Season 1, Episode 1: September of '53/Together Again
Original Air Date: 9/26/83
Written by: Larry Gelbart
Directed by: Burt Metcalfe
Col. Potter returns home from Korea to his beloved wife Mildred (Barbara Townsend). He finds himself offered the job of Chief of Staff at General Pershing Veteran's Hospital, and even though he has doubts about his boss Mike D'Angelo (John Chappell), he feels he do some good, tending to the wounded veterans of multiple wars.
Meanwhile, his former clerk Klinger is not doing quite as well. When we find Klinger, he is before a judge, having been busted for running the kind of racket he would have back in Korea. With his wife Soon-Lee (Rosalind Chao) watching, Klinger asks for mercy from the judge, explaining that he's having a hard time readjusting to life as a civilian.
He mentions that the things he did back in Korea--while maybe not quite on the up-and-up--he would be commended for, but back in America he gets arrested for. The judge shows Klinger mercy, especially when Klinger mentions he has an honest job waiting for him in Missouri--as Col. Potter's assistant.
Klinger and Soon-Lee arrive, and Klinger finds dealing with all the hospital redtape difficult. His loose, cutting-corners-ways is especially disdained by D'Angelo's executive secretary, the stern and humorless Alma Kox (Brandis Kemp).
D'Angelo tries to keep Col. Potter under control from the beginning, preferring to run the hospital as if it was a for-profit, money-making venture, obsessed with paperwork and PR. In fact, the only people on staff who seem to appreciate Col. Potter and Klinger are the young, idealistic doctor Gene Pfeiffer (Jay O. Sanders) and a secretary named Bonnie Hornbeck (Wendy Schaal) who really takes a shine to Klinger.
Col. Potter makes contact with a troubled Korean war veteran named Danny Madden (Arliss Howard), who eventually shows up at Col. Potter's home, keeping Mrs. Potter a sort of hostage. Col. Potter arrives and talks Madden down.
Meanwhile, Col. Potter gets a call from a friend of Father Mulcahy's, telling him that his old friend is in bad shape--demoralized by his hearing loss, Mulcahy has turned to booze. Potter asks to talk to Mulcahy, realizing how serious it is.
Potter arranges a hearing specialist to perform a brand-new type of surgery on Father Mulcahy, which goes well, slowly restoring Mulcahy's hearing. Potter tells Mulcahy that the hospital needs a new chaplain, and offers the job to Mulcahy. He accepts, and Klinger is delighted to be with his two old friends again.
Fun Facts: Not having seen this show since it aired in 1983, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these opening two episodes. It flows well, and its commentary about life in post-war 1950s America is, for the most part, spot on.
The only real problem with this episode(s) is--they're not that funny. There are a couple of funny lines, but nothing that you laugh out loud at. No, for these episodes, its the dramatic moments that really shine: during Klinger's scene in the courtroom, there's an especially sharp line about how his Korean wife is given looks "You wouldn't give to Eva Braun."
There's another particularly nice moment right at the beginning, when Col. Potter gets out of a cab and attempts to tip the driver. The driver waves off the tip and gives him a salute, a touching little scene. Watching these two shows over again, I was really taken with the dramatic moments--I thought some of them were as good as anything on M*A*S*H.
In the credits, right at the end, there is one of the strangest credit lines I've ever seen on a show:
"A continuation of M*A*S*H"--? I mean, sure, we all know that, but talk about putting the show behind the eight ball!
Favorite Line: Dr. Pfeiffer is embarrassed to mention that his female patient has VD. Klinger, misunderstanding, thinks he's referring to the rigid Alma Cox: "Alma Cox? Wow! Who volunteered?"