Friday, November 27, 2009

Episode 217 - Rumor At The Top

Season 10, Episode 217: Rumor At The Top
Original Air Date: 11/9/81
Written by: David Pollock
& Elias Davis
Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Col. Potter and Klinger get word that an old nemesis of Potter's, a General named Torgeson from Logistics and Support, is sending someone to visit the 4077th on a fact-finding tour.

Later, Klinger orders some supplies from HQ, but they won't send any for the moment. When Klinger asks why, he's told its classified, a strange and cryptic answer.

In the O Club, Klinger mentions this and Gen. Torgeson to Hawkeye, and Hawkeye happens to mention that Torgeson's signature is on the orders that sent Hawkeye to the 4077th--"He's a MASH-maker."

This sends Klinger into a panic, and he imagines that all the fact-finding and supply-hoarding is for creating a new MASH. Hawkeye at first dismisses Klinger's paranoia, but quickly buys into it.

He shares this info with B.J., and they realize that if there's a new MASH, they'll be separated. They quickly come up with a plan, by dropping "hints" to Winchester, suggesting that Torgeson's assistant is in fact looking for a personal doctor for Torgeson, a cushy assignment right up Winchester's alley.

Winchester turns to Margaret for advice about Gen. Torgeson, and she also begins to panic, assuming that the first person from the 4077th Torgeson would take for the new MASH is Col. Potter, something she couldn't live with.

Torgeson's aid, Major Burnum (Nicholas Pryor), arrives, and is beset on all sides--Margaret keeps dropping hints that Col. Potter is a doddering, senile old man, Winchester keeps trying to find out info about Torgeson, and Klinger goes the Section 8 route, dressing up as a religious zealot.

Hawkeye and B.J. get into the act too, pretending that they are lousy, careless doctors, and that overall the 4077th is a mess. Burnum can't believe what he's seeing, especially when Hawkeye and B.J. pretend to let a wounded patient suffer while they play cards and do laundry.

Finally, Burnum has had enough, and demands to know how the 4077th is as good as its reputation if this is how it operates. Back in the Swamp, he storms off, disgusted.

But before he can leave, wounded arrive, and he sees the 4077th snap into action. He hangs back, watching, and realizes he's been had.

Later, in the Mess Tent, everyone is worried about what's going to happen now that Burnum has seen how the 4077th really operates. Burnum and Potter join them, and Burnum reveals what he's here for: to gather information about creating a new MASH.

But he's not there to pull someone out of the 4077th--he's simply there to learn how they do it, so they could copy it in hopes to create another MASH as effective as the 4077th. Everyone is relieved when Burnum admits, "Breaking up the 4077th would be like splitting up the Yankees!"

Fun Facts: The sequence with Hawkeye, B.J., and Igor over a supposed patient reminds me of the hi-jinx that went on during the show's first few seasons. When Igor says he lost (literally) the patient between Pre-Op and OR, Hawkeye and B.J. demand to know how that could possibly be. Igor haplessly replies, "We took a shortcut!"

Favorite Line: Winchester, single-mindedly trying to get information about Gen. Torgeson from Margaret: "Now..tell me more about Montana--does it have a city?"


Dr. Eric said...

This episode has what may be my favorite Klinger line of all time:

"[Loud gasp] Spam!! It is the devil's work!!"

What the Parrot Saw said...

This is one of the few latter-day episodes with some of the slapstick humor of the early seasons. It's often genuinely funny- even if the plot is directly recycles the season two's opening episode!! (No one caught this??)

Not a back-handed compliment- this is one of my s10 favorites. But I don't think an entire plot line was repeated twice elsewhere...

rob! said...


I don't know, I think there are considerable differences between this episode and Ssn 2's "Divided We Stand."

Sure, the framework is the same (I-Corps comes to inspect the 4077th), but the results were all different--in DWS, the investigator was coming to see if they should break up the 4077th, so everyone acts extra normal.

In this episode, its just the opposite--the guy visiting isn't looking to break up the 4077th, and everyone acts extra crazy.

But there's no doubt the show at this point was doing variations on plots they had already tried...which was part of the reason the show went off the air.

Russell said...

I don't think I've ever seen this episode. If I have, I totally don't remember it. :-)

What the Parrot Saw said...

Hey rob!

Six of one, half dozen the other. ;-)

I agree; there are differences between the episodes as well (there is a difference between recycling and retread!)

but the craziness in each is a key part of the humor; even when the staff are trying to act straight in "DWS" they fail! (In fact, the slapstick here reminds me a bit of "Yankee Doodle Dr")

Both visiting officers make a similar statement at the end (to be fair, the respective shows couldn't end any other way!)

My comment "Didn't anyone catch this?" was mostly tongue in cheek :-)

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