Saturday, October 3, 2009

Episode 174 - Good-Bye Radar, Part 2

Season 8, Episode 174: Good-Bye Radar, Part 2
Original Air Date: 10/15/79
Written by: Ken Levine & David Isaacs

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Radar begins packing to leave for the 4077th for home. Everyone is reacting differently (Winchester, for instance, barely cares), and Klinger is in a panic over becoming company clerk. Radar insists that he can't help Klinger--he has to learn it on his own, like he did.

But when the lack of electricity really starts wearing everyone down, Radar changes his mind and steps in, helping Klinger find a generator. It still doesn't go well, and things get even worse when they hear the sound of incoming choppers.

With no time to get a new generator, Radar gets a brainstorm: he lines up the compound with jeeps and ambulances, using their headlights to give the doctors enough light to work by. Potter, impressed, calls Radar a genuine hero.

Later that night, after ten hours of surgery, Potter and Radar talk in Potter's office. Potter once again commends Radar for his ingenuity, and Radar drops a bombshell: he's decided to stay at the 4077th.

Potter is stunned, and demands Radar reconsider. Radar gently remarks that Potter can't order him to stay, and as long as the 4077th is in such trouble, he's needed more in Korea.

The next morning, Hawkeye, having heard the news, angrily confronts Radar, demanding that he go home. Radar refuses, telling Hawkeye that no one can tell him how to run his life.

Klinger, depressed at the news, is in the office when a call comes in about a generator, meant for Radar. He takes the call, and hops in a jeep to I-Corps to trade for a generator. The deal almost collapses when a blustery major arrives for the same generator, but Klinger bamboozles his way into getting it for himself.

He drives back to the 4077th with it, and everyone is thrilled. Radar in particular is impressed, and that gets him to change his mind about going home.

The next day, everyone is about to kick off Radar's going away party, but it is interrupted by incoming wounded. This leaves everyone just a few moments to say goodbye--Potter is teary-eyed, Winchester condescending, Margaret cheery but impersonal.

Klinger insists he'll make Radar proud, Father Mulcahy blesses him, and B.J. seems more concerned with what Radar will say about him to Peg and Erin Hunnicutt, who will meet Radar when he arrives in San Francisco. Everyone then runs inside, leaving Radar without the chance to say goodbye to Hawkeye.

Radar takes one last lap around the camp, to the Mess Tent, visiting his animals (promising that everyone in camp will be looking after them).

He wanders into the hospital, where, through the door, he makes eye contact with Hawkeye. Hawkeye pauses for a moment, then gives him a classic Army salute. Radar returns it, when he hears his jeep arrive. He gives Hawkeye one last look, and then walks out.

He loads his stuff into the jeep, and says, only partly to his driver, "I'm ready...let's go." The jeep drives off.

Later that night, Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter go to the Swamp for drinks, wondering just where Radar is at the moment. Inside, on Hawkeye's bunk, is Radar's teddy bear.

Hawkeye picks it up, looks at it, and says, "Good-bye, Radar."

Fun Facts: There's a nice moment when Radar re-finds the thermometer that Henry Blake gave him in season three's "Abyssinia, Henry." He shows it to Klinger, describing it: "Col. Blake gave it to me just before he..." and then his voice trails off, not finishing the sentence.

This episode features the last cast change for the show.

This, of course, was not the last time TV viewers saw Gary Burghoff as Radar. He would make an appearance on After M*A*S*H, and even got a pilot for his own series, W*A*L*T*E*R. The pilot episode was only aired once--and even then, not in all of the country--and was never seen again.

Favorite Line: Klinger desperately asks Radar for help in taking over as clerk. Radar says he has to learn it all on his own, since no one helped him when he got the job.

Klinger argues that Radar is a "born clerk", while he's a "born civilian." He lists all the ways he's not suited for the job, adding that he easily loses things: "When I was a kid, my mother pinned my bike to my sleeve!"


What the Parrot Saw said...

It's easier to comment on both episodes in this two-parter at once, so here goes... ;-)

It is interesting to note that we never see the other actors who left presumably in part due to their (later) stated reluctance to keep playing their character- Linville and Rogers were explained away in the first episode of the following season. We did see Henry leave of course, but the producers decision to kill Henry off was by all accounts a surprise to all. I'm also not so sure that McLean was as tired of playing Blake as he might have felt that his career could go other places.

Thus, the first few episodes of this season leading up to (and including) Radar's departure have always felt very jarring. Gary Burghoff had been playing the character (or a version thereof) for ten years! It is understandable that he would feel constrained playing a young man of roughly college age into his own middle age. But there is... the only phrase that comes to mind is... a near-bitterness here that is strange to watch. Radar has seemingly turned into a cranky middle-aged guy. His visual and spoken demeanor is just that dissimilar from the way the character has been played every season prior.

His final words in the series, delivered to the driver, seem almost impatient: "OK, Let's Go". The driver actually delivers the line I'd expect Radar to say, and it would have been a gentle--and fitting--final statement for him: "well, I guess that any place you live is home" (a paraphrase).

Even some of the goodbyes seems stilted: the best Margaret can say (albeit with heavy wounded arriving) is "You know- you're all right" ?? Potter and Hawkeye's goodbyes are wonderful. Hawkeye's salute is perfect, and if you notice, he has the same anguished look when he returns to his patient that he has when hearing about Henry. The man wants to grieve, but has to keep his mind on his important work.

Klinger's generator heist is hilarious (" 'daaaammnn Commmies' ") and bodes well for his transition to Sherm's right-hand man (following the next episode, of course!).

For me, this was the most bitter-sweet of goodbyes, perhaps even more than "Abyssina, Henry" in that Gary seems really tired of Radar and tired of the show. But I admire his leaving when he perhaps felt his heart wasn't into it anymore and he was able to do so.

So Gary, on the off-chance you are reading this: thanks for eight great seasons. Truly. :-)

Russell said...

I totally agree with your comments, What the Parrot Saw. Gary Burghoff seems more himself here and less Radar than ever before. It just doesn't ring true, and the I can't help but think that the way this episode was written was because a) Burghoff wanted out so badly and b)nobody really liked him all that much (from what I've heard).
Still, this 2-parter is jarring and I haven't re-watched it in years.

Albert Giesbrecht said...

The reason for the Damn Commies line is that Klinger told the General that North Korean Solders has pissed into the bottles of booze that the General wanted. That scene aired only once and had been cut out of the syndicated print.

Dave said...

I just saw this again. Gary's portrayal of radar is just weird. He does not talk the same. he is yelling all the time. he has even lost weight. It's like a whole different character. like a miserable, bitter, whiney radar.

Mike said...

My take on Burghoff's performance here is that it's *meant* to be jarring, because the episode is really less about Radar saying goodbye to the 4077th than it is about Walter O'Reilly saying goodbye to Radar (i.e., his innocent childhood self).

The "Radar" part of Walter O'Reilly is already half-gone when the episode starts, and by the time he realizes he won't even have the consolation of a farewell party to enjoy, "Radar" is well and truly gone for good, because circumstances and responsibilities have at last forced him to leave the things of childhood behind him.

That's what makes the discovery of the teddy bear in the tag scene so poignant. Hawkeye et al. realize that sweetly naive farmboy has departed not only from their company, but from Walter's life. "Good-bye, Radar", indeed.

(Of course, Burghoff's subsequent appearances mentioned above - and even his offscreen "appearance" in "The Foresight Saga" - would negate this bit of character development, but that's another story.)

Anonymous said...

I just caught the a showing of this on Me-TV, and -- it's not just Gary. The whole sort-of jarring.

Gary might be playing Radar as a bit grumpier than usual, but Radar's spends most of the episode dumped on: He misses the cute girl, he gets a crappy ride back, he thinks he lets everyone down, his uncle dies, he watches Klinger flail, Hawkeye gets sarcastic with him, and he missed his own Goodbye party. Radar would be allowed to be upset. I did notice that when Radar was more relaxed in the episode, Gary seemed to play him like the Radar we all knew (notably in his scenes with Potter).

That said, Gary was dealing with burnout and found himself playing a character nearly half his age. I'm sure it's not easy to make that your primary identity for sustained periods of time. There's a huge difference between quitting when you think you've got a chance at something new or better, and quitting because you can't emotionally go through with it anymore.

Robert Gross said...

I don't think it's that strange that Radar acts as he does. He just lost the man who was a father to him.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

I always thought this episode was about Radar becoming Walter at last and finally growing up. Hawkeye's attitude was of a guy who saw Radar throwing away the chance to go home that nobody else was getting.

I loved how Klinger stole the 4077th's own generator back ("do I hear three?") using his own natural talents that would help him do his new job so well later on.

I think Burghoff was the only actor from the movie to come over to the series. It was always a little weird seeing him stay the same "age" as his character when he was going bald.

Unknown said...

I saw the 'Good-byRadar' episode last night on TV LAND and wondered if Radar ever looked-up the Nurse he met while waiting for a ride back to the 4077th. They determined that she lived onky 100 miles away. I think this episode showed that Radar had truly our-grown hus position as Companies Clerk. Leaving hus teddy bear behind was a visible sign. Thank you.

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