Sunday, May 31, 2009

Episode 74 - Change of Command

Season 4, Episode 74: Change of Command
Original Air Date: 9/19/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

The 4077th is still adjusting to being under the command of Frank Burns. With the extra space now in The Swamp, Hawkeye and B.J. set up a bar, which they christen The Henry Blake Memorial Bar.

Then Radar comes in with some startling news--the 4077th is getting a new Commanding Officer! The C.O. in question Col. Sherman Potter, Regular Army--which Hawkeye takes as a bad sign.

Radar is afraid to tell Frank the news, so Hawkeye and B.J. go with him for moral support. When Frank learns he's being replaced, he takes it surprisingly in stride--until he makes it to Hot Lips' tent, when he throws a tempter tantrum.

Later that day, Col. Potter (Harry Morgan) arrives, and he at first seems to be every bit the Regular Army man they fear--he's curt, blustery, and when Klinger presents himself, tells him in no uncertain terms that he get in a uniform, pronto.

He calls a meeting of his officers, which also doesn't go that well: first off, Frank doesn't show up at all, and Hawkeye's long list of infractions leads Potter to surmise that Capt. Pierce drinks. "Only to excess", Hawkeye answers.

Hot Lips reveals that Frank ran off to parts unknown once he learned he was losing command, which Hawkeye and B.J. find hysterical.

As Potter sets up, we see he's not quite as stiff as he at first seems, and has some nice warm moments with Radar. Potter is taken aback when Radar lives up to his nickname, hearing approaching choppers long before Potter does.

During surgery, Hawkeye's fears that Potter is a klutz in O.R. prove to be unfounded, as Potter displays superb surgical skills, and is even helpful to B.J. during a difficult case.

In the Scrub Room, the doctors are exhausted, and Potter reveals he could use a belt. Hawkeye and B.J. take this opportunity to invite Potter to the Swamp for a few drinks.

Later that night, we see the three of them, pie-eyed, singing songs late into the night. Hawkeye even manages to talk Potter into letting Klinger continue to wear dresses. They get to know each other, and there's an instant rapport.

The next morning, Frank reports for duty, offering his duties as second in command, and hoping Potter will continue the standard of discipline he established.

His hopes are dashed, though, when Klinger enters, in an outfit "from the Shirley Temple Collection", which Potter goes out of his way to compliment. Frank looks disappointed, and Hawkeye and B.J. smile, knowing things are going to be a lot different at the 4077th from now on.

Fun Facts: As good as all the characters on M*A*S*H were, I don't think there was one as brilliant an invention as Col. Potter.

Before Potter, you basically had three characters who were similar in their outlooks: Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry. With the addition of Col. Potter, you had someone who was a Regular Army soldier, who could provide a better counterpoint to the more freewheeling characters of Hawkeye and B.J.

It also gave the series the chance to show that not all Army officers were clowns, and in fact some were highly skilled, courageous men of duty. To borrow a phrase from politics, I think the addition of Col. Potter broadened the show's tent, giving it the chance to tell stories from a more diverse point of view.

On top of all that, Harry Morgan's performance as the character--in this very first episode and for the next seven seasons--was flat out genius. Warm yet firm, courageous yet humble, this is the kind of authority figure I think we all wish we could've had at some point in our lives.

Favorite Line: There are many funny lines in this episode (the drinking scene is especially rich with one-liners), but my favorite moment is at the end, when the camera, perched outside The Swamp peering in, pans back as the doctors sing songs late into the night: "There's a long, long night of waiting/Until my dreams all come true/Til' the day that I'll be coming/Down that long, long trail with you."

A very evocative scene in terms of mood and setting, its also warm and tender, giving viewers the impression that the 4077th is going to be in good hands under this new commander.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Episode 73 - Welcome to Korea

Season 4, Episode 73: Welcome to Korea
Original Air Date: 9/12/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum and Larry Gelbart

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

Radar is woken up by new 4077 commander Frank Burns, for the morning's formation. He's nasty to Radar, and proves to be a pathetic leader to the troops.

In the middle of a rant by Frank, Hawkeye, coming back from R&R, is wheeled into camp, partly hung over. He ignores Frank's commands, and heads for the showers.

Radar chases after him, trying to tell Hawkeye something: while Hawkeye was gone, Trapper got his orders and was shipped home. They tried calling Hawkeye for three days, but couldn't get a hold of him. Hawkeye is stunned, and crushed that it seems that Trapper didn't even leave a note of goodbye, save for a kiss to the cheek, administered by Radar.

When Hawkeye learns that Trapper is flying out of Kimpo that very morning, he jumps out of the shower, tells Frank and Hot Lips he's leaving. They deny him permission, but he sneaks aboard the jeep Radar is taking into town to pick up Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, Trapper's replacement.

Hawkeye, in a mad rush not to miss Trapper, blows past an MP checkpoint, only to be stopped at a second. He fakes his way through it by pretending Radar has an infectious disease.

They make it to Kimpo, and while Radar searches for Captain Hunnicutt, Hawkeye tries to find Trapper. He finds the office in charge of processing people on their way home, but can barely get the attention of the man behind the desk, who is more concerned with the absurdly specific needs of a General. Finally, he gets a hold of the flight manifests, and finds...Trapper left ten minutes ago.

Demoralized, he wanders back outside, where Radar introduces him to Captain Hunnicutt, who insists on being called B.J. They decide to go home, but find that their jeep has been stolen!

After calming a panicked Radar down, they go into the Officers Club to get a drink (faking Radar as an officer, giving him some of B.J.'s captains bars and designating him a "Corporal Captain"). Its here that Hawkeye clues B.J. in as to what to expect, and the kind of people that make up the 4077th.

He compliments them all, but points out that B.J. is just missing "Two of the greatest guys in the world, though", including Henry, who was "Our C.O.--Henry was okay, from the navel out in every direction."
He also clues B.J. in as to just how bad Burns--aka "Ferret Face"--is, as a commander and a doctor.

Upon leaving the club, they steal a General's jeep and head home. On the way, they run into a farming family searching a mine field, an incredibly dangerous proposition. They try to get them to stop, but not before one of the farmer's young daughters sets off a mine. In the confusion, Radar runs in to the mine field, grabs the injured girl, and brings her out.

While Hawkeye and Radar are missing, Frank is preparing the 4077th for the new arrival. He and Hot Lips dream of training Hunnicutt "our way."

Meanwhile, after dropping the girl off at a local hospital (the conditions of which disgusts and shocks B.J.), they get a flat tire. While fixing it, they run into some locals, who seem harmless enough--until they suddenly disappear into the woods. Moments later, bullets start to fly, and they scramble to get the new tire on and out of harm's way. B.J. notices there's a bullet hole in the seat right next to him.

As if that wasn't enough, Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar get caught in the middle of some mortar fire being shot at some U.S. soldiers. They jump out of the jeep and start tending to the wounded. B.J. receives one shock after the other--one dead solider looks to be barely thirteen years old, and another is wounded so bad that it causes B.J. to stagger off and vomit.

Radar points this out to Hawkeye. While Radar is calling the nearest MASH unit for help (the 8055th), Hawkeye stops and hold B.J.'s head as he continues to be sick. Finally, another wounded soldier needs attention, and Hawkeye turns, reaches his hand out to B.J. They join hands, and both of tend to the wounded G.I.

Back at the 4077th, Frank gets word that B.J. was picked up. Th attribute him being so late to Hawkeye, who must have had something to do with it.

Finally, Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar make it home. But just before they arrive, they stop at Rosie's Bar. They get loaded, so bad that Radar has to drive them the rest of the way.

Upon hearing the honks of the jeep's horn, Frank and Hot Lips run outside excitedly, ready to meet their new surgeon. Hawkeye, drunk and caked in sweat and mud, formally introduces B.J.: "Major Burns, Major Houilhan: may I present, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt."

B.J. manages a wobbly salute, only to collapse in laughter, clutching Hot Lips, and asking "What say you, Ferret Face?"

Hawkeye also dissolves into laughter, unable even to look Burns in the eye. Frank and Hot Lips stand there stunned, as they see all their plans to mold Captain Hunnicutt in their image have gone up in smoke.

Later, some MPs arrive, on the trail of the stolen jeep. They find Frank sitting it, and put him in custody. Hawkeye and B.J. wander by
on their way to the showers, stopping long enough not to help Frank at all.

The P.A. announces the list of people now permanently assigned to the 4077th. "Mike Farrell as B.J. Hunnicutt" is inserted into the list, and at the end, we meet "Harry Morgan, as Col. Sherman Potter...Regular Army. God help us all."

Fun Facts: Seaons Four and Five of M*A*S*H--featuring the combo of Hawkeye, Frank, Hot Lips, Radar, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy with new characters B.J. and Col. Potter--remain my favorite seasons of not only the series, but of all of television.

There was something about these particular episodes that speak to me in a way no other television shows have ever done. (Really--much like how I am about Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, or Justice League of America #200, I am completely unwilling to even consider the notion there has been--or ever will be--anything better in this particular medium).

The credit sequence, for the first time, has been changed. Not only are Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson's names gone (replaced by Mike Farrell and Harry Morgan, respectively), but Jamie Farr has been added to the end, and the overall size of the letters has been increased in size. Also, the last shot of the credits, featuring the doctors walking along with the jeeps carrying wounded, has been re-framed so Trapper is no longer seen at the very top.

A curious mention comes at the end, when we see the out-of-sequence scene of Col. Potter arriving. The P.A. says that Potter is reporting for duty on "September 19, 1952." Which means all of M*A*S*H's remaining seasons--all seven of them--take place between Sept. 1952 and July 27, 1953, which of course is highly unlikely. M*A*S*H would play fast and loose with various calendar dates all throughout its run.

I love Hawkeye's talk with B.J. in the Officers Club, where he tells him about the two people he just missed, Henry and Trapper. For whatever reason, I was always--and still am--incredibly intrigued at the moments of the show where the former characters were mentioned or referenced.

I really can't tell you why--maybe its because the show seemed to have three very distinct eras--the Hawkeye/Trapper/Henry years, the Hawkeye/B.J/Frank years, and then finally the Hawkeye/B.J/Winchester years, and they all seemed so different that I find it captivating when someone mentions a previous time on the show.

Growing up on the show having a laugh track, I'm simply used to how it sounds, having these weird laughs coming from out of nowhere. On the DVDs, you can turn the laugh track off (a neat feature), but I've found, to me at least, it doesn't make a huge difference.

Except in this episode--in the scene where Hawkeye is trying to get the attention of the Sergeant in charge of the flight manifests. After Hawkeye learns he missed Trapper by just ten minutes, he mutters a small "Thanks" to the Sergeant, and walks out. The Sergeant, not paying Hawkeye any attention, continues to rattle off the silly list of items ("Pickles, pimentos, balls, and cuckoos") to whomever he's speaking to on the phone.

With the laugh track on, the laughs piped in at the reading of the list kind of ruin the scene. But with laugh track off, Hawkeye's sadness and hurt is allowed to hang there, even after he's left the scene. Now, instead of the Sergeant's list being a silly laugh, it feels like a bitter counterpoint to what just happened.

This was M*A*S*H's first hour-long episode.

Favorite Line: This is one of M*A*S*H's finest episodes, in every way (the action scenes are as well executed as a lot of war films), so it was hard picking a favorite line or scene.

But one line that makes me laugh, every time, is when B.J. is telling Hawkeye how and when he learned he was shipping out. While out at dinner with his wife Peg, he says their babysitter Norma Jean took a message for them.

Before B.J. can continue with his story, Hawkeye interrupts him:

Hawkeye: "Wait, wait...Norma Jean? Eighteen?"

B.J.: "Sixteen."

Hawkeye, pounding the bar in mock frustration: "Ooh!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

M*A*S*H Field Hospital Playset

Now this is an interesting little item!

As the blog header indicates, I had always planned to include some of the M*A*S*H toys on the blog, when the time was appropriate (most, of course, come from around 1982/1983, but there are some exceptions). But, as far as I knew, there really weren't any M*A*S*H toys from the first few years of the show.

Then I was sent the above graphic by my pal Brian Heiler, of the great blogs Plaid Stallions and Sitcom Diablo--apparently, around 1974/1975 there was a "M*A*S*H Field Hospital Playset", complete with caricatures of the some the 4077th right there on the box! As Radar would say, "Holy Cow!"

I never knew this little beauty existed, but now of course I'll be haunting eBay regularly to see if one ever pops up for sale.

What to me is most unusual about this set is who is represented on the package:
...I can't say for sure, but that looks a lot like Trapper to me (along with Hot Lips and Hawkeye), making it, as far as I know, the only piece of M*A*S*H merchandise to specifically feature the character.

Thanks Brian!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Episode 72 - Abyssinia, Henry

Season 3, Episode 72: Abyssinia, Henry
Original Air Date: 3/18/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Larry Gelbart

While in O.R., Radar comes in with some amazing news: Henry is going home. He's got all his "points", and he's being discharged.

Everyone is happy for Henry, if a little worried what the 4077th will be like after Henry's gone. Frank and Hot Lips, though, are overjoyed--Frank will now be in command!

Henry calls his family, telling them he's coming home. Henry and Radar pack up Henry's things, and they have a moment where Radar partially admits to looking at Henry like a father. Henry gives Radar a present--a thermometer that was his father's. ("It isn't oral, is it?" Radar asks nervously)

Later that night, Hawkeye and Trapper throw Henry a goodbye party at Rosie's Bar, where they all get plastered, even Radar. Their goodbye gift is a brand new suit, handmade in Seoul.

The next morning, everyone is in formation to see Henry off. He comes out wearing the suit--a pin-striped, three-piece suit, complete with snap brim fedora. He gives personal goodbyes to Hawkeye, Trapper, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy. Hawkeye whispers something in Henry's ear, leading him to throw caution to the wind by planting a big, long, passionate kiss on Hot Lips, to the hooting of the camp.

Up on the chopper pad, some wounded arrive, and Henry starts to take a look. Hawkeye and Trapper insist Henry's been fired, and they tell him to get on the chopper.

Just as he's about to take off, he sees Radar, on the edge of the chopper pad, standing at attention, with a teary-eyed salute. Henry comes back, says goodbye to Radar, and hugs him. He then boards the chopper, and leaves.

Later, we find the the 4077th in surgery. Radar walks in, looking dazed. He announces, in a flat, rote manner, "I have a message. Lt. Col. Henry Blake's plane...was shot down...over the Sea of Japan. It spun in...there were no survivors."

The camera pans across the O.R.: Frank is wide-eyed, Hot Lips is crying, Father Mulcahy is clutching his crucifix. Someone drops an instrument on the floor, and in the silence the bang echoes loudly. Klinger, assisting the doctors, seems focused on his job, while Hawkeye and Trapper continue working, pausing only for a moment to look up in disbelief.

Fun Facts: Other than the very last episode, this is probably the most famous single show of the entire series. The final scene of the second act is so pitch-perfect, in acting, writing, and direction, that it still delivers a chill down the spine.

This is the final episode of the third season. When M*A*S*H returned for its fourth season, it would be a very different show.

The syndicated edit of this episode omits the final sequence, which is the series of clips from previous shows, featuring short shots of McLean Stevenson as Henry. That means the edited version goes from Radar's grim announcement in O.R. right to the credits, making the episode's ending even more brutal than the producers had ever intended.

Favorite Line: In an exemplary episode, there are many funny lines. But I think my favorite is when Henry says goodbye to Radar, admonishing him with: "You behave yourself or I'll come back and kick your butt." Funny and sad at the same time.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Episode 71 - White Gold

Season 3, Episode 71: White Gold
Original Air Date: 3/11/75
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner

Directed by: Hy Averback

Its the middle of the night at the 4077th, and everyone is involved in their own activities--Father Mulcahy is praying, Hawkeye and Trapper are with nurses, and Frank and Hot Lips are spending the night together.

Outside, some thieves dressed all in black are sneaking into the Supply Shed.

Klinger, on guard duty, overhears them, and the group splits up. The only one captured is Perkins (Hilly Hicks), who won't say much of anything as to why he and his friends were stealing medical supplies.

The next day, Col. Flagg arrives in camp, on the case of a string of similar robberies. He demands Hawkeye and Trapper turn the patient over to him, but they flatly refuse. He then offers to try and get information from Perkins, but Hawkeye and Trapper try and stop him, saying they prefer to get the info without the use of torture.

Flagg goes ahead anyway, and visits Perkins. But instead of torturing Perkins, he orders him to "take a powder", which he does. Flagg then fakes a fight, smashing up the tent, using his feet, fists...and head.

Hawkeye and Trapper patch Flagg up, but they don't believe his story that Perkins caused all that damage. Later that night, they discover another attempt at someone stealing penicillin--this time it's Col. Flagg!

Flagg says he can use the penicillin to barter with his contacts, to get information about the enemy's movements. That same night, an MP arrests Perkins, and he tells them that he's actually named Johnson, and he works at an aid station, where the penicillin is scarce, if not impossible to find. He's sorry for stealing, and Henry says he could just ask next time.

To keep Johnson safe from Flagg hunting him down, Hawkeye and Trapper come up with a way of sidelining Flagg for a few days. They put some pills in his coffee, which makes Flagg get appendicitis, requiring surgery.

It ends with Flagg recuperating in Post Op, who is sure that Hawkeye and Trapper pulled one over on him.

Fun Facts: This episode's third act storyline--slipping Col. Flagg a mickey so that he'll require surgery--becomes the basis of an entire episode in the seventh season, with very different results.

One of the MPs is played by Stafford Repp, who played Chief O'Hara on Batman. As a kid, I loved seeing two of my favorite shows "cross over" like that.

There's an interesting little aside, which almost sounds like an ad-lib, when Hawkeye and Trapper are putting bandages on Perkins. Hawkeye is cutting the gauze, and Trapper is putting it on the patient. Trapper holds one of the pieces up and says "Hey, cut these longer."

Hawkeye replies, "There supposed to be this short", to which Trapper mutters "No, they're not." Its such an extraneous piece of dialog, I wonder if it was in the original teleplay.

There's a tense scene between Henry and Frank about whether it was justified, allowing Flagg to torture Perkins. Frank is pro, Henry is most definitely not. Wow, an episode featuring a discussion about whether torture is morally justifiable or not. Thank goodness that issue's been settled.

Favorite Line: Col. Flagg proudly states he has official authority to do anything necessary to crack the case--and to die in the line of duty if necessary.

Hawkeye and Trapper find that all very funny. Trapper says, "Hey, that's the spirit." Hawkeye adds, "
Yeah, if we had more men like you we'd have less men like you."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Episode 70 - Payday

Season 3, Episode 70: Payday
Original Air Date: 3/4/75
Written by: John Regier & Gary Markowitz

Directed by: Hy Averback

It's Pay Day at the 4077th, and its Hawkeye's turn to dole out the cash.

While waiting in line, Frank accosts Klinger for not being in uniform while receiving his pay, which is an Army regulation. Klinger begs Frank to let him pass, but of course Frank is having none of it, forcing Klinger out of line.

Later, Klinger tries to sneak back and get paid, but Frank catches him again. He demands Hawkeye not dish out Klinger's pay, but Hawkeye cheerfully ignores him.

At the end of the day, Hawkeye reveals their was ten dollars extra left over. Hawkeye doesn't think its any big deal, but Radar is terrified of all the paperwork he's going to have to fill out because of the extra money. Hawkeye tries to convince Radar to just let it go, and makes an off-hand comment that the Army should pay Hawkeye all the money he's lost, being Korea instead of private practice.

A few days later, Radar hands Hawkeye $3,000 in cash. When asked where the money came from, Radar informs him that all he did was fill out some paperwork, and the money was sent! Hawkeye refuses the money, but Radar says he can't send it back.

Hawkeye decides to give the money to Father Mulcahy, so he can use it to feed and shelter the orphans at Sister Teresa's. Mulcahy is thrilled and touched by the generous gift.

Later, Captain Sloan (Eldon Quick) shows up, demanding to know where the missing $3,000 is. While Sloan asks Hawkeye where the money is, Trapper steals Hawkeye's watch to use as collateral in a poker game.

He demands Hawkeye return the money, even though its already been spent on the orphans. They go find Henry to try and settle this, which leads them to the poker game.

Trapper wins the big pot, but when he reveals it was based on the value of Hawkeye's stolen watch, Hawkeye hands all of the money over to Captain Sloan, thereby settling up. Trapper is furious, following Hawkeye out of the room, demanding to know what the heck just happened to his "once in a lifetime shot."

Fun Facts: This is actor Eldon Quick's second appearance on the show as Captain Sloan, having previously appeared in the episode "The Incubator."

Favorite Line: After Hawkeye hands all of Trapper's poker winnings to Sloan, Sloan mentions they are eight dollars over. Hawkeye claims it, as payment for use of his watch, four dollars an hour.

When Trapper protests that he only had the watch for one hour, Hawkeye responds with: "Oh, I'm sorry, I'll get it fixed."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Episode 69 - Big Mac

Season 3, Episode 69: Big Mac
Original Air Date: 2/25/75
Written by: Laurence Marks

Directed by: Don Weis

While the doctors are in surgery, Radar gets some amazing news--Gen. Douglas MacArthur is coming to visit the 4077th!

This sends the camp into a frenzy of preparation, except for Hawkeye and Trapper, who could care less.

Frank starts burning books, so Big Mac won't see "some of the smut that's read about here." Hawkeye and Trapper's apathy turns to disgust, that the camp has to be all spiffy just because MacArthur is coming.

Radar sets up the VIP tent with red, white, and blue bunting (Frank and Hot Lips are so impressed at the layout that they end up having sex there, with Hot Lips imagining MacArthur in Frank's place--eww!).

An aide to MacArthur arrives, Col. Whiteman (Graham Jarvis), who gives the 4077th the sequence of events that will take place for the visit. As usual, Hawkeye and Trapper refuse to take any of this seriously. They do make a suggestion that they could perform an operation for MacArthur to follow. Whiteman likes the idea, and Frank volunteers for the surgery. Hawkeye agrees, and offers they perform "a hysterectomy on Major Burns."

After a camp picture, the camp goes into a mock arrival ceremony, to prepare. Radar, playing MacArthur, greets everyone. Frank offers up a souvenir album, but is not pleased to see Hawkeye has filled it with dirty pictures.

A fight breaks out, but then over the P.A. an announcement comes that Big Mac is on his way--he'll be at the 4077th in seconds!

They have just enough time to get into formation, when they see MacArthur's motorcade arrive. But instead of what they were told would happen, the motorcade doesn't even stop--they do a drive-by!

As Henry, Frank, and everyone else picks their jaws up off the compound, Big Mac sees an interesting sight: Klinger, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, complete with burning torch. He gives this show of patriotism a hearty salute, and drives off.

Fun Facts: Loudon Wainwright III makes another appearance as Captain Spaulding, singing a brief song about "Big Mac" at the end of the show.

The actor playing the legendary General MacArthur receives no credit, presumably because he has no lines on the show.

Favorite Line: During Whiteman's routine, he says, "And now, lunch!", causing Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry to get up, mistaking it for the real thing. I don't know why, but it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Episode 68 - Love & Marriage

Season 3, Episode 68: Love & Marriage
Original Air Date: 2/18/75
Written by: Arthur Julian

Directed by: Lee Phillips

During surgery, Frank snaps at medic Mr. Kwang (Soon-Tek Oh), adding some racial insults in the process. Hawkeye and Trapper set him straight, which of course causes an argument.

They try and console Mr. Kwang, and Frank gets mad again, when he perceives Hawkeye and Trapper save all their compliments for "them", and not a clean-cut boy like McShane (Dennis Dugan), another medic.

Hawkeye and Trapper have Mr. Kwang in The Swamp for a drink to cheer him up, but its more than Frank's insults that are bringing him down. He was grabbed by some South Korean military officers and forcibly enlisted. He hasn't seen his pregnant wife in weeks, and he is miserable. Hawkeye and Trapper promise to see what they can do.

Meanwhile, the doctors are asked to perform medical check-ups for enlisted men who wish to marry Korean locals. They are shocked to see that one of the prospective grooms is McShane, who wants to a marry a Korean woman who they know is hardly the "barely eighteen" innocent young girl McShane claims her to be. They initially try and talk him out of it, but he gets angry and refuses. They finally reach a compromise, and get him to wait two weeks.

During a poker game, some of the enlisted men (like Sgt. Zale) tell Hawkeye and Trapper to back off, and mind their own business. So what if McShane's being taken in by a professional? Beats being lonely...

Meanwhile, Frank accosts Mr. Kwang trying to leave camp. He has a pass (signed unknowingly by Henry via Radar), but Frank doesn't care. Mr. Kwang takes off, prompting Frank to fire a "warning shot" after him.

Later, Hawkeye and Trapper are visited by the so-dapper-he's-sleazy Dr. Pak (Jerry Fujikawa), who tells them that if they approve McShane's marriage certificate, there's money in it for them. The plan is, the bride gets sent to America, where she works as a prostitute. She then sends the money back over to Dr. Pak, who is willing to cut Hawkeye and Trapper in on the deal.

Pak then mentions the money would've been more, but McShane insisted on a big cut himself. Hawkeye and Trapper, disgusted at both Pak and McShane, offer to give Dr. Pak an interesting medical case--setting two broken legs, both of them his own! Dr. Pak runs out of The Swamp at top speed.

Later, Dr. Kawng is picked up by the MPs, and returned to the 4077th. Hawkeye and Trapper get him out of trouble with Henry, but he still won't along Kwang to leave to get his pregnant wife. Hawkeye offers to go with Radar and get Mrs. Kwang and bring her back to the 4077th.

They pick her up, but of course on the way Mrs. Kwang goes into labor. Hawkeye delivers the baby, with screaming, panicked "assistance" from Radar.

Back at the camp, Trapper has McShane into The Swamp for a drink. Trapper tells McShane they know the score, but at first McShane plays dumb. Finally, he relents, and admits to wanting to "get in on the gravy."

Trapper is disgusted, but he doesn't have to worry about the plan going through--an X-ray reveals the "Former Future Mrs. McShane" has tuberculosis, blowing the deal. McShane storms out.

Hawkeye and Radar arrive back home, with Mrs. Kwang and the baby--named Radar Benjaming Frankling Trapper John Henry Kwang.

Fun Facts: This episode features two interesting supporting actors--the first is actor Soon Tek-Oh, who would return the show over and over, always playing someone different.

The second is Dennis Dugan, who the show mined for his all-american looks, then turned around and had him play an oily heel. He gets the virtually the same role--a guy not who he seems to be--in an episode in the 11th season. What about Dennis Dugan made the producers think he was perfect--twice--to play a lying slimeball?

Related to that, the scene with Wayne Rogers and Dennis Dugan--just the two of them--is masterful. There's a real tension, and Trapper displays more anger and authority than we really got to see before. I get the feeling if Rogers had gotten more scenes like this to play, he wouldn't have left the show.

Is there any show that can resist the "unexpected birth" storyline, especially when it has the chance to put the least-equipped-to-deal-with-it character in the mix?

This is the only episode of the series written by credited writer Arthur Julian. Too bad, since I think its one of their best written shows.

Favorite Line: After Frank yells at Hawkeye and Trapper for complimenting a Korean medical assistant instead of a "clean-cut boy like McShane", Trapper sarcastically says, "Good job, clean-cut boy", to which Hawkeye adds, "Take two Norman Rockwells out of petty cash."

Monday, May 18, 2009

Episode 67 - Aid Station

Season 3, Episode 67: Aid Station
Original Air Date: 2/11/75
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner

Directed by: William Jurgensen

An aid station at the front sends a message to the 4077th that their surgeon has been killed, and they need the immediate help of a surgeon, a nurse, and a corpsman.

Hot Lips volunteers, but the doctors end up drawing straws--actually, moldy sausages left over from breakfast, picked from a bed pan--with Hawkeye being the one to go. They then pick a corpsman, and Klinger gets picked.

All three of them are clearly rattled about going to the front--Hawkeye tells Trapper there's a will in his locker. Trapper accepts the news with quiet seriousness, although the mood is lightened when Hawkeye says he wants everything donated to the "Benjamin Pierce Memorial Brothel." Trapper promises to deliver the items in person.

On the way to the front, the jeep blows a tire, and its Hot Lips who fixes it. They get shelled, too, but they finally make it to the aid station, which has no roof due to shelling.

Hawkeye, Hot Lips, and Klinger work furiously, trying to give attention to all the patients streaming in. Back at the 4077th, the place is quiet--too quiet. Radar is so depressed he asks to sleep in The Swamp, and Henry wanders in for a nightcap, but ends up sitting alongside Radar well into the night.

After a night of sleeping in a ditch, Hawkeye, Hot Lips, and Klinger head back, with each of them having a better understanding of one another. They even stop for a moment to tell Hot Lips how great she is, something she seems to appreciate. Klinger, a top flight corpsman, pauses to put a dainty pillbox hat back on his head, ready to "rejoin the Army."

Back at the 4077th, Trapper and Frank complain about the poor conditions, like the bad food. Hawkeye and Hot Lips give each other a knowing nod, realizing they never had it so good.

Fun Facts: This episode divides the cast in an interesting, if totally accidental way. The characters that go to the front--Hawkeye, Hot Lips, and Klinger--are the ones who end up staying on the show until the final episode. The scenes back in the camp feature Trapper, Frank, Henry, and Radar, all of whom would leave the show during its run.

This is Klinger's biggest role in an episode to date, and Jamie Farr delivers a more nuanced performance than we have seen to this point. His fear of being killed (in a scene with Radar in his tent) is palpable.

Interesting note: this is the first time we see Klinger's tent. He seems to live alone, a curious amount of space given just one enlisted man!

There's a moment during an O.R. scene where Henry chastises Frank, and Frank mutters under his breath "Oh, mind your own business", an interesting little bit of rebellion from the normally hierarchy-obsessed Burns.

Favorite Line: After Frank makes a snide crack about Trapper letting Radar sleep in The Swamp, Henry responds with: "Frank, it's after five. You can stop being snotty."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Episode 66 - House Arrest

Season 3, Episode 66: House Arrest
Original Air Date: 2/4/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Hy Averback

Hot Lips is making a lot of mistakes in O.R., which is unusual. Turns out she's nervous about the impending arrival of a Col. Reece, a highly-decorated nurse.

When Hawkeye dismisses Hot Lips after one too many mistakes, she is furious. She berates Hawkeye in the scrub room, but after he insinuates she got where she is by sleeping around, Hot Lips demands Frank defend her honor.

Frank's idea of that is to snap a towel at Hawkeye's butt, leading to Hawkeye belting Frank right in the eye!

Frank goes to Henry, demanding a court martial. Henry tries to talk him out of it, but Frank insists on going through with the paperwork. When Radar mentions that while the paperwork is being processed, the accused is under "house arrest"--meaning all Hawkeye gets to do is sleep, eat, and read! Hawkeye quickly confesses and places himself under arrest.

Later that night, Col. Reece (Mary Wickes) arrives, and she's not what Hot Lips expected--irreverent, flirty, and even a little foul-mouthed, Reece moves in to Hot Lips' tent, causing Frank no end of frustration.

As Henry works on the court martial, everyone in camp tries to make Hawkeye's house arrest more palatable--Father Mulcahy brings him a Red Cross care package, the cook sends him a steak (in thanks for punching Frank), and they even show the night's movie in The Swamp so Hawkeye can see it!

With The Swamp filled to capacity, Frank angrily wanders the camp, eventually running into Col. Reece in Hot Lips' tent. Reece puts the moves on Frank(!), offering him a promotion for roll in the hay. He sort of goes along, but when Hot Lips walks in on them, Reece starts yelling "Rape!"

That draws a crowd, and Reece insists on leveling charges. When Hawkeye says he doesn't want Frank sharing his house arrest, Hot Lips offers: "You're innocent, Captain--he slipped on a bar of soap!"

Fun Facts: Mary Wickes was a character actress whose career spanned seven decades. She appeared in one of my all-time favorite Abbott & Costello movies, 1942's Who Done It?

The film the 4077th watches is the 1945 film noir Leave Her To Heaven. The movie, unusual for the time and genre, was in color, but the version the 4077th sees is in black and white.

In this episode, there's a B plot involving Radar ordering shoes with lifts in them. Eventually, Radar lets Hawkeye know how much the cracks about his height hurt his feelings. Hawkeye promises not to do it again, and the writers had him keep that promise--except that some of these episodes were shown in a different order than how they were shot, so in just a few episodes after this one, Hawkeye makes fun of Radar's height again!

Favorite Line: When Radar first shows up in The Swamp sans lifts, Hawkeye quietly says, "Much better, Radar", with a sweet, fatherly delivery. Not a funny line, but a nice moment between the two characters.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Episode 65 - The Consultant

Season 3, Episode 65: The Consultant
Original Air Date: 1/21/75
Written by: Robert Klane, Larry Gelbart

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

Hawkeye and Trapper go to Seoul for a medical conference, and while they're there, they meet Major Anthony Borelli (Robert Alda), a doctor (and veteran of two previous wars) who is acting as a medical consultant.

They hit it off, and Borelli is intrigued by the challenge that working at the 4077th presents. Hawkeye invites him to come visit sometime.

Later, Hawkeye and Trapper, back at the 4077, are shocked to see that Borelli has come to visit. Everyone treats him like visiting royalty, and he's helpful in surgery when a mass of wounded arrive, even when bombs are going off right outside.

Frank prepares to amputate a crushed leg, but Borelli says that it can be saved with a arterial transplant, something no one at the 4077th has ever done. Frank is against it, of course, but Henry goes ahead, giving Radar the order to search other units for a usable transplant.

They find one at a British unit, and Hawkeye and Trapper go get it. When they get back, Hawkeye is excited at the idea of trying this, even though Borelli will be doing the surgery. The only problem the meantime, Borelli has gotten drunk.

Hawkeye confronts him in The Swamp, and Borelli explains that he had forgotten how unnerving being this close to the real war can be, and he can't handle it. He insists Hawkeye can do the surgery, even though he's never done it before.

Hawkeye and Trapper perform the surgery, and its a success. Later, Hawkeye berates Borelli for being drunk when he was needed. Borelli admits to that, and doesn't try to excuse his behavior, but points out Hawkeye's homemade still ("What's that you're leaning on, doctor, a bubblegum machine?") and wishes him better luck on his third war.

Fun Facts: When asked if he'll be missed back in Tokyo, Borelli reminds them that his rank is honorary, and says "What are they going to do, bust me from a Mister down to a Miss?"--not a line that will rank as one of the show's most pro-feminist exchanges.

The syndicated version of this episode ends with the tense scene between Hawkeye and Borelli, ending the episode on a very down note. But the original, uncut version has one more scene, with everyone--except Hawkeye--wishing Borelli a fond goodbye.

Just before Borelli's chopper takes off, though, Hawkeye shows up, tips his hat to him, putting a smile on Borelli's face, giving the episode a slightly more upbeat finale. This kind of editing--where the whole tone of the episode is altered in some way--would come in to play in numerous episodes.

Favorite Line: Henry tells Borelli that the 4077th treated almost 5,000 patients in less than two months. Borelli is amazed at that staggering number, and Hawkeye adds: "Well, I had help of course."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Episode 64 - Bulletin Board

Season 3, Episode 64: Bulletin Board
Original Air Date: 1/14/75
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner

Directed by: Alan Alda

This episode revolves, informally, around the camp bulletin board, as we see some of the various events taking place at the 4077th that are announced on the board.

Henry gives the camp a lecture about sex, and a pledge for people to buy war bonds is posted.

Hot Lips asks Frank to borrow some money for her sister, and he refuses, causing all kinds of problems between them.

Trapper writes a letter home to his daughter Becky, telling her about his life at the 4077th, including just how bad a doctor Frank is (he writes off a patient as dead, one that Trapper saves when he realizes he's suffering from Hypothermia).

The night's movie is announced--a Shirley Temple picture--and a fight between Klinger and Zale breaks out during it.

Later, Henry has trouble with a patient, and his mood sours. When Hawkeye and Trapper show him the announcement about a picnic to raise money for Sister Theresa's orphanage, he initially refuses.

But he eventually changes his mind, and the 4077th actually manages to have fun during the picnic--playing music, performing a puppet show for the kids, having an egg race, a sack race, and then finally a tug of war contest, officers vs. enlisted. (In the meantime, Hot Lips doesn't take too well to Frank's offer of a a small, "very reasonable" interest rate)

Just as everyone ends up in the pile of mud, Radar hears the sound of choppers, ending everyone's fun.

Later, in surgery, Henry quietly suggests that having the picnic was a good idea. Hawkeye and Trapper, happy to hear Henry not sounding so down, agree.

Fun Facts: Hot Lips mentions that her father is dead in this episode, something that conflicts slightly with his appearance in a 9th season episode. She also mentions her sister, a character never referred to again.

The portion of the episode with Trapper writing a letter to Becky is the closest the series got to a "Dear..." episode, narrated this time by Trapper.

Watch the tug of war scene, especially when everyone ends up in the mud. Everyone--even Frank Burns--starts to laugh, and it looks like at a certain point the scene became entirely ad-libbed.

Speaking of that scene, in the original version, everyone watches Radar as he seems to sense chopper approaching. Covered in mud, he simply nods his head, and then starts to walk towards the camp. With his back to the camera, we hear him say "Choppers!", which gets everyone else moving.

In the syndicated edit, someone has taken Radar's "Choppers!" line, and dropped it over the previous shot, even though its clear that Radar's mouth isn't moving.

Favorite Line: The episode opens with Hawkeye and Trapper playing with one of those rubber ball and paddle sets, and Hawkeye, going first, hits the ball about 70 times in a row.

Trapper then boasts he can do it better than that, and takes paddle. After one and a half hits, the ball misses and flops to the side, causing Hawkeye to laugh.

Trapper, angrily says, "What'd you do, change balls on me?", which causes Hawkeye to laugh even louder. Me too.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Episode 63 - Bombed

Season 3, Episode 63: Bombed
Original Air Date: 1/7/75
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum

Directed by: Hy Averback

The 4077th is trying to tend to wounded and carry out normal duties, all the while being under heavy shell fire.

Tensions run high, everyone is scared, and Frank isn't helping by loudly insisting he not perform surgery on an injured North Korean. The bombs start landing so close they even blow in the windows of the O.R.! (They also hit the Officers Latrine, wounding Henry and leaving Frank disgusted he has to the Enlisted's latrine)

Things keep getting worse--a patient comes in booby trapped, and Hawkeye and Trapper have to delicately snip the wires, throwing the live grenade out the window.

Later, Trapper and Hot Lips run to the Supply Shed to get more materials. But a bomb goes off near it, causing some debris to pile up against the door, trapping them inside. Hot Lips totally loses it, sobbing uncontrollably. When Trapper tries to cheer her up, they share a brief moment, which Trapper takes a cue for romance. Hot Lips brushes him off, desperate to escape.

Hours pass, and night falls, and no one can find Trapper and Hot Lips. Meanwhile, inside, the two of them snuggle up close to keep warm. When Hawkeye and Frank break in and find them in that position, Hot Lips tries to assure Frank nothing happened.

Frank doesn't believe it, and he's so rattled that in surgery later his nerves are shot. Hawkeye takes pity on him, telling Frank that while Trapper tried, nothing happened.

Frank, acting like he doesn't know what Hawkeye is talking about, snaps into shape, getting back into performing surgery.

The bombs stop falling, so Radar decides to entertain everyone by reading a letter from home. Just as he gets to what's going on with his Cousin Ernie, the bombs start falling again!

Eventually, though, they stop, and things go back to normal. Hot Lips tries to track down Frank, reminding him of a "promise" he made to her back in her tent, and her refusal to let him forget it. Turns out Frank proposed marriage, something Hawkeye and Trapper find quite amusing.

Fun Facts: Trapper, to me at least, is a little too aggressive about his desire to have sex with Hot Lips. She repeatedly says no, but he keeps asking. I find it just this side of creepy.

Favorite Line: When Hot Lips is rattling off the stuff they need, she adds: "...oh, and Pierce needs rubber gloves."

Trapper mutters, mostly to himself, "Clotheshorse!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Episode 62 - Private Charles Lamb

Season 3, Episode 61: Private Charles Lamb
Original Air Date: 12/31/74
Written by: Sid Dorfman

Directed by: Hy Averback

Frank confronts Radar in the Mess Tent, when he sees Radar's tray loaded down with a pile of vegetables. Radar talks his way out of it, and we follow him as we see who the vegetables are really for: a menagerie of animals, all kept in separate little hutches.

Wounded arrive, mostly consisting of soldiers from a Greek unit. After the doctors patch them up, their commander visits, and as a way to say thank you, he tells Henry they will put on a huge feast for everyone in the unit--the main course being lamb, which arrives in camp still in its original form--i.e., an adorable, snow-white little lamb.

Radar is horrified at this, and his love of animals overcomes his sense of duty. He doctors up an emergency medical leave form for "Private Charles Lamb", and has Henry sign it.

When the missing lamb is discovered, Henry starts to panic. He vents to Hawkeye and Trapper, and when he reveals that HQ has gotten involved, Radar tells him of his trickery, and that Pvt. Lamb is on his way to Radar's home in Iowa.

Henry is at first angry, but that quickly turns to confused frustration at having completely lost control of the situation. Hawkeye and Trapper, finding all of this very funny, offer to help out.

The party kicks off, and the booze is flowing so copiously that no one notices the lamb has been replaced by...a spam lamb!

The party rages all night, leaving most of the 4077th hung over in the Mess Tent. Trapper is playing the guitar, Radar is dancing aimlessly, and Henry is trying to desperately to stay conscious. He fails.

Fun Facts: While Radar doesn't officially become a vegetarian after this episode, this is one of the few times I can think of that a TV series (The Simpsons being the other, more obvious, example) addressed concerns someone might have about just how and where their meat comes from.

I became a vegetarian in 1998. I have to wonder if this episode wasn't in the back of my mind all that time, leading up to the moment I decided to stop eating animals.

Favorite Line: Henry, aghast at what's been going on, summarizes: "I've got command on my tail, a hospital full of Greeks waiting for a lamb who's sitting on a plane, on his way to Iowa to become Radar's little brother!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Episode 61 - Mad Dogs and Servicemen

Season 3, Episode 61: Mad Dogs & Servicemen
Original Air Date: 12/10/74
Written by: Linda Bloodworth & Mary Kay Place

Directed by: Hy Averback

Hawkeye notices a small bite on Radar's hand, and asks him where he got it. When Radar off-handedly mentions it was from a dog bite, Hawkeye gets concerned--it could be rabies. He tells Radar he needs to find that dog.

Meanwhile, he and Trapper are having trouble with Frank over a patient. There's a corporal named Travis who is paralyzed, even though he doesn't show any wounds. Frank wants him transferred, but Hawkeye and Trapper disobey him and have Travis taken in.

Hawkeye calls Sidney Freedman for help, but Sidney says he's too busy to come. He tells Hawkeye to try and deal with Travis on his own--but it won't be easy: he can't treat Travis like he's physically wounded, lest the psychological trauma he suffered become real.

Travis thinks Hakweye is cruel, and protests that he wants to move, but can't. Hawkeye doesn't reveal its all an act, but confides to Trapper how sick it makes him having to act this way.

He tries to get Travis to talk about what happened, but he can't, or won't.

Meanwhile, Henry and Radar try and find the dog that bit him. The trail leads them to Rosie's Bar, where they ask Rosie (Shizuko Hoshi) for help. After they think they've found the right dog--one that ended up as an older Korean couple's meal (bleah!)--they realize its not the one they're looking for. With no time left, Henry tells Radar he needs to start getting the rabies shots.

Travis starts getting the initiative to crawl to the Mess Tent to get some food, which everyone takes as a good sign. But they realize he probably won't ever talk to Hawkeye, so Trapper volunteers.

He talks with Travis about their mutual home town of Boston, and eventually Travis is ready to talk about what happened: he saw a bunch of his buddies killed in front of him, and Travis got so petrified that he did nothing. Feeling guilty he couldn't defend his friends, his body essentially shut down.

Later, out on the compound, the dog that bit Radar wanders back into camp. Henry and Trapper chase it, eventually capturing it. They discover the dog isn't rabid, so Henry delivers the good news that Radar doesn't need any more shots!

Back in Henry's office, Frank and Hot Lips insist that Travis be shipped out. But they are all shocked when Travis wanders in, on his own two feet, smiling and cheerful. As Frank contemplates he was wrong--again--Henry, Hawkeye, and Trapper take Travis to the Mess Tent for a cup of coffee.

Fun Facts: Frank calls what's wrong with Travis "Shell Shock", which Trapper dismisses as cruel and old-school. While Trapper's heart is in the right place, its ironic to think that Shell Shock may have been the right term (listen to this routine by the late, great George Carlin on the subject).

This episode features the first appearance of Rosie, from Rosie's Bar. Over time, the Rosie character would be played by three different actresses.

There's a scene where Hot Lips, being unusually kind, reads a letter sent to Radar for him. Its from a young girl pen pal Radar has, and she mentions her favorite song is by Bo Diddley. Pretty hip for a mid-western farm girl in 1951!

Favorite Line: Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry are hanging out in Henry's office when Frank asks to come in. Henry denies being in, but Frank insists he can hear Henry inside.

Trapper: "Very good, Frank! Now can you guess what he's wearing?"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Episode 60 - A Full Rich Day

Season 3, Episode 60: A Full Rich Day
Original Air Date: 12/3/74
Written by: John D. Hess

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

Hawkeye, in possession of a fancy new tape recorder, decides to recite a letter home to his Dad, relating the events of what he calls "A full rich day."

First, during triage, Frank and Klinger have to deal with a Turkish solider, who, even though he is wounded, refuses to be separated from his fellow Turks, yelling and brandishing a knife in the process. Meanwhile, Radar is trying to find a Lieutenant from Luxembourg, who was supposed to be on the bus along with the other wounded.

Then, a G.I. named Smith (William Watson) arrives demanding his Sergeant be seen immediately. When Frank refuses, the G.I. points his rifle at Frank saying in no uncertain terms that's not the right answer. Frank scurries off to get Henry.

Smith then walks into Pre-Op, and makes the same "request." Hawkeye takes Smith aside while Henry takes a look at the Sergeant. Smith reluctantly agrees, but quickly grows tired of Hawkeye's small talk and theory about how each of them see the war differently.

They take the Sergeant in and start to work on him, with Smith waiting outside. As if that wasn't tense enough, the angry Turk brought in earlier gets up from the table, and in his escape from the O.R., accidentally sticks Henry with a needle, knocking him out.

After waking up, Henry is met by Col. Blanche (Curt Lowens), who as told his Lieutenant was at the 4077th. At first he is told the Lieutenant died, which is bad enough. But it gets worse when Radar has to inform Henry and Col. Blanche that the corpse is missing. Henry tells Radar to drop everything and find the body.

Trapper and Frank help fix up the Sergeant, while Radar, in his search for the missing corpse, finds the Turk hiding out in the kitchen. He grabs Hawkeye, and they try and corral him.

After trying to communicate with him in his own language, Hawkeye decides to put a drug in the drink he hands the Turk. He tells Radar it will take a few minutes for it to hit, so he puts the Turk in a jeep with Radar. When the Turk passes out, Radar is to turn right around and return to the 4077th so the Turk can be patched up.

Later, Hawkeye and Trapper tell Smith his Sergeant will be fine, but then Smith collapses in their arms--he's badly wounded, as well.

Unable to find the body, Henry offers to have a memorial for the Lieutenant, which Col. Blanche agrees to. They play the National Anthem of Luxembourg, and as it rings out over the P.A., we see a heavily bandaged solider laying in Post Op, so stirred that he struggles to get up and walk onto the compound.

Turns out this is Lt. LeClerq, who is not dead after all. Col. Blanche is overjoyed, and embraces the man--but gently!

Moments later, the jeep with Radar and the Turk returns, but with the Turk driving, and a passed-out Radar. He hands Radar over to Hawkeye, calls him a "Damn good Joe" and drives off--the end of one very weird day at the 4077th.

Fun Facts: The episode ends with Hawkeye signing off to his Dad, and even though there are some laughs, its very melancholy ending--a nice coda to an episode full of manic silliness.

Hot Lips makes no appearance in this episode.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye tries talking to the Turk in his native language, but can only speak gibberish. The Turk tries to reciprocate, trying to speak some English phonetically.

When Hawkeye mentions the knockout drug is Choral-hydrate, the Turk mutters something to the effect of "Korahyrate."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Episode 59 - Adam's Rib

Season 3, Episode 59: Adam's Rib
Original Air Date: 11/26/74
Written by: Laurence Marks

Directed by: Gene Reynolds

With little or no wounded to take care of, Hawkeye and Trapper are bored, bored, bored!

To make matters worse, the Mess Tent has served the same awful food for 11 straight days--liver or fish. Hawkeye swears if they serve liver or fish one more time...

They head to the Mess Tent, and indeed, they are serving liver or fish. Hawkeye goes bonkers, at first yelling at the cooks and then leading the whole company in a chant of "We want something else!"

Henry makes a half-hearted attempt at a reprimand, but when he makes an off-handed comment about ribs, it sparks something in Hawkeye: ribs! That's what he wants!

Hawkeye decided he wants--nay, needs--ribs from Adam's Ribs, a takeout joint in Chicago. Henry sort of dismisses this juvenile demand, but Hawkeye won't be dissuaded. In the middle of the night, he has Radar place a call all the way to Chicago, lying to an ever-growing list of people so they patch him in to Adam's Ribs.

Finally, he places an order. The only problem now is, how to get them to the 4077th?

After a couple of false leads, Trapper remembers that he knew a girl in Chicago named Mildred. They call her, and Trapper makes sweet talk with her so she'll go pick up the ribs and ship them overseas. Mildred is pleased to hear from "Big John."

The ribs get stuck in Supply, since they didn't come with the requisite pile of official paperwork. The greedy Supply Sergeant, upon hearing the package contains the famous Adam's Ribs, demands a cut...and cole slaw! He is stunned when Hawkeye sadly informs him that he forgot to order the cole slaw.

Finally, the ribs arrive, and Hawkeye, Trapper, Radar, Klinger, and Henry sit down to eat. Just as they are about to dig in...wounded arrive. Hawkeye, in a rare moment of not dropping everything at the sound of incoming choppers, has to be dragged off by Trapper and Henry, begging for even the tiniest piece of rib to tide him over.

Fun Facts: A fairly silly premise ends up making for a classic episode, due to the superb jokes and excellent comedic performances. The two different phone call scenes--the first with Hawkeye talking to Adam's Ribs, the second with Trapper talking to Mildred--are like classic radio bits, since we only get to hear one side of the conversation.

Neither Frank or Hot Lips make an appearance in this episode.

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye is his way through to Adam's Ribs, at one point he poses as a reporter, doing a story on "Our star-freckled, spangled fighting boys" and gives his name as "Cranston Lamont", a bizarre, out-of-left-field reference to The Shadow that makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Episode 58 - There Is Nothing Like A Nurse

Season 3, Episode 58: There Is Nothing Like A Nurse
Original Air Date: 11/19/74
Written by: Larry Gelbart

Directed by: Hy Averback

During a tense moment in O.R., Hot Lips comes down hard on one of her nurses, and demands that Henry put her on "Bed Arrest"--other than during duty and mealtimes, Nurse Baker has to sit on her the foot of her bed, at attention, for a week!

After Henry dismisses Hot Lips and her idea, she grows enraged at Henry and storms out, threatening to "Go over your head--again!"

As if that wasn't bad enough, Radar receives a message saying the 4077th might be under enemy attack shortly, so all the nurses are to be shipped out to a safer location. Frank responds to the news by insisting trenches be dug all over the compound.

With all the women gone, the 4077th is a grim(mer) place. All the men are depressed, and sessions in O.R. are a mess. Captain Spaulding sings a sad song about how much they miss the women. Hawkeye and Trapper get so bored they park a jeep over Frank while he's in one of his own fox holes, so they can watch a mysterious roll of film that's under his bed.

They watch it in Henry's office, and Hawkeye, Trapper, Henry, Radar, and Klinger fall out of their chairs laughing at what they see: this is a film of Frank's wedding!

It's a depressing affair, with Frank looking like a grinning moron, and his soon-to-be bride looking miserable and stone-faced. They all make comments, Mystery Science Theatre 3000-style, admonishing Frank not to get married, and suggesting what their wedding night is going to be like.

The film ends just as Frank bursts in, saying the air raid they've been expecting has arrived. Except that the air raid is nothing more than Five O'Clock Charlie, ineffectual as always!

Henry orders Radar to tell the nurses to come back ASAP. They arrive the next morning, to the grateful men of the 4077th.

Fun Facts: The scenes of Frank's wedding is one my all-time favorite sequences on M*A*S*H, ever. Its so goofy and bizarre, and yet explains nearly everything you need to know about why Frank is the way he is. It must have been fun for Larry Linville to get to do a few scenes wearing something other than his fatigues.

Actress Jeanne Schulherr plays Mrs. Burns, but she has no lines of dialog. This same actress played 4077 nurses in two other episodes from this season.

Favorite Line: When Trapper suggests watching the roll of film under Frank's bunk, Hawkeye initially suggests "Its probably just a movie of Frank's parents being told he died at birth."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Episode 57 - Alcoholics Unanimous

Season 3, Episode 57: Alcoholics Unanimous
Original Air Date: 11/12/74
Written by: Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell

Directed by: Hy Averback

While Henry is in Seoul giving a lecture ("The U.S. Army's Position on the Hemroid"), things couldn't be more depressing at the 4077th. Rain is falling in buckets, the sound from the movie has gone out, and
Frank is in charge.

After Hawkeye and Trapper get back to The Swamp in a surly mood, Frank gets the bright idea to ban drinking from the 4077th--total prohibition!

Of course, no one takes too well to the news, driving Hawkeye and Trapper to even attend Father Mulcahy's morning service just to see if they can get a nip of some of the sacrificial wine!

Frank turns to Hot Lips for support, but he's troubled by the fact that she drinks, too--from a flask she calls her "Little Nippy Bottle." Frank, as always, makes an exception when it involves him and/or Hot Lips.

Hawkeye and Trapper then decide to break into the camp's medicine supply to get some alcohol. When they hear a noise, they hide, but are surprised to see Hot Lips is there for the same reason, too.

Cut to: Hawkeye, Trapper, and Hot Lips in The Swamp, partying together, totally drunk. Frank tries to restore order, but he storms out when even Hot Lips joins in on the teasing of their "Commanding Officer."

He then asks Father Mulcahy to give a real "fire and brimstone" lecture about the evils of drink, and makes attendance mandatory.

The next morning, Hawkeye and Trapper are hung over and surly, even squabbling with one another. Their fighting continues all the way into a session in O.R., and Father Mulcahy's service.

But when Mulcahy--a little tipsy from taking a few shots from a flask to calm himself down over the idea of having so many people in the pews--forgets where he is, it turns the service into a shambles. Arguments break out, and the pressure finally gets to Frank, who starts drinking from Margaret's flask like a baby with a bottle.

Hawkeye and Trapper realize that the era of prohibition at the 4077th is now over!

Fun Facts: Yet another episode where Henry does not appear.

There's a scene where Hawkeye and Trapper squabble in The Swamp, and it escalates to the point where they're about to start hitting one another. It stops just before it comes to blows, but its a genuinely tense scene.

Favorite Line: When Hawkeye and Trapper are trying to break into a locker of medical supplies, Trapper fumbles with some keys. Hawkeye points to one in particular, and Trapper dismisses him, saying "It's for my wife's car."

Hawkeye, smart-ass as always, points to another and says, "What's that for, her chastity belt?"

Trapper then mutters something inaudible (yet clearly annoyed), leading Hawkeye to retort with "Well, you won't let her drive."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Episode 56 - Life With Father

Season 3, Episode 56: Life With Father
Original Air Date: 10/29/74
Written by: Everett Greenbaum & Jim Fritzell

Directed by: Hy Averback

A young Korean girl wanders into camp, carrying a baby, asking anyone who walks by something that in her broken English is hard to decipher. Frank scoots Hot Lips away from her, sure that its some sort of scam.

Hawkeye and Trapper help her out, and it turns out she wants a bris performed for her baby. The child the son of a Cpl. Jacobsen, who is at the front and sent his wife and child to the 4077th to have the procedure done. Hawkeye and Trapper agree to perform the circumcision, but they need Father Mulcahy for the bris.

Meanwhile, Henry gets a letter in mail call from his wife, giving him permission to "fool around" while he's away from home. At first Henry is overjoyed, but a creeping feeling comes over him that maybe his wife is feeling guilty about something.

He calls Lorraine, and she tearfully reveals that she had a "brief encounter" with someone at the local Country Club. Henry's feeling of freedom quickly evaporates when the shoe is on the other foot.

Despite Frank and Hot Lips' objections (of course they object!), Father Mulcahy, with the help of a Rabbi stationed on a Navy cruiser thousands of miles away, handles the bris while Hawkeye and Trapper perform the surgery.

Fun Facts: I always thought you have to be a pretty scuzzy guy to have an affair with the wife of a guy who is overseas fighting in a war. Sheesh. (There's even a term for such a man, coined in WW II--a "Jody Grind").

After Lorraine Blake admits her infidelity, Radar comes in to ask about something, and McLean Stevenson does a wonderful series of line readings in response--he just sounds numb.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye accepts a piece of junk mail, and its a contest to win a pony. He and Trapper spend the whole episode debating what they should name the pony, and Hawkeye offers up Norman.

Trapper: "All the other horses will make fun of him!"

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Episode 55 - Check-Up

Season 3, Episode 55: Check-Up
Original Air Date: 10/22/74
Written by: Laurence Marks

Directed by: Don Weis

Because of a new regulation, routine medical check-ups are now mandatory. Each of the officers have to examine each other, with Hawkeye examining Hot Lips ("The house call of a lifetime"), and Frank examining Trapper.

Except that Trapper won't let Frank do it, and is very surly about the whole thing. When Hawkeye asks Trapper why, he reveals its because he has an ulcer, has had one for a few weeks--but he doesn't want it diagnosed officially because he's afraid of the treatment he'd receive.

Hawkeye, though, is overjoyed: an ulcer is a ticket home! Trapper, responding to the news, is suddenly thrilled as well!

The camp reacts to Trapper leaving--everyone is feeling bittersweet about it, except for Frank of course, who is giddy over the idea of just having Hawkeye to deal with.

They throw a big goodbye party for Trapper in the Officers Club, but just before Trapper heads over there, Radar tells him that while HQ approved the ulcer, they will not be sending him home: in fact, he'll be treated in Tokyo, then shipped to another unit!

Trapper is left with the option of staying at the 4077th and being cured there, which he decides to do, it being the best of two bad choices. He shows up at his party, and announces he's not going anywhere--but not before a drunken Hot Lips tells Trapper she's always had a crush on him.

Trapper ends his not-farewell speech with a comment for Margaret: "I'll see you tomorrow night."

Fun Facts: I was never quite sure what went wrong here: Hawkeye and Henry seem to believe an ulcer earns you a ticket home, but they don't seem to check with anyone at HQ about it. Trapper's bags are packed when HQ says he's not going home--why did everyone wait so long to find that out?

The scene with Hawkeye and Trapper as they unofficially say goodbye is wonderful, sweet and touching, and a decent stand-in for the real goodbye they never got have on the show.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and Henry give Trapper advice about giving his wife advance warning he's coming home.

Henry: "Riiight--you don't want to walk in on anything."

Hawkeye: "Some of those 4Fs run pretty big."

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