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Name That Episode III #147

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 “Springtime” from Season 3.

Name That Episode

Mike Farrell Items Up for Auction

Mike Farrell has donated a number of items that are currently listed on eBay as part of a ten-day charity auction raising funds for the non-profit Earthpeace Monument Project in Claremont, CA.

Farrell donated several autographed copies of his 2007 book Just Call Me Mike as well as an autographed copy of his 2009 book Of Mule and Man. He also donated an autographed script for “The Yalu Brick Road” from Season 8 and two autographed photos.

The most unique item is a M*A*S*H brass belt buckle that according to the auction listing is one of 100 buckles made by a member of the M*A*S*H production crew and given as a gift to the rest of the crew as well as the cast.

Picture of a brass belt buckle with the words M*A*S*H 4077th on it.

M*A*S*H Belt Buckle (Courtesy Earthpeace Monument Project)

As I wrote this post, the current bid for the buckle is $152.50.

Episode Spotlight: Operation Noselift

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

“Operation Noselift” (#42, 2×18)
Originally Broadcast: Saturday, January 19th, 1974
Teleplay by Erik Tarloff
Story by Paul Richards and Erik Tarloff
Directed by Hy Averback

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye and Trapper scheme to bring a plastic surgeon to the 4077th to perform an operation on the nose of a desperate soldier.

There isn’t much story here but that doesn’t mean it’s a weak episode. It features just the one storyline: the plight of Private Danny Baker. Every character tied into that storyline somehow, from Radar keeping Henry in the dark to Father Mulcahy bringing Baker to Hawkeye and Trapper. Although I’m not convinced Mulcahy’s scenes were absolutely necessary, they don’t really feel like filler. I especially like how hard Henry tried to stay unaware of what was happening while remaining supportive.

The complicated plan to get Private Baker a new nose is reminiscent of other complicated plans cooked up by Hawkeye and Trapper. The whole thing is only necessary because Frank and Margaret are snooping around. The two actually come off somewhat well here because they easily figure out what’s going on. The scene near the end of the episode in which Frank and Margaret walk outside and see bandages on the noses of everyone in camp is hilarious. Even the rarely-seen camp dog got one.

Still, all those bandages may not have been necessary if Radar hadn’t been wandering around with a perfectly healthy nose. If Radar stayed hidden in the OR and then walked out with a bandage on his nose, Frank and Margaret probably would’ve left it alone.

When it comes to guest stars in “Operation Noselift,” both Stuart Margolin and Todd Susman are wonderful as Major Robbins and Private Baker, respectively. Margolin earlier played Captain Sherman in “Bananas, Crackers and Nuts” during Season 1 and also accosted Margaret. I wonder if Margaret pressed charges.

(I wonder, when Trapper was comforting Margaret, was Wayne Rogers using an exaggerate version of his actual Southern accent?)

Todd Susman, of course, was one of the uncredited voice actors performing the PA announcements on M*A*S*H. Whatever makeup/prosthetic Susman wore to extend his nose is unfortunately very noticeable at times. It’s interesting that we never see Private Baker after his surgery.

Even the dog got a nose job.

I’ve read over the years that there was very little improvisation on M*A*S*H, at least with regard to scripts and dialogue. But I always wonder whether the actors ever improvised actions their characters took. For example, was it in the script for Henry to snag his finger on one of the fishhooks on his hat or was that something McLean Stevenson came up with? Or perhaps director Hy Averback thought it up?

Likewise, just prior to the fishhook incident, when the MPs first brought Private Baker into Henry’s office, Henry gets his leg stuck in his chair while jumping off his desk. Was that in the script? What about the gag involving Henry’s doll: Trapper knocking it over, breaking it, and stuffing it in a box? Henry later demands to know who did it. It’s hilarious. Somebody had to think of it. Was it in the script?

Henry mentions the 4077th’s Mardi Gras party, which means this episode takes place in February. What are the odds this episode was the one randomly chosen for me to review right before Mardi Gras?

Henry mentions two films–The Blob and The Thing–being shown in one week. The Blob wasn’t released until 1958, long after the Korean War ended.

Erik Tarloff, who wrote the script for this episode based on a story he co-wrote with Paul Richards, later wrote two other episodes: “The Price” and “Your Retention Please.” He also wrote an episode of Trapper John, M.D. and two episodes of House Calls (which starred Wayne Rogers).

When Henry is trying to guess the identity of “SS,” the last name he suggests is Sid Caesar (whose last name doesn’t start with an S). Larry Gelbart was a writer for Caesar’s Hour, which ran on NBC from 1954 to 1957.

Klinger does not appear in this episode.

Name That Episode III #146

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 “I Hate a Mystery” from Season 1.

Name That Episode

Name That Episode III #145

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 “The Yalu Brick Road” from Season 8.

Name That Episode

Kim Voted Favorite Trapper Episode

Last month, the sad news that Wayne Rogers had died caused me to change the poll question I had chosen. Visitors to MASH4077TV.com were asked to vote for their favorite Trapper episode from the series. I could only think of eight episodes that heavily featured Trapper or included a solid story about the character. A total of 149 votes were cast and “Kim” from Season 2 was the clear winner with “Requiem for a Lightweight” in second place and “Radar’s Report” third. Here are the full results:

  1. Kim (34%, 51 Votes)
  2. Requiem for a Lightweight (21%, 32 Votes)
  3. Radar’s Report (13%, 19 Votes)
  4. Bombed (9%, 14 Votes)
  5. Check-Up (7%, 11 Votes)
  6. Cease-Fire (5%, 7 Votes)
  7. Love and Marriage (4%, 6 Votes)
  8. Other (4%, 6 Votes)
  9. Mail Call (3%, 3 Votes)

Although “Kim” is a great episode and Trapper’s storyline in “Radar’s Report” is probably the best work Rogers did on the series, I voted for “Check-Up” because it gives Trapper the farewell the character deserved but didn’t actually get and I love the way it highlights the friendship between Trapper and Hawkeye.

Hit the comments to discuss your favorite Trapper episode. For those who chose “Other” in the poll, what episode is your favorite?

Episode Spotlight: That Darn Kid

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

“That Dark Kid” (#235, 10×21)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, April 12th, 1982
Written by Karen Hall
Directed by David Ogden Stiers

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye is on the hook for $22,000 after Klinger’s goat eats a bag filled with military scrip. Meanwhile, Charles gets himself into trouble trying to buy a valuable vase.

“That Darn Kid” is a sequel of sorts to “Payday” from Season 3, which saw Hawkeye serving as paymaster for the first time. In that episode, he was left with an extra $10 after paying everyone at the 4077th. While dealing with the paperwork to return the $10, he complained to Radar about all the money he was losing working for the Army rather than in civilian practice. Radar filled out a form and Hawkeye was paid $3,000, only for the Army demand the money back.

(The concept of Hawkeye being angry about lost wages was later revisited in “Back Pay” during Season 8.)

In this episode, Hawkeye is again tasked with serving as paymaster and ends up owing the Army $22,340 after Klinger’s goat eats the scrip. It’s more than a little absurd and probably would have worked better during the first three seasons when M*A*S*H was at its wackiest. I haven’t had much experience with goats so I’m not sure how believable it is that the goat would chew through Klinger’s footlocker to get to the tasty bag of money inside.

For once, it’s nice that nobody blamed Klinger for anything even though it was his goat and he was the one who put the money in the footlocker rather than ask Colonel Potter to open the safe. Hawkeye does yell at Klinger a little bit at first but that’s it. Klinger then helps Hawkeye and Colonel Potter blackmail Major Van Zandt. We never learn what happens to the goat nor do we see Klinger repaying Hawkeye and B.J. for the money they loaned him to buy the goat in the first place. Come to think of it, we never seen Klinger sell a single glass of goat milk.

The Charles B story is a decent one, mostly because it ties into the A story pretty well. Poor Charles thought one elective course in Oriental Art made him an expert. He sure paid for that mistake. If I’m doing my math correctly, he ultimately has to pay Rizzo $250: one day of interest from his supplemental pay, three days of interest once he gets his regular pay, and the initial $50 loan.

Rizzo’s role in this episode feels larger than Margaret, Father Mulcahy, and B.J. combined. B.J. has a bit to do at the start of the episode, loaning Klinger money and then trying to buy the vase from the farmer. He then basically disappears for the rest of the episode aside from a brief scene in surgery and the scene when he angrily throws everyone out of the Swamp. His anger is never explained. It’s also odd that B.J. isn’t involved in the scheme to save Hawkeye from having to repay the Army.

That Darn Kid!

“That Darn Kid” served as the Season 10 finale due to CBS holding back six episodes produced during Season 10 for use during Season 11.

This was the second of two episodes directed by David Ogden Stiers. The first was “Identity Crisis” earlier in Season 10 (which was actually produced during Season 9).

Radar and his love of Grape Nehi is mentioned by Igor and Charles actually drinks Grape Nehi, albeit in a brandy snifter.

I think there’s a jarring cut during the opening scene. The farmer is wearing his hat when he pulls his cart in front of the Swamp and he is holding the cart handles with both hands. There’s a cut to a shot of the goat and then a cut to the farmer standing next to his cart without a hat.

Name That Episode III #144

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 “The Sniper” from Season 1.

Name That Episode

Name That Episode III #143

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: BDOR, who correctly identified “Dear Comrade” from Season 7.

Name That Episode

Episode Spotlight: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

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

“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” (#99, 05×03)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, October 5th, 1976
Written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Directed by Gene Renolds

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye is blinded after trying to fix the stove in the nurses’ tent and may not recover his sight. Meanwhile, Frank sneakily bets on baseball games.

If you’ve never seen this episode, you could be forgiven for reading the brief summary and assuming it’s nothing more than a gimmick episode. Hawkeye goes blind? That sure sounds like a gimmick or, a contrived plot device intended to introduce tension that by necessity will be cleared up by the end of the episode. Is there anybody who watches “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” for the first time and actually worries Hawkeye may actually be blind for life? I doubt it.

Yet somehow it works. And it works well. Never does it actually feel like a gimmick. Yes, the stove exploding in Hawkeye’s face is a little contrived. Yes, we all know he’s going to make a full recovery. This isn’t an episode about a character being blinded or a character facing the prospect of a life without sight. It’s about a character learning what it’s like to be blind, even if it is just temporary.

With one or two exceptions, the episode shies away from discussing the prospect of Hawkeye being blind forever. Tom Straw brings up the fact that Hawkeye may not be able to continue doctoring and later B.J. suggests Hawkeye is acting manic in an attempt to keep his mind off what might happen when the bandages come off. But there’s no discussion of Hawkeye being sent home or having to be replaced at the 4077th. It’s as if the entire camp is holding its breath, crossing its fingers, and otherwise ignoring the very real possibility that Hawkeye may never see again.

On the one hand, that seems a little unrealistic. Obviously, if Colonel Potter did worry about having to find a new doctor, he wouldn’t mention it to Hawkeye. Likewise, B.J. wouldn’t voice his fears about his friend being sent stateside, at least not to Hawkeye. However, I would think Hawkeye would be very upset about his situation–depressed, even–but he doesn’t seem bothered by it at all. Perhaps that’s because he knows he’ll recover. Or maybe it’s because not being able to see has somehow opened his eyes to the world in a new and exciting way, as he explains to B.J. in a wonderful speech:

“One part of the world has closed down for me but another part has opened up. Sure, I keep picturing myself on a corner with a tin cup selling thermometers but I’m going through something here I didn’t expect. This morning I spent two incredible hours listening to that rainstorm. And I didn’t just hear it, I was a part of it. I’ll bet you have no idea that rain hitting the ground makes the same sound as steaks when they’re barbecuing. Or that thunder seems to echo forever. And you wouldn’t believe what– how funny it is to hear somebody slip and fall in the mud. I bet– it had to be Burns. Beej, this is full of trapdoors but I think there may almost be some kind of advantage in this. I’ve never spent a more conscious day in my life.

It’s a famous cliche, the idea that losing one sense heightens the others. Hawkeye doesn’t come right out and say he can hear better because he’s blind but not being able to see has made it possible for him to experience a rainstorm rather than simply observe it.

Frank’s B story is silly but grounded in the absurdity of the character. I think it works well because it ties into Hawkeye’s A story. The scene in which Hawkeye, B.J., Radar, and Klinger fake the baseball broadcast is a great one, although I’m not sure how they were transmitting to Frank’s radio.

Hawkeye describes his conscious day.

“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” was the first episode of M*A*S*H written by scripting partners Ken Levine and David Isaacs. Levine has discussed the episode several times at his blog. In a a July 2007 post he explained how the two got the assignment and how they brought 50 ideas with them when they met with Gene Reynolds to pitch stories. Two of them were later combined into this episode: Hawkeye losing his sight and Frank betting on baseball games heard over the radio (based on a story Levine heard).

In an October 2007 post Levine recounts purchasing an expensive VCR to record the episode when it first aired. And in an April 2012 post he delves a little deeper into how the script was written. Levine and Isaacs consulted with a woman who worked with the blind and she blindfolded them and told them to try to walk up a busy street.

Levine also pointed out in January 2010 that during the tag scene Lt. Gage can be seen reading JAWS–an anachronism, of course. And he revealed in January 2011 that Tom Shaw was named after a friend from high school who went on to become a scriptwriter as well.

“Out of Sight, Out of Mind” marked the first appearances by Enid Kent as Nurse Bigelow and Judy Farrell (who at the time was married to Mike Farrell) as Nurse Able. Both remained with series through the final episode, with Kent appearing in at least 14 episodes and Farrell in at least eight.

Bobbie Mitchell, on the other hand, made her final appearance on M*A*S*H in this episode. Her first appearance was in “The Army-Navy Game” during Season 1. She was in at least 18 episodes, credited as numerous different characters including Nurse Marshall, Nurse Lyons, Lt. Baker, and Lt. Gage.

Tom Sullivan, who played Tom Straw, is blind in a real life. His 1976 autobiography If You Could See What I Hear was turned into a movie in 1982 starring Marc Singer.

Father Mulcahy does not appear in this episode.