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?"


Russell said...

I agree with you, Rob, in that "angry Potter" became too much of a stock idea. This first time, though, the way he yells at Margaret and Radar in's just painful. And the use of his first name by Hawkeye (watch Potter look up in surprise) and Radar's instant agreement "What he said!" is just so affectionate that it works...

...but a cook held over from his unit is used again in a later episode, too...Ed Begley, Jr if I'm not mis-remembering things...

In an obvious oversight, Enid Kent is featured in this episode as Nurse Bigelow (there she is in the blue hapi coat right in front of Hawkeye) but her name is not in the credits....!

What the Parrot Saw said...

I hadn't really thought about it, but there indeed were a few ornery Potter episodes- more than there might appear at first glance.

This may well be the best, if only for the novelty of witnessing a truly mean Potter; its not something that would engage an audience week in and week out. His admission at the end of the episode that he should have given the camp the benefit of the doubt is a classy move.

Hawkeye's "Sherm" aside is one of my favorite moments in the series- such a wonderful moment between the two men. You can see Potter's mild surprise and that it indeed wasn't overplayed gives this moment a genuine glow.

paulyt said...

Radar calls Col Potter "Sherm" one time in 'Lt Radar O'Reilly' Is that the other time you are talking about?

rob! said...


I wasn't thinking of that one, since that's a joke and Potter objects to it.

No, the other time is in the very last episode, when saying goodbye Father Mulcahy pauses and calls him "Sherman."

paulyt said...

A little off-topic (but it does pertain to Col Potter). There were 2 (maybe more) episodes with almost the same plot. Potter's friend from way back makes a mistake and gets a lot of kids wounded. Hawkeye tells him and Potter is mad at Hawkeye. Potter eventually realises Hwakeye was right and puts his friend on report. In one episode his friend was bored of being stuck behind a desk, in another his friend needed only 10 more days in combat to retire a full Colonel.

Little differences in the plots but they're basically the same episode.

pepper said...

I love the office scene with the 4 guys, but my favorite part actually comes at one of the most tense moments. The two tell Potter they have to talk,,,Potter orders them out and BJ Responds very boldy, "Hey Who do you think you're talking too." somewhat very tense but it showed some gut by BJ and Hawkeye not to be pushed around on this matter..

Anonymous said...

everyone asking Potter to stay Especially Hawkeye does not ring true though. no one wants out more than hawkeye. they all want out badly but he is actually asking Potter to stay. I don't buy it. they should be encouraging him to go to go home.

Robert Gross said...

What nobody ever calls him is "Doctor Potter." It was always *Colonel* Potter. The only time I can think of that might be an exception is in the finale when he refers to himself as "Ol' Doc Potter." It sort of goes to show that people saw him is military first, medical second, something that I'm not sure the character was completely down with. That's why "Pressure Points" is one of my favorite episodes--- we see some insight into Potter the Doctor rather than Potter the Military Officer.

mark said...

Potter comes across to me as a doctor first, then a commander. He certainly proved that to His Belligerence Col. Webster, making him wait until the more seriously wounded were treated.

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