Sunday, December 13, 2009

Episode 233 - Sons and Bowlers

Season 10, Episode 233: Sons and Bowlers
Original Air Date: 3/22/82
Written by: Elias Davis & David Pollock

Directed by: Hy Averback

The Marines are celebrating yet another victory over the 4077th, this time at softball, drinking heavily at the O Club, all on the 4077th's dime.

Col. Potter is sick of constantly losing to the Marines, and gets the idea to try another sport, one he thinks they can win at--bowling. He quickly assembles a team of himself, Klinger, and B.J., and starts a search for a fourth player.

While Klinger is on the phone searching for the proper equipment, he hands a recently-arrived letter for Hawkeye. Hawkeye reads it then and there, and looks concerned. After Klinger leaves, Hawkeye picks up the phone and tries to place a call to his father back in Maine.

Getting a call through is a huge, complicated, frustrating process, so Hawkeye has to practically scream at the top of his lungs to be heard. Winchester, next door in Post Op, comes in and asks him to quiet down. Hawkeye brushes him off, and resumes his call within earshot of Winchester.

Winchester then turns on his heel and stays with Hawkeye, talking with him about what's going on--Hawkeye's father is going in for surgery, and even though his father doesn't say what it is, Hawkeye feels its serious.

Hawkeye eventually learns that his father has a mass pushing against his kidney, and by the time he gets a second call through his father has already gone in for surgery.

Hawkeye and Winchester, having nothing to do but wait, sit and talk about their fathers. Hawkeye expects the worst, and can't stand the idea his father would die without him having one last chance to tell his father how much he loves him.

Winchester tells Hawkeye that he should feel lucky that its only geographic distance keeping them apart--he and his father "have been 12,000 miles apart in the same room." He compares their respective relationships and says that, while he knows his father only wanted the best for him, while he has a Father, Hawkeye has a Dad.

Wounded arrive, and Hawkeye tries to take his mind off his worries and volunteers to play on the bowling team. But after only a few frames another call from home comes in and he has to beg off.

He finally gets the chance to talk to his Dad, and everything went perfectly. Hawkeye is overjoyed, gently scolding his Dad for not telling him about all this earlier, but then tells him just to get some rest.
Hawkeye hangs up, his eyes tearing up from happiness.

Later, in the O Club, the 4077th is celebrating their first win against the Marines (with the last-minute help of Margaret), and Hawkeye buys Winchester their first round. They share a toast to "Fathers...and their sons."

Fun Facts: This episode features an abbreviated version of the credits--"Suicide is Painless" starts in a few seconds later than it normally does, and eliminates all the shots that are usually seen between Harry Morgan and Loretta Swit's names, so the sequence ends at the right moment.

This story obviously conflicts with previous episodes where Hawkeye writes letters home to his mother. Having spent my life reading comic books, I'm usually a big fan of continuity, but in this case who cares? This particular storyline is so good its worth it, even if it does conflict with previous episodes.

This is actor Dick O'Neill's third appearance on the series (after Season Five's "38 Across" and Season Eight's "B.J. Papa San"), playing yet another different character.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye, a little stunned at Winchester's revealing story, admits, "Charles--you've never told me anything like this before."

Winchester, without moving, says, "Actually, Hawkeye--I've never told you anything before", the only time Winchester ever called him by his nickname. A truly wonderful moment between the two characters.


Anonymous said...

As impossible as it is to try and pick one - to me, this is probably David Ogden Stiers' finest performance in the series. He makes this episode work.


What the Parrot Saw said...

Call me a cynic, but I suspect that Charles and Hawkeye's tête-à-tête was in the cards for awhile- no matter. It remains a genuinely moving scene.

We've seen both Hawk and Charles upset individually over family matters before. The temptation must have been strong to milk that pathos here--and for some casual viewers, perhaps their scenes do--but this emerges as one of the more moving exchanges in the latter seasons. It's played quiet, with nuance and pitch-perfect dialogue.

One of my favorite moments of the series. In fact, I'd hoped when first watching the finale when Charles bids goodbye to Hawk and BJ, that he'd allow a little of this unguarded emotion.

As time has gone on, I'm glad that he stayed more true to character. It makes such earlier moments mean that much more.

Russell said...

To me Charles can be summed up with a handful of episodes: this one, the "I loathe you, Pierce" episode from season six, the Winchester-Klinger exchange during the Christmas episode last year, Charles helping the concert pianist play with his left hand, and the episode where he helps a soldier who stutters. To me those are the very best Winchester slash David Ogden Stiers episodes.

I'd like this one more if the Bowling B-story was better. Blah.

Anonymous said...

Man was Potter a jerk to Margaret in this episode...One of the few times i dont really enjoy his character. the putting the whole blame on her even though they were apparently getting swamped...

Adam'a Ribs said...

Winchester carried this episode. I feel the same way as Hawjeye right now. I lost my mother a year ago, and I just found out from a neighbor who's a nurse that Dad needs to see a gastro intestinal doctor for issues and is ignoring the discomfort. I have a friend who's a lot like Winchester. I hope we can raise a glass to our fathers and sons as well.

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