Episode Spotlight: Mad Dogs and Servicemen

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

“Mad Dogs and Servicemen” (#61, 3×13)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, December 10th, 1974
Written by Linda Bloodworth & Mary Kay Place
Directed by Hy Averback

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye tries to help a soldier suffering from battle fatigue while Radar undergoes treatment for rabies after being bitten by a stray dog.

Neither of the story lines in this episode are particularly strong, and both wrap up quickly and neatly, but overall this is a solid episode. I bet Wayne Rogers was happy with his role in this episode. Not only did Trapper have the pivotal scene with Corporal Travis, he also got to chase a dog around the compound with Colonel Blake. And he Trapper got to yell at Frank. “Slug nutty!?”

Perhaps if more episodes had featured Trapper as heavily as this one, Rogers wouldn’t have left the series at the end of Season 3.

This is one of several episodes that reference Sidney Freedman without him making an appearance. Others include “Heal Thyself” from Season 8 and “Trick or Treatment” from Season 11. Although I appreciate the continuity, I’m not sure the phone call between Hawkeye and Sidney is necessary. Cutting it would offer more time to devote to Corporal Travis and his recovery. Perhaps add another scene in which Hawkeye humiliates Travis, infuriating Margaret even more.

Better yet, add a scene at the end when Margaret realizes that Hawkeye’s treatment of Travis wasn’t cruel but calculated to help him recover. When Travis walks into Colonel Blake’s office, Margaret is thrilled to see him on his feet. Moments earlier, she was ready to go over Henry’s head to support Frank in his confrontation with Hawkeye and Trapper. Frank admits he was wrong but Margaret doesn’t say anything.

Radar’s B story is notable for the lengthy scene between Margaret and Radar when she’s reading him a letter. Perhaps she’s just being the professional or perhaps she cares more about the 4077th’s company clerk than she’d care to admit.

Gary Burghoff is nearly unrecognizable lying in a bed in Post Op without his jeep cap and glasses. Without them on, Radar seems much older. He’s supposed to be 18 in this episode but Burghoff was 31 in 1974 when the episode was filmed. Burghoff is a talented actor and usually can make viewers believe Radar is much younger than the actor playing him. Not in these scenes.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode Mad Dogs and Servicemen showing Henry, Hawkeye, Trapper, Frank, and Margaret
Frank and Margaret threaten to go over Henry’s head.

Rosie makes her first appearance in this episode, played by Shizuko Hoshi. The character doesn’t return until “Bug Out” in Season 4, when she’s played by Frances Fong. Eileen Saki took over the role beginning with “A Night at Rosie’s” during Season 7. Notice that the sign for Rosie’s Bar actually, seen when Radar and Colonel Blake are searching for the dog, reads Rose Bar. In the same shot, there’s an establishment called Goldie’s next to Rosie’s Bar.

“Mad Dogs and Servicemen” is he third and final eipsode written by Linda Bloodworth and Mary Kay Place. Linda Bloodworth later wrote “Soldier of the Month” (Season 4) and “The Nurses” (Season 5) on her own.

Hawkeye mentions Godzilla but the first Godzilla movie came out in Japan in 1954, the year after the Korean War ended. Likewise, the song “Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant didn’t come out until 1956.

Not counting the dog, Radar’s animals include a raccoon, a skunk, a rabbit, and a turtle.

Jeff Maxwell is credited as Igor in this episode but I don’t remember seeing him.

Father Mulcahy and Klinger do not appear in this episode.

5 Comments

  • 007 says:

    Decent episode from the best season of the show IMO. Trapper and Blake chasing after the dog is always good for a laugh.

    Seems kind of unrealistic that Sidney would allow Hawkeye to use a technique like that on a soldier without being present. In real life, when doing a technique like that, if something went wrong, the soldier could have very possibly killed himself.

    That’s probably actually why the phone call to Sidney is in this episode. They probably couldn’t get Allan Arbus due to a scheduling conflict, or something, but they knew it’d be too much to just have Hawkeye do something like this without Sidney’s consent/instruction, so they wrote the phone call into the episode.

    Just a note @RJ, looks like the image in the middle of the article isn’t working.

  • BDOR says:

    I too like the scene with Trapper and Henry chasing the dog around the Compound, and I also like the opening scene with Henry returning Radar’s turtle after it showed up in the shower with him. Other than that, I find this to be a pretty “meh” episode. I liked this Rosie the best: she wasn’t as much of a simpleton who spoke broken English like other Rosies, but she also wasn’t as sharp-tongued and rude like Eileen Saki’s Rosie was.

  • 71dude says:

    One of the rare episodes when Hawkeye pulled rank on someone, along with that guy with the cigarette and Klinger.

  • Daniel says:

    The patient in this episode is the same actor as a later episode that Sidney treated in a foxhole, and absolutely hated sidney.

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