Episode Spotlight: Yessir, That’s Our Baby

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

“Yessir, That’s Our Baby” (#184, 8×15)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, December 31st, 1979
Written by Jim Mulligan
Directed by Alan Alda

Capsule Summary: When an Amerasian baby is left anonymously in front of the Swamp, the 4077th goes to great lengths to try to secure a good home for her.

This is a rare episode that only features one storyline. Unfortunately, spending so much time on a single storyline didn’t work in the episode’s favor. This probably would have gone over much better had it only been one of multiple storylines rather than the focus of an entire episode. It’s not a terrible episode, although I think everyone can agree that it is too heavy-handed at times.

Story editor Dennis Koenig had this to say about “Yessir, That’s Our Baby” in Suzy Kalter’s The Complete Book of M*A*S*H:

There was a show that didn’t turn out great but dealt with a very important story, That’s My Baby [sic], about Amerasian babies. It was a tough story to do because it dealt with an issue we had a tendency to overlook–what we did to the Korean people by being there. These kids were never accepted in Korean culture; they were shunned by society and had no future.

That M*A*S*H overlooked the plight of Amerasian babies until Season 8 is part of the problem with this episode, in my opinion. Watching the episode you get the feeling that the producers decided to tackle the topic because they realized M*A*S*H had been on the air for eight years and they hadn’t covered Amerasian babies yet, rather than doing so because it fit naturally into an episode.

(The issue of Amerasian babies was glossed over for the most part in Season 2’s “The Choson People” which saw a South Korean woman lie about Radar being the father of her baby. Although she later admitted that her own family had ostracized her, at the end of the episode she and her baby were readily accepted by a group of South Korean refugees (although one could argue they might not have known her baby was Amerasian).

Having only one storyline meant every single character had to be shoehorned in somehow. That actually worked quite well for nearly everyone. Margaret and Klinger didn’t really have much to do but their roles were believable. At least with everyone reacting to the baby in what could be described as an extreme fashion, nobody really felt all that out of character.

Except for Charles, that is. While it’s certainly reasonable that Charles would care and worry about the baby, his outburst at Roger Prescott was painful to watch, mostly because it was so bluntly telegraphed that the normally calm and refined Charles would eventually snap.

To sum up, there’s nothing wrong with the topic of the episode but the execution feels forced and, yes, perhaps too preachy.

“Run for your life, Prescott! It’s a wild boar!”

The closing credits contain the following:

Special Acknowledgement
to
THE PEARL S. BUCK
FOUNDATION, INC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) was a strong advocate for Asian and mixed-race adoption. Her foundation is known called Pearl S. Buck International.

It’s never mentioned in the episode but how did everyone at the 4077th know that the father of the baby was actually an American?

After Hawkeye and Colonel Potter were told by Chung Ho Kim that other countries like France and The Netherlands were far more accepting of babies of their military, I’m a little surprised nobody thought about trying to trick one of those countries into accepting the baby.

Howard Platt, who played Major Ted Spector, revealed in TV’s M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book by Ed Solomonson and Mark O’Neill, that he got the role at 10PM the night before his scenes was filmed and didn’t receive the script until 1AM that morning. I wonder who was originally supposed to play that character.

Colonel Potter compares the milk-filled surgical glove to “the business end of a Guernsey” which the Internet tells me is a breed of cattle.

15 Comments

  • Big Daddy O'Reilly says:

    Yes, guernseys are a breed of cattle – BEWITCHED had an episode about a guernsey.

  • CEThree says:

    Im surprised at the criticism of this episode. You may be right about it all but I never realized it was a one arc story til now. I suppose youre right about what you say but I disagree about Charles’ fury at Prescott. I felt it was appropo.

  • Abyssinia says:

    I’m sorry, but I just had this question. In the episode “Dr, Pierce and Mr. Hyde”, there is a scene which is very brief shown with the words

    B. O. Q.
    Number 6

    on the door of the Swamp when Radar is leading Hawk into the Swamp. It is seen when the door closes and swings behind him. Any ideas? I saw it on the DVD. The words are on a sign stuck on the door over the painted words “Swamp”.

    • Big Daddy O'Reilly says:

      Bachelor Officers Quarters.

      Why Trapper, Frank, and B.J. (all married men) were assigned to a Bachelor Officers Quarters tent is beyond me.

  • Abyssinia says:

    Sorry this is not related to the article. I was just wondering.

  • 5 O'Clock Charlie says:

    Why didn’t any of the MASH people try to adopt the baby like Trapper tried to do in “Kim”?

    • Abyssinia says:

      Maybe Trapper wasnt ready yet

    • Seoul City Sue says:

      I suppose nobody thought about adoption because they wanted to make a point about all those abandoned babies. Just as it was with Henry and not every soldier making it back home, not every relinquished child gets adopted.

  • Sandra says:

    There is a note in the basket with the Baby, where the mother says that the Baby is from an American GI

  • doc funnypants says:

    This was another thought-provoking episode. It seemed fitting that Charles would eventually snap at Prescott because,deep down,he cared about the baby enough to help give it a better life. By the way, what’s worse than being a virtual slave?

  • Doc Funnypants says:

    Klinger: It’s enough to send a man to Officers Candidate School.

    One other thing about this episode that raises a few eyebrows for me was in the closing credits identifying the characters Pierce, Hunnicut, Potter, and Winchester see about the baby. What I want to know is how did they identify them at the end when there was no mention of their names during the episode.
    I especially loved it when they went to the monastery to leave the baby in the revolving cradle.

  • Sylvia says:

    I only saw part of the show. My mother wants to know what happened to the baby in the end.

    • Doc Funnypants says:

      It was left at a monastery by Hawkeye, BJ, Charles, and Father Mulcahy. Mulcahy knew this was the only real option for an Amerasian child to have a future.

  • mspence says:

    This was a good episode for Father Mulcahy to be the one to see the reality of the baby’s situation and to know what to do. I always thought there were many episodes where he could have been of more use as a character.

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