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.


Russell said...

Rob, you totally skipped over the parallel story of Frank trying frantically to get all his bee-bees into a hand-held puzzle while the rest of the camp is working on the crossword puzzle! I always appreciated the underlying comparison between the two battles of skill, Frank with his bee-bees and the whole rest of the camp with their crossword puzzle. (Although I have to admit Frank comes off a tad too stupid in this episode, I still think his cackle whenever he gets another bee-bee in a place is hilarious.)

Neal said...

I think it's interesting that you mention the off-screen antics mentioned in passing. Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell were regular writers on The Andy Griffith Show, where they employed the same approach. It was fun to hear about incidents in Mayberry that were never actually shown. Even characters like Juanita the waitress and Sarah the telephone operator were never shown, but were a regular part of the show.

What the Parrot Saw said...

Good observation, Neal ^^

This is a fun episode, albeit with a slightly silly premise. The Admiral's exasperation with Klinger (and his genuine surprise at K's getting up and aiding the wounded in his typically first-rate professionalism) is one of my favorite moments here.

Pepper said...

Im glad you mentioned that Parrot, thats what i tend to remember great about this episode is Frank, yet it seem so out of character for someone who is supposed to be so "stingy" over nude mags and such. I love the end scene when he gets done and is all proud, only to be ruined by Hawkeye's "congratulations". ,,,another great line which i think was funny but really brought to light the decline of Franks Burns....Hot Lips says something and he replies, if i shake, all my beebee's willcome out,,and she says "its too late Frank"...showed how he really lost sense of himself and reality..

Anonymous said...

Hawkeye's fantasy for BJ always brings a smile to my face, as well as 'and the Colonel said whatever you do, don't tell Burns' (as Frank walks in) I find myself doing that to ppl all the time,,it's always fun to see reactions.

Robert Gross said...

I love the title of this episode. It takes a minute to fully get it.

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