Saturday, January 2, 2010

Episode 247 - Say No More

Season 11, Episode 247: Say No More
Original Air Date: 1/24/83
Written by: John Rappaport

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Margaret, in anticipation on going to see a lecture by a doctor she respects, gives herself a home permanent. Unfortunately, she's still in the middle of the process when wounded arrive, and she has to go out onto the compound with a wet head.

The next morning, she finds she's lost her voice--the chill air and her wet head having given her an acute case of laryngitis. Winchester advises that she has a chance to regain her voice in time for the lecture in a few days, if, and only if, she doesn't utter a peep between now and then.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye deals with a patient whose father--a brusque general named Collins (John Anderson)--arrives and takes up residence at the 4077th to look after his son. Hawkeye assures the General that his son will be fine, but Collins refuses to leave, running his part of the war from his specially-made trailer.

After a day of trying to be a good nurse while not being able to talk, Margaret finally gives up, realizing she can't really do her job mute. She confides in Winchester that she made plans to see the doctor--named Chesler--privately, much to Winchester's amusement. She sadly asks Winchester to call Chesler and say she has to cancel, even though he's headed back for the States and this will be her only chance to see him.

In Post Op, the younger Collins seems to have some problems breathing, and Hawkeye checks up on him. He's betting that its a normal Post-operative reaction, but admits to his father that it could be something more serious--an embolism. General Collins curtly orders Hawkeye to keep him informed, while he goes on ordering troop movements and other duties of war.

Later, Hawkeye finds Collins in his trailer with some terrible news--his son has died. It was an embolism, so severe there wasn't anything anyone could do.

Collins is, of course, floored, and he tells a story about how his son wanted to follow in his footsteps, which he was initially against. But his son was so brave that he went ahead and volunteered to enlist anyway.

Hawkeye tries to comfort Collins, saying that while many of the patients he sees are a blur, "the special ones stand out"--like his son, whose only concern were his men, even though he was injured, too.

Collins thanks Hawkeye for this, admitting that he realizes that probably the only thing Hawkeye didn't like about the young soldier "was his old man."

Collins asks Hawkeye to share a drink with him, which Hawkeye agrees to. After their drink, Hawkeye departs the trailer, but not before he hears Collins resume his role as the barking general, issuing orders which will, inevitably, kill more young men like his son.

Meanwhile, Margaret, despondent over her missed rendevous, is thrilled when Dr. Chessler (James Karen) shows up at her door! Turns out that Winchester called the doctor, buttering him up with compliments that he said came from Margaret. Chesler, so impressed with Margaret's dedication, agreed to make a last-minute stop at the 4077th to visit her.

The next morning, Margaret thanks Winchester the only way she knows how since she still can't talk--with a big kiss.

Fun Facts: During the scene between Gen. Collins and Hawkeye, Collins calls Hawkeye "a son of a bitch." I believe M*A*S*H broke ground by using that taboo phrase for the first time in Season Eight's "Guerilla My Dreams", I wonder if any other show used it between that episode and this one? Three's Company, perhaps?

Actor James Karen, for many years, did local TV ads for the Pathmark chain of supermarkets. As a kid, I never knew Karen was an actor in anything other than those commercials until I saw him in this episode (he also appeared in Poltergeist, which came out the year before, but I was too young to see that in the theater!). If there was one M*A*S*H guest actor I could meet, of the hundreds that marched onto the 4077th set, it would be him.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye's gentle, exceedingly-polite response to Collins' admission that he knows Hawkeye probably didn't care for him too much:
"Let's just say we see things differently."


Unknown said...

I'll always remember James Karen from his role in "Return of the Living Dead". (he's also in the sequel but it's not where near as good as the first one) According to IMDB, Mr Karen is still around. So maybe you could meet up with him again. If you are interested in a seeing him recently, he's all over the special features in the most recent version of ROTLD.

What the Parrot Saw said...

The A-plot here is the last example of one of the longest running plot staples in the series: Hawkeye confronts/mocks/cajoles/learns from (etc) a regular army officer.

This is a mature revisiting of this theme. Hawkeye is inevitably outraged at the senior officer's seeming lack of feeling over his son's depth, but Hawk's disgusted--but wearily sad--resigned melancholy when he leaves Collins' trailer speaks volumes.

Hawkeye knows that Collins will not be dissuaded from what Collins sees as his duty. And Collins has lost his son- Hawkeye knows that he can play no stratagem (like an appendectomy) to stop the next plan from beginning.

I'd argue that this plot could not have been played as convincingly as it is here up until the last years of the series- and Anderson's performance remains strong. A fine example of serious M*A*S*H

B-plot: Loretta, I love you, but that perm is horrific. :-/

WestVirginiaRebel said...

I remember Margaret's perm from this episode, lol. I wondered where Colonel Potter was-this would have been a good episode for him to appear in as a man who could relate better to General Collins than Hawkeye could, and maybe talk to him as a fellow Regular Army man with his years of experience. Overall, a strong A-story where Hawkeye got to see the war from the view of the type of high-ranking officer he normally didn't like.

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