Friday, July 31, 2009

Episode 122 - Fallen Idol

Season 6, Episode 122: Fallen Idol
Original Air Date: 9/27/77
Written by: Alan Alda

Directed by: Alan Alda

Radar, feeling insecure about his relative lack of "experience" as a lothario, expresses himself to Hawkeye and B.J. in the Swamp. Hawkeye says if its bothering him so much, he should just go to Seoul and "meet a nice girl and let nature take its course."

B.J. is dubious, but Hawkeye badgers Radar until he decides Hawkeye is right, and he grabs a Jeep and heads out.

Later, wounded arrive, and we see one of the wounded is...Radar! Hawkeye is horrified, feeling guilty about sending Radar "out into the middle of a war on a date."

He insists on performing the surgery on Radar, and it goes perfectly. But its Hawkeye himself who is having problems--he and B.J. go to Rosie's Bar and get drunk, and all Hawkeye can talk about is how guilty he feels about getting Radar hurt.

The next day, wounded arrive again, early, and Hawkeye is hung over. He staggers his way into O.R., but in the middle of a patient he has to run outside and throw up. B.J. is apologetic, Col. Potter is furious, Winchester is amused and snide.

Potter and Hawkeye have a talk, and Hawkeye apologizes and explains what's going on. Potter tells Hawkeye to go visit Radar in Post Op, but Hawkeye feels like he can't quite find the courage to do it.

But later, he finds the nerve to do it, and visits. Radar calls him "sir", which puts Hawkeye off. Then their talk quickly devolves into an argument--Radar is harsh and judgmental, saying that Hawkeye let people down by walking out on a patient that morning.

This enrages Hawkeye, telling Radar off and finally standing over him, yelling "I'm not here you to admire, I'm here to pull bodies out of a sausage grinder, if possible without going crazy. Period." He then calls Radar "a ninny", and storms out.

Back in the Swamp, Hawkeye can't believe he blew up like that. Father Mulcahy stops by to chastise Hawkeye, followed by Col. Potter, then Margaret, who never gets her shot because Hawkeye storms out of the tent to correct his mistake.

He returns to Post Op to apologize, but Radar is having none of it--he dismisses Hawkeye, telling him to shove off. Hawkeye leaves, feeling ashamed.

Later, Col. Potter comes to visit Radar, and they talk, and Potter tries to get Radar to see that he and Hawkeye may get along even better now that they're a little more "eye to eye." Radar is non-committal.

A few days later, they both find themselves in Rosie's Bar, and its like two strangers talking. They talk about the weather, the bad breakfast, everything but what they need to discuss.

Finally, Hawkeye levels with Radar, and apologizes. Radar responds, trying to relieve Hawkeye of the guilt of getting him wounded. He also mentions that, from here on in, that he "just as soon not" worship Hawkeye like he did before.

Their friendship restored, they trade their drink orders. Radar takes Hawkeye's beer, and Hawkeye takes Radar's Grape Nehi.

Later, Hawkeye has something for Radar--a Purple Heart. He then does something he has rarely done--he gives Radar an official military salute.

Fun Facts: I've always had a couple of problems with this episode--first, it doesn't make a lot of sense that Hawkeye so casually insists Radar to go into town and lose his virginity, especially after their heartfelt conversation in Season 5's "Hepatitis", where Hawkeye comforts Radar about this very subject.

Also--after Hawkeye tells off Radar, everyone in the camp sides with Radar and rips into Hawkeye, but...I dunno, I sort of see Hawkeye's side in this. Hawkeye is doing an impossible, high-pressure job, and I think its sort of ridiculous that he also has to behave because other people are looking up to him. That's a little much to ask.

Favorite Line: During the parade of people coming into the Swamp and yelling at Hawkeye, Margaret storms in. B.J. says, to no one in particular, "This oughta be good."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Episode 121 - Fade Out, Fade In

Season 6, Episode 121: Fade Out, Fade In
Original Air Date: 9/20/77
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Hy Averback

Radar is worried that Frank isn't back from his R&R yet--which is very odd, since, for all of Frank's faults, he's always punctual. Col. Potter tells him not to worry about it...yet.

Wounded arrive, and since neither Frank or Margaret (who is still on her honeymoon) are back, the 4077th is very short-handed. One of the wounded is a doctor himself, Dr. Berman (Raymond Singer), whose chest wound is so severe that even Hawkeye isn't sure he'll be able to patch him up.

During surgery, Potter complains aloud about Burns being missing. B.J. offers the theory that maybe--just maybe--Burns went to Tokyo to interrupt Margaret's honeymoon?

Shortly after, Margaret comes back--early--from her honeymoon, in a very surly mood. She won't say why, and quickly heads off to the O.R.

Meanwhile, Col. Potter gets a call from M.Ps in Seoul, who say that a Major Frank Burns accosted a blonde WAC, but ran off before he could be apprehended. Potter thinks Frank is going nuts, and asks Radar to call a Col. Baldwin in Tokyo so he can send a fill-in surgeon while Frank is gone.

In Tokyo, we see Col. Baldwin (Robert Symonds) receive the call, as he is playing Cribbage with a doctor, Major Charles Emerson Winchester (David Ogden Steirs). Winchester is smug and arrogant, and he enjoys pointing out that he has beaten Baldwin in Cribbage to the tune of $672.17. Baldwin realizes he has the perfect candidate to send to the 4077th.

On the way to the camp, Winchester and his driver are shot at, and have to take cover. Their jeep is then hit, reducing it to a smoldering hunk of metal. The driver points the direction Winchester needs to travel, and heads back to his unit.

Back at the 4077th, Col. Potter gets another call from the Seoul MPs, relating another tale of Frank flipping out and accosting various women, acting as though they're Margaret. He's still on the loose, unfortunately.

Later, Winchester arrives at the camp riding an ox-cart, striking quite a contrast to his surroundings since he is wearing his dress uniform and carrying all manner of personal items. Radar is the first person to greet him, and his general feeling of superiority over Radar is obvious.

He is introduced to Col. Potter, Hawkeye, and B.J. as they are having a drink, and his stand-off-ishness immediately grates on everyone, insisting on calling everyone "Doctor" even after they introduced themselves by their nicknames. He then states he doesn't plan to "stick around long enough to get chummy."

When Dr. Berman goes into heart failure due to a ventricular aneurysm, everyone rushes out. Winchester wonders what the "panic" is, and then states that he's performed the necessary procedure successfully over a dozen times.

He performs the surgery, and it goes off without a hitch, except for the fact that Winchester spend a lot of time complimenting himself. Margaret is impressed, but Hawkeye and B.J. are less than thrilled.

Frank calls Col. Potter, and tells him some news. Hawkeye and B.J. follow, just as Potter is getting off the phone. He tells them that Frank accosted another woman and her companion, except this time it was a Brigadier General and his wife! Burns is now being held for psychiatric evaluation.

But that's not all the news--Frank is being transferred out of the 4077th.

The news hits Hawkeye and B.J. like a bomb--they toggle back and forth between delight and outrage that they're losing their favorite punching bag. As B.J. points out, "This reduces the enemy to just North Korea!"

The doctors and Radar have a toast, ended with abject glee, and they all throw the piles of paper on Potter's desk into the air with wild abandon.

Later, Hawkeye and B.J. have to pack up Frank's stuff. They keep all the good stuff, and Margaret comes in to take back a picture he had of her. They tell her to leave it there to keep Frank crazy, but when Margaret is complimentary towards him--and says there are some things he has over her new husband--Hawkeye and B.J. ask her what happened on her honeymoon.

After some cajoling, she tearfully tells them that, during the honeymoon, Penobscott seemed to shut down completely--he stopped talking, smiling..."everything."

They comfort Margaret by telling her that meeting all of his new wife's old friends and former beaus (like various generals) probably intimidated Penobscott, and it shook his confidence. They tell he'll get over it.

When she wonders why Frank didn't have this problem, Hawkeye and B.J. offer that's because "He had every other one." Margaret defends Frank, until she sees that, among his belongings, was an alarm clock Frank told her was stolen. Enraged, she says one last goodbye to Frank by pouring what's left of her martini in his suitcase.

Col. Potter is talking on the phone with Baldwin, and now that Frank is not coming back, the 4077th needs a permanent replacement. After rejecting several poor candidates, Potter says he'd be willing to keep Winchester, if he's available. Baldwin agrees to the deal.

Potter finds Winchester in the Officers Club, eager to get out of there. He breaks the news to Winchester, who is less than happy, to say the least. Potter offers Winchester some words of encouragement, but Winchester is despondent. Potter leaves the building, and Winchester ponders his fate.

Later, Dr. Berman is amazed that he is recovering from his wounds. As they say goodbye, Radar tells them Frank is on the phone, and says it'll be the last time he ever speaks to them.

Not being able to pass that up, B.J. talks first, and then Frank (who we never see or hear) asks to talk to Hawkeye. After a few moments, Hawkeye sounds incredulous, then annoyed, then condescending and impatient.

As soon as he gets off the phone, he grabs the whole apparatus, opens the door to the compound, and chucks the phone to the ground with all the force he can muster.

As Radar chases after it, B.J. asks Hawkeye what's up. Hawkeye delivers the bad news: "The Army, in its infinite wisdom, has cleared Frank of the charges. They've reassigned him to a Veteran's Hospital in Indiana...and promoted him to Lieutenant Colonel."

As Hawkeye walks off in disgust, B.J. attempts to grab the phone from Radar and get his licks in, but Radar won't let him have it. B.J., too, walks off in disgust.

Winchester officially moves in to the Swamp, and he rages to no one in particular about how his skills, culture, and intelligence are so much better than everyone else's, and how he can't believe he's stuck in this "Godforsaken...dump."

Wounded arrive, and Winchester gets his trial by fire. While being a superb surgeon, he is so slow and methodical--even when washing his hands--that he quickly falls behind everyone else. When told to "switch into high-gear", he gets testy and refuses. B.J. steps in and shows Winchester a short-cut that works better when dealing with this kind of volume.

After surgery, Winchester's ego seems deflated. He doesn't think he'll be able to hack it, but the other doctors try and cheer him up. Winchester meekly agrees, and adds "Well, if you people did it, I certainly can." Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter watch him walk out of the laundry room.

Potter asks them whether they'd rather have Frank back, and they offer he was more fun to be cruel to. That leads Potter to warn them off pulling any practical jokes on Winchester until he gets settled in. Hawkeye and B.J. respond that they wish he could have told them that "Before we put the snake in his bed."

That night, in the Swamp, Winchester is sitting alone, listening to Mozart on his record player. Hawkeye lays down, only to find the snake is now in his bed. He screams wildly as he throws it out of the Swamp, and responds, "Clever...very clever."

Winchester, betraying little emotion, admonishes him with, "Please...Mozart", and then goes back to listening.

Fun Facts: This is the third of the series' one-hour season premieres.

The debut, of course, of M*A*S*H's last new character, Major Charles Emerson Winchester. The series would be forever changed with the simultaneous departures of Larry Linville and Gene Reynolds, and, in a general sense, you can divide the series into two eras--Seasons One through Five, then Six through Eleven.

Radar is always the first member of the 4077th to meet a new staff member--he goes and finds B.J. in "Welcome To Korea", he's the first person Potter meets in "Change of Command", and now this.

There's a scene in the Officers Club with just Winchester and Igor. For some reason, actor Jeff Maxwell is completely over-dubbed by Johnny Haymer, who played Sgt. Zale! Even weirder, that's the second time they had Haymer perform this task, having done it before in Season Five's "Mulcahy's War."

Favorite Line: Hawkeye, B.J., Col. Potter, and Radar toast the departed Frank Burns:

"What should it be?"

B.J.: "Something tender."

Col. Potter: "Something sentimental."

Hawkeye: "Right... [pauses, raises his drink]...goodbye, Ferret Face."

Friday, July 24, 2009

M*A*S*H Action Figures - 1977

Now these are some unusual items!

Almost nothing is known of these two M*A*S*H 9" action figures--of Hawkeye and Hot Lips, respectively.

It says they were produced by F.W. Woolworth, and bear a copyright date of 1969 (when the movie title was first registered, presumably). Other than an ink stamp on the back lower left corner of the package that says "Dec. 10 1977" there's no other information on these things (and part of me thinks that is from the after-market seller of these things--the original price of $2.33 has been slashed out in color pencil and ".96" written in).

The packages feature stills from the show--Trapper is seen from the back (playing golf with Hawkeye). Other than Hawkeye and Hot Lips, the only other character directly shown is Radar.

The Hawkeye doll comes with a golf club, the Hot Lips one with a medical bag. And they feature Push-Button Action:

At 9", the manufacturers were clearly aping the Mego doll format, the dominant doll size at the time, though the push-button action feature is a step beyond what Mego was doing at the time.

I've not been able to find any further info on these dolls, even on other excellent M*A*S*H sites like Finest Kind. They are almost a complete mystery.

I'd love to see how well the dolls work and what the costuming looks like under the scrubs, but I can't bear to take these things out of the packages!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Episode 120 - Margaret's Marriage

Season 5, Episode 120: Margaret's Marriage
Original Air Date: 3/15/77
Written by: Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

After Margaret's not-yet-scheduled marriage becomes the topic of discussion in the O.R., Hot Lips calls Donald Penobscott, wanting to set the date. Penobscott agrees, and says he is on his way to the 4077th. Hot Lips is thrilled, Frank is worried.

A day later, Penobscott (Beeson Carroll) arrives, and announces they want to get married as soon as possible. Frank walks in, and when he takes one look at the tall, strapping Penobscott, he runs in the other direction.

Penobscott gives chase, eventually pinning Frank to the compound. In the middle of kicking and screaming, Penobscott surprises everyone by thanking Frank for inspiring Margaret to finally ask about getting married, and he wants Frank to the best man.

The nurses throw Hot Lips a shower, and at the bachelor party everyone gets hammered, even Father Mulcahy and Radar. When Penobscott passes out on B.J.'s bunk, B.J. gets a devilish idea--he suggests he and Hawkeye put Penobscott in a full body cast, and tell him he broke his leg overnight. Hawkeye says "That's cruel--that's vicious!" B.J. agrees: "I know--it's perfect!"

The next morning, Penobscott waits at the altar (in the Mess Tent) in, yes, a full body cast. Hot Lips looks beautiful in a white wedding gown (given to her by Klinger). The ceremony starts off fine, but has to be rushed to its conclusion when wounded arrive.

Hot Lips does triage in her wedding gown, and then assists Col. Potter in O.R., who comments "Hell of a wedding for you, kid." Penobscott asks to watch his wife at work, so he is propped up by Father Mulcahy so he can see. But even though he's a self-described "combat veteran", he gets sick when he sees a patient spurt blood all over B.J. during an operation.

After surgery is over, everyone gathers on the chopper pad to see Margaret and Penobscott off. After the rotors start whirring, Hawkeye and B.J. admit the whole "breaking a leg" thing was a joke--but Hot Lips can't hear what they're saying. They decide to call her in Tokyo and tell her the truth, so as not to ruin their honeymoon.

Everyone wanders off, except for Frank, who watches Hot Lips' chopper fly off. All by himself, he says, to no one in particular, a quiet "Bye, Margaret."

Fun Facts: This is one of those episodes that I actually think works better in the syndicated edited version. In the syndicated version, the last scene--involving Hawkeye, B.J., Potter, and Frank getting a little too worked up thinking about Hot Lips' honeymoon--is cut. Instead, the episode ends with Frank (above) and his gentle "Bye, Margaret"--a perfect final scene for the character.

Odessa Cleveland, as Nurse Ginger Bayliss, makes the second of two appearances this season, after not appearing on the show at all since the third season. This is her last appearance on the show (though she would do a guest-spot on Trapper John, M.D.!).

This is the last episode of the Fifth Season, and of course the final episode featuring Larry Linville as Frank Burns. Its also the last episode of Gene Reynolds as the show's executive producer.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter asks Radar how the plans for the wedding ceremony are coming along, and Radar says Hawkeye and B.J. are planning a Bachelor Party for Penobscott. Also, Hawkeye will be on his best behavior for the wedding, "but he won't wear pants."

Col. Potter: "You tell him No Pants, No Champagne. You gotta know how to handle these guys."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Episode 119 - Post-Op

Season 5, Episode 119: Post-Op
Original Air Date: 3/8/77
Written by: Ken Levine & David Isaacs, Gene Reynolds & Jay Folb

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

The 4077th is low on blood, so low that they have to call around to other units to see if they can scrounge up some more.

Col. Potter begs and pleads (and Hawkeye demands), to little avail. Things are made even worse when more wounded arrive. This leads to a tension-filled session in O.R., with Hawkeye and B.J. threatening to break Frank's legs when he complains about the working conditions. Potter tells them all to clam up.

In Post Op, various cases are tended to: Hot Lips helps a soldier write a letter home, Klinger helps console a Puerto Rican solider who is upset the doctors had to shave his impressive mustache to patch up his face, B.J. comforts a solider who lost his leg due to a land mine, and Hawkeye gives advice to a solider embarrassed by getting wounded in his rear end.

Frank is worried about his patient, who is still unconscious and can't figure out why. He asks Col. Potter for help, but is really looking more to just find someone to blame. After he learns that the solider was found in his sleeping bag, unconscious, it dawns on him that perhaps a snake crawled in there with him and bit him, knocking him out. He orders Nurse Kellye to give the young man a shot of anti-venom.

One of B.J.'s patients is a soldier who's actually upset he's being shipped home: he has such a great series of black market businesses going on in Korea, he actually tries to bribe B.J. into letting him stay. Of course, it doesn't work.

Klinger helps the despondent Puerto Rican soldier by giving him a custom-made mustache, which he gratefully accepts. Hot Lips rebuffs the advances of a soldier who, even though he's married, pledges his eternal love.

The blood supply gets so low that Col. Potter asks everyone in the camp to donate, even though it's been less than 48 hours since everyone donated the last time. Only Frank has managed not to donate at all, but he's dragged into it by Hawkeye and B.J.

The blood supply problem finally ends when a truck full of Turkish soldiers arrive. Thankful to the 4077th for taking care of one of their wounded, they are here to each donate blood. They file in to the Mess Tent to the applause of everyone in the compound, just as Frank bursts out, chased by a needle-carrying Klinger.

Fun Facts: Almost all of this episode takes place in, as the title suggests, Post-Op, which makes it a nice companion to the Season Three episode "O.R." I guess if the show had gone on past the Eleventh season and they started really running out of plots, we would have had episodes "The Scrub Room", "The Supply Shed", and "The V.I.P. Tent."

Actor Hilly Hicks appears in this episode as a medic named Moody. This was Hicks' second appearance on the show--he played a different character in the Season Three episode "White Gold."

The soldier with all the black market businesses is actor Sal Viscuso, who was frequently one of the always-unseen P.A. announcers on the show.

Radar does not appear in this episode at all.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter commiserates with a solider from Chicago, telling him about all the good times he had there as a young man. When he makes a mistake regarding where a bar he frequented used to be, he shrugs off the soldier's correction with "Well, I used to drink a lot in those days."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Episode 118 - Souvenirs

Season 5, Episode 118: Souvenirs
Original Air Date: 3/1/77
Written by: Burt Prelutsky and Reinhold Weege

Directed by: Joshua Shelley

A batch of wounded include some young Korean kids who were out looking for scrap metal (to sell for money), which leads to a discussion about the curious need for people to collect souvenirs.

One of the biggest souvenir pushers is a chopper pilot named Stratton (Michael Bell), who buys a lot of the stuff the kids are risking their lives collecting. While hawking his wares in the Mess Tent, he runs afoul of Hawkeye and B.J., who are disgusted by Stratton's creation of the market that is getting so many kids hurt. Stratton is unimpressed, and walks out.

They ask Col. Potter for help, who gives a lecture in the Mess Tent, all-but-officially banning the buying and selling of such material at the 4077th. Stratton is the only one who seems uninterested in following Potter's "advice."

Later, in the Swamp, an M.P. (Brian Dennehy) arrives, on the trail of an antique Chinese bowl which was stolen. The trail leads to...Frank, who insists he doesn't know anything about it. Turns out its a priceless treasure, and owning it is illegal. The M.P. leaves, leaving Frank to chortle uncontrollably.

Hot Lips also wants something from Frank--a ring she gave him when they were a couple, and now that they're not together, she wants it back. Like the Chinese bowl, Frank says he doesn't have it, leading Hot Lips to get drunk in the Officers Club, depressed at how poor a friend Frank is.

While drunk, Stratton shoots his mouth off, which gets Hot Lips so riled up she decks him. As Stratton lays on the floor unconscious, Hot Lips returns to her drink.

Later that night, Frank packs up the Chinese bowl he doesn't have, sending it to his wife Louise. Hawkeye and B.J. follow him, remove the bowl, and replace it with a bed-pan, returning Frank's dryly-written note to his wife about it being a "priceless object."

Frank catches someone rifling through his stuff in the Swamp, and they fight. Frank of course is pinned into submission within a few seconds, and thief is...Hot Lips!

Hot Lips was looking for the ring Frank said he didn't have, and she waves in front of him in disgust. Frank apologizes weakly, but Hot Lips storms off.

This leads to a confrontation the next morning, where Col. Potter admonishes Hot Lips, saying she can't go around "getting loaded and beating up our officers."

Hot Lips, despite this being from a superior officer, is having none of it, and she says she feels she was justified in her actions. Potter tries to argue his side of it, but she won't listen. Potter gives up, sarcastically saying he's "glad we had this little talk."

Back in Post Op, Hawkeye and B.J. are disgusted by Stratton's gift to one of the wounded scrap-metal collectors: a cigarette lighter in the shape of a pistol. They drag him outside and demand he stop, but he is unmoved, defiant even.

Hawkeye and B.J. then suggest that Stratton has some vague symptoms that might mean he's very sick, so sick he can't even fly as a chopper pilot anymore. Stratton thinks they're bluffing, but he's worried enough about losing his "wings" that officially agrees to get out of the business of souvenir selling.

Stratton, disgusted, mocks the doctors' noble efforts, pointing out that there are "A hundred other guys out there like me--what are you going to do, change the world?"

B.J. answers, "No, just our little corner of it."

Fun Facts: Brian Dennehy as the M.P. continues the tradition of future big stars (John Ritter, Teri Garr, Ron Howard, etc.) playing a tiny role on the series, then going on to stardom.

M*A*S*H never did cut-aways back home, of course, but man I've always wanted to see a scene of Louise Burns (played by the same actress who player her in Season Three's "There Is Nothing Like a Nurse") opening up Frank's package and pulling out the bedpan.

Favorite Line: While in the O Club, Hot Lips, threatening Stratton and slurring her words, says: "You know, its a good thing for you my fiancee, Col. Donald Penobscott, isn't here. You know what he'd do if he was here?"

B.J., interrupting: "Buy an ash-tray?"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Episode 117 - Movie Tonight

Season 5, Episode 117: Movie Tonight
Original Air Date: 2/22/77
Written by: Gene Reynolds, Don Reo, Allan Katz, Jay Folb

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Without any wounded to take care of, the 4077th is bored and cranky. A simple session of cleaning up the O.R. leads to each of the staff yelling at one another. Col. Potter gets so frustrated he walks out on all of them.

But Father Mulcahy, coming from Seoul, brings some good news: a movie that Potter requested and he is clearly very excited about. He's so excited, in fact, he announces that his "all-time favorite movie" will be shown after dinner.

The crankiness continues through dinner--everyone's in such a bad mood, no one's talking, so dinner is a tension-filled event. But Potter comes in and announces the night's movie is the classic Henry Fonda picture My Darling Clementine. This--and Potter's enthusiasm--seems to cheer everyone up.

Later, the movie starts, to the cheers and applause of the audience. Unfortunately, just a few minutes into the picture, the film goes off the reel and the screen goes dark.

As Klinger fixes the film, Col. Potter organizes a community sing-along, and after some cajoling they all sing "The Tennessee Waltz."

The film starts again, and runs for another few minutes, when--at a crucial scene--it goes out again. The crowd starts to get really annoyed, when Father Mulcahy--via piano--breaks into "Gee Mom, I Want To Go Home", causing everyone to sing along, and add their own specific sets of lyrics.

Radar then does some impressions, followed by everyone doing impressions of Father Mulcahy (Radar doing the best job), ending with Hot Lips singing a song all on her own, getting so wrapped up in the performance she doesn't even stop after the movie starts up again.

During the film's climactic shoot-out, everyone gets in on the act, play-pretending shooting each other, with them all falling over in mock agony. It leads to everyone laying on the floor as the movie rolls on.

The mood is broken when a jeep arrives carrying wounded, snapping everyone into action.

Fun Facts: Hawkeye and B.J. have an argument about a shirt Hawkeye bought for B.J.--one sleeve is longer than the other. Hawkeye says that nonsense, and puts it on as proof. Unfortunately, one sleeve is indeed longer than the other. One of the show's all-time great props, Hawkeye shifts his shoulders like Quasimodo to make the sleeves even out, a great bit of physical comedy.

The scene of everyone adding their own lyrics to the "Gee Mom" song brushes up against being completely improbable--how do Hot Lips, Radar, the Nurses, et al, manage to come up with perfectly-fitting lyrics so fast? (Ironically, the most realistic addition is from Frank, who clearly was sitting in his seat quietly trying to come up with something, and breaks into the song long after everyone else has stopped)

The episode's final scene features everyone in O.R., quietly singing "My Darling Clementine" in perfect harmony--a nice, mellow ending, and a great way to wrap-up an episode partly about the transformative power of movies and their ability to bring a group of people together, if only for a short while.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter: "Now this movie's a classic--it has the three things that make a movie great: horses, cowboys, and horses."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Episode 166 - The General's Practitioner

Season 5, Episode 116: The General's Practitioner
Original Air Date: 2/15/77
Written by: Burt Prelutsky

Directed by: Alan Rafkin

In the middle of a session in O.R., a Col. Bidwell (Leonard Stone) arrives, and demands an audience with Col. Potter.

Potter meets with Bidwell, who tells Potter that he is looking for a private doctor for his commander, Gen. Lowell Korshak, and he wants the best doctor the 4077th has got--which means Hawkeye.

Potter tries to talk Bidwell out of the idea, trying to get across just how un-military Hawkeye is. But Bidwell won't listen, and he asks to get a look at Hawkeye at work.

In O.R., Hawkeye almost loses a patient, but he manages to bring the soldier back, almost by sheer force of will. Bidwell gets in the way, and Hawkeye barks at him to get the hell out of the way.

Potter and Bidwell walk out to Bidwell's jeep, where Potter reiterates what a bad mix Hawkeye and Gen. Korshak would be. Bidwell says he'll mention that in his report, and drives off.

Later that night, Potter joins Hawkeye and B.J. for drinks in the Swamp, and tells Hawkeye what Col. Bidwell was there for. Meanwhile, we see Col. Bidwell in a jeep with Gen. Korshak, on their way to the 4077th.

Korshak arrives, makes his way to Col. Potter's office, and they have a drink. He then demands to see his new personal physician--now.

Hawkeye and Korshak are introduced, and Hawkeye absolutely refuses to answer any of Korshak's questions seriously, which seems to charm the General.

Things get more serious when Korshak formally says he wants Hawkeye as his doctor, and Hawkeye firmly--but gently--refuses. He argues that if he has to be in Korea, why not do the work he's supposed to do--be a real doctor.

Korshak then asks to see Hawkeye in action, so Hawkeye gives the General a physical--and the results are not good.

Hawkeye says, between Korshak's drinking, smoking, and extra weight, there's a stroke headed his way, and he's not interested in being Korshak's "court jester" while there are wounded kids he can save if he's at the 4077th.

Korshak at first refuses, and says Hawkeye will get the official orders in a few days. He begins to drive off, but Hawkeye demands he stop, and offers this ultimatum: "Now you guys always say the men come first--well do they, or don't they?"

This finally makes Korshak change his mind, and he agrees to cancel the whole thing. He drives off, leaving Hawkeye to stay and do his job.

Later, Frank asks Col. Potter to recommend him for the job of Korshak's doctor. Potter agrees, and starts writing down the various bursts of salacious material Hawkeye and B.J. offer up, leading Frank to protest getting what he asked for.

Fun Facts: Gen. Korshak is played by long-time character actor Edward Binns, who was a favorite of legendary director Sidney Lumet. He had roles in two of Lumet's best films, 12 Angry Men and The Verdict.

Favorite Line: Hakweye tries to explain to Gen. Korshak why he's here, grabbing his lapel and asking Korshak what he sees there. Unfortunately for Hawkeye, there's nothing there.

Hawkeye: "You see this?"

Korshak: "What?"

Hawkeye: "There's supposed to be a medical insignia there--Caduceus. [shrugging] I probably dropped it in a patient."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Episode 115 - Hepatitis

Season 5, Episode 115: Hepatitis
Original Air Date: 2/8/77
Written by: Alan Alda

Directed by: Alan Alda

Father Mulcahy comes down with Hepatitis, so the doctors snap into action, to make sure it doesn't sweep through the camp.

Col. Potter talks to the cook, B.J. tends to Father Mulcahy, and Hawkeye has to give everyone in camp a shot of Gamma Globulin.

That's a big enough job, but its made more complicated by the fact that Hawkeye is having back trouble--the pain is getting worse and worse, leaving Hawkeye stooped over.

First, he gives a shot to Frank (who is nothing but trouble, of course), then Hot Lips, where he drools over her exposed tush. This, understandably, enrages Hot Lips, and barks at Hawkeye for ogling her. Hawkeye, realizing he was out of line, apologizes.

Wounded arrive, and a particularly difficult case is among them--one soldier's stomach is almost entirely gone. Hawkeye recommends B.J. take the case, since he has been reading up on the necessary procedure, which puts him one up over the rest of them.

Working from a text book, B.J. pulls the solider through, the surgery having gone flawlessly.

Hawkeye continues giving the camp shots, moving from Klinger then to Radar. While with Radar, he confides that he's been feeling insecure about how he's different than most of his other friends, who like to get drunk and consort with the various girls in town.

Hawkeye gives him some wonderful, tender advice, telling him he carries "a piece of Iowa with you wherever you go", and how he'll meet the one special woman he's been waiting for his whole life. Radar is comforted, and thanks Hawkeye, only to have Hawkeye ask him to drop his pants.

Later, Hawkeye finds B.J.--still in need of a shot--celebrating in the Officers Club, drunk and giddy he pulled off the surgery. B.J. gets so tipsy he collapses over a table, so Hawkeye pulls his shorts down in front of everyone, and gives B.J. the shot.

Even later, Hawkeye and Col. Potter have drinks in his office, and Potter gives him some advice about Hawkeye's back trouble: he believes Hawkeye is angry about news from home. A local Crabapple Cove doctor who, despite his average medical skills, is cleaning up back home because he has no real competition.

Potter reminds Hawkeye that he only really has to worry about competing with himself. Potter kindly adds, "And for you, that's tough enough."

Potter then suggests sending the quack back home an anonymous letter. Hawkeye busts out laughing, his imagination running wild with ideas, immediately starting to feel better.

Fun Facts: The Young Sherman Potter Adventures: Col. Potter mentions one time in WWI, he ate turnpis every day for a week: "My tongue smelled like Arthur Murray's foot bath."

Favorite Line: Hakweye is disappointed that he didn't get any mail, especially his beloved nudie magazines.

Radar meekly offers him one of Frank's issues of Popular Mechanics: "Some of the ads go pretty far."

Hawkeye: "Radar, a picture of a three-way toilet valve does not go 'pretty far.'"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Episode 114 - Hanky Panky

Season 5, Episode 114: Hanky Panky
Original Air Date: 2/1/77
Written by: Gene Reynolds

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

B.J. makes friends with Nurse Donovan (Ann Sweeny), who seems distracted and sad, but won't say why.

She volunteers to work in Post Op with B.J. to follow up on some cases, and he notices her reading a letter. Turns out its a "Dear Jane" letter, where her husband back home says he wants a divorce.

She initially doesn't want to talk about it any further, but B.J. keeps pestering her to open up. Finally, she agrees, and they decide to talk in her tent later on.

Late at night, B.J. arrives, and Donovan tells him how devastated she is. She feels alone and despondent, and B.J. tries to give her a pep talk. But it goes from a talk to hand-holding, then a hug, then a kiss...

The next morning, Hawkeye sees B.J. at breakfast in the Mess Tent. Hawkeye digs at B.J. a little bit about his not coming home, but B.J. is terse and humorless. He's almost downright rude when Donovan sits down, and after a few seconds of small talk he leaves.

Later that night, Hawkeye catches up with B.J. in the Swamp, writing a letter to Peg. After some nudging, B.J. admits what happened--he slept with Nurse Donovan, and he is completely miserable over it.

He's writing Peg about it, but Hawkeye is adamant that's a bad idea--he ends up grabbing B.J.'s letter, crumbling it up and throwing it in the stove. He tells B.J. that he simply made a mistake, and B.J. can punish himself if he wants, but he shouldn't punish Peg. B.J. agrees, but is still miserable.

In Col. Potter's office, Nurse Donovan asks for a transfer, saying its due to personal problems. Potter gently turns her down, saying whatever problems she's having aren't much compared to what the wounded are going through. Donovan meekly agrees.

Later, while both of them are working in Post Op, B.J. and Donovan have it out, and she lets him know how surly he's been to her since their night together. They talk about outside, and B.J. admits how guilty he feels.

Donovan accepts and understands this, but insists that what he did--comforting a friend in need--wasn't wrong. B.J. admits he's still attracted to her, but she firmly states that just because it happened once, doesn't mean its ever going to happen again: "I have my own problems; I don't need you to solve them for me."

They agree to become friends--closer than most--and they go back to work.

Fun Facts: The scene with Hawkeye and B.J. after he's revealed of his night with Nurse Donovan is great, a wonderful moment between two friends. I just wish it was longer--Hawkeye gives some good advice, but leaves just a few lines too soon for my taste.

Nurse Donovan is never seen again, so Col. Potter must have approved her transfer eventually...

Favorite Line: Hawkeye incredulously tells B.J. that Nurse Donovan turned him down for a date.

B.J., sarcastically: "Oh-ho. Some day she'll look back and want to pound her head on a rock."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Episode 113 - End Run

Season 5, Episode 113: End Run
Original Air Date: 1/25/77
Written by: John D. Hess

Directed by: Harry Morgan

This episode opens on the front line, as a group of U.S. solider come under enemy fire. One of the wounded is a young man named Billy Tyler (Henry Brown), who arrives at the 4077th with a nasty wound to his leg. Radar recognizes Tyler, who was a college football star back in Iowa.

Just before he goes under, Tyler tells Hawkeye and B.J. that if they "can't save the leg...don't save me." But despite their best efforts, Tyler's leg wound is too great, and Hawkeye ends up having to amputate it.

Later, in Post Op, Tyler thanks Hawkeye for saving his leg. Hawkeye has to break the news to him that the pains Tyler feels are just "phantom pains", leftovers from the wound. Tyler, for the first time, looks under his blanket, and sees what has happened. He is furious, and, eyes welling up with tears, blames Hawkeye and tells him to go to Hell.

Hawkeye is demoralized by Tyler's reaction, and so is Radar, who comes in to drown his sorrows in booze, as well. Hawkeye tries to take his mind off it by getting involved in a fight between Klinger and Sgt. Zale, organized by Frank, mostly for his own entertainment. He tries getting the two of them to agree to a truce, but it doesn't work.

Later, Radar tells Hawkeye that Billy wants "out"--and not just out of the Army. Hawkeye sits down and has a talk with Billy, but he's adamant about his belief that he has no future without being able to play football.

After Hawkeye leaves, Radar stops by to talk, reminiscing about a great game he saw Tyler play in, where, even though Tyler's team was behind, Tyler simply wouldn't give up until he and his team were victorious.

Remembering that game, Tyler agrees that it was his tenacity that won the day, and says "There's always a way to beat them--you just have to keep searching, until you find it."

In that moment, Tyler realizes what he just heard himself say, and that Radar was drawing it out of him.

Meanwhile, Klinger and Zale's fight commences, with Frank gleefully acting as ringmaster. After they dance around each other, never landing a punch, Frank demands they really start throwing some punches. So they do--both hitting Frank at the same time, knocking him out. The spectators--Hawkeye, B.J., Hot Lips, and others--fall over in hysterics.

Later, Tyler is being shipped out, and he mentions to Hawkeye that he's going to go for "the short pass"--a term which bewilders Hawkeye but delights Radar. Tyler thanks Hawkeye for all his help.

After Tyler's ambulance departs, Radar explains to Hawkeye that Billy intends to try. Both of them feeling better, they decide to have a drink together at Rosie's Bar. Radar wonders, "Can you get drunk on Grape Nehi?" Hawkeye, putting his arm around Radar, answers: "I don't know, let's find out."

Fun Facts: The second episode of the series directed by Harry Morgan, who shows himself to be a crackerjack TV director. This episode opens with two scenes--one of Billy getting wounded, the other the brawl in Rosie's Bar--brilliantly intercut, with the fight scene being particularly well-executed.

Col. Potter has a tiny role in this episode, like he did in Morgan's previous directing effort, Season Four's "The Novocaine Mutiny." I guess Morgan found it easier to direct an episode when he didn't have to do too much acting in it, either.

Favorite Line: Klinger and Zale engage in a round of insults, with Klinger getting off this good one: "If my dog had your face, I'd shave his butt and teach him to walk backwards."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episode 112 - Ping Pong

Season 5, Episode 112: Ping Pong
Original Air Date: 1/18/77
Written by: Sid Dorfman

Directed by: William Jurgensen

The 4077th is watching with bated breath an inter-camp ping pong tournament, and their best player, Cho Lin (Richard Narita) is facing off against the player from the 8055th.

Cho ends up winning, and of course everyone is thrilled--except for Frank, who bet against his own unit. "I got 3 to 1 odds", he protests.

After surgery, Cho brings his fiancee, Soony (Sachiko Lee) by the Swamp, where he announces they're going to be married. Hawkeye and B.J. offer to hold the ceremony at the 4077th, and even pony up money so Cho can afford a wedding ring. Frank scoffs at Hawkeye and B.J.'s naivete, insisting its foolish to trust an "Oriental."

Cho left for Seoul to get the ring, and Soony becomes worried--and then inconsolable--when Cho doesn't come back on time. Soony begins to cry, saying she doesn't think Cho is coming back. Hawkeye tries to reassure her, and Frank thinks all of it is very funny.

Later on, wounded arrive, and one of those hurt is Cho! Turns out that when he was in Seoul, a South Korean Army truck came by, grabbed Cho, put a uniform on him, and sent him into battle.

After tending to his rather minor wounds, Frank demands to know why Hawkeye and B.J. haven't shipped Cho out. They try and bluff their way out of it, but Frank is adamant, even drawing up a formal list of charges against them for various infractions.

Col. Potter asks Hawkeye and B.J. why Cho hasn't been shipped out, and they tell him about the upcoming wedding. At first that doesn't mollify Potter, but he changes his mind when Hawkeye says Potter will be giving away the bride! Potter, beaming with pride, agrees to let the ceremony commence.

The wedding--a Buddhist ceremony where no words are spoken--is performed, with everyone watching and bursting into applause when its over. Frank wanders over to the wedding cake, taking a taste of it while no one's looking.

Later, Radar and Col. Potter play ping-pong, and Radar can barely contain his laughter as he beats Potter so easily.

Fun Facts: The subplot--involving an old friend of Col. Potter's whose incompetence on the battlefield gets some soldiers killed, and Potter has to step in--would be virtually repeated in an 11th season episode.

Frank is at his worst in this episode--he's racist, rude, and completely insensitive, even when Soony runs away crying. What a dick.

The divide between Frank and Hot Lips of course started when she got engaged, but there's a subtle, telling moment in a scene where Hot Lips has Radar wear Soony's wedding gown so she can hem it properly (Radar being the same size as the bride).

Radar tells her a story about a guy back home, Boris, who wore women's clothes, "and wasn't even in the Army like Klinger, if you know what I mean." Hot Lips, while working on the dress, says quietly, "To each his own"--an astoundingly open-minded view, and a very different answer than the Hot Lips of previous seasons would have given.

Favorite Line: Potter, discussing Frank's list of grievances: "We all know, when the Good Lord gave out Paranoia, Frank Burns got in line twice."

Hawkeye, holding up four fingers: "Three times."

B.J. bends back one of Hawkeye's fingers, and Hawkeye adds: "Thank you. The third time he denied ever being in line."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Episode 111 - 38 Across

Season 5, Episode 111: 38 Across
Original Air Date: 1/1/77
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Without a lot of wounded, Hawkeye and B.J. are bored, bored, bored. Luckily, they find a New York Times crossword puzzle and are determined to complete it, eventually getting the whole operating staff in on it.

They are down to one last clue--a five-letter term for a Yiddish bedbug--and none of them can answer it. Hawkeye gets so frustrated that he has Radar place a call to an old friend, Tippy Brooks, who is a crossword whiz and is currently serving on a Navy ship in Pusan Harbor. Brooks is in surgery when they call, so they leave a message saying they need his help urgently.

Unfortunately, Brooks takes the message a little too literally, and radios that he and an Admiral are on their way to the 4077th. Hawkeye and B.J. are bewildered, wondering how they're going to explain all this.

Tippy Brooks (Oliver Clark) and Admiral Cox (Dick O'Neill) do in fact arrive, having had to avoid enemy fire and end up walking the rest of the way to the 4077th. Brooks asks Hawkeye what the emergency is, and after some hemming and hawing, Hawkeye tells him the reason they called.

Brooks is furious, and says they have to come up with some sort of story for the Admiral. They struggle to devise a suitable story (with Hawkeye still determined to find out the missing Yiddish word, much to Tippy's annoyance).

They take the Admiral on a tour of Post Op, pretending a series of routine cases are confounding medical diagnoses. The Admiral sees through all this, and is mad at the 4077th for wasting his time.

He's in the middle of a tirade when Father Mulcahy runs in and says there's been an accident involving some civilians, who have suffered horrible burns. Brooks and Cox help out, impressed that this group of goofballs are in fact a top-flight medical unit.

After seven hours of surgery, Hawkeye, B.J., Col. Potter, Father Mulcahy, Brooks, and Cox wind down in the Mess Tent. A North Korean radio announcer, Seoul City Sue, brands "Captain Hawkeye Pierce" a war criminal because of his operating on a North Korean prisoner's head, stating that he was performing experiments.

The next day, Brooks and Cox leave, and they tell him the real reason for all this. Cox is incredulous that they "came all this way for the word 'Vontz'?"

Fun Facts: This episode features two guest actors--Oliver Clark and Dick O'Neill--who would return to the show, playing different characters (O'Neill would in fact return twice more).

Favorite Line: Radar tells Potter there's trouble, and Potter guesses: "Hawkeye lock Burns in the Nurses' Latrine?"

Radar: "No, sir, that was last week."

Col. Potter: "Time flies."

...I love hearing about escapades of the 4077th that we as viewers have never seen.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Episode 110 - The Most Unforgettable Characters

Season 5, Episode 110: The Most Unforgettable Characters
Original Air Date: 1/4/77
Written by: Ken Levine & Davis Isaacs

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Radar has decided to take a correspondence course on how to be a writer, and his first efforts are with the daily report, where we hear him adding all kinds of purple prose to what is supposed to be a military report.

Col. Potter notices this and tells him that the daily report is not a place for "expressing yourself creatively." Radar assures him this course--"just $50, plus a $5 student activity fee"--is worthwhile, but Potter seems none too sure.

Radar moves on to the second assignment in the course, relating an amusing anecdote. He turns to Hawkeye and B.J. for a funny story, and Hawkeye tells one about learning how many bones are in the human hand (28) from a very erudite squirrel.

They turn to Frank for a story, but he's more sour than usual. After telling a terrible story about a childhood pal who lost control of his wheelchair and smashed into Frank's father's car, he blurts out that its his birthday, and no one seems to care.

Hawkeye and B.J., later on, decide to give Frank a present--fake a fight between each other, which they figure will entertain Frank to no end. They squabble in the Swamp, screaming and hitting each other with pillows. Frank is overjoyed.

But...there's a problem. Hawkeye is actually a little upset over some of B.J.'s supposedly fake criticisms, especially over B.J.'s observation that Hawkeye always has to get in the last word. This leads to a confrontation outside, where Hawkeye tries to prove B.J. is wrong, but nevertheless can't stop getting in the last word, leading B.J. to storm off in frustration.

Meanwhile, Radar tries one more time to inject a bunch of big words in the duty log. Col. Potter tears the paper out of Radar's typewriter, barking at him to knock it off. He tells him that he doesn't think much of Radar's writing, because its so inauthentic.

Later on, he wanders into the Swamp, looking for ideas for stories. Hawkeye and B.J. begin to snipe at one another for Frank's benefit, but its so well done that it makes Radar upset. He tells them that he finds their friendship inspiring, but seeing them fight makes his chest feel tight.

Hawkeye and B.J. reveal its all an act, a birthday present for Frank. Frank admits he loved it, and is mad at Radar for ending the charade.

Later, Radar gives up writing, instead taking up magic. He tries the old "smashing the watch" bit, but Frank takes over, destroying his own watch before Radar had the chance to slip it into his pocket. Frank chases him out of the Swamp, with Radar screaming "It was just a rehearsal!"

Fun Facts: A comment on not the episode itself, but the DVD: for each episode, there's a menu comprised of a still from the episode, with the four selections (Play Episode, Language Selection, etc.) worked in.

Some times, the list of choices is worked in very cleverly, none more so than this one: the list is put on Radar's daily report (like in the still above), except that the list is backwards, as if Radar and Col. Potter are looking at it typed on the page. Having worked in web design, I can tell you how tough it is sometimes to get something unusual like that past higher-ups who think it'll confuse the end user.

The scene with Hawkeye and B.J. arguing over Hawkeye's inability to let someone else have the last word is a classic, with Mike Farrell showing some real edge of genuine frustration with his friend.

Favorite Line: Klinger supposedly tries to kill himself by setting himself on fire (actually faking water for gasoline). He gives Col. Potter the chance to send him home, and warns he's serious: "Have you ever seen a Lebanese go up in flames? Its not pretty."

I love that joke, partly because as a kid I didn't get the idea that seeing a Lebanese person on fire would somehow be worse than anyone else.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Episode 109 - Hawk's Nightmare

Season 5, Episode 109: Hawk's Nightmare
Original Air Date: 12/21/76
Written by: Burt Prelutsky

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Hawkeye seems particularly agitated during surgery, complaining about the shocking youth of his patients. He calls them "babies" and said they should all be home getting burped by their mothers, not fighting in a war.

At the end of a day-long session in O.R., Hawkeye and B.J. go to sleep, but a few minutes later, Hawkeye wanders out of bed, across the camp, sleepwalking--and acting like a small child, to boot.

The next morning, everyone asks him what he was doing the night before, and Hawkeye doesn't have the foggiest idea what they're talking about. At first he dismisses the idea, until Klinger mentions the name of a grade school principal Hawkeye talked about while miming playing basketball, which freezes Hawkeye in his place.

Another day goes by, and in the middle of the night Hawkeye wakes up again and goes sleepwalking. He reverts back to the same childlike identity he had the night before--miming playing basketball and shooting marbles. He wanders the compound until Radar and Klinger lead him back to his cot.

This all seems harmless enough, but then thinks take a darker turn--Hawkeye has a blood-curdling nightmare, about a childhood friend getting killed with sledding. B.J. wakes him up, and Hawkeye finds himself sweaty, with his heart-pounding...and a possibly soiled cot.

The next day, Hawkeye tries to convince himself that its just tension. He tries to make himself feel better by calling the childhood friend back home, just to see if he's all right. He is, but the phone call degenerates into a shouting match when the friend insists Hawkeye owes him $37.

That night, Hawkeye is afraid to go to sleep, and he tries to get other people to stay up with him. At first he tries Klinger, then Father Mulcahy, and then gets so desperate he even tries to talk to Frank.

When that peters out, he lays down and falls asleep. But, sure enough, a little while later, he has another nightmare about a childhood friend being hurt, leading to him make another phone call.

As Radar puts the call through, Col. Potter asks him afterward to call Sidney Freedman. Sidney agrees to come visit the next day.

Late at night the next day, Hawkeye, B.J., Col. Potter, Radar, Father Mulcahy and Sindey are playing cards. One hand ends, and Hawkeye and Sidney take a walk outside, ending with them sitting outside the Swamp.

Hawkeye is clearly worried--terrified, even--and he comes out and asks Sidney if he think he's going crazy. Sidney, who has been gentle with Hawkeye to this point, pointedly answers, "No."

He deduces that Hawkeye is trying to get back to a time in his life when there were no Life or Death decisions. And that, on the whole, the dreams are peaceful--its when the pain of being in war intrudes on them is when they turn dark. He reassures Hawkeye that this will pass, but reminds him that there's "a lot of pain" Hawkeye is dealing with, and it will take some time to pass.

Hawkeye, feeling better, thanks Sidney for his help. Sidney responds by challenging Hawkeye to a game of Mime Basketball, the same kind Hawkeye has been playing all week.

As they laugh and relax, Klinger and Radar watch from inside, amazed. Klinger now understands why his brand of crazy gets so little notice.

Fun Facts: The scene outside the Swamp with Hawkeye and Sidney is extraordinary--Sidney is so warm and understanding, yet clear-eyed and honest. Who wouldn't go to therapy, if this was your doctor?

Sidney uses the (presumably Yiddish) word ferschimmled at one point in the episode. Upon seeing this episode, I would use that word as a kid, always leading people to ask me what the heck that meant.

I love how unresolved this episode is--Sidney doesn't have any sort of magic cure for Hawkeye. He tells him the dreams will continue, at least for a little while, because of all the pain bubbling up in Hawkeye's subconscious, an astonishingly dark prognosis, when you think about it.

Alan Alda, for all his chemistry with the other cast members, always seemed the most engaged when he had dialog with Allan Arbus. For my money, I could watch Hawkeye and Sidney scenes all day.

Favorite Line: After Sidney makes an astute observation, Hawkeye applauds him and says, in mock surprise, "Hey, you're pretty good."

Sidney: "Thank you. For my next trick I'll invent Sibling Rivalry."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Episode 108 - Exorcism

Season 5, Episode 108: Exorcism
Original Air Date: 12/14/76
Written by: Gene Reynolds & Jay Folb

Directed by: Alan Alda

A Korean peddler pushing an overloaded a cart full of knick-knacks set up shop on the compound. Col. Potter asks the man to leave (giving him an hour to have a "going out of business" sale), because he's blocking traffic.

He also asks Radar to move a "spirit post" that some of the locals set up, to ward away evil spirits. Potter, not believing in any of that stuff, asks Radar to move it out of the way. Radar tries to talk him out of it at first, but Potter insists.

No sooner does he move it, then a young Korean man riding a bike loses control and crashes into the peddler's cart. Then more unusual phenomena take place: a gauge breaks in the middle of an operation, an O.R. bulb bursts, the P.A. conks out, Col. Potter stabs himself with his scalpel, and Hawkeye accidentally breaks Frank's mirror, cracking the glass in two.

Hoping to change their luck, Radar puts up a horseshoe on Col. Potter's office wall. Potter still scoffs at the idea, but likes the horseshoe as a simple ornament.

Later, a jeep carrying some of the 4077th's patients home crashes, and they are all brought back to camp. One of the other wounded is a very old Korean man, who doesn't want to be operated on at the camp because of supposed evil spirits haunting the place. He's so scared he won't let Hawkeye touch him, even though it means he'll probably die because of his injuries.

His daughter, who followed her father to the 4077th, says there is a village priestess who can perform an exorcism, which would put the old man at ease. After a debate about it in Col. Potter's office (with Frank against it, of course), they bring the priestess to the camp, where she performs an intricate, colorful, and (to the members of the 4077th) baffling ceremony.

The old man, now relieved, allows Hawkeye to perform the operation. All of a sudden, the P.A. starts working again, and the gauge that was broken earlier is now fixed. Hmm...

Later, as a way to say thank you, the old man's daughter gives Hawkeye a metal wind-chime: "Not for scaring away evil spirits--for decoration."

Col. Potter, just to be safe, has Radar put the spirit post back where it was. Radar, as always, is ahead of him, having already done so.

Fun Facts: The scene in Col. Potter's office debating whether to let the exorcism go forth is interesting, and I love Father Mulcahy's open-minded approach to spirituality--he's eager to see the performance, and even quotes the Bible in support of the idea, much to the chagrin of Frank.

Favorite Line: Klinger assures Col. Potter and Father Mulcahy that there are evil spirits, curses, and the like.

He tells a story: "I come from a long line of short-nosed people. One day, my Grandfather's camel spit in the eye of the village witch. Ever since then, we've been growing them like this", pointing to his own sizeable nose.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Episode 107 - The Colonel's Horse

Season 5, Episode 107: The Colonel's Horse
Original Air Date: 12/7/76
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Col. Potter gets some R&R, so he's headed off for a second honeymoon with his wife in Tokyo.

Before he leaves, Hot Lips tells him that her appendix is acting up, and she wants permission to go to Tokyo to get it removed. Potter suggests having the procedure done at the 4077th, but she doesn't want Frank--who handles routine surgeries--to touch her. Hot Lips asks if Hawkeye can do the procedure, if necessary, and Potter agrees.

A few days later, Radar is shocked to find Col. Potter's horse, Sophie, laying down in her corral, sick. He asks Hawkeye and B.J. for help. They try to beg off, but Radar finally guilts them into it. At first, they don't really take this seriously, and they make so many jokes Radar gets mad at them for their indifference. Hawkeye and B.J. straighten up.

After examining Sophie and not being able to figure out what's wrong, they call B.J.'s father-in-law who is more familiar with veterinary medicine. He tells B.J. that Sophie has Colic, a twisting of the intestines, which could be fatal.

The prescription is to "clean her out" with lots and lots of warm water, an unappealing prospect. But Hawkeye and B.J. persevere--they hook a hose up to the camp water tank, and with the help of other people in the camp, they fill the tank with warm water, sending it down the hose to the other end, where Hawkeye is handling the rough part.

After a minute or two, Sophie whinnies loudly, kicking a wall of her corral--mission accomplished! Just in time for Col. Potter to arrive back in camp. He asks Radar hw Sophie's doing. Radar assures him, "Clean as a whistle, sir--inside and out!"

That night, Hot Lips staggers into the Swamp, doubled over in pain--her appendix about to burst. Hawkeye grabs B.J. and they take her to the O.R. Potter and Mulcahy are there, too, and then Frank bursts in, demanding to be the one who performs the surgery. Hot Lips tells him in no uncertain terms to get out.

The next morning, both Col. Potter and Hawkeye escort their respective patients for a stroll of the compound, both ladies feeling much better.

Fun Facts: "The Colonel's Horse" is one of the series most dull episode titles. To be fair, these were never meant to be broadcast or known outside the network and the studio, but considering the episode is about two sick females (Hot Lips and Sophie), a title reflecting that might have been a bit more appropriate.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye wakes B.J. up by throwing a pillow at him. B.J. annoyed, asks, "What? What?"

Hawkeye: "Appendix!"

B.J.: (trying to go back to sleep) "Never heard of him."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Episode 106 - Hawkeye Get Your Gun

Season 5, Episode 106: Hawkeye Get Your Gun
Original Air Date: 11/30/76
Written by: Gene Reynolds & Jay Folb

Directed by: William Jurgensen

During a long, grueling session in O.R., Frank keeps making less-than-subtle comments about Col. Potter's age, and how he might not be as capable as his three younger surgeons. Potter is, of course, insulted.

Later on, the 4077th gets a message from a Korean hospital, asking for help--two doctors, and all the medical supplies a jeep can carry. While trying to decide who will go, Frank puts his foot in his mouth again, suggesting that Potter is too old to go on this mission.

Potter uses a deck of cards to decide who's going to go--and it ends up being Hawkeye and...Col. Potter.

As they climb into the jeep, Potter notices Hawkeye does not have his standard issue sidearm. Hawkeye argues he doesn't want to bring it, but Potter insists.

Soon, they arrive at the Korean hospital, but it's not quite a hospital--its more of a dilapidated hut. The commander, Major Choi (Mako), greets them, and immediately puts them to work.

Hawkeye is dismayed (and more than a little snide) at the lack of sterile conditions, but Major Choi reminds him they are making do with what they have.

Its a marathon session, with the added feature of shelling going on outside. Eventually, Hawkeye and Col. Potter try to catch some sleep in a side room, resting on a wooden crate. Hawkeye boasts he can put Potter to sleep, and tries to pseudo-hypnotize him into doing so. It works, but in reverse--its Hawkeye who passes out, leaving Potter to go back to work.

Surgery goes on all night, eventually ending in the morning. Major Choi commends them on their work, and they head home.

On the way back, Hawkeye and Potter drink liberally from a canteen of booze Klinger packed in their jeep. They both get hammered and silly, but things get serious when bombs start to fall on the road they're driving on, getting so close they stop the jeep and hide in a nearby ditch.

A shell hits their jeep, blowing it up ("The case will be in court for years!", Hawkeye comments). Then bullets start to fly, and Potter, refusing to be "dragged off to some Chinese prison camp", empties his gun firing back.

He insists Hawkeye do the same, but he adamantly refuses. Potter flat out orders him to, yet Hawkeye still refuses. He lets Potter know it is simply not in him to shoot anyone, for any reason.

Finally Potter talks Hawkeye into it, telling him to think of the gun as "The biggest noise-maker in all of Korea." Hawkeye relents, but only partially--he shoots straight into the air, warning everyone within earshot to take cover. Now that he's used up all his bullets, he reasons, can he go home now?

Potter is amazed at the extent of Hawkeye's refusal to play along--simultaneously angry and impressed. But since he's also drunk, he finds it very funny. They both end up giggling in the ditch, just as the bullets stop flying.

They wander back, running across a platoon of U.S. soldiers. Told that the North Koreans have moved out, Hawkeye and Col. Potter are safe to walk home, staggering drunkenly as they do it.

That night, Frank visits Col. Potter to say goodnight, amazed that the old man is still standing, let alone awake. Potter says he's about to do fifty push-ups, would Frank like to join him?

Frank begs off, leaving Potter to crawl into his bed, finally going to sleep after a very long day.

Fun Facts: This is actor Mako's second appearance on the series, after first appearing in Season 3's "Rainbow Bridge."

Hawkeye's utter hatred of guns (
"Look, Colonel--I'll treat their wounds, heal their wounds, bind their wounds, but I will not inflict their wounds!") had a huge effect on me as a kid.

Combined with another hero of mine, Batman, who had a similar view of them, I grew up with a visceral dislike of guns and the damage they cause. (I later spent some time skeet-shooting and target-shooting, with a variety of guns, coming away with an even bigger feeling of disgust. But I felt better--or more informed, at least--for getting some actual, real world experience to back those initial feelings up)

Favorite Line: Col. Potter defends his ability to go on the mission to Frank, by saying that "I may not be a colt, but I'm not an old grey mare, either!"

Hawkeye, backing him up: "She's right."

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