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.


Russell said...

This is the absolute best of the "weave various storylines" type of MASH episode, IMHO. The mix of the comedy and the drama, and the way they are reversed at the end, is fantastic television.
The sub-plot with Radar is one of the best, I think. He helps out with Pvt Phalen and they really start to bond, so you really get hit between the eyes when Phalen suddenly dies. BJ and Radar's talk outside Post-Op is classic MASH.

Radar: "When was the last time you felt like crying, sir?"
BJ: (pause) "What time is it?"
It brings a tear to MY eye everytime I watch it.

No wonder Gary Burghoff won an Emmy as Radar.

What the Parrot Saw said...

Russell: great comment- think I will revisit this episode.

Always liked Potter's reaction to the trash dumped on Coner; "I didn't see a thing, but I loved it!" This is when I first picked up on Potter's being an MD over being RA.

Otherwise: Hawkeye gets his libido back after dumping trash on a warhawk? Paging Dr. Freedman...

Bill said...

This show would have been much better without the silly Col. Coner subplot. It has a labored build up and one of the most contrived payoffs in "M*A*S*H" history. The guy isn't racist or a gloryhound like other officers Hawk and Co. tangled with, he's a cold guy who likes his work too much and doesn't like leaving his gravely wounded and dead behind. If they tried to reason with the guy about the human cost of his attitude, and got smacked down, that would be another thing, but we don't see it.

Otherwise, the show manages to juggle the three other plotlines very well, the equipment issue between Hawkeye and the nurse (wow, what a gorgeous mouth Lynette Mettey has!); Frank's mania about the garbage with the great auction centerpiece, and Radar finding a new friend in Phalen. The last is more effective for not being the main plotline; it needs to sneak up on you.

Anonymous said...

You're right about that Phelan subplot. When I first saw that episode, Phelan dying really shocked me because I didn't expect it.

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