Monday, August 3, 2009

Episode 125 - The Winchester Tapes

Season 6, Episode 125: The Winchester Tapes
Original Air Date: 10/18/77
Written by: Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

The newly-arrived Major Winchester dictates a letter home to his parents, telling them about the 4077th and its deplorable conditions.

Hawkeye, presented with an unexpected opportunity to spend a weekend in Tokyo with a nurse, begs Winchester to take his Officer of the Day duty for him. At first Winchester refuses but after a bout of pathetic begging, he relents.

He agrees to sit for a painting by Col. Potter, and subtly tries to suggest Potter transfer him back to Tokyo. After that fails, he flat out demands to be transferred, leading Potter to bark at him that that's not going to happen.

Seeing that Radar carries a lot of weight in the unit, he tries to butter him up a bit so Radar will patch a call through to Col. Baldwin in Tokyo for him. Despite the gift of a case of Grape Nehi, Radar says he's not allowed on Col. Potter's orders. Winchester, furious, takes back the Grape Nehi.

He also tells his parents about Margaret (who he seems to have some sort of flirtation with, only for it to fall apart awkwardly), Father Mulcahy, and B.J., who was "touched" by Winchester's sudden loss of weight over the last few weeks.

What Winchester doesn't realize is this is an elaborate practical joke on B.J.'s part--he swapped out Winchester's pants with those of a fatter man's, making Winchester think he's lost weight. Then, after getting him to gorge on food for a month, they swap out the pants again for a skinnier man's, making Winchester think he's gained a ton of weight.

Winchester, concerned about his weight gain, jogs out of the Swamp to get some exercise, delighting Hawkeye and B.J. to no end.

After a long session in O.R. (where he receives grief for taking too long with each patient), Winchester wraps up his recording. As he does so, he pours himself a cup of tea. But when no hot water comes out of his kettle, he stops recording to open the lid.

Pulling out the kettle's contents--a rubber chicken--he concludes the letter with a passionate "Get me the hell out of here!"

Fun Facts: Hawkeye finds a dead rat in his tent, which he disgustedly picks up by the tail, tossing it out of the tent. To this point, the show has always mentioned how nasty conditions at the 4077th were, but rarely were they this explicit. Yuck!

That rubber chicken gags makes me laugh every time I see it.

Favorite Line: After convincing Winchester that he has gained lots of weight (thanks to substituting his pants for a skinnier man's), Hawkeye asks B.J., "So, what's next with him?"

B.J.: "Starting tomorrow...he gets taller."


What the Parrot Saw said...

It is a strength of the series that there were a number of memorable episodes framed through a character’s specific viewpoint via the device of writing (or, this being Charles, taping) a letter home. I’ve sometimes thought that Henry or even Burns could have pulled off a great episode.

This remains one of the better examples. Charles, still seemingly in Boston residency (let alone Tokyo), views the comings and goings of the unit with an acid tongue (on Potter’s painting: “He’s no Churchill" (!), but we finally see him starting to get the hang of life in the 4077th, even if he is aghast at what he witnesses. Yet, at the same time, when he agrees to take Hawkeye’s OD duty, although outwardly sarcastic, he seems willing enough to help his fellow doctor -if only to call in a favor later, admittedly, as a later episode would prove...

OTOH, he does return to retrieve the crate of Nehi with which he attempts to bribe Radar. No one could deliver such a cold shoulder with as much panache as Winchester!

His desperate asides here are --I suppose-- only as funny as you may view the character. Some of them still crack me up; “Talk to Senator Griswold. After all, you paid good money for him,” he reminds his father. Nothing like wielding influence…

Interesting aside: this must be the only episode in which Klinger pulls one of his Section Eight routines (fainting) while on duty in the OR. Potter is justifiably angry, methinks!

Russell said...

NOW we're talking. This is the first really good (ie funny) episode this season. Charles' asides bring a smile to my face every time I watch this.

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