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!"


Russell said...

Let's hear it for Everett & Jim. They were wonderful!!

Anybody know what they did after they left MASH?

What the Parrot Saw said...

A fun episode that recalls the easy humor of much of the preceding three seasons.

My favorite exchange here:

Klinger and Potter

Klinger: (matter-of-fact) "I'll be back."
Potter: (equally matter-of-fact, and with perfect timing): "I'll be here..."

rob! said...


Fritzell died in 1979, at the very young age of 59.

Greenbaum kept writing for TV, and even worked on After MASH, and the failed W*A*L*T*E*R pilot. He died in 1999.


I almost put that exchange as my favorite line for the episode. Farr and Morgan's timing is spot-on!

Bill said...

Loretta Swit totally sells the phone-call-to-Louise subplot, with her marvelous reactions while eavesdropping on Frank. Frankly, it could have been ugly to hear him denigrate her so, as an "Army mule, with bosoms," except for the way her face contorts with honest rage.

I think of Jane Curtin on "Saturday Night Live," doing Weekend Update while Rosanne Rosannadanna talks about sweatballs or something. That kind of fury. It's almost over the top that well, but Swit sells it so well you just laugh and go with it.

mark said...

This must have been Margaret's breaking point, where she finally realized Burns was just using her, and would continue using her unless he stopped him. In "Der Tag", when Margaret returns from a conference in Tokyo she raved - in front of Ferret Face - about another man she met there. That was probably a sign of her future raving about Donald Penobscot after her engagement to him.

This may also be a reason why the Muppets' Miss Piggy is widely believed to be modeled on Margaret.

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