Saturday, October 10, 2009

Episode 181 - Dear Uncle Abdul

Season 8, Episode 181: Dear Uncle Abdul
Original Air Date: 12/3/79
Written by: John Rappaport & Jim Mulligan

Directed by: William Jurgensen

Klinger is writing a letter home to his Uncle Abdul, telling him about recent events at the 4077th.

Father Mulcahy gets involved in writing an inspirational war song, Winchester drags Klinger out into the brush to use him to help flush out wild game, and Margaret, enraged that Army Supply won't issue her a new footlocker unless its damaged "in combat", goes ahead and shoots up her old one, using Winchester's hunting rifle.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye and B.J. get in a debate about who's funnier. It gets kicked off when Hawkeye tells B.J. an old joke he learned from his Dad, but B.J. doesn't think its funny, walking
away from Hawkeye dismissively with "See you later, Uncle Milty." Hawkeye is annoyed to no end when he learns B.J. is going around camp telling the same joke, getting laughs and the credit.

But the debate is tabled for the moment when a young soldier named Eddie (Richard Lineback) wanders into camp, looking for his pal Hank, who was wounded and recovering in the 4077's Post Op.

Another member of the unit mentions that Eddie is what they call "a little slow"--not mentally retarded, but simply "not all that bright." Hawkeye
and B.J. are shocked and disgusted that someone like that has been put in combat. There's an even bigger problem--Eddie's pal Hank is scheduled to be shipped home, leaving Eddie behind.

Things get patched up when Hank reassures Eddie that he's tough, and a good solider. Their mutual friend Dave (Kelly Ward) steps in and promises to become Eddie's new best pal now that Hank is leaving.

The debate about who's funnier resumes, and Hawkeye and B.J. ask Klinger for his opinion. Klinger offers the answer is neither of them--in a unit with a priest who writes war ditties, a head nurse that shoots luggage, and a major that likes to dress up and go quail hunting, what's so special about two guys who go around telling jokes?

Klinger ends his letter admitting to his Uncle Abdul that he now understands why he never got a Section 8--"There's nothing special about me--everybody here is crazy!"

Fun Facts: Other than a variation on the type in the Tenth Season, this is the last episode of the series in the "Dear..." format.

Actor Richard Lineback would return to the show in an eleventh season episode, playing a different character.

The song that Father Mulcahy composes at the end of the show is okay, but there's a line about "The pain and death this madness brings" that jumps right out at you with its bluntness--definitely the best part of the song.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and B.J. are shocked when they learn the young solider named Eddie is what his buddies call, "a little slow."

Hawkeye asks rhetorically, "What the hell is a kid like that doing in combat?" B.J. responds with, "Maybe there were no openings on the Joint Chiefs of Staff."


What the Parrot Saw said...

The more I consider season 8, the stronger a season it seems. Much of the humor at times doesn't seem as forced as it does occasionally in the last few years (by which time MASH was well and truly a dramedy first) and the plots were well-conceived and executed.

The beauty of this episode is Klinger's playing for once the straight man. He is still funny, of course, but his reactions to the various obsessions the other characters involve him in are great. His posing aboard Sophie for Potter's self-portrait is a particular gem.

The subplot regarding the bird joke is interesting (wonder if it was inspired by some on-set frivolity?)- both Hawk and BJ seem to tell this shaggy dog story equally well, I think!

Dominic said...

I can't know for sure but I think Eddie may actually be autistic because he has some of the elements of autism. Though Rob, don't be worried. It just makes it harder for Eddie to learn.

Donald said...

I'm autistic. I don't know if Eddie was or just really slow. Because Autism makes some of us smarter on certain subjects than most people.

Unknown said...

This is one of my favorite episodes. Close to the end of the episode when B.J. tells Eddie and Dave about grabbing a bite to eat in the mess tent before being shipped back to their unit, Dave is now Eddie's new best pal. I would've loved to have seen a scene where Hawkeye and B.J. sit at the same table with Eddie and Dave eating with them and getting better acquainted with them because it's best pals associating with best pals.

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