Season 9, Episode 206: Depressing News
Original Air Date: 2/9/81
Written by: Dan Wilcox & Thad Mumford
Directed by: Alan Alda
The 4077th gets a shipment of tongue depressors, except the order for 5,000 has somehow been turned into an order of 500,000.
Hawkeye and B.J. at first think its funny, but then they realize there's nothing funny over the idea they have enough tongue depressors "To last five years."
After a talk in the O Club where Hawkeye compares the tongue depressors to his long gone friends and fellow doctors Trapper, Henry, and Frank Burns, he decides to use them to build a memorial to every wounded solider who passed through the 4077th.
Hawkeye grows obsessed with the task, working all day and night, even skipping meals. Col. Potter brings him some dinner, asking him what this all supposed to mean. Hawkeye answers, "I don't know...maybe nothing."
Klinger, under the thrall of his new scheme of running a 4077th newspaper, tells Stars & Stripes about Hawkeye's tower. A Capt. Allen (William Bogert) arrives with a photographer, and he tells Hawkeye his sculpture should be taken on tour, thinking it will be "great for recruitment."
Hawkeye is horrified--recruitment? Turns out Capt. Allen is from the Army, not Stars & Stripes, and he's looking at Hawkeye's tower as a propaganda tool. He asks to take a picture of it with Hawkeye alongside, but he stalls them and asks them to come back in a few minutes.
Later in the afternoon, Hawkeye tells them the tower's ready. We see that the tower now has an explosive called Primacord (taken from a patient who was sent home) wrapped around it, and he has Klinger blow it up just as the picture is snapped!
Capt. Allen is flabbergasted as to why Hawkeye would blow up the thing he spent two days building. Hawkeye puts his arm around him: "Senseless destruction, that's what its all about. Get the picture?"
Fun Facts: Another installment of The Young Sherman Potter Adventures: He mentions a lost opportunity in 1928 to start a dude ranch: "Damn zoning laws!"
In the scene between Hawkeye and B.J. in the O Club, when he mentions Frank Burns and Winchester, he compares them by saying "Just a hair's difference." Is that line supposed to a weak Winchester Is Bald joke, or is he saying the main difference between the two is that one's a good doctor and the other is not? Since there's no laugh track, its hard to tell where that was supposed to be a laugh line.
In the scene where Hawkeye and B.J. see all the boxes of tongue depressors, the camera is far enough back that you can see that Alan Alda is wearing bright blue Adidas sneakers.
Favorite Line: The entire scene between Hawkeye and B.J. in the O Club is one of my all-time favorite scenes from the series:
As Hawkeye slaps down the tongue depressors with a series of loud thwacks, he says: "Tongue depressors, doctors, soliders...we're all the same."
He holds up the first one: "Trapper John goes. No problem, there's plenty more where he came from." (Picking up another) "B.J. Hunnicutt--same size, same shape."
He holds up another: "Frank Burns out, Winchester in. Just a hair's difference."
Finally, a third: "Henry Blake." He snaps it in two. "Rest in peace, Henry." (Picking up another) "Incoming Sherman Potter...my God, hasn't this elimination tournament gone on long enough?"
I've said before how much I love the scenes where one character or another mentions previous characters from the show's past. I feel like scenes like this hint at the idea that Hawkeye, along with Margaret the longest serving member of the 4077th, is particularly haunted by having seen so many close friends come and go.