Season 10, Episode 219: Wheelers and Dealers
Original Air Date: 11/23/81
Written by: Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox
Directed by: Charles S. Dubin
B.J. gets a letter from Peg in the mail, and it hits him hard--she mentions she's had to take a waitress job at a local coffee shop to help make ends meet. B.J. feels enormously guilty, since he and Peg had hoped, by this point, that he would be in private practice and "our mortgage would be a memory."
B.J. becomes completely humorless, and grows obsessed with making every dollar he can. In a poker game with a visiting Sergeant (Anthony Charnota) he's terse, and bluffs his way to a winning a huge pot, even throwing in his wedding ring to raise the stakes.
Hawkeye tries to be understanding, but he starts loses his patience when B.J. takes up residence in the O Club, where he starts playing pinball against people for nickels and dimes, refusing to let anyone call it a night.
Margaret can't fathom what the big deal is about Peg having to take a job. B.J. then loses it, insulting Margaret, claiming that since she's not married, or has any kids, that his particular brand of suffering is worse than anyone else's. Margaret tells him off and storms out.
Humbled, B.J. eventually calms down and learns to deal with Peg's new job. He even ends up using mints Peg takes from the coffee shop as poker chips.
Fun Facts: One of the young G.I.s B.J. plays pinball with is actor Tony Becker, who would later have a recurring role on the excellent, short-lived Vietnam series Tour of Duty.
Tour of Duty, IMO, was a great show, and even though it was an hour long drama, it had some definite similarities to M*A*S*H, so I think its kind of neat to see the show's "cross over" like this.
This episode has a B-plot involving Col. Potter taking a remedial driving course under the tutelage of Sgt. Rizzo, who gets drunk with power. I've always found the Rizzo character to be on the far end of cartoony, but G.W. Bailey as Rizzo is pretty funny here.
Favorite Line: B.J.'s rant about how unfair "the system" is carries real rage. He mentions how a friend of his got a medical deferment from his doctor father, and how the man offered a similar deal to B.J. But B.J., thinking that was wrong, turned him down.
B.J.: "Whatever happened to the rules? 'Let the other guy go first, keep your elbows off the table, share your toys, and life will reward you.' Well, life is a crock."