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."


Richard said...

This is another of those episodes I only saw once when it first aired, but a line of dialog has stuck with me ever since. In this case imperfectly, because I have only the vague recollection of a line, not its precise wording. Can you help me out here?

What I recall is Hawk nudging B.J. to discuss whatever happened with Donovan, and he says something like "So...who's number one in fidelity?" And B.J. shoots back "That would be RCA Victor."

rob! said...


You pretty much got it right, except Hawkeye asks "Who gets an A in fidelity?" and BJ simply responds, "RCA Victor."

Richard said...

Ah...many thanks! I am much obliged.

What the Parrot Saw said...

I'm glad that the 'BJ falls for another' storyline was only repeated twice (this being the first) as his reputation as the consummate family man might begin to be questioned!

BJ's 'morning after' awkwardness with Nurse Donovan is skillfully handled and sophisticated; the emotional nuances here hit an honest note without being melodramatic.

Very interesting is Hawkeye's advice to Beej not to tell Peg. I'm not sure I agree, but it brings home the point well that relationships can take turns in a warzone that have no easy or real parallel back home. Hawkeye seems to understand this; BJ, still perhaps judging his lapse by domestic standards, has a harder time realizing this.

Tuttle said...

Little bit of M*A*S*H trivia- Ann Sweeny(Donovan) became Mrs. Gene Reynolds a couple years after this aired.

Robert Gross said...

Maybe I'm a dunce, but did BJ *actually have sex with her*? I thought they just kissed. Which, for a family man like BJ, was bad enough (hence the letter).

If he's already been outright go-all-the-way unfaithful, then the hand-wringing of "War Co-Respondent" makes very little sense to me.

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