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."


What the Parrot Saw said...

Oddly enough, the subplot between Zale and BJ has always seemed stronger to me in this episode. Spiker seems ridiculously mean-spirited and Hawkeye a little too flippant throughout for their subplot to have much traction.

IMHO, M*A*S*H would over rely on the A/B plot as the years went on; in the final seasons (say, 9-11), it seemed that one plot had to be serious and the other faintly ridiculous.

Bill said...

This may be the weakest show of the season, though it is still fun. It's a pleasure seeing B. J. doing something alone, and learning about the "moose" thing, but he's a little too mild and his handling of the Zale situation comes off as a bit pat.

Like the Parrot says, the Hawkeye-Spiker conflict feels particularly off, with the part of Spiker overwritten and overplayed. I understand why Hawkeye acts flip at the end, because he doesn't want to unload on a patient, but I find the whole set up contrived and the execution labored.

My favorite subplot is Frank's galloping paranoia getting the best of him. His ugly-American line-up scene is one of Linville's funniest hours. Small subplot, but important in laying the foundation of his pending crack-up in Season 5.

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