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?"


Russell said...

I always enjoyed the Boots Miller sub-plot, but not much else about this episode. It just never did anything for me. When I got older and became more of a film fan, I realized there was a possible chronal issue here, too: Audrey Hepburn made her screen debut in ROMAN HOLIDAY in 1953. Wasn't the Korean war over by then?

rob! said...

According to Wiki, Roman Holiday came out in 1952, so its possible that by this time AH was famous enough for everyone to know who she is.

I always assumed Winchester went on his date with her before she got really famous...but, yeah, the time line's a bit flimsy here. :)

rob as well said...

Hi, just discovered this blog; I'm excited as I'm a huge M*A*S*H fan and look forward to reading about all the episodes. My name is also Rob.

A quick fact check on this episode though as Winchester did not climb Mt. Everest! He climbed the Matterhorn... during winter (it's more sporting that way). When they met with 80mph winds, Lars, his guide doubled his fee. True to form, Charles fired him on the spot and led the expedition himself.

I can't wait to talk M*A*S*H with some other hardcore fans!

rob! said...

Rob AW--Thanks for the comment! I can't believe I made that mistake in the post--duly corrected!

mark said...

Miller talking into the spoon was unsanitary - why didn't Klinger or anyone else call him on that?

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