By my reckoning there were three true Christmas episodes of M*A*S*H: “Dear Dad” (01×12), “Dear Sis” (07×15) and “Death Takes A Holiday” (09×05). There was also a Boxing Day episode, “‘Twas the Day After Christmas” (10×10) and a New Year’s Eve episode, “A War For All Seasons” (09×06). Which is your favorite? And who made the best Santa Claus: Hawkeye, B.J. or Colonel Potter?
“Death Takes A Holiday” is one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H. The main storyline, which sees B.J., Hawkeye and Margaret working furiously to keep a mortally wounded soldier alive through Christmas, is intense but falls apart somewhat when looked at logically (would the soldier’s family really feel any better knowing he died five minutes after Christmas?) but it holds up well overall. What works best is the secondary storyline involving Charles and his family’s Christmas tradition. I’ve always found the line, “It is sadly inappropriate to give dessert to a child who has had no meal,” to be very profound and the scene in which Klinger brings Charles dinner and Charles calls him Max very touching.
Hawkeye as Santa Claus, from “Dear Dad”
B.J. as Santa Claus, from “Dear Sis”
Colonel Potter as Santa Claus, from “Death Takes a Holiday”
Situations in which Charles is depicted in a positive light are almost always excellent. So while “Dear Sis” is properly a Father Mulcahy episode, Charles’s reaction to receiving his toboggan cap is my favorite part of the episode, followed closely by the camp singing “Dona Nobis Pacem” and, of course, Father Mulcahy slugging a soldier. “Dear Dad” is easily the most amusing of the three episodes. For example, Colonel Blake’s disastrous attempt at giving the 4077th a lecture on sex and reproduction is hilarious, as the following exchange proves:
Colonel Blake: “The union of Figure A, man, and Figure B, woman, is the most sublime expression of romantic love. However, only in the institution of marriage is it recommended that this expression take place.”
Trapper: “Uh, sir.”
Colonel Blake: “Mm-hm.”
Trapper: “What happens in the event that Figure A is attracted to Figure B and wants to get married but Figure A is already married to, say, Figure C and Figure B is engaged to Figure D? But Figure A can’t keep his hands of Figure B because she’s got such a great figure.”
Colonel Blake: “Uh-huh. Well, according to the Army he’s got to forget her.”
Hawkeye: “That figures.”
I’m torn between Hawkeye and Colonel Potter as the best Santa. Hawkeye’s bushy eyebrows really stick out in my mind but Colonel Potter brings a certain amount of gravitas to the role.