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Name That Episode III #76

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Chauncey Uppercrust, who correctly identified “The Army-Navy Game” from Season 1.

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Name That Episode III #75

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Tuttle4077, who correctly identified “Henry in Love” from Season 2.

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Episode Spotlight: Promotion Commotion

Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.

“Promotion Commotion” (#231, 10×17)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, March 1st, 1982
Written by Dennis Koenig
Directed by Charles S. Dubin

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye, B.J., and Charles are charged with overseeing the 4077th promotion board. Meanwhile, Colonel Potter befriends a young soldier.

If you are or were in the Army, or are otherwise familiar with how ranks and promotions work in the Army, this episode may seem ludicrous to you. According to the trivia section for “Promotion Commotion” at TV.com, nearly everything about the promotion board depicted in this episode was inaccurate. M*A*S*H often played fast and loose with certain military and/or Army regulations, so it’s no surprise that things were quite right in this episode. It would have taken the entire episode to properly explain and depict actual promotion board.

Nitpicks about accuracy aside, it was nice to see Klinger promoted to sergeant, continuing his evolution from crossdressing Section 8-seeker to valued member of the 4077th. The timing of the actual promotion felt a little rushed but that’s also understandable. Klinger’s solution to the Hitalksi problem doesn’t make any sort of sense, however. Not only was it far too neat and tidy, there would have been some sort of investigation that ultimately would lead back to the 4077th and Klinger because nobody would believe Hitalksi could have forged his own travel documents.

(I can’t recall if this was the only “promotion” episode of M*A*S*H, not counting “Lt. Radar O’Reilly” or the various episodes in which Father Mulcahy was upset about not being promoted. Colonel Potter makes it sound like promotion boards were regular things, and refuses to let Margaret serve on this board because she’s already done it recently. At first I thought there was an early episode in which Klinger tried cheating to get promoted but eventually realized I was thinking about “Soldier of the Month” which was not about a promotion.)

The B story about Colonel Potter befriending young Private Danielson would have been more believable if Danielson didn’t look so old. He was supposed to be a very young, very naive soldier fresh from the States (much like Radar, come to think of it) but he looked quite a bit older. It made it hard to take a lot of what he was saying seriously. Ron “Ronnie” Howard way back in Season 1’s “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet” looked like a young soldier.

Klinger knows his stuff

Father Mulcahy was barely in this episode. His outrage over not getting peas seemed unnecessary. It wasn’t Hawkeye’s fault that Igor gave him the last of the peas, nor was it Hawkeye’s fault that Igor ignored Father Mulcahy.

Hawkeye should have been less concerned about Igor trying to bribe him and more upset about the fact that Igor (or whoever was cooking) was clearly capable of producing better food than the regular mess tent slop but only when it suited him. That cake was obviously very tempting and yet Hawkeye didn’t seem at all curious as to where it came from or why it was possible for the cook to even create such a delicacy.

This was the first of two episodes in which Deborah Harmon played Nurse Webster. The other was “Hey, Look Me Over” from Season 11.

Name That Episode III #74

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Big Daddy O’Reilly, who correctly identified “Lil” from Season 7.

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Name That Episode III #73

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: converse_craig, who correctly identified “Pressure Points” from Season 10.

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Episode Spotlight: Blood Brothers

Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.

“Blood Brothers” (#212, 9×18)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, April 6th, 1981
Written by David Pollock & Elias Davis
Directed by Harry Morgan

Capsule Summary: While Father Mulcahy prepares for a visit from an Army cardinal, Hawkeye grapples with how to tell a wounded soldier he has leukemia.

This episode may be best remembered for guest starring the late Patrick Swayze a number of years before he became wildly famous for his roles in films like Dirty Dancing and Ghost. His character, Gary Sturgis, serves as a bridge between the A and B stories. The title clearly refers to the friendship between Sturgis and the severely wounded Dan, and the offer to donate blood that leads Hawkeye to discover Sturgis has leukemia. I suppose that makes it the A story.

I had forgotten that Sturgis had leukemia and for some reason thought he had hepatitis and was just upset he could not donate blood to his friend. That would have made for a very different episode and would have meant not seeing Hawkeye try to decide what to tell Sturgis, worrying that knowing his fate would alter how he spent his last months. B.J. asks Hawkeye whether he’d want to know. Hawkeye’s response is deep: “Would you want to tell me?” Ultimately he decides to tell Sturgis, which was probably the right thing to do.

Father Mulcahy’s B story had some laughs courtesy of Rizzo and Igor, but was like the A story primarily dramatic. This wasn’t the first episode to involve a visit to the 4077th by someone higher up the Army’s religious food chain (I’m thinking of Ned Beatty’s Colonel Hollister in Season 4’s “Dear Peggy”). There were moments while rewatching the episode when I felt William Christopher was perhaps overdoing it just a bit with his reactions, particularly his speech in the Officers’ Club when Roy and Dennis are fighting.

I’m also torn on how to take Father Mulcahy’s sermon. It worked well up until he “revealed” that he was the first man in his story and then it got a little too emotional. We know from other episodes that Mulcahy sometimes felt unappreciated at the 4077th and by the military (or at least wondered if he was doing any good) so it fits that he would worry that he was looking for recognition from Cardinal Reardon.

Perhaps he decided after sitting up all night talking with Sturgis that by trying to shut down the craps game for a few days or asking Igor to take down the portrait of Mona, he was only trying to impress Reardon. After all, he didn’t want to stop the craps game forever. Was his aim to make the 4077th look good for Reardon or himself look good? Maybe that realization led to his emotional sermon.

Father Mulcahy’s sermon

It’s a rare episode when Rizzo has more screen time than members of the main cast. David Ogden Stiers had so little to do in this episode that until I went back and checked I thought perhaps he had directed it. Imagine my surprise to discover it was in fact Harry Morgan directing. Margaret has a very limited role as well. Klinger’s is only slightly larger.

I think my favorite line in this episode is Rizzo’s response to Father Mulcahy in the supply tent:

“Father, please, try and see my side of it. What if peace is declared tomorrow and they ship us all home before I have time to shear these sheep?”

The best scene, however, has to be the introductions after Cardinal Reardon arrives:

Mulcahy: “May I introduce our company commander, Colonel Potter, and our company clerk, Corporal Klinger.”
Klinger: “Cardinal.”
Reardon: “Corporal.”
Mulcahy: “Captain.”
Bratton: “Chaplain, Corporal.”
Klinger: “Captain.”
Reardon: “Colonel.”
Potter: “Cardinal. Corporal, show the cardinal to his quarters.”

Has the pin-up of Mona always been behind the bar in the Officers’ Club? Also, I wonder if it is an actual Korean War era pin-up or something the art department cooked up?

I can’t be the only one who thought Cardinal Reardon really wanted a drink when he first arrived at the 4077th. Why else would he keep asking about the Officers’ Club?

Name That Episode III #72

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Tuttle4077, who correctly identified “Major Topper” from Season 6.

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Name That Episode III #71

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Big Daddy O’Reilly, who correctly identified “The U.N., the Night, and the Music” from Season 11.

Name That Episode

Episode Spotlight: Depressing News

Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.

“Depressing News” (#206, 9×12)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, February 9th, 1981
Written by Dan Wilcox & Thad Mumford
Directed by Alan Alda

Capsule Summary: While Klinger works on launching a newspaper, Hawkeye builds a tower out of 500,000 tongue depressors.

While Klinger’s enthusiasm for his “MASH Notes” newspaper may at times have felt over-the-top, for the most part this is a solid episode. Hawkeye’s destruction of his monument to senseless destruction is very well done as is his motivation for doing so. M*A*S*H is often criticized for becoming too maudlin and moralizing in its later years. I don’t think that’s the case here at all. The absurdity of the Army sending the 4077th half a million tongue depressors sets Hawkeye off and that makes sense.

Sure, it’s a mistake. Colonel Potter knows that. B.J. knows that. Even Hawkeye knows that. But it still represents, to Hawkeye at least, how the Army — and by extension the United States government — doesn’t see soldiers as individuals. His conversation with B.J. in the Officers’ Club about how the Army considers doctors and soldiers interchangeable is superb, particularly when he runs down the list of past and present characters, symbolically snapping the tongue depressor representing the late Henry Blake.

The Hawkeye and Klinger storylines are intertwined, making it hard to decide which is the A story and which is the B story. Despite what Colonel Potter said, the newspaper was just another scam for Klinger. That’s fine but his eagerness was overkill. It was just too much. Part of me wants to believe that Charles only agreed to write the gourmet food column because he was bored. Otherwise that means Klinger was able to trick him quite easily. On the other hand, Charles is such a snob that he probably would be easily tricked by Klinger.

Potter’s painting of Hawkeye’s monument

There’s a relatively well-known anachronism in this episode. Watch closely 17 minutes in just as the delivery truck drives off. Hawkeye and B.J. are seen walking towards the boxes of tongue depressors. Alan Alda is wearing a pair of bright blue sneakers obviously from the 1980s. Mike Farrell, on the other hand, is wearing period-appropriate Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Klinger’s proposed “Furious Physician Nixes Sticks Pix” headline is a reference to the famous “Sticks Nix Hick Pix” headline published in the July 17th, 1935 edition of Variety.

Some of the nurses at the start of the episode seem to be having quite a bit of fun tossing bedding around.

Name That Episode III #70

The Name That Episode game is played Tuesdays and Thursdays, with images posted randomly between 12PM and 6PM Eastern. Players can participate as often as they like. An archive of past rounds can be found here. Today’s image can be found below. Can you name the episode it’s from? Feel free to post guesses in the comments section. As always, the winner gets bragging rights.

And the Winner Is: Seoul City Sue, who correctly identified “Bottoms Up” from Season 9.

Name That Episode