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."


What the Parrot Saw said...

This is the sort of episode that MASH's like to snipe at (I'd venture to say that Hawkeye indeed came close once or twice to being the "Yankee Doodle Doctor" at times in the last seasons), but everything here works: we see Potter immediately getting what Korshak's aide is getting at and sizing the situation up quick for him; "Pierce is not your man."

Hawkeye's disdain at the idea, meanwhile, rings true to his character. He refuses, while still offering sound medical advice (if a bit annoyed at having to do so) to the General.

Of course, some creative license is being taken here- one suspects that in the real army, the orders would be cut and that would be that. This episode's strength lies in is its making the General's reluctant willingness to forgo his vanity believable (an element of the series that doesn't always come off quite as easily as it does here).

What the Parrot Saw said...

^^alas, to edit: "MASH's detractors like to snipe at"

Russell said...

I'm more interested in the sub-plot. This is the one where Radar takes care of a buddy's lover and their love child after the buddy ships out. I always thought that was the more interesting story.
BJ to Radar: "You're a good father."
Radar: "I...I'm not the father."
BJ: "I know. You're still a good father."

And the directing is excellent...I remember distinctly the camera covering BJ and Radar walking to the girl's cabin, then as they enter the jeep with the General drives by and the camera follows them. That's pretty good technique.

Robbie in Tokyo said...

Hi. Great blog. Just discovered it when doing a thing on Leonard Stone. By the way that's not Leonard in your photo (it's Ed Binns).

Hey, funny, we share a first name, our last names rhyme, we both draw, we're both hail from the Garden State, both love MASH and I notice you have The Razor's Edge and Lost Horizon listed as favorite books.

That's pretty remarkable coincidence.

Another question, how do you find the time to run all these blogs and judging by the MASH one, which is very comprehensive and well done, not to mention well-written, you must have a full time staff, no? Lol!

Take care.

rob! said...

Hey Robbie, thanks for commenting--that is a whole lot of coincidences, there. Thanks for the kind words about the blog(s)!

Yes, I realize that the pic is of Ed Binns, even though I mention Stone first in the post. I've loved Mr. Binns from all his Sidney Lumet films.

Dominic said...

I agree with Russell, I've always had a soft spot for children and I love how Radar becomes a surrogate father to the baby, Lee Chin.

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