Episode Spotlight: Friends and Enemies

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

“Friends and Enemies” (#248, 11×13)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, February 7th, 1983
Written by Karen Hall
Directed by Jamie Farr

Capsule Summary: While stricken with an ingrown toenail, B.J. combats Charles and his loud music. Meanwhile, Colonel Potter realizes he has to write a report criticizing an old friend.

This was the second episode to feature a storyline in which Colonel Potter must confront an old friend. The first was “Ping Pong” during Season 5–in that episode, Lt. Colonel Harold Becket was trying to get enough time on the front lines to allow him to retire as a full colonel. Potter was relatively quick to ship Becket back home, telling him “I don’t care if it costs me every friend I’ve got. If one kid gets hurt, the price is too high.”

Yet in “Friends and Enemies,” despite his experience with Harold, Potter reacts angrily when Hawkeye comes to talk to him and refuses to believe his old friend was at fault. Then he quickly changes his tune after talking to Sgt. Zurilli. Perhaps Potter was simply tired when Hawkeye came to talk to him. He does later suggest to Hawkeye he has a “blind spot” when it comes to friends that go back as far as Woody.

The scene in which Potter confronts Woody is very well done:

Woody: “You don’t understand, Sherman. With a report like that, there’s no chance I’ll ever get into action again.
Potter: “That’s exactly why I’ve got to do it.”
Woody: “When the chips are down who can you count on, Sherman, if you can’t count on your old friends?
Potter: “Woody, this has nothing to do with friendship.
Woody: “You bet it doesn’t. Not anymore.”
Potter: “Woody, don’t you think we’ve been through too much to let it end like this?
Woody: “I didn’t end it. You did!”

I wonder what they were drinking that made their voices so gravely.

The B.J./Charles/Margaret B story is just silly. Margaret is particularly shrill at times, first when she receives her record player and later when she accidentally runs into B.J.’s foot in Post Op. I don’t totally understand B.J.’s motivation for manipulating Charles and Margaret. If he truly wanted peace and quiet, why did he send Goldman to the Officers’ Club? Why was he willing to spend so much money to annoy Charles? I suppose he was bored.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode Friends and Enemies showing Colonel Potter and Colonel Cooke
Colonel Potter confronts his old friend Woody.

There’s an abrupt cut when Margaret and Charles are leaning toward B.J. in the Swamp. “So where did you go to high school?” Charles asks. It looks and sounds as if he’s about to say something else, perhaps use a corny nickname the way B.J. did earlier in the episode when he called Charles “Chuck.”

Roy Goldman has quite a few lines in this episode. Could it be his largest role in any episode?

Jack Yates is credited as “Large enlisted man” in the closing credits. That’s an unusual credit, right? I’m guessing he’s the soldier who smashes the jukebox in the Officers’ Club.

Jamie Farr directed this episode, which explains why he only appears in one brief scene. He later directed an episode of AfterMASH. William Christopher is also only in one brief scene, during surgery in the O.R.

7 Comments

  • Doc Funnypants says:

    Actually, the episode where Potter files a report on Lt. Col. Becket was “Ping Pong”.
    This was a very uneven episode, with BJ manipulating Charles incessantly and Potter having a crisis of conscience about his old friend Woody.

    Klinger: That ain’t one of Fats’ songs unless that title is German for “Your Feets Too Big”.

    Not one of their best efforts, IMO.
    I thought BJ was particularly unlikable in this episode,but can you blame him knowing he had an ingrown toenail.

    • RJ says:

      I have no idea what made me write “Hanky Panky” instead of “Ping Pong” because I knew it was “Ping Pong.” I did. Weird mistake to make. Thanks for catching it.

  • BDOR says:

    How does dropping a record player on your toe give you an ingrown toenail? I mean, I’ve dropped a chair on my toe once in Grade 1, but all it did was turn my toenail blue and then it eventually fell off when a new one grew in, but it was never ingrown. I get ingrown nails all the time, and it’s really not that big a deal.

    • Doc Funnypants says:

      Actually, it’s never established how BJ got an ingrown toenail. As for getting them, my brother can attest to you that they’re bothersome.

      I honestly believe Margaret and Charles rehearsed their dialogue in exposing BJ’s duplicity.

  • Larry P. says:

    You point out my main issue with this episode, RJ: Potter’s reaction to Woody, in comparison to his earlier, similar situation with Becket. I suppose the differing dispositions could be explained by fatigue on Potter’s part, or his personal relationship with Woody, or what have you, but boy, it sure is glaring. And Potter’s chewing out Hawkeye is just totally unfair, and a little uncomfortable – though I suppose that was the point, huh?

    The BJ/Winchester/Margaret storyline is occasionally mildly amusing, though I agree Margaret is sometimes WAY too shrill.

    Overall, a middling late-series entry.

  • Aaron Handy III says:

    Sad Bulletin: just like Wayne “Trapper John” Rogers last year, another member of the 4077th has abandoned his khaki coil on New Year’s Eve.

    William Christopher, who portrayed Lt./Capt. Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy, has died at 84: https://www.yahoo.com/tv/william-christopher-dies-father-mulcahy-014216456.html

    An awful lot of The 4077th is dying off…

  • Lady you ARE a Piece of Cornbread says:

    Wonder if Mr Farr intended DIRECTED BY JAMIE FARR to pop up during the opening fanfare of the record Charles was playing.

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