Sunday, February 28, 2010

AfterM*A*S*H Episode 1 - September '53/Together Again

Season 1, Episode 1: September of '53/Together Again
Original Air Date: 9/26/83
Written by: Larry Gelbart

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Col. Potter returns home from Korea to his beloved wife Mildred (Barbara Townsend). He finds himself offered the job of Chief of Staff at General Pershing Veteran's Hospital, and even though he has doubts about his boss Mike D'Angelo (John Chappell), he feels he do some good, tending to the wounded veterans of multiple wars.

Meanwhile, his former clerk Klinger is not doing quite as well. When we find Klinger, he is before a judge, having been busted for running the kind of racket he would have back in Korea. With his wife Soon-Lee (Rosalind Chao) watching, Klinger asks for mercy from the judge, explaining that he's having a hard time readjusting to life as a civilian.

He mentions that the things he did back in Korea--while maybe not quite on the up-and-up--he would be commended for, but back in America he gets arrested for. The judge shows Klinger mercy, especially when Klinger mentions he has an honest job waiting for him in Missouri--as Col. Potter's assistant.

Klinger and Soon-Lee arrive, and Klinger finds dealing with all the hospital redtape difficult. His loose, cutting-corners-ways is especially disdained by D'Angelo's executive secretary, the stern and humorless Alma Kox (Brandis Kemp).

D'Angelo tries to keep Col. Potter under control from the beginning, preferring to run the hospital as if it was a for-profit, money-making venture, obsessed with paperwork and PR. In fact, the only people on staff who seem to appreciate Col. Potter and Klinger are the young, idealistic doctor Gene Pfeiffer (Jay O. Sanders) and a secretary named Bonnie Hornbeck (Wendy Schaal) who really takes a shine to Klinger.

Col. Potter makes contact with a troubled Korean war veteran named Danny Madden (Arliss Howard), who eventually shows up at Col. Potter's home, keeping Mrs. Potter a sort of hostage. Col. Potter arrives and talks Madden down.

Meanwhile, Col. Potter gets a call from a friend of Father Mulcahy's, telling him that his old friend is in bad shape--demoralized by his hearing loss, Mulcahy has turned to booze. Potter asks to talk to Mulcahy, realizing how serious it is.

Potter arranges a hearing specialist to perform a brand-new type of surgery on Father Mulcahy, which goes well, slowly restoring Mulcahy's hearing. Potter tells Mulcahy that the hospital needs a new chaplain, and offers the job to Mulcahy. He accepts, and Klinger is delighted to be with his two old friends again.

Fun Facts: Not having seen this show since it aired in 1983, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these opening two episodes. It flows well, and its commentary about life in post-war 1950s America is, for the most part, spot on.

The only real problem with this episode(s) is--they're not that funny. There are a couple of funny lines, but nothing that you laugh out loud at. No, for these episodes, its the dramatic moments that really shine: during Klinger's scene in the courtroom, there's an especially sharp line about how his Korean wife is given looks "You wouldn't give to Eva Braun."

There's another particularly nice moment right at the beginning, when Col. Potter gets out of a cab and attempts to tip the driver. The driver waves off the tip and gives him a salute, a touching little scene. Watching these two shows over again, I was really taken with the dramatic moments--I thought some of them were as good as anything on M*A*S*H.

In the credits, right at the end, there is one of the strangest credit lines I've ever seen on a show:
"A continuation of M*A*S*H"--? I mean, sure, we all know that, but talk about putting the show behind the eight ball!

Favorite Line: Dr. Pfeiffer is embarrassed to mention that his female patient has VD. Klinger, misunderstanding, thinks he's referring to the rigid Alma Cox: "Alma Cox? Wow! Who volunteered?"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mail Call: Russell Burbage

I got a mystery package in Mail Call yesterday, sent to me none other than Maxwell Q. Klinger!

Inside a very heavy, well-packed box was two cans of chili, two cans of hot dog sauce, and one jar of relish, all from the Tony Packo's of Toledo, Ohio!

Max even sent a note:
...that sure was nice of Max to send all this stuff along (although, judging by the return address label, I think he had help from my pal and M*A*S*H fan Russell Burbage). After hearing about the legendary Tony Packo's for so long, its cool to have some of the actual food in my house.

Of course, since Darlin' Tracy and I are both vegetarians, we won't actually be eating any of the food, but I still appreciate the gesture, Max!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mail Call: Steve Spatucci

My pal and M*A*S*H fan Steve Spatucci sent me this wonderful photo of himself, rocking a M*A*S*H t-shirt--and tube socks!

Steve thinks the photo is from 1982, but the shirt has the show's beginning and end dates--1972/1983--on it, so I think he may be off by a year. Clearly, I know his life better than he does.

I wish I had a photo of myself like this, its way cool. If anyone else has a pic like this and wants it to be part of the just-made-up Mail Call feature, please send it in!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...