Saturday, October 31, 2009

Episode 196 - Letters

Season 9, Episode 196: Letters
Original Air Date: 11/24/80
Written by: Dennis Koenig

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

The weather is cold and rainy, making everyone at the 4077th miserable. Except for Klinger, who is thrilled, since the bad weather means there's no fighting, which means no wounded.

Klinger delivers mail to everyone, and Hawkeye gets a huge package from a schoolteacher friend of his from Crabapple Cove. Inside the package are letters from her young students, which Hawkeye distributes to everyone to answer and hoepfully help chase away the boredom.

Father Mulcahy tells one kid about the time he save the life of a wandering dog who had a taste for liquor, training it to never touch a drop again. Klinger tells the story about a side business he thought he'd start breeding chinchillas, except for the fact that the two chinchillas he owns are both male.

Margaret tells a kid about the time she grew very close to a paralyzed young man, spending all her time with him in his last moments. B.J. has a lighter story, about when, as a temporary replacement for Winchester, the Army sent a

Hawkeye's letter is from an angry young boy, who lost his brother in the war and thinks all doctors do is "Fix people up so they can go get killed." It hits Hawkeye hard, and he struggles with a way to answer it.

He tries pawning the letter off to Mulcahy, but he refuses, saying Hawkeye has to deal with the feelings the young man's letter has brought up, whether he answers it or not.

Meanwhile, Potter answers his letter, relating a story about when he almost set the camp record for free throws, but missing the record-breaking shot.

Winchester's letter is from a young girl who enclosed a leaf, which touches Winchester greatly--he looks at it in wonder and says, to no one in particular, "Autumn in New England." He writes a sweet letter back to her, thanking her for her gift, and mentioning how it reminds him of the beauty that still exists in the world.

An emergency develops, when a local missionary brings a young girl to the 4077th after hitting her head and falling unconscious. Hawkeye and B.J. operate, just after the missionary thanks God for having these surgeons be here, at this place, at the right time.

Later, Hawkeye finally arrives at an answer to his letter, trying to explain to the young man that he shouldn't hate anyone, because its hate that ultimately killed his brother, and that he should "Try and find good wherever you can find it."

Fun Facts: A kid asks Father Mulcahy if he ever saved a life, and his answer is about the dog who drinks booze. But Mulcahy is forgetting about the time he literally saved a man's life--by operating on him, no less--in Season Five's "Mulcahy's War."

Favorite Line: Hawkeye: "The only thing Charles remembers fondly from his childhood is his hair."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Episode 195 - The Best of Enemies

Season 9, Episode 195: The Best of Enemies
Original Air Date: 11/17/80
Written by: Sheldon Bull

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Hawkeye has a 24-hour pass, so he climbs in a jeep headed for Seoul. He's so excited he can barely contain himself (keeping B.J. awake with his gleeful singing). His mood is brightened even more when Klinger delivers a letter from Hawkeye's father, including a picture of Crabapple Cove, which he tucks into his pocket.

Col. Potter also gets a letter, from his wife Mildred, celebrating her win at a Missouri Bridge tournament. Winchester mocks the whole idea, not even bothering to conceal his lack of respect for Mildred's skills. This, of course, angers Potter, and he challenges Winchester to a bridge tournament.

Meanwhile, on the way to Seoul, Hawkeye's jeep breaks down, and while he tries to get it started again, a North Korean solider (Mako), armed to the teeth, emerges out of the bushes and demands--through a series of grunts and gestures, since he speaks no English--that Hawkeye come with him, and bring his medical bag.

Back at the 4077th, Winchester tries to get Margaret to partner with him for the tournament, but Potter has beaten him to her. Winchester then turns to B.J., who extracts all kinds of favors in return--including, most importantly to B.J.--12 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Winchester, through gritted teeth, agrees.

Hawkeye is led by the solider to their destination: an unconscious, wounded North Korean solider, who the other one demands Hawkeye keep alive. Hawkeye examines the wounded man, and sees that he has serious wounds in his head and chest.

Without any way to communicate, its impossible for Hawkeye to explain that the chest wound, which looks worse to the untrained eye, isn't really the problem--its the head wound, and without the right instruments, there's not much Hawkeye can do.

The armed soldier shows Hawkeye a picture of himself and the young man and some others, indicating they are family or at least close friends. Hawkeye retorts by showing him the picture of his father back in Crabapple Cove.

Hawkeye works on the chest wound, knowing it won't do much good. When the wounded man starts having trouble breathing, he asks the other to drop his gun and help out. When the man doesn't understand, Hawkeye grabs the rifle in a rage and tosses it away, dragging the man to the ground so he can hold his friend down while Hawkeye tries to get air into his lungs.

Back at the 4077th, the bridge tournament becomes a contest of egos. The teams go from Winchester/B.J. vs. Potter/Margaret to Winchester/Margaret vs. Potter/B.J., before breaking down to Winchester/Potter vs. B.J/Margarget. Because of their outsized egos, its B.J. and Margaret who end up winning in an upset.

Hawkeye continues to struggle with his patient, but its no use--the young man dies. The other man picks up his rifle, and gestures for Hawkeye to leave.

Hawkeye begins to walk away, but he looks back and see the other man digging a grave for his friend, having only his knife to loosen the ground. Hawkeye walks back and, using his helmet, joins the man in scooping out the dirt. They look at each other for a moment, in total silence, then resume their digging.

Fun Facts: This is the first episode of the ninth season. The arrangement of the show's theme, "Suicide is Painless", is a little different this time--to my (very)untrained musical ear, it sounds like there's a little horn it in it this time.

Another guest turn by Mako--this was his fourth and last appearance on the show.

Favorite Line: Winchester delivers B.J.'s victory breakfast, casually dropping the tray onto his bunk: "The eggs are crisp and brown, and the bacon is yellow and runny. May you gag on every bite."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

M*A*S*H Viewmaster Reel - 1978

This is a little out of sequence, but I just picked it up at the aforementioned Wizard World NY Comic Con and I wanted to post it as soon as possible!

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that the vast conglomerate known as Viewmaster licensed M*A*S*H, considering some of the other odd subjects they converted into transparent glory, but there's a part of me that still wonders why.

Undoubtedly, there is some part of M*A*S*H that appealed to children, despite the show's adult setting and subject matter (after all, I watched it!), and maybe it was that indefinable thing that Viewmaster was counting on.

Inside the colorful front sleeve is a little booklet featuring a synopsis of the episode in question, Season Six's "Major Topper":
The book runs sixteen pages, and also features a puzzle where you have to find names of the show's characters hidden within. Also included of course are the three Viewmaster reels featuring scenes and dialog from the show:
...did I say dialog? One of the strangest elements to this little package is that, for some unfathomable reason, a lot of the lines from the show have been re-written! Check out this exchange from the last page of the book, encapsulating this episode's final moments:
...not only does that dialog between Potter and Klinger not exist in the show, but the famous woman Winchester dated was changed from Audrey Hepburn to Grace Kelly--as if Grace Kelly was somehow a more contemporary reference for kids than Audrey Hepburn.

The booklet also features stills from the show, and underneath the pictures are "quotes" from the show that also don't exist. Makes you think that the guy who wrote this summary saw the episode once and was working from memory.

I have to assume this isn't the only M*A*S*H episode converted into Viewmaster reels, and all I know is I want to see more of them!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hawkeye and Green Arrow - 1980

I found this quick little mention of Hawkeye in the letters page of DC Comics Presents #25.

The letter writer is right--Green Arrow and Hawkeye as characters have a lot of similarities. Also, funny coincidence that Marvel Comics' premiere archer superhero--their version of Green Arrow--is named...Hawkeye.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Episode 194 - April Fools

Season 8, Episode 194: April Fools
Original Air Date: 3/24/80
Written by: Dennis Koenig

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

It's almost April Fool's Day, so Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester are getting into the spirit by pulling pranks. Potter puts the kibosh on all tomfoolery when he learns that the 4077th is about to be inspected by Col. Tucker, a firebreathing, Army-regulation quoting martinet who, according to Potter, "Picks his teeth with a rusty nail."

Klinger, sensing an opportunity, decides to pull a scam where he'll act like the perfect soldier, dress uniform and all, and then go the full crazy route, hoping that'll earn him a Section 8.

Going against Potter's direct order, Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester get back at Margaret (after she pranks them all) by removing all the canvas from her tent, leaving everything else untouched.

Margaret runs to the Swamp to protest, where waiting for her in Hawkeye's cot is a skeleton, which elicits a scream from her. The Swamp rats laugh in delight, causing a pillow fight which spills out onto the compound...right into the path of the incoming Col. Tucker (Pat Hingle), who is not amused.

He berates them all, including Potter. The only person he's impressed with is Klinger, who shows up in his dress uniform, with a copy of Stars and Stripes under his arm, ready to direct Tucker to the V.I.P. Tent.

The next day, Tucker has nothing but criticism for the medical staff, hurling insults and sarcasm when they protest his lack of respect for their efforts. In Post Op, he goes further by insulting Margaret who is trying to see his side of things, saying "I hardly need the support of a woman."

After a confrontation outside, Tucker puts them all on report, and then tells them all that he plans to bar them all from medical service and have them court-martialed.

Its at this moment that Klinger does the switcheroo, dressing as Cleopatra while working in his office. Col. Tucker is horrified that "The only good man here" has been broken by the 4077th. Potter can't believe Tucker is falling for this, and they go off to Potter's office to argue about it.

Meanwhile, in the Swamp, Hawkeye, B.J., Margaret, and Winchester decide that if they're going to get busted, they might as well go out in style--pulling off one giant prank on Tucker.

In the O Club, they set it up so Tucker asks for his trademark "shot and a beer", which gets him dumped with a bucket of beer from the rafters. Tucker is apoplectic, red-faced with rage. He screams at Hawkeye, collapsing onto the bar and then onto the floor.

They are all stunned, thinking they've brought on a heart attack. The O Club goes silent, and Tucker asks for Hawkeye. As Hawkeye gets in close, he whispers: "April Fools."

Hawkeye, confused, looks at the others. Then Tucker bolts up from the floor, arm in arm with Potter, laughing hysterically. Turns out this was an April Fools plot hatched by the two of them, weeks in advance, pulled off with perfection. Potter bet that if pushed hard enough, Hawkeye and the rest would pull a giant stunt like this, and they "Fell for a school of hungry carp."

Later, in the O Club, Potter and Tucker--who have been friends since WWI--talk about other pranks they've pulled, and how they also managed to fool Klinger this time, too.

Right on cue, Klinger walks in, still dressed as Cleopatra, asking when he and Tucker are leaving camp. Everyone else breaks up into laughter, prompting Klinger to ask, "What's so funny?"

Fun Facts: This is the final episode of the eighth season.

Favorite Line: Potter and Tucker reminisce about other pranks they pulled:

Potter: "Remember the time we slipped the rubber hamburgers into the chow line?"

Tucker: "Yeah, problem was nobody noticed."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Episode 193 - Back Pay

Season 8, Episode 193: Back Pay
Original Air Date: 3/10/80
Written by: Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox and Dennis Koenig

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

Hawkeye gets enraged when he reads in a newspaper about a doctor back home charging the Army a fortune to x-ray young men about to be sent into the Army. Even though that's not entirely on the up-and-up, the Army's response seems to be one of indifference.

To get some sense of satisfaction, he sends an itemized bill to the Army, charging them for every surgery, x-ray, and examination, totaling over thirty-eight thousand bucks!

Potter is aghast when he learns of the bill, when the Army send a Captain Snyder (Richard Herd) to look into it. Snyder sneers at Hawkeye, calling it a bunch of "hot-headed, self-righteous nonsense", but Hawkeye refuses to give up.

He turns to B.J. for moral support, but B.J. thinks Hawkeye is wasting his time, trying to extract any sort of justice from the Army.

After asking some local Korean doctors visiting the unit (and driving Winchester crazy with questions) about what they do when a patient won't pay, Hawkeye gets the idea to take possession of one of jeeps in the motor pool as partial payment.

Potter yells at Hawkeye, to no avail. He figures he just has to ride Hawkeye's tirade out, so he allows him to keep the jeep for the moment. The only problem is, Hawkeye went so far as to tell Captain Snyder he's taken the jeep, prompting another visit to the 4077th.

Snyder and Hawkeye talk in Klinger's office, where Hawkeye still refuses to give in. Outside, he hears his jeep's engine start up, and runs outside just in time to see that someone has stolen it!

Hawkeye finds this all very funny, getting Snyder so mad that he starts physically threatening Hawkeye. In a fit of rage, he kicks Hawkeye's giant bag of x-rays, causing him to yowl in pain.

Hawkeye takes a look at it, and then does an x-ray. He agrees to find Snyder's jeep and return it...if, and only if, Snyder pays $4 for the x-ray. Snyder, furious, agrees, and Hawkeye tells him that his foot isn't broken, merely sprained. Snyder gets even more mad, but Hawkeye could care less.

We learn that it was B.J. who stole Snyder's jeep, in his own anonymous show of support for his pal. Hawkeye and B.J. share a drink at the O Club, and he leaves the $4 as a tip.

Fun Facts: A solid performance by guest actor Richard Herd--his Captain Snyder really seems to hate Hawkeye. Snyder would've fit in quite well in the Bush Administration, at one point telling Hawkeye, "Justice is what Uncle Sam tells you it is", following that up with "Who are you to question the government?"

Favorite Line: Sgt. Rizzo, complaining about carrying a heavy bag of x-rays: "Must all be pictures of fat people."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Episode 192 - War Co-Respondent

Season 8, Episode 192: War Co-Respodent
Original Air Date: 3/3/80
Written by: Mike Farrell

Directed by: Mike Farrell

A bus full of wounded arrive, escorted by a surprising guest--journalist Aggie O'Shea (Susan Saint James), a genuine celebrity.

Aggie is following a couple soldiers as they make their way through their tour in Korea, and then reporting on what she experiences. She meets with the doctors and Margaret afterward, and Hawkeye is shameless in his attempts to romance her. But Aggie seems only interested in...B.J.

While in Post Op together, Aggie is pretty flirty with B.J., continually rebuffing Hawkeye's advances. Her interest in B.J. is so apparent that everyone in camp notices, even the wounded.

That night, they share a drink in the O Club, and Aggie lays it right on the line, letting B.J. know she's "very interested" in him, leaving B.J. flush and stunned into silence.

The next morning, everyone in camp is talking about B.J. and Aggie. After a rough night's sleep, he has a talk with Aggie in the x-ray room where he goes so far as to ask Aggie how long she can stay in Seoul. Her answer is, "As long as you want."

B.J. is cranky and humorless about all the rumors, storming off insulted when he catches everyone in the Mess Tent joking about it. Hawkeye gets B.J. to open up, and B.J. reveals that while nothing has happened between him and Aggie, he is starting to develop real feelings for her. For the first time, someone other than Peg has really caught his eye, and he's feeling torn up about it.

When one of the soldiers Aggie is profiling has to go back in for surgery, Hawkeye assists, and brings up Aggie and the young man, Scotty. At first B.J. is snippy to Hawkeye, but Hawkeye keeps going, pointing out how a war can bring two very different people together--people who, back at home, wouldn't have much in common.

Later that night, B.J. and Aggie talk again, and B.J. confesses that while he has feelings for Aggie, he can't give up his one life line--the one he has to his family. Aggie confesses that she loves B.J., and they embrace in saying goodbye.

Weeks later, a care package from Aggie arrives, with presents for everyone. Potter's gift is an original drawing by Aggie, one of B.J, with a life preserver around him, emblazoned with the words "San Francisco." When Potter asks what that means, B.J. answers, "Beats me."

Fun Facts: This episode is a Mike Farrell tour de force--written, directed, and starring!

There's a throwaway line between Margaret and Aggie in Margaret's tent. When Aggie wonders if B.J. has ever fooled around, Margaret laughs, and answers, "That's a, never." Obviously Margaret doesn't know what happened in Season Five's "Hanky Panky."

Favorite Line: Hawkeye brings up Aggie while in surgery, and B.J. responds with a snippy, "Will you knock it off?" Farrell delivers it with just the right amount of peak to make it sound like B.J. is simmering with anger.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Episode 191 - Dreams

Season 8, Episode 191: Dreams
Original Air Date: 2/18/80
Written by: Alan Alda and James Rubinfier

Directed by: Alan Alda

The 4077th is hit by the biggest batch of wounded they've ever seen, driving everyone in camp to the point of complete exhaustion.

No one has time to sleep any more than an hour or two at a time, and we get to see some of the bizarre, sad, and even nightmarish dreams they have.

Margaret dreams of herself on her wedding night, in a passionate embrace with her groom. But then a line of soldiers march by, and her husband leaves her, marching off. Her bed is then filled with bloody, wounded soldiers, reaching out to her for help. We last see her standing in a field, her wedding dress stained with blood, as she stands there looking stunned.

B.J, catching a nap during a break from surgery, dreams of his wife Peg (Catherine Bergstrom). They are dancing at a fancy party, and stroll their way into the OR. Col. Potter interrupts them, asking B.J. to perform an operation. He does, ignoring Peg. She stands there for a moment or two, and then walks off.

Potter falls asleep in his office, and his dreams starts with a horse wandering in. Potter, now dressed in his WWI uniform, climbs aboard, playing polo with a live grenade. As the grenade explodes into fireworks, Potter then stumbles across his boyhood home, and sees himself riding a horse, hearing the sound of his mother calling him to dinner.

Winchester dreams of himself as a magician, performing tricks and entertaining the other members of the camp. A patient is wheeled out, and Winchester tries greater and greater tricks. But the patient gets worse, leading Winchester to try more and more, to no avail. He's finally left tap dancing and twirling sparklers. He wakes up from this, sweating profusely, muttering, "Damn."

The recovering patients are piling up so much that all the beds in Post Op are turned into bunk beds, and Father Mulcahy takes a moment to hear one patient's confession.

But he's so exhausted he falls asleep, the patient's confession turning into gibberish. Mulcahy dreams of himself dressed in flowing, glowing robes, and he is welcome to his pulpit like the Pope. He begins to speak to his flock, when suddenly drops of blood splatter his Bible. He looks up, and what was a statue of Jesus is now a bleeding soldier, and the pews full of parishoners is now an OR.

Klinger dreams of himself back in Toledo, where he wanders windy, desolate, empty streets. He stops at Tony Paco's, where inside is an OR. There he sees Potter, calling him inside. On Potter's operating table is...Klinger himself. Klinger is happy to be awakened from this dream by Kellye, who tells him Potter wants him to patch through a call.

Potter gets a wounded general to make a call to a nebbishy private, who refuses to send ambulances to pick up the wounded. After being threatened, the private relents, meaning the 4077th will finally be getting some relief.

With the crisis over, everyone meets up in the Mess Tent. Hawkeye is so exhausted he falls asleep at the table, and he dreams he's back in med school. He has fallen asleep, and his professor takes it out on him by removing Hawkeye's arm (in this instance, a mannequin arm) and tossing it into a river.

When the professor asks Hawkeye what the procedure is to reattach a limb, he can't answer, apologizing for being asleep. The professor responds by removing Hawkeye's other arm, also tossing it into a river. Hawkeye then finds himself, armless, in a boat filled with severed limbs.

He spots a bleeding little girl, and is helpless. He then finds himself in front of an operating table, where a nurse hands him a scalpel. Helpless, he screams into the heavens, waking himself up. Now awake, he sees there are more wounded arriving, and he heads out of the tent.

Later, everyone is back in the Mess Tent. They all plan to go back to their tents and sleep, but when Winchester absent-mindedly quotes, "Ah, sleep...perchance to dream", everyone sits back down for another cup of coffee.

Fun Facts: This is a great, format-busting episode: an idea that could've easily fallen flat on its face but doesn't.

That said,
I've always felt this episode was a bit of a lost opportunity: since this episode consists of dream sequences, wouldn't it have been amazing to see Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, or Larry Linville return to the show, just this one time? In particular, I could picture Margaret's dream involving Frank in some way.

This is the first time we got to see Peg. She has no dialogue in this episode, but she will when she returns for another episode.

I thought it was interesting that, out of all of them, only Potter's dream is not nightmarish or scary.

In Suzy Kalter's The Complete Book of M*A*S*H (1984), her write-up of this episode features this still:
sg such scene exists in this episode, as Hawkeye makes no appearance in Margaret's dream.

Over 251 episodes, there must have been at least a few choice "deleted scenes"--too bad they were not included on any of the M*A*S*H DVDs.

Favorite Line: The young soldier confessing to Mulcahy has to speak gibberish to show how Mulcahy isn't really hearing him, and its all nonsensical stuff, except for one part where he says: "But fringes are gerbel, you know?"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Me and Major Houlihan

I wouldn't normally put up any posts "interrupting" a look at a season of M*A*S*H, but this story was too good for me to not post immediately. A more complete version is currently appearing on my Aquaman Shrine blog.

The fine folks at Wizard World granted The Aquaman Shrine a guest Press Pass for the Big Apple Comic Con that went on over the weekend. And even though I was only able to attend one of the three days (Friday, October 16th) I had what was possibly the single best con experience of my life--here's what went down!

First off, I must preface this post with an aside--frequently in my life there have been events or moments that, for whatever reason, I had plans to attend and then at the last minute reconsidered--I'm too tired, I don't have enough money, I'm too busy, blah blah blah. Its human nature to come up with all kinds of reasons why you can't do something.

But I've noticed--almost every single time I've pushed through those feelings and gone ahead anyway, it ended being an extremely rewarding experience. And this trip to the con was no exception--the morning of the show, I looked out the window and saw nothing but freezing rain, with nothing but that on the horizon. I also had a lot of illustration work to get done, and I briefly considered just scrapping the whole trip. Thankfully, I didn't...

As soon as I entered the hall, I made a bee line for the person I was there to see the most...actress Loretta Swit, who played Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan on my all-time favorite show, M*A*S*H. I didn't even know she was there until a few weeks ago, when my pal and Vince Bartilucci told me about it, and I simply couldn't let the opportunity to meet one of the actors from that show pass my by.

After a few minutes of wandering the autograph section (featuring various actors, wrestlers, and Playboy models), I saw Ms. Swit at her booth. I gulped, instantly becoming nervous--there she was, the woman I've watched on TV since as long as I could remember! I've met a number of famous people, even worked with some of them, and none of them gave me the same feeling of awe I had when seeing the Major Houlihan in the flesh.

I made my way over, and introduced myself. Babbling a bit, I told Ms. Swit how much it meant for me to meet her, and she was warm and friendly. I then told her how much the show affected me, how much of an influence it was in molding me into the person I am today. She asked me how so, and I told her the show's intelligence, humor, and kindness were things I aspired to be and to have. She took my hand and thanked me.

I asked her to sign my M*A*S*H "Hot Lips" action figure, which she cheerfully agreed to. In between signing it, she held the package up, putting it next to her face, and said "Does this really look like me?" I replied no, none of the figures did!
I thanked her again, and she shook my hand and said what a pleasure it was to meet me. I walked away, as happy as could be. I couldn't believe I met Loretta Swit, and she was so nice! The rest of the con could suck and it would still be a banner day!

As I made my way to the more comic-centric part of the hall, it dawned on me that in my fanboyish nervousness, I forgot to get a picture of her and I together. Normally I don't get pics of me with people at cons (I can't stand how I look in those things), but I really wanted one this time. I cursed at myself for being so absent-minded, and resolved that I had missed my chance.

About halfway through the show I realized that I had pretty much visited every dealer. And since I wasn't that interested in seeing any of the other autograph guests, and I had a lot of work waiting for me at home (which is still waiting, since I'm writing this first), I decided that my original plan to come back on Sunday was off--this would be the only day I'd attend, so I wanted to make it count.

I found another artist who was doing these little color sketches--mini-paintings, really--on trading card-sized boards so I commissioned him to do an Aquaman. He asked me to give him a half hour or so to do the piece, so I had some time on my hands.

I decided then and there that, even though I might feel silly, I would go back to Loretta Swit's booth and ask her for a photograph--when else am I going to have this chance?

I made my way back, and before I could ask her about the photo, she asked me if I knew the area. I said a little, why? She said that she and her friend (who was helping her man the booth) were starving, and the food available in the hall (mostly just pretzels and soda) wasn't really sufficient. She hoped she could ask a Wizard World volunteer to get them some food, to which I replied, "I'd be happy to do it for you."

Loretta lit up, asking me if I was sure, and I said absolutely. Using the back of one of my business cards, she wrote down what she wanted--a salad (we're both vegetarians, we discovered) and some fries, the same for her friend. I took her order and headed back outside.

While on my way to find a place to get the food, I called Darlin' Tracy in disbelief. "Trace", I exclaimed, "I'm on a food run for Loretta Swit!"

I was excited just to tell her, but also to have someone else on Planet Earth know I was doing this in case I got hit by a car and killed in the process. I wanted The Legend to live on.

I stopped in one place, but they didn't make Caesar Salads. The owner pointed me out the door, down the street, and told me of a place that would do it. Thanking him, I practically ran (in the still-freezing weather) to the next location, where the cook inside said he could make the salads, no problem.

While waiting, I saw they didn't have fries on the menu. Thinking I'd have to go find a third location, I asked the guy at the counter where I could go to get french fries. He said, "Oh, we can make them for you." They didn't have them on the menu, but they had them and could do it. I was thrilled at this one-stop shopping.

After grabbing the food, I stopped to take a pic of the place:
New York City has such a reputation for being an unfriendly place, but there was none of that now. Everything was coming up Millhouse!

I made my way back to the con, and delivered the food to Loretta. She was thrilled, thanking me for my efforts.

I said no problem, this was an amazingly strange and wonderful little experience, and it was the least I could do. Then before they dug in Loretta came around and posed with me for the picture:

I thanked her again, saying what an honor it was to meet her, concluding what might be the single best con experience of my life.

I've had some really memorable con experiences (I participated in one event in San Diego that became something of a legendary story that preceded me for months), but this might rank as the best time I've ever had at one of these things.

I got some cool Aqua-sketches, bought some cool Aqua-stuff, got the comics I was looking for...and got to meet one--and even do a favor for--of my all-time favorite people, and learned they were really, really nice. It'll be hard to top.

At a loss as to what to label this type of post, I decided to call it "Dear Internet...", in homage to the oft-used story conceit of the show. And who knows? If I'm really lucky, maybe I'll have other chances to use it...

Episode 190 - Good-Bye, Cruel World

Season 8, Episode 190: Good-Bye, Cruel World
Original Air Date: 2/11/80
Written by: Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

One of the wounded is Sgt. Michael Yee, a bona-fide war hero. Hawkeye works on him, and is amazed at the sheer number of wounds Yee has suffered.

Later, in Post Op, Hawkeye gives Yee (Clyde Kusatsu) the good news: he's going home. But instead of being overjoyed, Yee seems stunned, and even a little upset over the news.

After the delivering the news, Hawkeye and Margaret leave Yee alone, and we see Yee pound his fist in frustration.

Potter and Klinger call an impromptu meeting in Klinger's office--he has filled the room with items from home, all of them with an Arabic flavor. Potter puts it up to a vote from the doctors, but Klinger is less than happy when they all break down in guffaws over Klinger's version of good taste.

Later, Nurse Kelleye tells Hawkeye that Sgt. Yee tried to kill himself by slashing his wrists. Hawkeye, Margaret, and Potter check in on him, and the damage is so extensive that he requires surgery to patch it all up.

Meanwhile, Klinger, so mad at being laughed at, decides to pull a scam ending in him being discharged home. He fakes letters from Col. Potter (working hard to perfect Potter's distinctive signature) and Father Mulachy, planning on sending them into I-Corps. B.J. discovers the plot, and tries to talk Klinger out of it. Klinger pretends to go along, but then after B.J. leaves, resumes his plan, by sending the paperwork to HQ.

Sidney Freedman arrives to talk to Sgt. Yee. He looks over Yee's record--he also served in WWII, and while he had a solid record there, its nothing like the list of courageous acts Yee has attempted in Korea.

Sidney talks to Yee, and subtly puts him under hypnosis. Later, Yee awakens, and he's shocked to learn that what he thought has just been a few minutes was actually two hours.

Hawkeye notices Yee, post-hypnosis, is twitching his arm like mad, and wonders if Yee is stable. Sidney insists that he is, telling Hawkeye that Yee is racked with guilt, fighting in a war against an Asian enemy. He planted a hypnotic suggestion in Yee's mind to twitch his hand every time he feels stressed, instead of committing an act of violence against himself.

Sidney also surmises that all those acts of bravery on Yee's part were part of the same behavior. Later, Yee is released from the hospital, where Sidney will keep working with him until he's shipped home.

Meanwhile, Potter apologizes to Klinger for not letting him put up any of his personal items and hurting his feelings. So he tells Klinger he can put up any one piece, and also gives Klinger a three-day pass.

Klinger, now feeling guilty about setting his plan in motion, hot-foots it to I-Corps, where he has to bluff his way out of it with a Colonel. He pretends to be Radar, telling the Colonel that "this Klinger fella" is pulling a scam, and the whole thing should be forgotten.

Once home, Potter reveals he knew about it the whole time, and even gives Klinger some helpful tips about how to better forge his name.

Fun Facts: Sidney Freedman is awesome. 'Nuff said.

Favorite Line: I love Klinger's impersonation of Radar: "Oh, golly whiz yes, your Colonelness!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Episode 189 - Lend A Hand

Season 8, Episode 189: Lend A Hand
Original Air Date: 2/4/80
Written by: Alan Alda

Directed by: Alan Alda

Everyone's cold and bored at the 4077th, which leads to crankiness. When a bunch of people ask Hawkeye strange questions about his favorite this or that, he finds out that B.J. told them all that Hawkeye's birthday is coming up--just to give them all something to distract themselves with. Hawkeye isn't amused.

But the boredom is broken when they get a visitor, Dr. Anthony Borelli (Robert Alda), who was previously visited the camp a year or two earlier. He's at the 4077th to show the doctors some new surgical techniques, including a graft procedure.

Borelli tends to be a bit pushy, especially Hawkeye, insisting he knows the best way to do nearly everything, from where Hawkeye should sit and what he should drink.

The next day, Borelli is about to start his lecture (after telling everyone where they should sit) when a call comes in from an aid station about a patient that needs major surgery immediately. Potter agrees to send someone, and Hawkeye offers to go, thankful to escape his impending birthday party. In the process, he throws B.J. under the buys by letting it "slip" that its B.J.'s anniversary.

At the aid station, Hawkeye and Borelli immediately start to argue about the best way to approach the operation. Borelli thinks he should start with the chest, but Hawkeye insists the man's collapsed lung is the most important.

The argument spills over to how Hawkeye washes his hands, which leads the medic (Antony Alda) to break it up and wonder what the problem is. They ease down, but it flares up again when Borelli suggests to Hawkeye that the patient will need the kind of graft he was there to talk about.

Bombs start to fall right outside, one of them landing close enough that part of the roof caves in on them. It leaves Hawkeye with a sprained wrist and Borelli with a broken what?

With no other options, Hawkeye and Borelli are forced to work together, literally leaning on one another to complete the surgery. Later, they bring the patient back to the 4077th, and they perform the new graft procedure, which is a complete success.

Fun Facts: This is a sequel episode, a follow up to the Third Season show "The Consultant."

This episode features another installment of The Young Sherman Potter Chronicles: in this episode, he tells a story about a time in WWI when it got so cold all the tanks froze shut and they had to feed the guys inside through the cannons.

This episode features an Alda Family triumverate--Alan, Robert, and Antony.

Favorite Line: Winchester and Klinger have an argument over Klinger's misspelling of the message "Happy Birthhday" on Hawkeye's cake, adding an extra H. Father Mulchay wanders in, and Winchester drops a hint: "What do you think of the cake, Father Mulcahahy?"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Episode 188 - Morale Victory

Season 8, Episode 188: Morale Victory
Original Air Date: 1/28/80
Written by: John Rappaport

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

Tensions are running high at the 4077th, with most of the camp being bored to tears by the movie, which is the same movie that's been shown every night for weeks.

When Hawkeye and B.J. get up during the movie and flawlessly mimic the dialogue as it goes by, it enrages Potter, who bellows, "This the war, you know--be grateful we got a talkie!"

But this only seems to spark further unrest, and when Rizzo complains about the lousy food, everyone agrees--loudly. The mood gets so ugly everyone cheers when the P.A. announces wounded have arrived.

In OR, one of Winchester's patients has several wounds, including ones on his hand and leg. He spends all his time dealing with the leg, making sure the young man isn't paralyzed, with the work on the hand being a bit of an afterthought.

After surgery, Potter puts Hawkeye and B.J. in charge morale, and they draft Klinger to help out.

Meanwhile, Winchester is there when his young patient, a Private named David Sheridan (James Stephens) wakes up in Post Op. Winchester is chipper and friendly (even making Hawkeye and B.J.-esque jokes), and assures Stephens that, despite his serious wounds, he will walk again.

But Stephens doesn't seem to care about his leg wound, only asking about his hand. When Winchester informs him that he has suffered some "Nerve and tendon damage", Stephens asks for how long. When Winchester informs him it will be permanent, Stephens starts to break down in tears.

Winchester is confused, and Stephens tells him that his hands are his life--he's a concert pianist. As the young man cries, Winchester is stunned into silence.

While Hawkeye and B.J. try and assure everyone in camp that they have some amazing plans to boost morale (which is a complete lie), Winchester tries to get through to Stephens. Stephens is demoralized, and is convinced he has no future, which Winchester says "gnaws" at him. Stephens says he doesn't blame Winchester, but "It doesn't bring my hand back."

Winchester turns to Father Mulcahy for advice. Winchester admits that he's worried that, while he can perform miracles in the OR, he's somewhat lacking in his ability to "provide comfort" like some of the other doctors. Mulcahy reassures him that there's no one in camp who has a greater love and appreciation of music, and its through their common love that he can get through to Stephens.

Hawkeye and B.J., having gotten an idea to throw a beach party on the compound, are thrilled when Klinger comes back from a trip to Inchon with a tub of live crab and a footlocker full of beach sand.

While the party goes on, Winchester wheels Stephens into the O Club, where he introduces him to piano pieces written for one hand. At first, Stephens resists, saying he can't make a career "Playing a few freak pieces."

Winchester doesn't give up, admitting to Stephens that, more than anything else, he has always wanted to play classical music, but lacks the true gift. He can "Play the notes, but I cannot make the music", and that Stephens true gift is in his head and his heart, not his hand, and there are other ways he can share that gift with the world.

Stephens relents and tentatively begins playing the piano. He quickly gets into it, however, playing the piece with vigor, and Winchester follows along, enthralled. The camera pans out over the compound, as everyone is partying, to the sound of the piano.

Fun Facts: This episode features one of the best Winchester stories ever, and I love his admission that, in some ways, music is even more important to him than medicine.

Favorite Line: One of B.J.'s suggestions to improve morale is better movies. Hawkeye offers, "That should be easy considering the fact that the best one we've seen in months is 'The Field Pack: Your Canvas Buddy'!"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Episode 187 - Old Soldiers

Season 8, Episode 187: Old Soldiers
Original Air Date: 1/21/80
Written by: Dennis Koenig

Directed by: Charles S. Dubin

In the middle of a night, a call comes in for Col. Potter. He's furious about being woken up at 330am, but after he takes the call he calms down and accepts the news, mentioning something about "Test results don't lie."

While Potter is gone, a Red Cross worker named Betty Halpern (Jane Connell) arrives with a gang of Korean kids who need some basic medical care and some tetanus shots after being stuck in some thorny bushes.

Potter checks in at the 4077th, refusing to say why he's gone. All he seems concerned about is a package due to arrive for him. He tells Klinger to guard it with his life.

Without wounded to take care of, the Korean kids take over the 4077th, running around and causing general chaos. Their stay is extended when the doctors discover the kids have a mysterious rash that they can't quite figure out how to treat.

The next morning, Potter returns, but is still mum about who he calls his "sick friend." After telling him about the kids' rash, Potter figures out that its because of their diet--they eat horse meat, which is causing a reaction to the tetanus serum.

After a tossed off joke by Hawkeye, Potter goes on a rant about the atrocity of people eating horses, reminiscing about, back in WWI, "A man's horse was his best friend--where do people get off turning them into porkchops?" It leaves everyone stunned into silence, and Potter mumbles an apology and leaves.

Later, Potter asks Klinger to deliver a series of sealed envelopes, addressed to the others. They all open them, and inside is an invitation to Potter's tent the next night. Everyone wants to find out what's going on, but Potter insists he wants to be left alone until then.

We see that Potter is spending his time in his office, listening to old French records. When a little boy wanders in, Potter is sweet and gentle to him, putting him on his lap and showing him old photographs of himself in WWI.

The next night comes around, and everyone arrives at Potter's tent at the prescribed time. Everyone is assuming the worst, that Potter is facing a divorce, or, even worse, a bad report from his doctor.

But Potter explains that its not anything like that--the news is that the last of his friends from a WWI unit he was part of in France has died. They created a tontine--a pledge--involving a bottle of French wine, to be drunk by the last surviving member.

Everyone is relieved, and they all share the bottle with Potter, who makes the first toast to his dear departed friends.

Fun Facts: I wonder why the Betty Halpern character wasn't written as Meg Craddy, who performed a similar role in Season Two's "The Trial of Henry Blake" and Season Four's "The Kids."

Potter puts Hawkeye in charge again, but thankfully it goes more smoothly than it did in Season Seven's "Commander Pierce."

Potter's WWI friends are named Ryan, Gianelli, Stein, and Grusky, continuing the classic tradition of, when you have a bunch of soldiers in your movie or TV show, they all have to have ethnically diverse backgrounds.

Favorite Line: When Potter comes back, he finds a young Korean girl sitting at Klinger's typewriter, wearing his Toledo Mudhens hat.

After Klinger explains to Potter what's going on, the young girl stops typing and exclaims something like, "A-ha!"

Klinger pulls the paper out of the typewriter, and with delight, exclaims, "Sir--this girl is a prodigy! She just typed 'Gribnif'--and correctly, I might add."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Episode 186 - Heal Thyself

Season 8, Episode 186: Heal Thyself
Original Air Date: 1/14/80
Written by: Dennis Koenig and Gene Reynolds

Directed by: Mike Farrell

Col. Potter comes down with a case of the mumps, much to the glee of Winchester, who mocks Potter for coming down with a "childhood malady."

Even though Winchester didn't have the mumps as a kid--making him vulnerable to catching them--he is sure his "superior breeding" will keep him safe. Klinger is also susceptible, but unlike Winchester, he's taking it very seriously, keeping Potter at arm's length (he also begins spraying his office with some sort of mumps-killing mist as if he's an exterminator).

Of course, within just a few hours, Winchester catches them too, so he is quarantined along with Potter in Potter's tent, much to both their consternation.

With two doctors out of commission, they put in a request for a replacement surgeon, later that day, one arrives--Captain Steven Newsom (Edward Herrmann), who greets Hawkeye and B.J. with the same quick wit, and they take an instant like to him. As Hawkeye comments, "We can put a sign up in the OR--three stooges, no waiting."

In OR, Newsom shows his chops. Even though he's regularly stationed in Tokyo, he's a superb surgeon, and tells horror stories about his previous experience in combat surgery. Everyone in the unit seems to take to him immediately, and his jokey method while working fits in well.

Meanwhile, Potter and Winchester are at each other's throats cooped up in Potter's tent. Margaret brings Newsom by to meet them, and Winchester embarrasses himself assuming Newsom, after mentioning he's from Chicago, is poorly educated. He's chastened when Newsom mentions he went to Johns Hopkins.

Later that night, even more wounded arrive, so Hawkeye, B.J., and Newsom have to put in another long session in OR. The next morning, Hawkeye finds Newsom wandering the compound, unable to sleep. Newsom admits that the situation at the 4077th is about as bad as everything he's seen.

Later that day, there's more wounded, and with some of the nurses out sick with the mumps, OR is chaotic. During one operation, Newsom starts to seem nervous and indecisive, unable to decide whether to try and save the leg of a patient.

Newsom begins muttering to himself, staring off into space. Hawkeye steps in, but Newsom, instead of taking an easier case, runs out into the hall. B.J. finds him and tells Newsom that he should take a few moments to calm down, but they need him back in there ASAP.

Another badly wounded patient is brought in, but Newsom is nowhere to be seen, leaving Hawkeye and B.J. to handle the load on their own.

Later that night, Hawkeye and the rest try and find Newsom and figure out what happened. Potter, from the door of his tent, alerts them that Newsom is inside.

They find him sitting on the floor of the tent, in tears, rubbing his hands back and forth. Hawkeye and B.J. try and talk to him, but Newsom seems barely there--he mutters a bunch of random thoughts, clearly having experienced some sort of nervous breakdown.

Potter suggests calling Sidney Freedman, and Hawkeye and B.J. head back outside. B.J. marvels that Newsom seemed "As strong as any of us." Hawkeye responds, "That's what scares me."

Fun Facts: Mike Farrell does a great job as director of this episode--his first directorial effort, Season Seven's "Ain't Love Grand?" was a more lighthearted episode, but this one contains some dead serious moments, which Farrell handles well.

This episode's final scene is about Potter and Winchester (and now Klinger) having the mumps, and no mention of Newsom is made. Its too bad that they couldn't have found a way to throw in a line about Newsom, just for the audience to know what happened to him.

There's a great--if grim--moment in OR, where Hawkeye takes over Newsom's patient, the one whose leg is damaged. When another badly wounded patient arrives, Hawkeye says to Margaret to prepare for amputation. Margaret asks if the leg can't be saved, and Hawkeye admits that he doesn't have time--if he saves this leg, he loses that life. What a horrible choice to have to make, just because you don't have the time.

The only thing remotely negative I can think of concerning this episode is how telescoped it is: Dr. Newsom has a breakdown pretty quickly, maybe a little too quickly.

This episode, and M*A*S*H in general, aired before the TV landscape changed where longer "story arcs" became more the norm for prime time TV. So it probably just wasn't a possibility to have Edward Herrmann guest star on the show over two or three episodes, trying to fool the audience into thinking that Dr. Newsom was a permanent addition to the show, and then have him experience his breakdown, which might have packed more dramatic punch.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and B.J. offer Newsom his first martini, and after a sip, he blanches and says, "Woo--now I know what the corporal is spraying the office with."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Episode 185 - Bottle Fatigue

Season 8, Episode 185: Bottle Fatigue
Original Air Date: 1/7/80
Written by: Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

After a session in OR, all of the staff wander into the Officers Club, where Igor is waiting to hand out their bar tabs. Hawkeye's is almost forty bucks, a staggering sum, and far and away higher than everyone else's.

Hawkeye is so shocked he decides, then and there, to stop drinking. After earning a round of laughter from everyone, he insists its not forever--just for a week, to prove to himself that he can do it. Scared he's going to going home and "Set up a still in my living room", he says he's serious.

Meanwhile, Winchester gets a letter from his sister Honoria, who announces she's engaged to an Italian man. Winchester's bigoted snobbery kicks into high gear, furious over the idea that a woman of such breeding as his sister is engaged to someone so far below her social class. He tries placing a call home, but is rebuffed by Sparky. He then asks Col. Potter for an emergency trip home, but is again refused.

During the first few days of Hawkeye's sobriety, he is full-tilt annoying and sanctimonious, driving everyone crazy. Winchester is no better, deciding to get drunk every night to deal with the pain of over the mere idea of Honoria marrying an Italian, resorting to all sorts of derogatory stereotypes when referring to his future brother-in-law.

Hawkeye has a date with a new nurse, Lt. Mendenhall (Shelley Long), but he quickly ruins it by making snide comments about her drinking. Lt. Mendenhall storms off in disgust. Winchester is also making things worse for himself: when discussing his problem with Father Mulcahy, he admits that, at least,Honoria "Isn't marrying an Irishman", leading Mulcahy to also storm off in disgust.

Later, Winchester gets another letter from Honoria, saying the engagement is off--at the behest of the groom, whose family refused to let him marry out of their faith.

Wounded arrive, and one of Hawkeye's patient is a North Korean solider who smuggled in a live grenade. Before anyone can stop him, he pulls the pin!

Hawkeye grabs the soldier's hand, keeping him from letting go of the grenade. While trying to find the pin somewhere on the floor, everyone tries to soothe him by singing to him. It works long enough for Mulcahy to find the pin and put it back in the grenade.

Afterwards, Winchester dictates a telegram to Honoria. Reflecting on what just happened, he apologizes for the "boorish" letters she's about to receive. Asking for forgiveness, he pleads for her to attribute them to "Greatness of distance...and narrowness of mind."

Later that night, in the O Club, they all buy a drink for Mulcahy to thank him for finding the pin. They all order a drink for themselves, including Hawkeye, who says he needs it to calm himself after the near-death experience they all just had.

Holding the drink in his hand, he pauses, and then puts it down, saying, "I'll be back when I want it...not when I need it."

Fun Facts: There's a great bit of physical comedy in the scene when Klinger delivers the mail. When, after a few minutes of shooting the breeze with Hawkeye, Klinger announces that he has a letter for "Winchester, C.E.", Winchester pops into the frame, grabs the letter with a wild grab, and then disappears again, all in one move.

The scenes David Ogden Steirs has when talking to Winchester's sister are always some of my favorites. You can hear the affection he has for her in the softness of his voice and gentile tone. That these scenes are so effective is to me even more amazing when you realize that Steirs is the only one in them.

The scene where the doctors sing to the North Korean is too cutesy by half--but there's one great line where Winchester suggests sticking anything back in the grenade in place of the pin--a swab, a toothpick, anything.

Potter, nearly yelling, responds with, "This is no time for experiments--that's a Commie Pineapple!" Not only do I just find that phrase funny, but its also a nice character bit--no one else at the 4077th has combat experience, so its up to Potter to remind everyone just what it is they're dealing with--a live grenade.

Favorite Line: B.J. makes fun of Winchester's sister's name, Honoria, asking, "Isn't she the lady wrestler?"

Winchester blows him off, but then when he exclaims loudly at some shocking news in her letter, B.J. asks, "Honoria lose the big tag-team match?"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Episode 184 - Yessir, That's Our Baby

Season 8, Episode 184: Yessir, That's Our Baby
Original Air Date: 12/31/79
Written by: Jim Mulligan

Directed by: Alan Alda

Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester are surprised to see someone has left a baby on the doorstep of the Swamp, with a note attached saying the baby's father is an American G.I. The mother cannot care for the baby, so she is leaving it in the care of the doctors at the 4077th.

The baby quickly becomes the darling of everyone in camp, with everyone fighting to care for her. The only dark cloud is, ironically, when Father Mulcahy arrives from a day at the orphanage--he takes one look at the baby and realizes that she, being of mixed parentage, will be a virtual outcast among the other Korean children and could end up "a virtual slave" when she grows up.

The only alternative he says is to deliver her to a monastery buried deep in the Korean hills, where the monks there will take her, no questions asked, and in maybe 15 or 20 years will try and get her out of Korea.

Col. Potter offers, "With all due respect, padre, that's not much of a life." Mulcahy agrees, but says that's the only chance she has.

Hawkeye and the rest can't accept this, and they decide that since the baby is half-American, they're going to go through Army channels. Unfortunately, Hawkeye and B.J. are met with nothing but smug indifference from bureaucrat after bureaucrat, from the Red Cross to the Attorney General's office.

Hawkeye and Col. Potter then turn to the South Korean government, but the official they meet offers no help--he even admits that, in some cases, a mixed-race child is put into slavery, and in some cases, killed outright.

As nightmarish as this is, the man does point out that, out of all the countries fighting in the Korean War, its only the United States does not accept the children of their soldiers and offer them a road to citizenship.

Hawkeye, along with Winchester, make one last try, this time with a U.S. diplomat. After endless interruptions, showing the lack of attention he is giving their case, the diplomat (William Bogert) blithely dismisses them, refusing to lift a finger to help this little girl. It drives Winchester mad, so mad that he offers to punch the man's lights out.

With no other options, Hawkeye, B.J., Winchester, and Father Mulcahy drive to the monastery with the baby, leaving her inside a small alcove. They ring a bell, swinging the platform inside the building, where the monks will greet it. They drive off.

Later, during a session in O.R., Hawkeye muses how much the child meant to them all, and how each of them will carry that memory the rest of their lives.

Fun Facts: A very dark episode, with a grim ending. By the show's own writers and producers, this episode wasn't completely successful, but its really amazing how grimly realistic this particular show is--no fake cheery happy ending, as many series would've done. The scenes set among all the bureaucrats is so maddening it could've come right out of Catch-22.

There's a great little character bit when Hawkeye and the rest get to the monastery. Father Mulcahy starts telling a story about the history of the place, going on and on, and B.J. interrupts, snapping, "Let's just do it, all right?"

You get the sense that, on some level, B.J. is so furious at what they're about to do that he doesn't have the time or interest in hearing Mulcahy tell some boring story. A rare moment of incivility among the characters.

Favorite Line: Winchester's been trying to gather information, seeing if anyone saw the mother in camp: "I talked to everyone in camp--which, by the way, is a first for me."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Episode 183 - Stars and Stripes

Season 8, Episode 183: Stars and Stripes
Original Air Date: 12/17/79
Written by: Dennis Koenig

Directed by: Harry Morgan

With no wounded to care for, everyone at the 4077th is bored to tears. But at least two of the staff have something to do--B.J. and Winchester have been asked to write a paper for the American College of Surgeons, after the successful recuperation of a patient they both worked on several weeks ago.

Everyone is impressed, none more so than Winchester himself, who takes this event as an opportunity to talk about himself in the most glowing of terms. This leads B.J. is fight for his own turf, and their attempt at writing the paper quickly devolves into an argument, each doctor refusing to budge.

With Hawkeye excluded, he's even more bored than usual. He's thrilled when Scully arrives back in camp, but Scully has to remind Hawkeye that, as entertaining as Hawkeye might be, he's here to visit Margaret. Hawkeye is aghast: "You'd rather spend time with a voluptuous blonde than a pale, skinny brunette?"

Margaret is happy to see Scully, but like Winchester and B.J. it quickly dissolves into a fight when Scully reveals his lack of respect for Margaret's rank, insisting that she "Gets to boss around a bunch of women", somehow insisting she's not a real Major. Margaret protests, and Scully storms out.

Margaret, after a talk with Hawkeye, decides to try again with Scully. She has Klinger help her tailor a dress--a very feminine, puffy pink outfit--and she's wearing it in her tent when she has Scully visit her, on Klinger's orders (Scully's a lowly Private--at the moment).

At first, Scully loves it, but within a few minutes their inherent differences come to the surface. Scully starts treating Margaret like a handmaiden, asking her to cook him an omelet and promising that after a romp with him in the sack she'll be a new woman.

They both realize that, as a couple, they just aren't compatible--Scully wants to be in charge, no questions asked, and can't abide a woman as strong and independent as Margaret. They decide to end their relationship, such as it is, and Scully heads back to his unit.

Meanwhile, the fights between Winchester and B.J. get so bad they decide to write their own papers and let Col. Potter decide which of them is the most accurate. When Potter gets wind of this, he sits them both down and reads them the riot act, reminding them both that it was a group effort--the other doctors, the nurses, the staff at Walter Reed--that helped pull the young man through. B.J. and Winchester, humbled, decide to rewrite the paper, crediting it to the entire staff of the 4077th.

Later, Margaret meets Hawkeye again in the O Club for some drinks, and she tells him Scully is gone for good. She talks about the kind of man she wants to meet, who is 10% her father, 10% Hawkeye, 3% Frank Burns, and 2% her ex-husband. She then reconsiders and says, "...1% of my ex-husband."

Hawkeye tries to cheer Margaret up over a game of Scrabble, realizing they're two people "Looking for an exact fit in an Off The Rack world."

Fun Facts: There's a great sequence in the O Club where Margaret runs down the list of lousy men she's met in her life, starting with Frank Burns. Hawkeye retorts with a line about his inability to change who he is "For the woman he loved" in med school, referring to Carlye Breslin, who we saw in the Season Four episode, "The More I See You."

Father Mulcahy does not appear in this episode.

Favorite Line: Col. Potter is berating B.J. and Winchester for their short-sightedness regarding taking too much credit, and he rattles off the list of all the other people in the unit that helped out. When Hawkeye offers up some names of his own, Potter turns to him and says, "And what about you? You took extra patients so those two could double their time on Hauser."

Hawkeye, in mock modesty, responds, "I was just being indispensable."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Episode 182 - Captains Outrageous

Season 8, Episode 182: Captains Outrageous
Original Air Date: 12/10/79
Written by: Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox

Directed by: Burt Metcalfe

There's another round of promotions coming, and Father Mulcahy has his hopes up he will finally get promoted to Captain. Col. Potter writes Mulcahy a glowing letter, bursting at the seams with praise.

Meanwhile, during a drinking session in Rosie's Bar, a fight breaks out, accidentally sort of started by Winchester, of all people. The fight gets so out of control that even Rosie is injured, having to rest up in Post Op with cracked ribs.

With Rosie out of commission, it leaves her bar vulnerable to the thievery of her shifty waitresses, who Rosie claims will rob her blind if given the opportunity.

Margaret offers that they should all run the bar while Rosie recuperates, and after some hesitancy Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester agree to help out. They have Rosie teach them the tricks of the trade, like shaking down the waitresses and watering down the drinks.

Meanwhile, the new Captains List comes out, and once again Mulchay isn't on it. The normally meek Mulcahy is enraged--he's furious at the "dunderheads" in the Pentagon who passed him over once again. He storms out of his tent, leaving Col. Potter alone.

Instead of calming down, Mulcahy's anger grows, and when he's asked to break up a fight between two patients in Post Op (the ones who started the fight in Rosie's), he does so by threatening to beat them both to a pulp. It works.

Back in Rosie's Bar, Winchester gets in a argument with a drunken Sgt. Rizzo, which leads to Rizzo wanting to deck Winchester. Rizzo is arrested by an Australian MP named Muldoon (John Orchard), who walks in expecting his usual free drink, an "arrangement" with Rosie that Winchester knows nothing about. This causes another row, and Muldoon storms out.

A few days later, everyone meets at Rosie's, celebrating her return to the bar. But there's another reason to celebrate: Col. Potter is here to announce that, thanks to some calls he placed to the actual Pentagon, Father Mulcahy has indeed been promoted to Captain!

Later, Muldoon returns to shut down Rosie's Bar for various penny-ante reasons, blaming Winchester, whom he snidely calls "Chauncy Uppercrust." Mulcahy, full of brio thanks to his new Captains bars, steps in to try and settle the dispute.

Fun Facts: This episode features actor John Orchard, who played Ugly John during the show's first season. I wonder, as actor, does someone like Orchard look at actors like Farrell, Morgan, and Steirs and think to himself, oh, what could have been?

G.W. Bailey plays Sgt. Rizzo in this episode. And even though we've seen the character of Rizzo before (in the earlier Eighth Season episode "The Yalu Brick Road"), this episode seems to be the actual debut of the character, at least in an early form--he doesn't seem to be a member of the 4077th here, and this Rizzo is also clearly not from Louisiana.

The name "Chauncy Uppercrust" makes me laugh every time I hear it.

Favorite Line: Rosie is horrified at the meager profits Margaret and the other have managed while they're running the bar. Margaret defends herself with, "Rosie, we're doing our best!"

Rosie: "How you people got to be a world power beats me."

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Episode 181 - Dear Uncle Abdul

Season 8, Episode 181: Dear Uncle Abdul
Original Air Date: 12/3/79
Written by: John Rappaport & Jim Mulligan

Directed by: William Jurgensen

Klinger is writing a letter home to his Uncle Abdul, telling him about recent events at the 4077th.

Father Mulcahy gets involved in writing an inspirational war song, Winchester drags Klinger out into the brush to use him to help flush out wild game, and Margaret, enraged that Army Supply won't issue her a new footlocker unless its damaged "in combat", goes ahead and shoots up her old one, using Winchester's hunting rifle.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye and B.J. get in a debate about who's funnier. It gets kicked off when Hawkeye tells B.J. an old joke he learned from his Dad, but B.J. doesn't think its funny, walking
away from Hawkeye dismissively with "See you later, Uncle Milty." Hawkeye is annoyed to no end when he learns B.J. is going around camp telling the same joke, getting laughs and the credit.

But the debate is tabled for the moment when a young soldier named Eddie (Richard Lineback) wanders into camp, looking for his pal Hank, who was wounded and recovering in the 4077's Post Op.

Another member of the unit mentions that Eddie is what they call "a little slow"--not mentally retarded, but simply "not all that bright." Hawkeye
and B.J. are shocked and disgusted that someone like that has been put in combat. There's an even bigger problem--Eddie's pal Hank is scheduled to be shipped home, leaving Eddie behind.

Things get patched up when Hank reassures Eddie that he's tough, and a good solider. Their mutual friend Dave (Kelly Ward) steps in and promises to become Eddie's new best pal now that Hank is leaving.

The debate about who's funnier resumes, and Hawkeye and B.J. ask Klinger for his opinion. Klinger offers the answer is neither of them--in a unit with a priest who writes war ditties, a head nurse that shoots luggage, and a major that likes to dress up and go quail hunting, what's so special about two guys who go around telling jokes?

Klinger ends his letter admitting to his Uncle Abdul that he now understands why he never got a Section 8--"There's nothing special about me--everybody here is crazy!"

Fun Facts: Other than a variation on the type in the Tenth Season, this is the last episode of the series in the "Dear..." format.

Actor Richard Lineback would return to the show in an eleventh season episode, playing a different character.

The song that Father Mulcahy composes at the end of the show is okay, but there's a line about "The pain and death this madness brings" that jumps right out at you with its bluntness--definitely the best part of the song.

Favorite Line: Hawkeye and B.J. are shocked when they learn the young solider named Eddie is what his buddies call, "a little slow."

Hawkeye asks rhetorically, "What the hell is a kid like that doing in combat?" B.J. responds with, "Maybe there were no openings on the Joint Chiefs of Staff."

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