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."


Russell said...

Put me definitely in the "insufferable" camp. I hate hate hate this episode. I used to think it was just because a little bit of Alan Alda goes a long way, but as I got older I came to realize that I probably wouldn't have cared if it had been BJ or Potter or anybody all by themselves. I like the whole cast, not a one-man show. Making it Hawkeye just makes it worse. Blech.

Steve said...

I never realized there was any problem with this episode, so I'm surprised. I loved it when I first saw it, and I still enjoy it. I guess I'm an unabashed Hawkeye fan. The others had their own spotlight shows (even Kellye) from time to time, though not as solo as this one, obviously.

Rob, I really would love to read a M*A*S*H spec script by you. You really should write it - it could even be converted to an audio play!

rob! said...


maybe that's another script you can help me with. I have a premise, and some random ideas--but not much more than that!

What the Parrot Saw said...

This is one of the episodes that drew lines over at jumptheshark before that site was bought out and comments erased. Love it or hate it, indeed... some posters had some gems (pro and con)...

I'm in the middle. This is a pivotal episode in that it clearly establishes Alda's stamp on the character.

Is Hawkeye's spiel unrelentingly brilliant over the course of 25+ minutes? Of course not.

Was it self-indulgent? Probably.

I do find his (in essence) soliloquy entertaining in its effortless detours and very consistent to the (TV) character. Feels a bit like a classic Lenny Bruce routine Hawkeye riffs on seeing bad plays in NYC.

Always felt that if Alda had written the episode it would have been incredibly good or incredibly bad- no slur on the great Larry Gelbart!

An inevitable show, I suppose. I, for one, would have liked to see more extended conversations in the later years. Rob! share that spec script! :-)

What the Parrot Saw said...

^^(Comment above sound like a swipe at Alda's writing on the series in order to enshrine Gelbart. Not my intention.)

Anonymous said...

Horrible episode. Least favorite episode of any show I watched.

Bill said...

I'm not a big Hawkeye fan per se. I think his dominance of the show, especially in the later seasons, rendered "M*A*S*H" more than a bit dull. Even worse than his preachiness was the deference paid to him by the other characters by Seasons 8 on.

That said, I really enjoy "Hawkeye" for what it is, not a one-man show, but a two-man show, with the other person of consequence being Larry Gelbart. Gelbart loved corny jokes and developing comic ideas to their irrational zenith, and he gets his chance to do this with Hawkeye's need to keep talking in order to stay conscious. I love the Ox puns Hawkeye delivers; clearly Gelbart at work here, with Alda's likely contribution being his embarrassment with the last, awful pun. I think that scene alone shows you what both men brought to the creative process. It's not a great episode, the minutes do drag at the end, but it's a solid and worthy addition to a terrific season.

In response to Rob's splendid audio commentary, it's interesting he points out that the youngest girl playing the Korean child grew up to be a stunt person. She clearly was getting a head start on her profession in the opening scene, moving out of the way of Hawkeye's speeding jeep. She sells the danger of that moment very well!

rob! said...

Thx for the kind words, Bill! I get so little feedback on the podcast I wonder if anyone is actually listening to those things! :)

Bill said...

You bet, Rob! One way you might beef up the comment threads on the podcast commentaries is by incorporating a link to the podcast on the relevant episode summaries. People first coming to this site will likely be interested in seeing a write-up of a favorite episode or season, and they will be that much motivated to click on a podcast about the ep from there.

What the Parrot Saw said...

Bill: again, I'm enjoying reading your comments here. Nice to see some fresh reactions, and your comments are insightful.

Rob!: Keep up the podcasts! I follow when I can but I'm quite busy these days. Great to see the site is still going!!

Wishing you well...

Mickie said...

I did sorta kinda like this episode (I think if one is a big Hawkeye fan it works, but if one is not, then it's hard to get through). I agree though, the monologue did seem to run a bit long. It felt more like a stage play than a TV episode, and I actually think I learned a bit on monologues and how to use the stage to one's advantage, lol!

Robert Gross said...

I'm in favor of anything that makes television more like real theater, so I like this episode.

Anyone complaining by now that Hawkeye is too dominant a character, that ship has already sailed.

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