Monday, September 7, 2009

Episode 154 - Point of View

Season 7, Episode 154: Point of View
Original Air Date: 11/20/78
Written by: Ken Levine & David Isaacs

Directed by: Charles Dubin

Told entirely from the point of view of a G.I. named Pvt. Rich (voiced by David Stafford), we follow Rich as he is wounded in battle and then flown to the 4077th.

There he's met by B.J. and Radar, and then Klinger. As he's being wheeled to the camp on the back of a jeep, we see that Col. Potter seems extraordinarily angry and short-tempered.

Rich is visited in Pre-Op by Hawkeye and Nurse Baker (Jan Jorden), and he sees laying next to him is his friend Pvt. Ferguson (Hank Ross). Hawkeye and B.J. determine he has a piece of shrapnel in his neck, which is preventing him from talking. He's then visited by Father Mulcahy, who reassures him.

He undergoes an x-ray from Klinger (who admits the Army taught him how to do it, something he never thought he'd know), and then gets wheeled into surgery, where Hawkeye tells him everything will be okay.

Later, Rich wakes up in Post Op, where the solider next to him can't shut up. His mind wanders, and he notices Hawkeye, Margaret, and Winchester discussing Col. Potter's sudden change of behavior. Winchester smugly suggests its senility.

He notices Hawkeye looking over his chart, and we can see from Hawkeye's face that not everything is working out the way he hoped. He tries to see if Rich can talk, but he's still unable to. Hawkeye says to give it more time.

He undergoes a sponge bath from Margaret, who is gentle and discreet, and talks her way through it so that Rich barely realizes its happening. Before he knows it, its over.

Col. Potter comes to visit, and he sort of fesses up to Rich that he's in a rotten, distracted mood. After Potter leaves, Klinger wheels him to the Mess Tent, where he again overhears the doctors discussing Col. Potter's strange behavior.

Potter comes by to visit again, and Rich manages to get Potter to open up about what's bugging him. Potter reveals he's forgotten his wedding anniversary, and he's so ashamed he's furious with himself and the war. Rich, using a pencil and paper, suggests Potter just call her, but Potter isn't sure.

After he leaves, Rich tells Hawkeye what's going on with Potter. Then he begins to cough, and Hawkeye decides Rich needs to go back into surgery, with Winchester assisting.

Later, Rich awakens, the surgery having gone perfectly. Hawkeye asks Rich to say something, anything, and he answers, haltingly, "Don'" Hawkeye and the other doctors are thrilled to hear it.

After Radar tells Potter that they called his wife, explaining what happened, he's touched at the gesture and softens up. Hawkeye thanks Rich, saying his look of confidence really helped. Rich responds with a raspy, "Thank you."

The last we see of Rich is in the Evac Bus, and Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter wish him good luck and good bye. Laying next to his buddy Ferguson, who is overjoyed at being shipped home, he silently watches the 4077th recede in the distance, the doctors waving goodbye.

Fun Facts: Definitely a format-busting episode, this one is told entirely from the POV of the wounded soldier, whom of course we never see. This idea had been tried a couple of times before in movies and TV, but never this successfully. (The 1947 private eye film The Lady in the Lake uses the same idea, making for one weird movie!)

This is the seventh season's example of an "Angry Potter" episode, a yearly event starting last season.

We get to see a ride in a chopper from Rich's point of view, which makes me a little nauseous every time I watch it.

Favorite Line: Father Mulcahy's gentle promise for Rich not to worry about what's going to happen, because, "Rest easy--He's watching over you."


What the Parrot Saw said...

A great idea, pulled off extremely well. "Point of View" never gets old, even when the dialogue becomes familiar over time, if only due to its novelty.

Arguably, no other episode illustrates quite so well why fans of the show care about these characters; they are consummate professionals blending skill, empathy and humor all in day's work.

Come to think of it, this is another favorite, despite what I wrote above.

echo7tango said...

This episode was very well done, from the soldier's point of view.

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