Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Diagnosis: Murder - Drill For Death

As any M*A*S*H fan knows, various members of the cast have appeared together in subsequent projects, whether they be IBM commercials or in episodes of TV series, like this one, "Drill For Death."

"Drill" was the fifteenth episode of the fifth season of Diagnosis: Murder, the long-running medical mystery series starring the seemingly and hopefully immortal Dick Van Dyke. The plot of the episode centers on a real murder that took place during an emergency preparedness drill at the hospital that was the show's setting, and the producers found room to make it a real M*A*S*H-o-rama: MASH movie stars Elliott Gould and Sally Kellerman guest star, as well as three old pals:


Now, there are pluses and minuses to this piece of stunt casting: actors Loretta Swit, Jamie Farr, and William Christopher each get to play a bit against type, with Christopher being particularly fun in his role as an schizophrenic artist. But the minus--and it's a big one--is that these three actors never share a scene together!

Maybe it was simply too logistically difficult to get them all together, but why go to the effort of casting three cast members of M*A*S*H and not let them be on the screen at the same time, even once? I kept watching the episode (which, with all due respect to the great Mr. Van Dyke, was not easy) waiting for Swit and Farr to eventually walk into Christopher's hospital room. But when the artist goes belly up (SPOILER ALERT), I realized it wasn't gonna happen. What is this, The Story of Mankind?

Still, "Drill For Death" is a fun little nod to M*A*S*H and, considering that almost all the cast is still with us, it's neat to realize some enterprising TV producer who likes meta humor could do something like this today. Paging Dr. Harmon!

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