and B.J. try and talk some sense into Radar, telling him he won't be able to hide a horse in camp for long, not from an old Cavalry man like Col. Potter. Radar won't listen--he's not giving up the horse.

Turns out that the photos Hot Lips and Frank took were to have a bust of the Colonel made, as a present for his anniversary. Potter likes the bust a lot, but it stunned into silence by Radar's present--the horse.

Potter is moved to tears at the gesture, and Radar is also happy, now that the horse isn't going anywhere. Frank is repulsed when Sophie craps right there in the office, but Potter, nearly slipping from it, is delighted.

The episode ends with Col. Potter, astride the horse, on his way to the chopper pad, leading his people to the incoming wounded.

Fun Facts: Another episode in the "Dear..." format, where you can have various story threads that don't necessarily fill up an entire show.

This episode--with Radar and the rest still a little uncomfortable around Col. Potter--seems like it was run out of order. It really should've come oen or two episodes after Potter's debut, "Change of Command."

This episode features William Christopher's real-life wife, Barbara Christopher, as Nurse O'Connor. They sing a duet from an upcoming talent show, and there's a brief moment where Christopher puts his arm around her in a very un-Father Mulcahy-like manner, only to pull it back a second later.

This episode features actor Richard Lee-Sung as Cho, a Korean who makes the bust of Col. Potter. He's a riot in the role, at point showing off an oblong hunk of wood he claims "used to be round." Frank says, matter of factly, "It looks like a two-by-four", to which Cho responds, reverently, "Thank you."

The addition of the horse--soon to be named Sophie (even though the horse is mentioned as being a male here)--was a wonderful plus for the series. Not only did Sophie become a plot point for a couple of episodes, but it gave the writers a chance to show a wonderfully gentle, kind side to the Col. Potter character.

Favorite Line: This episode has a number of killer lines (see above), but I guess my favorite is when Potter is writing to his wife, and he quotes her cousin Natalie back to her: "As your Cousin Natalie said, and she's been quoted by so many, 'War Is Hell.'"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Episode 78 - The Bus

Season 4, Episode 78: The Bus
Original Air Date: 10/17/75
Written by: John D. Hess

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

On the way back from a medical conference, Hawkeye, B.J., Frank, Col. Potter, and Radar get stranded in the Korean hills when their bus breaks down.

When Radar can't get the bus started after hitting a huge rock, Col. Potter has everyone scout around to see if they see anything familiar. No one does, so Potter orders everyone to stay on the bus for the night.

With nothing to do, the doctors spend the time chatting, including telling stories about their "first time." The mood darkens a bit when Hawkeye makes a careless comment about it being Radar's fault they're lost.

When its Radar's turn to tell his story, he begs off saying he has to go the bathroom. He leaves the bus, and the doctors continue telling their stories--even Frank, in between sneaking bites from a chocolate bar he's hiding from the rest of them.

It then dawns on them that Radar has been gone too long, and Hawkeye asks to go looking for him. Potter refuses.

When they hear a noise outside, they think its Radar, but it turns out to be a wounded North Korean soldier (Soon Tek-Oh), looking to give up. The doctors take care of him, except for Frank, who insists he could be booby-trapped. When all the doctors get some sleep, Frank stands guard, delivering a monologue to the soldier (who doesn't understand a word) so loony and self-deluded it's frightening.

Radar then returns, discovering that Frank has been eating chocolate on the sly. The rest of the doctors wake up, happy to have Radar back. He says that since he got them lost, he thought he should try finding them a way home.

Radar says he never found any enemy soldiers in the area, so they're safe as long as they can fix the bus. Luckily, the North Korean solider is a mechanical whiz, and fixes the bus for them!

On the way home, they all mention how hungry they are. Radar hints about Frank's chocolate stash, which forces him to pretend he just found some in his duffel bag. He "generously" gives them all a candy bar a piece.

Fun Facts: This was the first of many fourth and fifth season episodes where M*A*S*H toyed with its format--the entire episode takes place on the bus and in the surrounding countryside, with no scenes at the 4077th.

This episode features another appearance by actor Soon Tek-Oh, playing a different character than he did in his first episode, Season Three's "Love and Marriage."

Since this episode has no scenes at the 4077th (a first), Hot Lips, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy do not appear.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter's story about his first time involves a French nurse named Collette, and while its not funny (its not supposed to be), Harry Morgan delivers it so pitch-perfectly that it sounds like a real memory, not some writer's concoction.

Col. Potter telling exciting/funny/weird stories from his illustrious past became a M*A*S*H staple, and they were always so interesting that I would've loved to have seen a Young Sherman Potter Adventures spin-off show.

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