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?"


Russell said...

I think season six is finally running on all cylinders. This is another funny but also emotional issue, and each member of the cast has something fun to do.

My favorite line is when Father Mulcahy tries to discuss his problem with Col Potter but doesn't feel like he can divulge too much information. Col Potter says, "Let's talk again sometime, so I can maybe figure out what we've been talking about." Harry Morgan and William Christopher play it just right.

What the Parrot Saw said...

I agree with Russell above. It seems that with the 'serious character development' episodes out of the way, the series is finally settling down to the mix of humor and seriousness it so often excelled in. While it has been noted the sequence of events was not intended at the time to be studied in a strictly chronological fashion (after all, it was presumed the most folks would see the episodes in re-runs after the initial airing), perhaps if the more serious episodes which opened the season were mixed throughout S6, it seem more balanced??

Hawkeye and Charles' jabs at each other in the OR are (as Hawk notes of Charles) "sharp." Charles' sneering dig at Hawk's likely working at a "free clinic" after the war is pretty harsh. Hawkeye shoots Charles a truly disgusted glance- if looks could kill!

At this point in the series, we can really sense that there is no love lost between these two surgeons... but the tension works well.

Favorite line:

Klinger describes his perfume (cologne?)
K: 'asian musk- it creeps out of the night to weave its magic spell'
Potter: so does a skunk

Robert Gross said...

The Winchester/Margaret stuff was completely forced. It had no more logic than "Winchester is Frank's replacement, and so he should be interested in Margaret." Dumb.

Anonymous said...

Don't agree, Robert. Margaret always had a taste for a grander life. Her marriage to Donald - shown to be from a family the "upper crust" Winchester made clear he saw as equals in one scene with Margaret - was but one example of this. She saw herself both as a serious soldier and well worthy of mixing it with senior officers in a past before Frank often alluded to. Winchester saw her in this context as " any port in a storm". Its failure to go further showed the shallowness of both characters in the area of snobbery. That has logic. Throw in the element of confinement and it worked - I think had there been any higher level of success in the relationship and your point would be well made.

Matt Wiser said...

A bit of trivia: Bernard Fox played the RAF officer Colonel Crittenden in several episodes of Hogan's Heroes. And he's just as nutty here as he is in the older show.

Anonymous said...

I'm inclined to think that Margaret and and Winchester are not interested in each other romantically in the same way as Margaret and Frank. Winchester sees her as the only one in the camp approaching his cultural/intellectual level, but she repeatedly falls short of this (e.g. her Ethel Merman comment). He seems to regard the suggestion of the two of them getting together as silly. Winchester might be tempted to hook up with Margaret out of loneliness, but I don't think he'd be interested in a long-term relationship. He'd certainly drop her the instant he could get out of there, unlike Frank who hoped to continue their affair after the war ended. Margaret is the one who is very conscious of the potential for romance, probably because she recognizes that Winchester is exactly the kind of person she tends to be attracted to. And I think she's very flattered by the fact that he prefers spending time with her than with anyone else. But I think she'd be hesitant to actually get involved with him, even if she wasn't married, given everything that happened with Frank.

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