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."


What the Parrot Saw said...

Harry Morgan proved an overlooked director; "End Run" (S6) and "Patent 4077" (S7) are strong contributions to their respective seasons...

And this is a hoot! The cutaway scene accompanying Frank's recollection of the 'mutiny' is so over the top, it plays like a Bizarro-world [i]MASH.[/i] Love the gleaming spotlight on his headgear (what do you call that reflective thing, anyway?. Frank sees himself as a true "saint in surgical garb." More's the pity...

Hawkeye's recollection ("It was October, and we were in Korea. Other than that...") is predictably closer to the facts, but Klinger dragging Frank face first out of the OR? Always felt a little sorry for Frank here. Even with the bogus bug-out.

A classic.

Steve said...

I guess every show had its Rashomon episode in the 70's (even though the movie came out earlier) - I remember a Happy Days with the same technique, which I thought was brilliant until my Dad told me, "They all do this now." Oh.

Russell said...

I always wondered where Margaret was during this episode until I realized, for it to have gotten to the Court Martial stage, she would have HAD to have been absent. She never would have let Frank charge Hawkeye. It would have been a cool episode to see them disagreeing about things, though.
I agree with the others...a total classic.

BTW, Rob...when Frank & Radar are going through Radar's comic books, did you notice Spider-Man and the Avengers? Neither existed in the 50s, of course. Too bad they weren't Captain Marvel Adventures or Action.

Dr. Eric said...

This installment has one of my fave Hawkeye wisecracks. BJ and Radar are basically saying how loony Frank is, and he exclaims "I'm going to sue all of you!", to which Hawkeye remarks "No doubt for definition of character." Classic!

Bill said...

Frank is wonderfully crazy in this ep, and probably gets his funniest half-hour. Seeing a five-minute snippet of "M*A*S*H" according to Burns is something I never tire of.

I suspect his bringing charges against Hawkeye was something he merely did for the sake of blowing off pent-up steam at the camp that hates him. He appears oddly blaise about the verdict - except that it makes him look bad. "I won't allow his innocence to be a blot on my record!" He seems pretty pleased otherwise, which makes up a bit for the fact he tried to get Hawk hanged for "definition of character."

Dominic said...

I did some investigating and noticed that the episode had a couple similarities with the movie, The Caine Mutiny.

Matt Wiser said...

If you look at the ending on the original network show, which is on the DVD, Frank brings Potter to report the usual gang playing Poker, against his directive banning gambling. After B.J. wins the hand, Potter says, "Deal me in." And the look on Frank's face says it all: he has no one supporting him, even his CO.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...