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Episode Spotlight: Give ‘Em Hell, Hawkeye

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

“Give ‘Em Hell, Hawkeye” (#218, 10×04)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, November 16th, 1981
Written by Dennis Koenig
Directed by Charles S. Dubin

Capsule Summary: The first anniversary of peace talks enrages Hawkeye so he decides to write a letter to President Truman, telling the President all about what’s going on at the 4077th.

This is a busy episode, with two primary storylines and several other story points thrown in for good measure. Everything ties into Hawkeye’s letter to Harry Truman. It’s classic Hawkeye, needing an outlet to relieve his anger and frustration.

He tells the President about everything going on at the 4077th, from venereal disease to moonshine to a young Korean boy who wants an eye operation so he’ll look more like an American. And he shares how the 4077th got its new hot water heater by participating in a camp beautification project.

Colonel Ditka is just the latest in a long line of buffoonish military personnel. He doesn’t seem to care much about medicine or saving lives. “See, you don’t notice it because you’re here every day but to a visiting dignitary this place looks terrible.” Ditka is just following orders, of course.

The plot point about Kim Han’s desire to have an eye operation makes me a little uncomfortable. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s sad to think that a young South Korean boy wants to change his appearance or because the line “Koreans are little squirts, Americans are real tough” is so corny. It’s a serious issue and I don’t feel this episode addresses it well. Perhaps with a little more time to flesh out Kim Han, it would’ve worked better.

That said, I do like how Kim Han gives B.J. the opportunity to get enraged. Hawkeye fumes about the peace talks but B.J. doesn’t like to get upset about things he can’t do anything about. He can do something Kim Han and he does, getting Margaret to talk to him. Hopefully, she gave him some confidence. How do you think Hawkeye would react to Kim Han asking for an eye operation?

Still from the M*A*S*H episode Give 'Em Hell Hawkeye showing the 4077th's wonderful fountain.
The 4077th’s new fountain.

There’s a big continuity issue in this episode. Hawkeye finishes his letter, signs and seals it, then asks Nurse Kellye to get it mailed. Yet we then see him writing in the Swamp. Perhaps Hawkeye started a second letter to President Truman.

As I always do when a character is shown writing a letter, I wish I knew what Alan Alda was actually writing on the pad of paper. Gibberish that looks like writing? Script ideas?

Most of the shots of the beautification project were filmed outside and mountains ca be seen behind the fountain. Notice during the tag scene, however, the fountain is clearly on the Stage 9 soundstage indoors in front of the Officers’ Club.

The soldier working on the beautification project who calls Klinger “skyscraper nose” doesn’t receive a credit despite having several lines. I wonder, was Jeff Maxwell unavailable for this episode? We do see Goldman. Another soldier, the one who’s interested in the Korean working girls, is also uncredited. He has a single line.


Majority of Fans Would Buy Digital Downloads of M*A*S*H

Last month’s poll topic was “Would You Buy M*A*S*H Episodes as a Digital Download (iTunes, Amazon, etc.)? and the majority of the 142 people who voted indicated they would. There was a sizable minority, almost 30%, who said no, and 10% weren’t sure.

Here are the full results:

Yes (61%, 87 Votes)
No (29%, 41 Votes)
Undecided (10%, 14 Votes)

Total Votes: 142

Personally, I have no interest in owning M*A*S*H in digital form. I’m more than happy with my DVDs. I have on a few occasions purchased and downloaded TV episodes but in every case it was an episode I’d missed and there was no other way to see it.

A quick search of Amazon.com reveals you can purchase individual episodes of sitcoms like Cheers, The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Mr. Ed so it’s not out of the question that one day Twentieth Century Fox will start selling M*A*S*H as digital downloads.

What are your thoughts?


Name That Episode III #232

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: GM, who correctly identified “Patent 4077” from Season 6.

Name That Episode

Name That Episode III #231

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 “No Sweat” from Season 9.

Name That Episode

Episode Spotlight: Henry, Please Come Home

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

“Henry, Please Come Home” (#9, 1×09)
Originally Broadcast: Sunday, November 19th, 1972
Written by Laurence Marks
Directed by William Wiard

Capsule Summary: After the 4077th receives a 90% efficiency rating, Henry is assigned to a hospital in Tokyo, leaving Frank in charge. Hawkeye, Trapper, and others conspire to get Henry back.

There may not be another episode of M*A*S*H quite as unbelievable as “Henry, Please Come Home.” It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that Henry would agree to leave his comfy position in Tokyo to return to the 4077th. It’s just not believable. I can accept that he might be worried enough about Radar to make a trip back to the 4077th but to stay permanently?

As viewers and fans, we like to think of the 4077th as a family with Henry (and later Colonel Potter) as the father figure. In real life, however, why would someone like Henry, who was drafted and sent to South Korea, give up a safe, comfortable posting in Tokyo to return to the front? True, he told Hawkeye and Trapper he’d miss them, and he clearly cared for Radar, but would that really be enough?

Also, Hawkeye and Trapper and everyone else back at the 4077th were being very selfish. They weren’t necessarily trying to get Henry back because they liked and appreciated and respected him. They really just wanted to make sure Frank wasn’t in command.

Frank gets his first, brief taste of command and its more than enough to send Hawkeye, Trapper, Radar, and the others scrambling to find a way to get him out of command. It’s too bad Margaret isn’t in this episode; we don’t get to see her reaction to Frank in charge of the 4077th for the first time.

The M.P. pulling a pistol on Hawkeye, Trapper, and Spearchucker in the Swamp was unnecessarily dramatic. I’d like to think an actual member of the military police would refuse to pull a weapon on some doctors even if one of them is holding a flyswatter.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode Henry, Please Come Home showing Hawkeye and Trapper.
Hawkeye and Trapper learn that Henry is leaving the 4077th.

“Henry, Please Come Home” was the second episode of M*A*S*H to be produced and its obvious the show was still finding its footing. Hawkeye is seen wearing his hat, for one thing, and the number of supporting characters is almost overwhelming: General Hammond, Ho-Jon, Spearchucker, Ugly John, Boone, Leslie, and Ginger. To be honest, I like all these characters and how they make the 4077th really feel like a military outpost with all sorts of characters. But I understand why most of them were phased out by the middle of Season 1.

William Christopher makes his first appearance as Father Mulchahy in this episode.

Radar is seen reading a Captain Savage and His Battlefield Raiders issue that wasn’t published until 1969.

Is it just me or does Radar’s patchy 5 o’clock shadow look more like dirt than facial hair?

Margaret is not in this episode.


Name That Episode III #230

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: buckeyebabe, who correctly identified “Hanky Panky” from Season 5.

Name That Episode

Happy Thanksgiving from the 4077th

Is it really Thanksgiving again? Yes, yes it is–at least in the United States. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday enjoying turkey and football.

There were no M*A*S*H episodes in which the 4077th actually celebrated Thanksgiving. One episode was set the day after Thanksgiving, however, and a few others mentioned the holiday. An episode during the first season of AfterMASH did take place on Turkey Day. Thanks to everyone who left comments on my Thanksgiving post back in 2013 for letting me know about various references I’d left out.

“Hot Lips and Empty Arms” (Season 2; December 15th, 1973)
Hot Lips mentions Hawkeye and Trapper’s Thanksgiving “Come as Your Favorite Nude Pilgrim” party.

“In Love and War” (Season 6; November 1st, 1977)
Hawkeye tries to explain what his name means to Kyung Soon and winds up telling her about turkeys being eaten on Thanksgiving. She tells him about the Korean version of Thanksgiving, the autumn festival of Chuseok.

“The Yalu Brick Road” (Season 8; November 19th, 1979)
The episode took place the day after Thanksgiving while most of the 4077th was recovering from salmonella poisoning caused by Klinger’s questionable turkey. My review of this episode can be found here.

A sick Klinger on the phone

Klinger tells Sergeant Thomopoulous to “Stuff it!”
“The Yalu Brick Road” (Season 8; November 19th, 1979)

“Trick or Treatment” (Season 11; November 1st, 1982)
Hawkeye tries to help a wounded soldier who refuses to eat. His CO put together an early Thanksgiving meal and while he was getting seconds his buddies were killed when their foxhole was hit by artillery.

AfterMASH – “Thanksgiving of ’53” (Season 1; November 21st, 1983)
Sherman Potter and his wife hosting their first family Thanksgiving dinner in many years, with Father Mulcahy, Klinger, Soon-Lee and others invited to join.

The cast of AfterMASH celebrates Thanksgiving.

A Very AfterMASH Thanksgiving
“Thanksgiving of ’53” (Season 1; November 21st, 1983)


Who plans to spend part of Thanksgiving watching M*A*S*H?


Name That Episode III #229

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 “That Darn Kid” from Season 10.

Name That Episode

Episode Spotlight: Hepatitis

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

“Hepatitis” (#115, 5×19)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, February 8th, 1977
Written by Alan Alda
Directed by Alan Alda

Capsule Summary: Another full, rich day at the 4077th: Father Mulcahy comes down with hepatitis, Hawkeye has severe back pain, and B.J. tries to perform a complex surgery with only the help of a textbook.

Although a low-key episode, “Hepatitis” is nevertheless a solid one. Colonel Potter springs into action after Father Mulcahy is diagnosed with hepatitis in the Mess Tent. He orders B.J. to give Mulcahy a blood test; tells Hawkeye to examine the staff and give everyone gamma globulin shots; sends Radar to inspect the water supply; and tasks himself with talking to the cook.

We don’t see B.J, Radar, or Colonel Potter doing their part to handle the potential hepatitis outbreak. The bulk of the episode consists of Hawkeye giving people their shots while also listening and offering advice. He gives Frank, Margaret, Klinger, and Radar shots; his talks with Frank and Klinger are silly; those with Margaret and Radar are serious.

I think a lot of fans like Hawkeye’s chat with Radar but I don’t. I’ve never liked the astonishingly innocent and exceedingly naive Radar. The point of the talk, that Radar doesn’t have to feel bad about not wanting to booze it up like so many other soldiers, is perfectly fine. It’s just too mushy for me.

Hawkeye also drops by Father Mulcahy’s and learns that Mulcahy is concerned about carrying out his priestly duties while under isolation. “People are depending on me,” he explains, before suggesting he take confession through a flap in his tent. In real life, if a MASH unit’s priest was sick, would the military have sent a temporary replacement to handle religious duties and administer the last rites?

Aside from the hepatitis, there are two other storylines: Hawkeye’s back pain and B.J.’s difficult surgery. The surgery goes well, despite B.J. having to follow instructions in a medical textbook, and he celebrates by getting drunk in the Officer’s Club. That’s where Hawkeye finds him and finally manages to give him a shot.

I don’t know why but I find the following exchange between Hawkeye and B.J. about Hawkeye’s back pain simply hilarious:

B.J.: “What’s eating you?”
Hawkeye: “My back is eating me.”
B.J.: “Still?”
Hawkeye: “I have a hungry back.”
B.J.: “You want a massage?”
Hawkeye: “Not unless you put your shirt on.”
B.J.: “How about if I x-ray your back later?”
Hawkeye: “I did already. There’s nothing there.”
B.J.: “Nothing? No spine, nothing?”
Hawkeye: “The pain goes clear through to my lung. I thought maybe I had a spot.”
B.J.: “Or a Fido or a Rover.”
Hawkeye: “Oh, you’re really cute. If I die from this, will you read the joke at my grave?”
B.J.: “You know, I’d really dig that.”

Hawkeye’s back pain turns out to be psychosomatic. There’s nothing wrong with his back. Colonel Potter, after giving Hawkeye his own shot of gamma globulin, helps Hawkeye realize he’s angry about being stuck in Korea. He’s also frustrated because an average doctor back home is doing very for himself because he’s not stuck in Korea.

“Listen, it’s too big a world to be in competition with everybody else,” Potter tells Hawkeye. “The only guy I have to get better than is who I am right now.” If only we could all stop comparing ourselves to people we think are more successful than us.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode Hepatitis showing B.J.
B.J. Hunnicutt, the Hippocrates of Ouijongbu

William Christopher spent eight weeks recuperating from hepatitis while production on Season 5 was underway. As he explained in The Complete Book of M*A*S*H, all exterior shots for the season were filmed early. He got sick while interiors were being filmed on the Stage 9 soundstage. Thus, despite being written out of interior scenes for many episodes, he still made appearances throughout the season thanks to the completed exterior shots.

According to Gene Reynolds (also in The Complete Book of M*A*S*H), when William Christopher returned to work after recovering from hepatitis, his chair had been painted yellow.


Name That Episode III #228

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 “Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde” from Season 5.

Name That Episode