Monday, August 31, 2009

Episode 147 - Lil

Season 7, Episode 147: Lil
Original Air Date: 10/2/78
Written by: Sheldon Bull

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

The 4077th is visited for inspection by Col. Lillian Raeburn (Carmen Mathews), who is not your typical hard-nosed stickler for regulations: she's warm and friendly, and seems to take a shine to Col. Potter, who is the only one in camp around her same age. They've known a lot of the same people, and immediately fall into telling each other stories from their overlapping past.

With Hawkeye spending his time trying to find out what B.J.'s initials stand for (after an off-hand remark by Col. Raeburn), and Margaret in a tizzy trying to be perfect for the inspection, Col. Potter and Lil--as he comes to call her--spend all their time together, sharing a bottle of scotch and going on a picnic.

Radar is not pleased at this turn of events, feeling that this Col. Potter is acting improperly. Margaret, once she has a talk with Lil about her future in the Army, relaxes and recommits herself to a career in the military. They share their bi-polar feelings over some drinks in the Officers Club.

After a few more days like this, Col. Potter and Lil only grow closer. One night, in Lil's tent over some booze, she makes a move on Col. Potter. Potter is stunned into silence, and has to awkwardly explain that nothing like what Lil expects to happen is going to happen.

He apologizes, saying that maybe he sent Lil the wrong message being so friendly--but he was just so delighted to have someone of his own age to pal around with. But as long as he has a woman at home waiting for him...

Lil understands, and apologizes herself for misreading the situation. Awkwardly but friendly, they say good night, with Lil planning to leave for the next MASH the following morning.

The next morning, B.J., sick of Hawkeye's unyielding quest to find out his "real" name, gives it up: his parents were named Bea and Jay, hence, B.J. Hawkeye still isn't buying it.

Fun Facts: This episode is a nice showcase for Harry Morgan and guest star Carmen Mathews. So frequently on TV older people are not shown to have any sort of sexual desires, other than in the most coarse, jokey of terms. But the final scene between Potter and Lil is delicate and dignified.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye is determined to find out just what B.J. stand for, and asks to go through Radar's official personnel records. He asks where B.J.'s file is, and Radar says, "Officers in the front, enlisted men in the rear."

Hawkeye rifles through some papers, then asks, "Why are you in the front?"

Radar: "'Cause I do the filing."

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Episode 146 - Peace On Us

Season 7, Episode 146: Peace on Us
Original Air Date: 9/25/78
Written by: Ken Levine & David Isaacs

Directed by: George Tyne

In the wake of a lull-inspired, three-day party, Col. Potter has to deliver the bad news: the current round of peace talks have collapsed, leaving everyone "back at square one."

To make matters worse, the Army has decided to up the number of service points surgeons need to get shipped home, trapping Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester in Korea for even longer than they expected. B.J. is despondent, Winchester barks "We've been had--again!", while Hawkeye simply storms out of the Swamp.

Outside, Hawkeye's rage explodes, and he screams to the heavens while trying to rip apart a nearby jeep. He crosses the path of Margaret, who is also furious--she just found out that her husband Donald Penobscott has purposely had him himself transferred, effectively ending any further attempts at repairing their marriage. Crying, she realizes she's going get a divorce.

Hawkeye has had enough. He climbs into a jeep, and drives off. Margaret asks him where he's going, and he says, "The Peace Talks!"

Unbelievably, Hawkeye actually manages to bluff his way into the talks, pretending to be there to check up on one of the Generals, who's been complaining of Gastritis.

After drawing stares from all the diplomats, he makes his point: "There are people dying out there, you have to stop it! You can't wait anymore--you can't!" He's then escorted out of the tent by some MPs.

Back at the 4077th, word of Hawkeye's trip is breathlessly followed. Hawkeye is regarded as a hero, so they decide to plan a party in his honor.

When Hawkeye gets back, the camp seems to be empty, except for B.J., who is dressed entirely in red-dyed clothes. He explains to Hawkeye that, in honor of his trip and his desire to see some other color than Army green, they decided to paint the camp red--literally.

Inside the Mess Tent, everyone is wearing red clothes, with red-dyed hair to match. Everyone is giddy and drunk, and are proud of one of their own getting a chance to tell the diplomats they're, as Col. Potter puts it to a visiting Major looking for Hawkeye, "They're tired...and they want to go home."

The visiting Major--named Goss--comes bearing a message from the General whom Hawkeye treated: if he finds Hawkeye anywhere near the Peace Talks again, he's going to throw him in the jail and throw away the key. But, also--he wishes he was a crazy draftee doctor too so he could get away with what Hawkeye did.

That bit of business concluded, Major Goss decides to join the party. He figures he fits right in, taking off his helmet to reveal his red hair.

Fun Facts: Having grown up with M*A*S*H's laugh track, I don't find it intrusive to still hear it on the DVDs or reruns.

But this episode features one moment where the laugh track just dumps on a scene: right after Hawkeye is told the Army upped the rotation points, he storms out in rage and starts tearing apart a nearby jeep, yelling "Why not 60? Why not a million?!?"

His rage is palpable, and you really feel his torment at being stuck in Korea even longer. But that stupid laugh track is playing the whole time, really draining some of the scene's power. This is definitely one episode you should watch on DVD with the laugh track off.

This episode features a recurring factual mistake the series made--the subject of "rotation points." By the Korean War, the Army had given up that system, and in any case, it never used it for doctors.

Major Goss is played by Kevin Hagen, who previously appeared as Col. Coner in Season Four's "Some 38th Parallels."

Favorite Line: Col. Potter's scene with Margaret as she asks for help about whether to get a divorce is a nice, warm moment between the two. After she vacillates, he makes it easy for her: "C'mon, Margaret--from your gut: what do you wanna do?"

She answers, "Divorce him!"

Potter: "Then do it!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Episode 145 - Commander Pierce

Season 7, Episode 145: Commander Pierce
Original Air Date: 9/18/78
Written by: Ronny Graham and Don Segall

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Col. Potter has to head to Seoul for a pow-wow with the other MASH commanders, so he turns to Winchester to take over. But Winchester is very sick with a cold, and is unwilling to take the job. Potter then turns to Hawkeye, who absolutely refuses. Potter tells him that Radar will see him at 5am sharp.

Hawkeye refuses to take any part of being in command seriously--he shows up to Potter's office in his robe, unshaven, and pretty much just wants to get some sleep atop Potter's desk, much to Radar's horror at all the paperwork not getting done.

Klinger figures this is his best shot at a Section 8, and begins a procession of attempts to get Hawkeye to ship him out. Father Mulcahy turns to Hawkeye for blankets, since the 4077th is running low and its getting colder outside.

Hawkeye runs into a wall trying to get the blankets from I-Corps, when he learns that they won't send the 4077th anything without the proper forms. Its then that he realizes the mile high pile of paperwork must be attended to, and he sits down, grumbling, to get it all done.

In O.R., Hawkeye wants all the noise to stop, acting an awful lot like the Regular Army clowns he despises. He's short-tempered with everyone, even Radar, and when B.J. makes a crack at Hawkeye's expense, Hawkeye admonishes B.J. to "Stay in the back seat where you belong!"

Later, more wounded arrive, and one soldier mentions that a buddy of his--who's hurt worse--got left behind at Battalion Aid. B.J., not bothering to check with Hawkeye, takes off in a jeep to go get him.

When Hawkeye learns of this, he's furious, knowing there's even more wounded arriving and now he's down two surgeons.

They manage to get through it, and he scolds B.J. for doing so when he gets back. B.J. is having none of it, saying he did the same thing Captain Pierce would've done, not wanting to know what Commander Pierce would've done.

Col. Potter returns, and Hawkeye goes on a rant, delivering a list of complaints about the difficulty of running the 4077th. Potter refuses to take the bait, and grabs a bottle of liquor which he's taking to the Swamp.

He shares drinks with Hawkeye and B.J., who immediately start squabbling. Potter watches all this, and then steps in, admonishing Hawkeye for overreacting, but also reminding B.J. that if he had done his disappearing act while Potter was in charge, he would've been in a lot of trouble.

He manages to get Hawkeye and B.J. to make up, but then an errant comment by B.J. starts it all over again. As they fight, Potter looks at his near empty bottle: "All that perfectly good whiskey, shot to hell." He leaves the Swamp as Hawkeye and B.J. continue to argue.

Fun Facts: You can see how different the show looks starting with this season, now being shot on video tape instead of film. The colors are more vibrant, the image is sharper, but I think it made the show look less realistic, less gritty. Not to mention Mike Farrell's mustache!

Was the Army in 1952(ish) still so anti-women that they couldn't put Margaret in charge? I mean, she was a Major, after all...

Update 4/5/12: A comment from Brian informs me that I am mistaken about why and how M*A*S*H looked different between Seasons 1-6 and 7-11: "
You're mistaken regarding how the series was shot. They used 35mm film for the entire series. Videotape would've been awful. The change in color you see is because the cinematographer decided to warm up the palette a bit and they also changed film stocks." Good to know, thanks Brian!

Favorite Line: Hawkeye is on the phone with I-Corps, and when he's told he won't get some supplies without sending in a form known as DD-5D, he turns, sees them in Radar's hand, ready for Hawkeye's signature. He cheerfully tells I-Corps, "Yeah--those are in the mail."

Radar, hearing that, yells/whispers, "Hey, you can't lie to I-Corps!" Hawkeye gives Radar the a-ok sign, leading Radar to walk off in shock.

Monday, August 24, 2009

M*A*S*H Field Hospital Playset

From my pal Brian Heiler (of the great Plaid Stallions blog) comes another catalog listing for an unusual, rarely-seen piece of M*A*S*H merchandise--a Field Hospital Playset!

It says the set comes with three figures, which I assume are those white things by the hospital. Never having seen this piece other than here, I don't know whether those are generic people or sculpted to look like specific members of the 4077th. It also comes with a "Latrine building with removable roof"--oh yay!

Oddly, this Field Hospital Playset is different from the other one that I highlighted a few months ago. I never would have guessed there was one 4077th Field Hospital Playset, let alone two!

Thanks, Brian!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

TV Guide - 2/26/78

My pal Russell Burbage sent me this issue of TV Guide from 1978, featuring this unusual M*A*S*H cover, plus an article about the show's newest addition, David Ogden Steirs:
(click the image to see a bigger version)

Thanks Russell!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Episode 144 - Major Topper

Season 6, Episode 144: Major Topper
Original Air Date: 3/27/78
Written by: Allyn Freeman

Directed by: Charles Dubin

During a long session in O.R., a verbal joust breaks out between Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester, seeing who can tell the tallest, but supposedly true, tale. Whatever Hawkeye and B.J. comes up with, Winchester can top it.

In Post-Op, a problem arises: it seems that the tiny supply of Morphine the 4077th has left has gone bad, and can't be used without potentially doing further harm. With a hospital full of patients, no painkillers, and no chance of getting any more until the morning, they're in a tough spot.

Back in Potter's office, they discuss their options. Winchester suggests using the Morphine, thinking the one soldier's reaction was a fluke. Potter comes up with a different idea, one that he dispenses in secret: giving the patients sugar pills. In other words, a placebo. Basing the idea on something he saw a doctor give his Aunt when he was a child, he believes that if the doctors can sell it--really sell it--they just might work.

Meanwhile, Klinger is going through his paces with Corporal "Boots" Miller (Hamilton Camp), who seems completely insane--talking into a spoon and acting like its a microphone, talking to his socks, and even firing real bullets into imaginary North Korean gliders that he insists are buzzing the camp.

Hawkeye and B.J. make up the sugar pills, and everyone gives them out, trying to sell them as convincingly as possible.

Some time passes, and the doctors--none more than Winchester--are amazed to see that, for the most part, the placebos are working. Almost half of the patients are without pain, and are sleeping soundly. Some of them need some more persuasion, but for the most part the experiment seems a success.

Back in the Mess Tent, they all marvel at what they've just seen, except for Winchester, who has another tall tale to top it.

Later that night, Cpl. Miller's lunacy gets so out of control it catches the attention of Col. Potter. After Miller shoots down some more "gliders", Potter commands Klinger to drag Miller back to this office while Potter writes up a transfer.

Back in the Swamp, the tall tales start again, when Winchester suggests he dated Audrey Hepburn--the Audrey Hepburn. Hawkeye and B.J. demand proof, which they fully expect Winchester cannot produce. But then Winchester whips out a picture of himself having dinner with...Audrey Hepburn. Hawkeye and B.J., knowing when they're beaten, crawl into their beds, while Winchester tells them about the time he climbed The Matterhorn.

Weeks later, Col. Potter gets a letter from Cpl. Miller, telling him that he's made a small fortune selling replicas of his Mr. Shoes and Mr. Socks characters, and is working on a new toy, "Enemy Glider." Klinger thinks they've been hoodwinked, until Miller asks if Col. Potter can send reference photos of the glider he shot down.

Fun Facts: Actor Hamilton Camp would appear in another episode of the series, in Season 11's "The Moon is Not Blue." He also appeared in about a million other shows, like as Ted Knight's crazy boss in Too Close For Comfort. His made his acting debut doing an uncredited voice-over for another actor in the legendary Val Lewton's 1946 film Bedlam.

This is the final episode of the sixth season.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye's response to Winchester's bragging after producing the Audrey Hepburn photo is a sarcastic: "Oh, yeah?"
Winchester, not exactly devastated, replies, "Brilliant repose, Pierce", which causes Hawkeye to double-down: "Oh, yeah?"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Episode 143 - Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde

Season 6, Episode 143: Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde
Original Air Date: 2/27/78
Written by: Ken Levine & David Isaacs and Ronny Graham

Directed by: Charles Dubin

The 4077th is in the middle of a grueling, over-24 hour-session in O.R. Hawkeye, B.J., and Col. Potter warn Winchester he has to pace himself--he's been going without sleep, instead drinking lots of coffee--but he won't listen. But we can see his performance is starting to slip--a suture he tied came loose, and he's so busy yawning he can barely ask Margaret for the right instruments.

In the lab, Klinger complains to Winchester of being tired, and wonders if there isn't some pill that he can take as a pick-me-up? Winchester explains to him the concept of amphetamines, but wisely refuses to give any to Klinger.

Klinger gets mad and storms off, despite Wicnhester's warnings they're habit-forming. But, when he finds himself nearly falling asleep in front of his microscope, he breaks down and takes some himself.

Meanwhile, in Post-Op, Radar gets in a squabble with some Marines, over who has the fastest mouse. Radar insists his mouse Daisy can run circles around the Marines' Sluggo, leading Hawkeye to sense a chance to make some quick money by betting on the race. Hawkeye isn't reassured when he learns Radar was mostly talking through his hat, just to feel tough around the Marines.

In the Mess Tent, the effects of the amphetamines are starting to show on Winchester--he's chatty, scattered, and starts talking about a long-form article he plans to write for the AMA. Hawkeye and B.J. show up and try and get other people to bet on Daisy, and they get Potter, Mulcahy, and Winchester to throw in.

Later in the Swamp, Winchester shows Hawkeye his paper for the AMA, which is 27 single-spaced pages, written in just two hours--and its all one run-on sentence.

Wounded arrive, and we see that Winchester is now, in a word, "hooked"--he's gulping amphetamines by the handful, all the time making sure no one sees him. In O.R., Winchester drives everyone crazy, bragging about his prowess and running from table to table offering assistance.

Later that night, Winchester can't sleep, and his constant pacing and chattering is keeping Hawkeye and B.J. up. He promises to lay down and be quiet so his bunkmates can get some sleep.

The next day, Winchester gives Daisy a tiny dose of the amphetamines when Radar mentions she seems sluggish and tense just before the big race. At the race itself, Winchester is so confident he antes up more money, which the Marines gladly accept.

The race starts, and indeed Daisy is lightning fast--she beats Sluggo easily. Everyone who bet is thrilled, but Radar is uneasy, feeling Daisy isn't acting like herself. He announces she's retiring from racing.

As everyone heads to the Officers Club for drinks, Hawkeye and B.J. notice how awful Winchester looks--he's pale, sweating profusely, and his pulse is running like a train.

They take him back to the Swamp, and his pulse is through the roof. They guess what's going on, and search through his footlocker. They find the amphetamines, and despite Winchester's protestations that he's handling it, they put a mirror up to his face, showing him that he's falling apart.

Radar shows up, telling them that Daisy is acting "funny." Winchester owns up to what he did, and Radar is deeply offended, threatening Winchester to never do that again, superior rank or no. After Radar storms out, Winchester meekly apologizes, then heads outside to throw-up.

A few days later, Winchester seems back to normal. Hawkeye tries to comfort him, saying there's nothing to be ashamed of. Winchester blows him off, insulting Hawkeye every step of the way, proving to both Hawkeye and B.J. that Winchester is indeed his old self.

Fun Facts: The scene with Radar threatening Winchester is great--even though Radar is the pillar of meekness, he simply will not tolerate someone harming one of his animals.

There's a fun conversation between some of the Marines in Post-Op about their reading material. One of them is reading a Superman comic, and Radar says, "Is that the one where Lois Lane gets kidnapped?" The Marine answers, "Every one is the one where Lois Lane gets kidnapped."

Favorite Line: During a test-run, Daisy the mouse disappears from view. Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar wonder where she went, when they hear a high-pitched female scream from the next room.

Hawkeye, to no one in particular, "Found: One Daisy."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Episode 142 - Potter's Retirement

Season 6, Episode 142: Potter's Retirement
Original Air Date: 2/20/78
Written by: Laurence Marks

Directed by: William Jurgensen

Col. Potter has a meeting with his friend General Kent (Peter Hobbs), who tries to dance around some bad news he has to deliver--he's been receiving bad reports about the 4077th, specifically about Col. Potter's leadership.

Potter isn't especially concerned, until Kent tells him that some of these bad reports are coming directly from the 4077th. This hits Potter--hard. He is hurt that that some of his own family have been saying bad things behind his back.

Later, Potter returns to camp, to find the doctor's Kentucky Derby Party--which Potter approved of earlier--in full swing hours early. He barges into the Mess Tent, barking at all of them, even yelling at Radar. He ends the party then and there, leaving everyone in stunned silence.

Back in his office, Radar tries to delicately ask Potter what's wrong, but he won't say. Radar tells him that a memo from I-Corps came in, saying there's going to be an inspection in a few days--not the news Potter wanted to hear.

Later, at the Kentucky Derby Party, Potter walks in and tells everyone about the inspection. He says he wants to show the "pencil-pushers" the 4077th is the "best damn unit in Korea", much to the cheers of the unit. He then drops a bombshell--after the inspection, he's transferring out of the 4077th, spending his last year in active service in the states.

Hawkeye and B.J. follow Potter back to his office, demanding to know what's going on. At first he refuses to say, but when they persist he tells them about the bad reports. Leaving them alone in his office with Radar, the doctors resolve to find out who the "snitch" is. Radar thinks maybe Klinger, but Hawkeye and B.J. have another, more likely candidate...Winchester.

They sneak through Winchester's stuff looking for any incriminating material, but he catches them in the act, protesting his innocence. He then suggests they look through the outgoing mail, for any letter addressed to I-Corps.

With Radar's help, they go through all the outgoing mail, and find one from Sgt. Benson (who Radar says "Is a regular joe") mailed to I-Corps. They open it (with Radar's expert precision) and find that it is Benson who is the culprit.

After a session in O.R., they confront Benson (George Wyner) and present him to Potter. After some harsh words, Benson reveals he was sent there as a sort of spy--he's even a Lieutenant, not a Sergeant--on the orders of a General Webster who had a grudge against the 4077th in general and Potter specifically. Benson thought military discipline is loose--too lose--at the 4077th, hence the bad reports.

Potter is disgusted, and orders Benson out. Later, he calls his old friend General Kent and asks him to call off the inspection. He then is asked if he's staying at the 4077th--a question he doesn't have an answer for.

After he hangs up, Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar beg Potter to stay--Hawkeye even calls him "Sherman."

Potter thinks for a moment, and agrees to stay. Right at that moment, they hear choppers coming, and as the they all run out, Potter mutters, "I hate this place."

Fun Facts: This is the first of a series of shows--pretty much one per season--I call the Angry Potter Episodes. Col. Potter is enraged about something, and for the first half of the show he takes it out on his friends and co-workers, much to their hurt and shock. It all gets solved in the end, of course, but I love the Col. Potter character so much that watching him bark at the others make these episodes some of my least favorite ones to watch.

Hawkeye calling Col. Potter "Sherman" was a nice, sweet touch. Col. Potter was held in such high esteem by the rest of the 4077th that someone calling him by his first name was exceedingly rare--I believe it only happens one more time in the series.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar are going through the mail, looking for a suspicious letter. Hawkeye finds one: "Here's one from Klinger to his draftboard."

B.J.: "Is it ticking?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Episode 141 - Temporary Duty

Season 6, Episode 141: Temporary Duty
Original Air Date: 2/13/78
Written by: Larry Balmagia

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Hawkeye and Nurse Bigelow are assigned to spend a week at the 8063rd, trading places with a surgeon and a nurse who will come to the 4077th.

Arriving in camp are Captain Roy Dupree (George Lindsey), and Nurse Lorraine Anderson (Marcia Rodd), who Winchester takes an immediate shine to. And although she seems flattered by the attention, she's more interested in seeing her old friend, Margaret.

While Lorraine and Margaret catch up, Dupree bunks down in the Swamp upon B.J.'s invitation. He's friendly and jovial, but his southern charm doesn't do much for Winchester. B.J. is less put-off, until Dupree breaks the still in attempt to "improve" its output.

But even though he's difficult to get along with personally, he shows he's a whiz in the operating room, which impresses Col. Potter.

During O.R., Winchester flirts with Lorraine, who flirts right back. Margaret is offended, and loudly scolds her friend for behaving unprofessionally. Afterwards, the two friends have words over what just happened, and even though Margaret holds her ground, Lorraine refuses to apologize.

Later, in the Mess Tent, Lorraine entertains everyone with stories from her and Margaret wild younger days. B.J., Winchester, and Father Mulcahy want to hear more, but Margaret is so humorless she walks out.

Meanwhile, Dupree is having a great time at the 4077th--he even enjoys the food! He tells B.J. some of his ideas for decorating the Swamp (shrunken heads!), and how he's angling--via Col. Potter--to be transferred to the 4077th permanently. Potter, who likes Dupree's down-home charm, promises to see what he can do.

This terrifies B.J. and Winchester, so when Dupree comes back to the Swamp late at night totally drunk, they tell him about Sophie--"the camp mascot"--knowing an old cowboy like him wouldn't be able to resist taking a ride on a horse.

Meanwhile, Margaret and Lorraine have a heart-to-heart talk, where Margaret admits she's been so jealous of her friend for so long she's almost come to hate her. Because while Lorraine is a top-flight nurse, she's still the same fun, carefree person she was when she was younger. Margaret feels trapped by her identity as "Major Houlihan" and admits she has no friends at the 4077th. Lorraine urges her to let her guard down a little, and to try and let people in--she is sure they'd get to like Margaret if she would let people meet the real person inside.

In the middle of the night, Col. Potter is furious to find the drunken Dupree riding Sophie. He orders him off, which Dupree listens to by falling off Sophie. Potter says he never wants to see Dupree again, ending his chance at a transfer.

The next morning, Dupree--hung over--and Lorraine head out, and Margaret asks B.J. and Winchester to join her in a cup of coffee in the Mess Tent. At first surprised, they agree, looking at each other in slight amazement as to the change.

Later that day, Hawkeye returns, saying he wasn't a hit at the 8063rd, the people there complaining he was dull. At first, B.J. and Winchester pull his leg suggesting they're sorry Dupree is gone and he's back, but then the facade ends when Winchester, in a rare moment, gives Hawkeye a joyful hug, happy he's back.

Fun Facts: Winchester posts a sign pointing to Boston on the camp signpost, an indication he's beginning to accept being stuck at the 4077th.

There's a line of Margaret's where we get a glimpse of how she ended up at the 4077th: "One night I was at party drinking and dancing, the next morning I a war, in charge of ten nurses and the party was over." That may not be completely literal, but since we never saw the first days of the 4077th its an interesting window into how these people we've been following for so long ended up where they did.

Col. Potter mentions the C.O. of the 8063rd--a guy named Wheatley. To my knowledge, I think every time some staff member of the 8063rd is mentioned or showed, its never the same actor or even character. There must be a lot of turnover at the 8063rd!

This episode counts as a mild experiment, since Hawkeye is only in it for the first and last minute or so of the show. And, as much as Alan Alda's Hawkeye was the heart of the show, this episode proves the series could still be just as funny and involving without him, at least for an episode.

Favorite Line: Dupree, upon meeting Winchester, guesses he went to Yale.

Winchester, enraged, yells, "Harvard!" Then, catching himself, quietly reiterates, "...Harvard."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Episode 140 - Mail Call Three

Season 6, Episode 140: Mail Call Three
Original Air Date: 2/6/78
Written by: Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell

Directed by: Charles Dubin

It's Mail Call again, and everyone is dying to see if they got anything--none more than Klinger, who hasn't heard from his wife Laverne in months, and he's clearly worried about the state of his marriage.

Hawkeye gets a letter from a woman, except that its addressed to another Benjamin Pierce. And we learn that this isn't the first time its happened--apparently this other Benjamin Pierce is quite the lothario, judging by all the passionate letters "he" receives.

B.J. gets a letter from Peg, where she mentions a neighbor made a pass at her, which she laughed off. Hawkeye tries to assure B.J. that Peg can handle it, but B.J. is angered all over again that he's away from his family.

Radar gets a letter from his mother, mentioning that she is dating again. Radar is confused and stunned at the news, even after Col. Potter tries to tell him that it'll be good for her, since, as he notes, "The poor woman's been alone a long time."

At that night's movie, Klinger's bad mood spills over, and when everyone thinks he's pulling another fast one, he tears off his dress in anger and tells everyone that Laverne stole all his allotment checks, and now has run off with another guy. He storms out of the tent, leaving everyone stunned. Except for Winchester, who is only interested in seeing the rest of the movie.

Potter comforts Klinger in his office, willing to place a call to Laverne back in Ohio, but Klinger can't bring himself to do it. He wants a discharge, something Potter just can't do.

Later that night, Klinger decides to go AWOL, and asks Father Mulcahy for a loan. Mulcahy gives him the money, but demands Klinger not go AWOL, threatening to tell Potter if he does. Klinger says he won't go anywhere, and takes Mulcahy's advice to sleep on it.

Radar turns to Hawkeye for advice about his mother and her new boyfriend, and Hawkeye shares a story from his past about how his father dated a woman after Hawkeye's mother passed away. Hawkeye's father wanted his son to like this woman, but he refused.

Hawkeye observes that "He didn't marry her--and he's alone to this day. And loneliness is everything its cracked up to be." Radar calms down a bit, agreeing to give his mother some space, offering up the idea that maybe his mother could be introduced to Hawkeye's father.

B.J., in the middle of the night, is so scared that his wife no longer needs him asks Radar to place a call to Peg. Radar tries to say no, but he finally relents.

At the same time, Father Mulcahy tells Potter what has happened with Klinger, seeing that Klinger has in fact left camp. They head to Radar's office to try and track Klinger down, only to find B.J. tying up the phone lines!

B.J. gets some reassuring words from Peg, and then Potter and Radar try and track down Klinger, asking any MPs who find Klinger not to arrest him, just bring him back to the 4077th.

The next morning, the "other" Captain Pierce arrives to pick up his mail, carrying with him mail meant for Hawkeye. The other Pierce isn't happy to see Hawkeye opened all his mail, and insists that he's not even interested in all these women, but they won't leave him alone.

Hawkeye and B.J. demand to know how he "does it"--i.e., get the women to go crazy for him? He says its because he's very funny, a fact not in evidence from his humorless, awkward demeanor. He says he makes the women laugh, leaving Hawkeye and B.J. confused and in disbelief.

Klinger returns to the 4077th, admitting that, just before he was about to stow away on a plane headed out of Korea, he realized he was doing the wrong thing, and came home. Potter was mad, but now he's just happy to have Klinger back.

Fun Facts: The other Benjamin Pierce is played by Oliver Clark, who played Hawkeye's college friend Toby in Season Five's "38 Across."

Some neighbor of B.J.'s hits on Peg while her husband if off serving his country in Korea? What a dick!

Favorite Line: Hawkeye's scene with Radar where he asks for advice about his mother dating is touching. Hawkeye scales back his constant joking and really talks to Radar, trying to comfort him.

Except when Radar, at the height of his hysteria, protests the very idea of his mother engaging in sex. Hawkeye responds with, "Radar, she's a woman, a warm-blood human being! Where do you think you came from, the Monkey Ward Catalog?"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Episode 139 - What's Up, Doc?

Season 6, Episode 139: What's Up, Doc?
Original Air Date: 1/30/78
Written by: Larry Balmagia

Directed by: George Tyne

During a session in O.R., everyone seems to notice how snippy Margaret seems to be. She gets frustrated at every joke Hawkeye utters, and puts a nurse on report for a petty mistake.

After O.R., Hawkeye asks her what's the problem, and after some cajoling she admits she's irritated because...she might be pregnant.

Hawkeye is ecstatic, but Margaret is not: her and Donald Penobscott are not exactly getting along, and if she is pregnant, her whole Army career is, as she puts it, "kaput."
But she's not positive she's pregnant, so Hawkeye helps her go about getting a test.

Meanwhile, a patient of B.J.'s, Lt. Martinson (Charles Frank) is furious over the idea of being sent back into battle. Because of his education, he was made an automatic Lieutenant, put in charge of other men. When some of them were killed due to his lack of experience, he flat out refuses to go back into combat. B.J. tries to console him, but Martinson will accept nothing less than being relieved of his command.

Hawkeye and Margaret turn to Col. Potter and tell him the news, and he is equally happy. They decide a pregnancy test is the next step, so they turn to the owner of the nearest rabbit they can find...Radar.

But when Radar is told that his beloved rabbit Fluffy has to die during the procedure, he is horrified, refuses, and storms out.

Hawkeye catches up with Radar, who it seems has let Fluffy free from her cage. Radar asks can't Hawkeye just remove the rabbit's ovaries (the part of the rabbit they test)? Hawkeye says its possible, but since Fluffy is gone, what's the point?

At that point, Radar produces Fluffy out of his jacket, tentatively handing her over to Hawkeye, who promises to care for her as best he can.

While Hawkeye and Margaret perform the surgery, Lt. Martinson gets angrier and angrier at B.J. Winchester tries to relate to him, Ivy Leaguer to Ivy Leaguer, but that doesn't work, either. Martinson then pulls a gun and takes Winchester hostage, demanding a chopper home.

This stand-off crosses over into the O.R., where Hawkeye and Margaret have finished the operation on Fluffy and are about to perform the pregnancy test. But Martinson demands they all leave. Klinger, upon hearing Martinson wants a flight back to Ohio, volunteers to replace Winchester as a hostage.

Instead of being scared, Klinger is downright gung-ho about their prospects, but Martinson, weak from his wound and a lack of sleep, can barely stand. In fact, he passes out just as the chopper arrives, dashing Klinger's hopes of freedom.

Later, Hawkeye and Margaret do the pregnancy test, and its negative. Margaret is happy, but Hawkeye admits he's a little disappointed. Margaret then pauses, and admits, "So am I."

Fun Facts: The actor playing Lt. Martinson also appeared in the Season Five episode, "Dear Sigmund."

Jamie Farr is a riot in his scenes with Charles Frank. When he walks out of the hospital, arms raised because he thinks Martinson is holding a gun to his back, he quickly notices Martinson is not in fact behind him. He looks around at every one, and yells, "Wait a minute, I'll be right back!"

Favorite Line: B.J. asks what kind of education Martinson has, and he admits, sort of embarrassed, "Art History...I was an Art History major."

B.J., not helping the situation, sarcastically responds, "I think the Marines are the only ones with an Art History division."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Episode 138 - Your Hit Parade

Season 6, Episode 138: Your Hit Parade
Original Air Date: 1/24/78
Written by: Ronny Graham

Directed by: George Tyne

After days of no wounded, the 4077th is bored. Radar arranges for a batch of new records to arrive, and (borrowing Winchester's record player, generously donated by...Hawkeye and B.J.) he begins to play them over the P.A.

The quiet is broken when not only do wounded arrive, but a ton of wounded arrive--so many that the Swamp, the Mess Tent, and the Officers Club are converted into Post-Ops.

Col. Potter asks Radar to keep playing the records, and acting as D.J. to help "get them through" this push. Radar gets really into the role, donning hipster sunglasses and talking in an equally "hip", D.J.-style: "This one's a mover and groover, and it ain't by Herbert Hoover!"

Not only are they overloaded with patients, but one patient desperately needs AB-Negative blood, which is exceedingly rare. They make some calls, and one guy in a Bomb Disposal Unit has it. He's ordered to report to the 4077 after he's done his R&R, and they have to make due until he arrives.

He shows up in the middle of the night, completely trashed. But even though he's falling off his feet drunk, when he sees the needle, he runs out into the compound screaming in terror.

Hawkeye and B.J. track him down hiding in Margaret's tent, and when they finally get the needle in him he passes out. With that small crisis over, so is the large one--all the patients have been tended to, and there's no more new wounded.

Radar's marathon D.J. sessions ends around dawn, after the 23rd playing of "Sentimental Journey", all requested by Col. Potter.

Fun Facts: The bomb disposal expert is played by Ronny Graham, who wrote the episode and would eventually join the staff as Story Consultant and Program Consultant.

When Winchester is looking for a place to put his cot, he tries Margaret's tent. When she thinks its his way of making a move on her, Winchester says "Margaret, allow me be frank", which Margaret takes the wrong way--Frank instead of frank.

Winchester, realizing her mistake, says, "No, no--I meant frank with a little 'F', not that other Frank"--only one of two times Winchester would ever mention his predecessor at the 4077th. I don't know why those moments are such interest to me, maybe because the Winchester era of the show seemed so different than the Frank era, so I always enjoyed hearing Winchester reference those years of the show.

Hawkeye and B.J. play a self-invented game called Cranko, which involves drunkenly mixing poker, checkers, and chess. I think 20th Century Fox missed an opportunity not turning Cranko into a real game.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter asks Radar, "You take requests, right?"

Radar retorts: "We don't have anything from World War I, sir."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Episode 137 - Tea and Empathy

Season 6, Episode 137: Tea and Empathy
Original Air Date: 1/17/78
Written by: Bill Idelson

Directed by: Don Weis

Wounded arrive, presenting more than their usual share of problems to the 4077th.

Some of the patients are from a British unit, who frequently don't wear helmets, resulting in a number of unnecessary headwounds. To make matters worse, some of them were served tea while waiting to be shipped out for surgery, resulting in peritonitis.

One of B.J.'s patients comes in addicted to morphine, and at first is able to snow B.J. into proscribing it for him, claiming he's in immense pain.

As if that wasn't bad enough, black marketeers have sneaked into the Supply Shed, and stolen all of the 4077th's penicillin!

The British unit's commander, Major Ross (Bernard Fox) arrives to visit his troops, insisting that the 4077th doctors are "molly-coddling" his men, and that they are ready to return to active duty. Hawkeye and B.J. refute this, and it gets a little nasty, ending with Hawkeye telling Ross to get out.

Father Mulcahy hears a confession from a soldier about to ship out that he was involved with the black market, helping steal medical supplies and re-selling them--including a cache of pencillin.

Back in Post-Op, B.J.'s patient demands more morphine for the pain, but when B.J. notices the young man is play-acting, he confronts him and gets him to admit that he's hooked on morphine. He doesn't need it for pain--he just needs it, period. B.J. promises him that he will not leave the 4077th still hooked.

Father Mulcahy grabs Klinger and they drive to the location of the stolen penicillin--an abandoned schoolhouse. They find it, despite being shot at by snipers, and make their way back to the 4077th.

Later, Major Ross returns to visit his men. Klinger rushes to the Swamp to tell Hawkeye that Ross is back, and Hawkeye runs to Post-Op, prepared for another fight.

Except, when he walks in, he sees that Ross is sitting with his men, with them all reading letters from home and telling stories. Ross now seems like one of the guys, and all the soldiers seem in high spirits. What's going on here?

Ross asks Hawkeye to talk outside, and its then Ross admits this whole thing was a plan--he has found that if he acts like his wounded men are actually fine, they know subconsciously that they'll be okay, which helps speed their recovery. Ross admits its might seem callous, but as Hawkeye can see it seems to work.

Hawkeye admits Ross was right, but points out that another British condition--iving wounded soldiers tea--leads to peritonitis. Ross is aghast--not have tea?--but says he'll mention it to his superiors.

Both men satisfied, Ross heads back into Post-Op, and Hawkeye goes back to the Swamp to get some sleep.

And finally, one last piece of good news: B.J.'s patient--now off morphine, after a grueling two days of detox--ships out, thanking B.J. for the help.

Fun Facts: Winchester and Margaret have another scene together where it seems like the subtext is they're interested in each other, but again it goes nowhere.

Radar does not appear in this episode.

The shady solider confessing to Father Mulcahy is actor Sal Viscuso, who previously appeared in two other episodes, playing other soldiers. He was also frequently the voice of the 4077th's P.A. announcer.

Favorite Line: Father Mulcahy is counseling the young soldier about to be shipped out, mentioning that anything he says in confession will of course be kept secret, except from the one who knows all.

The solider, petrified, asks, "Col. Potter?"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Episode 136 - Patent 4077

Season 6, Episode 136: Patent 4077
Original Air Date: 1/10/77
Written by: Ken Levine and David Isaacs

Directed by: Harry Morgan

Hawkeye is frustrated at trying to perform a tricky arterial operation without the proper tool...a vascular clamp that is delicate enough to hold an artery without crushing it.

The surgical staff decides to try and devise their own specially-made clamp, first by asking he Army Engineers. Whey the engineers turn them down, they try and make it themselves, but Hawkeye and B.J. are mechanically inept (it doesn't help that Winchester tags along just to sit and laugh at them).

In the Mess Tent, Sgt. Zale says he's a "master craftsman", and can make one himself. After some initial skepticism, they put him to work.

A day later, he produces his clamp. Hawkeye and B.J. test it out, but when it grips itself too tightly on Hawkeye's hand and can't be dislodged, it proves a failure. Zale, hurt, storms out, and Hawkeye and B.J. are back at square one.

Hawkeye, desperate, offers up the Army Engineers a bunch of the 4077's nurses as "guests" for their next unit party (B.J. is horrified), without checking with them first. They then have to go to the nurses and ask for this huge favor, but the nurses turn them down cold, explaining that the engineers are "animals." On top of that, they're exhausted from all the work Margaret is throwing at them--she's in a foul mood ever since Klinger lost her wedding ring, tossing it accidentally in the trash.

A Korean merchant named Mr. Shin (the legendary Keye Luke) comes by with his cart of hand-made items, and he mentions that he has a ring that bears a striking resemblance to the one Margaret had (its a cheap ring with an even cheaper diamond setting, typical of Donald Penobscott). They commission him to put in the original inscription and get Klinger off the hook.

When they notice some of the other custom-made stuff, they also ask him to try his hand at the new clamp. He offers them a deal on the clamp, since they're buying such a crappy ring.

A few days later, Klinger tries to pass off the new ring as the original, but Mr. Shin messed up the inscription, tipping Margaret off. She thinks its a joke on her expense, but Klinger tells her they were just trying to make her happy.

In surgery, Hawkeye breaks in the clamp with a patient with a crushed artery--and it works perfectly. The surgery goes off without a hitch, and the patient's leg is saved.

After showing off the clamp to the patient, they notice there's an inscription--"Over Hill, over Dale, Korean Clamp will never fail."

Fun Facts: Radar does not appear in this episode. Man, he gets a lot of R&R!

Hawkeye and B.J. are a little cruel and dismissive to Zale in the scene with his clamp. Sure, he screwed up, but he did try.

Ironic, then, that there's a serious scene where Klinger gently chides Margaret to at least try and "appreciate the effort" they all went to and get her her ring back, even though they screwed up. I think this episode needed a scene of them buying Zale a drink and apologizing.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and B.J. are proud that they're going to be inventors. When Winchester scoffs, they respond with silly, absurd examples of other great inventors, B.J. asking where would they be if "Joseph Cotten hadn't invented the Cotton Gin?"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Episode 135 - The Smell of Music

Season 6, Episode 135: The Smell of Music
Original Air Date: 1/3/78
Written by: Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Stuart Millar

After a long, grueling session in O.R., tension is running high.

Back at the Swamp, Hawkeye and B.J. are driven nuts by Winchester's insistence on practicing on his French Horn, loudly. They ask him to stop, but he refuses. As revenge, they decide not to shower, hoping their stink will drive Winchester to capitulate.

But he refuses, and the whole thing escalates. Hakweye and B.J. start to offend everyone in camp (ruining what was a rare, tasty breakfast in the Mess Tent), and Margaret, Col. Potter, et al, begin to try and talk reason into the three of them.

But Col. Potter has other things to worry about--one of his patients, a young man named Saunders (Jordan Clarke), caught the blast of a defective rifle in the face, causing horrible scarring. Potter tries to comfort the young man in Post Op, but Saunders is convinced his life is worthless, now that he looks like a "freak." He's also sure his beautiful girlfriend back home will dump him once she gets a look at him.

Later, Saunder attempts suicide by taking a huge dose of sleeping pills, but they get to him in time. He wakes up unapologetic, promising he's going to kill himself, no matter what.

The battle between the three doctors goes overboard, leading to Hawkeye and B.J. playing a bunch of hand-crafted instruments in an attempt to drown out Winchester's horn-playing.

While the Post-Op staff is distracted by the commotion outside, Saunders takes that moment to sneak off. Potter finds him trying to overdose on ether. Potter has had enough, and tries a bit of reverse psychology. Instead of stopping him, he grabs the mask, turns the tank up to full blast, and shoves it onto Saunder's face.

After Saunders gets the sense Potter is serious, he pushes it off, stand up, and threatens to belt Potter if he continues. Potter observes that Saunders is now "fighting to live instead of fighting to die", which finally calms the young man down. Sobbing on Potter's shoulder, he carries him back into Post Op, saying "I'm too old for this kinda crap."

Margaret and the rest of the camp, having had enough of the loud and smelly war, take it upon themselves to end it--they drown Hawkeye and B.J. in soap and water, and then grab Winchester's horn and flatten it under a jeep.

Potter comes out, observes what has happened, and tells everyone they are "Confined to the Officer's Club, for the duration of the whiskey." Everyone cheers, and he then sweetens it, adding, "Pierce, Hunnicutt, and Winchester are buying."

A few days later, Winchester thinks he's getting his revenge--he's had a local Koren craftsman fix his horn! But the craftsman had to hobble together the new horn from different parts, creating a huge, awkward, Frankenstein-esque instrument...without a mouthpiece.

Fun Facts: This episode was one of the first examples of a formula M*A*S*H would employ heavily in later seasons--the "A" and "B" plotlines, one of them being very serious, the other being silly or light.

The scene where
Col. Potter confronts Saunders, shoving the ether mask on Saunder's face, barking "You want Death? We got plenty of it around here! Suck it up, punk, come on!"--is a genuinely dark, tough-as-nails moment, showing off how steely Col. Potter was beneath that avuncular exterior. One of Harry Morgan's best moments on the show.

Hawkeye actually propositions a nurse, long after he's stopped showering, and people have told him repeatedly how stinky he is. As a kid (heck, as an adult, too) this astounded me--I mean, how cocky can Hawkeye be? He thinks he's so irresistible that a nurse will hit the sack with him even though he's rancid? Back when I was still in the dating pool, I wish I had 1% of Hawkeye's self-confidence!

Favorite Line: Col. Potter, when told that Hawkeye and B.J. purposely haven't showered, tries to guess a reason: "Why, like its National Pig Week?"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Episode 134 - The Merchant of Korea

Season 6, Episode 134: The Merchant of Korea
Original Air Date: 12/20/77
Written by: Ken Levine and David Isaacs

Directed by: William Jurgensen

B.J. gets a telegram from his wife Peg telling him they have a chance to buy a piece of property they've had their eye on for a long time--if he can come up with the $200 down payment in the next 24 hours.

B.J. asks around, but both Hawkeye and Radar are pretty much broke. In desperation, he turns to the richest guy he knows--his fellow Swamp Rat Winchester.

Winchester gives him the money, but soon after he starts to treat B.J. like a "$200 houseboy", asking him for small favor after small favor. Things get worse when payday, which was scheduled the next day, is delayed when the 4077th's money is accidentally sent to Guam.

This keeps B.J. indebted to Winchester, and leaves everyone in the camp broke...except for Winchester, of course. And when he pays Hawkeye's bar tab in the Officers Club, he starts treating Hawkeye in the same "do me a small favor" manner.

This drives them both to distraction, and they come up with the idea to have a poker game and invite Winchester, who knows nothing of the game, to play, intending to rob him blind.

News of the game spreads, and with the idea of Winchester sitting in, everyone joins in. At first, Winchester acts uncertain and hesitant, which causes everyone else to bet heavily. But the joke's on them when Winchester wins the first hand, drawing a straight out of a four-card draw!

This continues all night, with Winchester winning hand after hand ("First the war, now this", Hawkeye offers), leaving everyone else off more broke than they were before.

In the middle of the night, Winchester asks for a break, and takes a walk outside. Back inside the O Club, everyone marvels at how Winchester is winning so much. They then notice that Winchester has a tell...he whistles, loudly, when he's bluffing.

With this piece of information, they commence playing, and when Winchester starts whistling loudly again, everyone antes up confidently.

Morning arrives, and Winchester is cleaned out. He's fronted money for the last hand by Hawkeye and B.J., after they both paid off the money they owe him over the course of the night. He loses that hand, too, officially ending the marathon session.

As everyone clears out, Hawkeye and B.J. goof on Winchester for losing so much, but he takes it all in stride, boasting he's spent more money than this on a "late-night snack at home."

Since he now owes them money, they guilt Winchester into sticking around and cleaning up the O Club, which he does, whistling opera the whole time.

Fun Facts: There's a fun speech where, when talking about the property B.J. is buying, Winchester talks about some land his father owned in Hyannisport. They loved it, until "This large family moved in next door--nouveau riche--played a perpetual game of touch football on their lawn. Naturally, we moved out."

as a series, rarely played up the fact that the show was set in the past, which would enable it to make jokes about events that haven't (to the characters) happened yet but viewers would be familiar with.

The syndicated edit of this episode always took that speech out, but seeing it again on DVD as an adult gave me a big laugh. If only Winchester had made friends with that family, he might have been able to pull some strings and get himself transferred out of the 4077th!

B.J. goes on and on about the little piece of land he and Peg now own outside of San Francisco. I can't be positive, but I'm pretty sure this was the beginning of my semi-obsession with that part of the country. I visited San Francisco in 2001, and loved it, and part of me eventually wants to move there and live in the same general area that the Hunnicutts did.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye is mad that he can't order a drink at the O Club because he hasn't paid off his bar tab, and without any money he can't for the forseeable future.

He turns to B.J., furious. Gesturing to the bartender, Zale, he says, "Can you believe the nerve of this guy?"

B.J., mockingly sarcastic, "After all you owe him!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Episode 133 - Comrades in Arms, Part 2

Season 6, Episode 133: Comrades in Arms, Part 2
Original Air Date: 12/13/77
Written by: Alan Alda

Directed by: Alan Alda and Burt Metcalfe

The morning after the night before, Hawkeye and Margaret wake up in their beat-up tent.

Hawkeye is a little nervous, made worse when he sees that Margaret seems to think this is the beginning of a long-term relationship, and the natural evolution of their time together at the 4077th. She even reveals, deep down, she would laugh sometimes when Hawkeye would get "a real good one" off on Frank!

A wounded North Korean solider arrives in the hut, but they can't leave because Hawkeye's wounded leg has stiffened up over night. They hide under some debris, long enough for the solider to stagger in, look around, and fall over--he's seriously wounded, and was using his last few moments of consciousness to scrounge for food. He passes out.

As Hawkeye works on him, Margaret hears a chopper outside. She runs outside and sees one of theirs, a chopper flown by pilot Aylesworth (Doug Rowe) with B.J. as a passenger. She tries to flag them down, but they don't see her.

They do see Hawkeye and Margaret's lost jeep, but when they get shot at by the jeep's North Korean thieves, they head back to the 4077th. When they arrive, Potter is furious they went up without permission, but he's mollified when B.J. tells him he thinks they saw where Hawkeye and Margaret might be. Potter says that now that the 8063rd is back where its supposed to be, they can finally send out a search party.

Another day passes, and Hawkeye and Margaret are stuck sitting under one parka as rain pours down on them, reading a map by flashlight. They are discovered by a member of the 8063rd, which overjoys Hawkeye, leaving Margaret furious, now that its dawned on her that Hawkeye isn't interested in having a relationship with her.

Back at the 8063rd, they perform the surgery they were sent there for. The surgery goes well, but the tension is thick when its obvious to everyone in the room that these two visitors aren't getting along. You can hear the painful slap of the instruments as Margaret thrusts them into Hawkeye's hand.

At the 4077th, B.J., Potter, Winchester, and Father Mulcahy have a drink to celebrate the imminent return of Hawkeye and Margaret. They wonder at how difficult it must have been for the two of them, since they're so different. But its Father Mulcahy, via some innocently-intended comments, that puts the idea in everyone's heads that maybe they turned to each other for..."comfort."

A few hours later, Hawkeye and Margaret do return home, to a party in their honor. After receiving some gifts, Hawkeye profusely thanks everyone for "really saving" his skin, so profusely that a boiling Margaret slaps him across the face and storms out.

Later that night, Hawkeye visits Margaret in her tent to talk. At first she completely denies anything happened, but then she softens a bit and owns up to what happened, but in terms so stiff Hawkeye says he'll "have a lawyer draw up a contract."

Margaret gets the point and levels with Hawkeye, by reading him a letter she's "accidentally" sending to Donald Penobscott, thanking the non-existent "Hank" for an amazing, tender night in that abandoned hut.

Hawkeye and Margaret own up to the idea that nothing more will come of this since they're so different, but they both admit they shared something together, and they're relationship--as friends--will be different, better, from now on.

Fun Facts: Radar does not appear in this episode.

This idea--of Hawkeye and Margaret getting together--never quite worked for me, and I think I can point to this second part as being the reason why. As soon as sleeps with Hawkeye, Margaret becomes clingy and immediately starts going on about a long-term relationship, something I just can't picture the fiercely-independent Major Margaret Houlihan doing. This is a woman who slept with half the Generals in the Asian Theater of Operations, and she's going to get all goopy over Hawkeye?

There's a great scene in the Swamp where Hawkeye tells B.J. what happened, and asks for advice. Its a great flip-side to the scene in Season Five's "Hanky Panky", and B.J. shows some clear-eyed understanding of Hawkeye, and giving it to him straight.

Favorite Line: Without Hawkeye and Margaret, the 4077th is overloaded with wounded. When they realize how far behind they've fallen, Potter admonishes Winchester to "shake a leg."

Winchester curtly repiles something to the effect of, "When I'm done, I am done."

Potter sighs and says, "Sorry I asked."

Winchester, gutsily, says barely under his breath, "That's...what I had in mind."

A great line, a nice piece of characterization, made even better that we see that Potter heard it! What must have been going through his mind at that moment...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Episode 132 - Comrades in Arms, Part 1

Season 6, Episode 132: Comrades in Arms, Part 1
Original Air Date: 12/6/77
Written by: Alan Alda

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe and Alan Alda

Col. Potter tells his doctors that the 8063rd wants to see a demonstration of the 4077th's arterial transplant procedure, and since it was Hawkeye who first performed it, he's assigned to go.

Hawkeye also gets to pick a nurse to go with him, but Margaret picks herself, to keep Hawkeye from treating the nursing staff "like a harem."

Just before they leave, Margaret gets a letter from Donald Penobscott, which seems to upset her greatly. She's surly and short-tempered during the whole trip to the 8063rd, and she has no time for Hawkeye's joking around.

Things get even worse when they arrive at the 8063rd, only to find they have bugged out! The Chinese and the North Koreans started getting too close, so the whole camp packed up and left before they had a chance to call the 4077th and tell them not to send Hawkeye and Margaret.

On the way back home, bombs start to fall, and they get thrown off their course. Then the jeep breaks down, and Margaret is aghast that Hawkeye has no idea how to fix it.

They hide in the brush when they hear some North Koreans approaching, and watch helplessly as the four soldiers fix the jeep, get it going, and drive off.

Lost in enemy territory, Hawkeye and Margaret wander around and find a small, abandoned hut. Margaret is temporarily impressed when Hawkeye explains the logic of staying in the hut using actual military protocol, which he chalks up to having seen the movie Abbott & Costello Meet Hitler.

More bombs start to fall, causing part of the hut to collapse. Hawkeye takes a piece of sharp wood in the back of his leg, and he screams like a baby as Margaret removes it.

Back at the 4077th, Potter and B.J. are trying desperately to get some of the higher-ups to send out some search planes to look for Hawkeye and Margaret, but due to a combination of stupidity and incompetence, it takes forever just to get some of the brass on the phone.

Hours pass, and night falls, leaving Hawkeye and Margaret still stuck in their hut. They talk, and Margaret reveals what's upsetting her: the letter from her husband was written--and meant for--another woman named Darlene. Its gentle and romantic, and top of that it mentions Margaret as "a hard worker" and "sturdy", underscoring just how little she means to her husband.

Hawkeye tries to comfort her, but Margaret insists she's fine (although she does down most of Hawkeye'e expensive Japanese scotch, which he brought along).

They go to sleep on other sides of the tent, but in the middle of the night bombs start to fall again. Margaret breaks into hysterical panic, and Hawkeye tries to calm her down. They embrace, look into each other's eyes...and share a passionate kiss.

To be continued!

Fun Facts: This is M*A*S*H's first two-part episode, as opposed to their previous one-hour shows.

Margaret, when selecting herself to go with Hawkeye, adds, "If you remember, Captain, I assisted you when Dr. Borelli taught you that operation", a reference, of course, to the Third Season episode "The Consultant."

I like how off-handed that reference is--usually TV shows are so scared of mentioning something all their viewers might not understand they contrive all sorts of ungainly dialog to explain the reference ("Betty, you're my sister. You of course remember that time when we both went to the zoo..."). Here, you have to have seen that episode to know who Dr. Borelli was. If not, well then too bad.

As a life-long Abbott & Costello fan, I would've loved to have seen an
Abbott & Costello Meet Hitler movie!

Radar not appear in this episode.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye, less than thrilled about his assignment, says, "I'm not so sure I like this."

Potter adds, "And pick a nurse to go with you."

Hawkeye: "...I'm not so sure I hate it, either."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Episode 131 - The Grim Reaper

Season 6, Episode 131: The Grim Reaper
Original Air Date: 11/29/77
Written by: Burt Prelusky

Directed by: George Tyne

Col. Potter, Hawkeye, and B.J. are in Potter's office listening to a report by the appropriately-named Col. Bloodworth (Charles Aidman), who is telling them of an impending assault on a hill, and exactly how many casualties it will result in.

Hawkeye and B.J. find it difficult not to interrupt and mock Bloodworth, because of his casualness over how many young men will be killed, just to get a hill, "Because the other side has it."

Potter tells them to quite down, but Hawkeye just can't contain himself. He belittles Bloodworth, and the meeting ends abruptly when Bloodworth has had enough.

Later that day, the promised wounded arrive, but its 77 short of the total Bloodworth promised. Hawkeye heads off to the Officers Club to gloat, but it turns ugly when, after the P.A. announces more wounded are coming, Bloodworth smugly promises that's the remaining 77 soldiers. Hawkeye wonders if Bloodworth shot them himself, and gets so worked up he grabs the Colonel and throws him against a wall. Other members of the 4077 separate them, and Hawkeye walks out.

Bloodworth brings Hawkeye up on charges, which Potter, after yelling at Hawkeye for pushing Bloodworth around, says he'll try and head off.

Meanwhile, Klinger is happy to talk to one of the wounded, a Private Danker (Jerry Hauser), who is from Toledo and knows all the same haunts as Klinger, like the local dance hall and Tony Paco's.

Potter meets with Bloodworth, asking him to drop the charges. Bloodworth refuses, and throws in an insult to Potter for "coddling" his doctors in the process. He drives off, leaving Potter saying, "Pierce shouldn't have pushed you--he should have decked you!"

Later that night, more wounded arrive, one of whom is Bloodworth. In O.R., he lies on a table, watching Hawkeye operate on a patient. He sees Hawkeye stay calm and cool as blood shoots out of his patient's wound, hitting Hawkeye right in the face.

Near morning, Bloodworth asks to speak to Hawkeye. He tells Hawkeye that he watched him perform as a doctor, and was deeply impressed. He also realized how callous he was about death, and how scared he was when he thought he was the one who was about to die. Bloodworth informs Hawkeye that "a push in a bar" doesn't add up to all that, and the charges are dropped.

A few days later, Klinger shares a package from Tony Paco's, sent to him by Private Danker, with Hawkeye and B.J. They at first refuse to share with Winchester (as revenge for him not sharing food he had sent to him from home), but eventually let him pull up a chair and enjoy.

Fun Facts: Radar does not appear in this episode.

I do wonder one thing--the soldier from Toledo, Danker, is told by Hawkeye that his wound is very minor. So how and why did Danker get sent home so soon, enabling him to send Klinger the care package?

Favorite Line: The final scene, where Hawkeye, B.J., Klinger, and Winchester dig in to all the hot dogs and such from Tony Paco's, is wonderfully lit and shot, and its clear the actors are really eating. I feel like I can smell the hot dogs cooking.

When they goof on Winchester by sharing with him only a tiny portion of one hot dog, he walks off in anger. They stop him, saying they were just kidding. When he begins to chomp down, they admonish him to "save some for Margaret."

He pauses, thinks for a moment, and then holds up the tiny piece he was originally given, and says, quietly, "Oh, um...this is for Margaret."

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