Friday, March 26, 2010

AfterM*A*S*H Episode 27 - Ward Is Hell

Season 2, Episode 27: Ward Is Hell
Original Air Date: 12/4/84
Written by: David Isaacs & Ken Levine and Dennis Keonig

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Klinger, being Klinger, is running a lottery in the ward to make some money, based on numbers called out over the PA. Even when someone wins, Klinger still makes a profit.

Dr. Boyer comes down with an infection, and even though Col. Potter tells him he's going to be fine, Boyer is pessimistic. Potter's suggests Boyer take a few days off (since walking around on his artificial leg is a physically grueling task), and Boyer agrees, reluctantly, taking a bed in the ward with his own patients.

As if that wasn't bad enough, Wally Wainwright shows up, saying no one can find Dr. Boyer's Army records, oh-so-jokingly suggesting that if they can't find them, Boyer will be tossed out of the hospital.

Luckily, they find the forms, and Alma Cox comes to have Boyer sign them. After pretending he's on death's door--which gets Alma all emotional--he makes a crude play for her, right there in the ward, causing her to run off in a panic.

Col. Potter gets wind of Klinger's lottery scam, and is upset this is happening in his hospital. He gets even more upset when he learns Mildred and Soon-Lee are in on it. When Mildred guilt-trips Col. Potter over it, saying they need the money for their baby, he gives up and lets the lottery continue.

When Soon-Lee wins the afternoon's lottery, the other patients think its been fixed. Klinger locks himself inside the ward, while some of the angry lottery losers try and bust down the door. Finally, two orderlies get in, and Klinger offers a refund to everyone.

At the end of the night, the Potters, Father Mulcahy, a young intern named Dr. Caldwell (Tom Isbell), and Dr. Dudziak visit Boyer in his bed. After a discussion who is the funniest comedian out there, Boyer lightens up, and starts doing an old Abbott & Costello routine, verbatim, keeping them all at rapt attention.

Fun Facts: After a month off the air, AfterM*A*S*H came back for two episodes, this one and the following week's "Saturday's Heroes." There was another episode shot, "Wet Feet", that never even aired. Is this anyway to treat a show?

Favorite Line: After Wally Wainwright questions Dr. Boyer's military history, Boyer responds: "If I recall, I stuffed my papers in a shoe and sent it to the White House. Ask the Eisenhowers, they keep all their old junk around--look at Nixon."

This is the last episode of AfterM*A*S*H I have available to me; "Saturday's Heroes" sadly was not part of the package I was sent, and the last filmed episode, "Wet Feet" never aired.

It's downright criminal that CBS didn't even bother to air "Wet Feet", let alone give the show a chance to film a final episode--Col. Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy simply disappeared, never to be seen again.

Those actors, after their years of service on M*A*S*H, deserved better, and so did the loyal viewers--I bet at this point, the only people watching the show were die-hard M*A*S*H fans, so to have the three main characters so unceremoniously yanked from TV is pretty inexcusable.

Having seen these shows for the first time in a quarter century, I feel compelled to have some sort of final thoughts on the series. All in all, I'd say AfterM*A*S*H--in its first season--was a solid show, and definitely could have blossomed into a really good one.

Sure, overall it wasn't all that funny, and you didn't have the life-and-death drama that came from a show set in a war zone. But I was impressed that AfterM*A*S*H, despite its title, didn't really try to merely replicate M*A*S*H's success by copying it: no, I think AfterM*A*S*H was well on its way to establishing its own identity, but of course once the ratings started to slide CBS panicked and insisted on "retooling" the show, then never giving the new version a real chance.

Part of the sad legacy of AfterM*A*S*H is its reputation as one of worst spin-offs, if not the worst, of all time, which is really not fair. I have to think the reason the show is such a joke is because of its sheer unavailability--in an age where you can get According to Jim: The Complete Seventh Season or Viva Laughlin: The Complete Series on DVD, the fact that AfterM*A*S*H isn't on DVD makes it look like Fox has something to hide.

The only mention you'll find of it on the entire Martinis & Medicine box set is an off-stage (but still on-mike) conversation between Harry Morgan and Jamie Farr, while they were shooting the final filmed M*A*S*H episode, "As Time Goes By." Its like it never existed. I really have to thank M*A*S*H fan What The Parrot Saw for sending me the shows; I'm really glad I got to see them again.

But we're still not quite done--because I'm a glutton for punishment, tomorrow we'll take a look at the failed series pilot known as...W*A*L*T*E*R!


What the Parrot Saw said...

It was my pleasure to send you the "missing" episodes, Rob! After all your informed and heart-felt writing on the parent series here (I still say: collect it in a book. It would be the best episode guide out there!), I knew that you would give the spinoff the same treatment.

This episode is pretty good. There's a good interplay at work amongst what is now a (newish) ensemble. There is evidence of a slump, but looking back, I'd rather have an official DVD of AFTERM*A*S*H than the A-TEAM:The Collector's Edition. Or whatever.

But that's just me. I'd like to see every season of The Drew Carey Show given an official release. Struck me as a popular show, back in the day... must be the invisible hand of the marketplace.

Surely: there must be a market here for an official release? 20CFOX: I for one would pay for a reasonably priced official set.

BTW- this set has begun to circulate online if you know where to look. You shouldn't need to pay to download or purchase exorbitantly priced bootleg DVDs on online site. Dig around- you may be surprised!

Again: thanks, rob! for taking the time to do the usual excellent write up on a neglected chunk of M*A*S*H's larger history.

rob! said...

Parrot--Thanks for following the blog, and for the AfterMASH shows. It was a real treat getting to see these again after so long.

Unknown said...

Thanks to What The Parrot Saw for sending it and Thanks to Rob! for reviewing AfterMASH. I vaguely remembered it but obviously not too well. I'll agree, I would purchase a moderately priced box set. Kind of surprised that the MASH box set didn't really mention this either. Oh well, c'est la vie.
Thanks Guys!

TheMovieManiac said...

Thanks rob! I've been following this blog since watching series 1 of M*A*S*H back in June. i hope that the missing script of "All Day, All Night, Mary Ann " sees the light of day as well as "Wet Feet ". It'd be great to see "Saturday's Heroes" and "By The Book " in English too.

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