Sunday, March 14, 2010

AfterM*A*S*H Episode 15 - Yours Truly, Max Klinger

Season 1, Episode 15: Yours Truly, Max Klinger
Original Air Date: 1/16/84
Written by: David Isaacs & Ken Levine

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

This episode opens in the middle of the night, with Klinger writing a letter to...Radar!

He's telling Radar the the great news, that he and Soon-Lee are going to have a baby. We see Klinger and Soon-Lee discuss what to name the baby (Klinger is sure its going to be a boy), and where to put it since they don't have any spare room in their small house.

To earn extra money, Klinger has taken a second job on the side, selling frozen meat over the phone (it doesn't go well). He tells Radar about what its like to be around Col. Potter, now that he's home, and Mrs. Potter, whom they both only heard about for so long.

Potter is none too pleased to learn that Mike D'Angelo has hired a new surgeon, named Boyer, whose record post-Korea is spotty at best, having been fired from several hospitals. But D'Angelo--having done this as some sort of favor for a crony--is adamant.

Potter finds Dr. Boyer (David Ackroyd) waiting for him in his office, and at first he's sarcastic and surly to Potter. His record shows he was a Battalion Aid surgeon--and he even has a missing leg to show for it. That impresses Potter, and he mentions having run the 4077th. Boyer's response is, "Ah, a M*A*S*H---the suburbs."

That doesn't endear him to Potter much, but he's willing to give Boyer a chance at a fresh start. He tells Boyer to get to work, and Boyer leaves Potter's office without another word.

Klinger tells Radar about his work with the patients, and Father Mulcahy's adjusting to working with the patients at General General (we see him trying to calm down the mixed-religion parents of a wounded boy, who are arguing over which holy man will counsel their son).

In the ward, Dr. Boyer overhears Dr. Pfeiffer trying to convince a patient to submit to an important surgical procedure. The man is scared to go under the knife, and Boyer unceremoniously tells the man that if he doesn't get the procedure, he'll die, period. Dr. Pfeiffer is horrified and angry, but it seems to work: the man agrees to the surgery.

Mike D'Angelo finds Dr. Boyer sitting at his private cafeteria table, reserved for hospital administration. Boyer has no time for D'Angelo, and insults him to his face, refusing to get up. D'Angelo is incensed and storms off.

In surgery the next morning, Dr. Boyer proves to be a whiz, impressing both Col. Potter and Dr. Pfeiffer, who are assisting. Later, D'Angelo finds Potter getting a haircut, telling him that Boyer is fired.

Potter blows his stack, saying Boyer is a top-flight, "instinctive" surgeon, and demands Boyer stay at General General. D'Angelo is unsure, but Potter bullies him into giving in.

Later, Potter runs into Boyer, who is getting a new artificial leg. He says his goodbyes, believing he's been fired. But Potter tells him otherwise, to Boyer's shock. At first, Boyer refuses, but Potter tells him this is his last chance to work at a V.A. Boyer relents, and they head to the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee--and sit at Mike D'Angelo's table.

We see Klinger finish letter, and it being read by its recipient--Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff)! We find Radar in the middle of his wedding rehearsal, looking not too confident, especially when he reads that Col. Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy will be coming soon to attend his wedding. To be continued!

Fun Facts: Another episode that makes a direct connection to M*A*S*H--not only does it mention--and feature an appearance by--Radar, but the whole show is in the "Dear..." format that the original series mined so well.

There's a scene in the show where Alma Cox twirls a baton of a sort, and she does it really well, in one unbroken shot. Clearly actress Brandis Kemp really knew how to do this, and they worked it into the show (like Gary Burghoff's drumming!).

While I thought this was a solid episode, it can't help but leave you feeling a bit nervous about the future of the show: only fifteen episodes in, and clearly the network and/or the producers felt the need to make a stronger connection to M*A*S*H by bringing in Radar, as well as add a new character, Dr. Boyer. Not a vote of confidence for the series as it stood.

Favorite Line: Mike D'Angelo keeps trying to get Dr. Boyer to listen to him, but he refuses to look up from his newspaper. After D'Angelo barks at him another time, Boyer exclaims, in a Hawkeye-esque show of defiance: "Son of a gun, Virgina Mayo had a little girl! We've got to get her something, Mike!"

1 comment:

What the Parrot Saw said...

First off, I'm enjoying reading your take on AfterM*A*S*H here, rob. Thanks again for taking on the task.

Having rediscovered the series a year or so ago (heh heh heh), your fresh insight has led me back into the archives as it were.

The series did relatively well in its first year, ratings-wise. I think that giving Radar a cameo and introducing a new character followed the impulses present in the first season or two of its predecessor. In other words, a fairly organic decision (moves approaching flop sweat alas would come in the second season).

The epistolary format is a tried and true, familiar gambit- it generally comes off well here, and helps ease in a new character as well as Radar's (surprise, at the the time!) appearance at the end.

If the series had gotten its sea legs, such overt references (such as the plot in "Chief of Staff") might have become less necessary. For a number of reasons, it was not to be.

I quite like Boyer, and I think him an improvement over the likeable (but milquetoast) Pfeiffer.

He is obviously a Hawkeye type, which could have blown up badly. However, his bitterness and seriously razor wit would have been out of place in the 4077th (perhaps?) but he fits in well here as a vet in a veteran's hospital. His initial scene with Potter is genuinely edgy- as good as any of the edgy scenes in the last few years of M*A*S*H.

Casting him as a ex-battalion aid surgeon was an inspired move. It's a strong introduction, and Ackroyd could have grown to deliver the goods had the series been allowed to follow its own evolution.

Radar's getting married!

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