Discuss: Do You Have a Favorite Episode of M*A*S*H?

Monday M*A*S*H Discussions offers fans the opportunity to offer their opinions on a wide variety of topics relating to M*A*S*H. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. My hope is these discussion posts will continue to elicit comments in the weeks and months after they’re initially published. Have a suggestion about something you think might be worth discussing? Let me know and maybe it will become my next Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topic.

Today’s topic: Do you have a favorite episode of M*A*S*H?

Is It Just Me?

I’m not asking everyone to name their favorite episode, although you can if you want. No, what I’m asking is whether you have a favorite episode. For some reason, I started thinking about this last week. If someone asked me what my favorite episode of M*A*S*H is, I don’t think I’d have an answer. Why? Because I don’t think I have a favorite episode. This may seem incomprehensible to some readers, but it’s true.

(In the past, I’m pretty sure I’ve referred to “Death Takes a Holiday” as one of my favorite episodes, but I’ve never considered it my absolute favorite episode of M*A*S*H.)

Without much thought, I could easily rattle off a list of a dozen or so important episodes of the series, like “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet” or “The Interview.” But ask me to chose which of the 251 episodes is my favorite and I’m going to draw a blank. There are episodes I like more than others–or episodes I like less than others. There are certainly scenes or jokes or lines of dialogue that I love. But I don’t have a specific episode I can point to and say, “That’s my favorite episode of M*A*S*H.”

Let’s Discuss

For those of you who do have a favorite episode of M*A*S*H, has it always been your favorite? Or have you switched favorite episodes over the years? If you’re like me and you can’t think of a favorite episode, why do you think that is? Is it because there are too many episodes to pick from? Do you have too many favorites to chose just one?

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

22 Comments

  • Crabapple Cove says:

    I don’t have a personal favorite, although I do enjoy some episodes far more than others and there are a number of others that I strongly dislike. (I could easily name a “top 10” of my favorites, but ranking them correctly would be very difficult).

    IF I wanted to introduce a friend to M*A*S*H (at least based on what I love most about the show) I would probably pick one of these episodes (no particular order): Tuttle, Crisis, Deal Me Out, 5 o’Clock Charlie, Adam’s Ribs or for a more serious tone — Sometimes you hear the bullet.

  • Farret Face says:

    I’m the same way. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite episode. Part of it, like you said, is that there are so many of them. But beyond that, there’s just too wide of a variety to really compare them fairly. Choosing a favorite comedy episode, a favorite dramatic episode, or favorite experimental episode would be one thing*, but when you have so many great examples from each of those categories, it’s so hard to choose just one.

    *Though, out of these possible categories, I’d only be able to choose a favorite comedy episode (“Dear Dad”)

  • BDOR says:

    Do I have a favorite episode? Yes. What is it? Guess. 😛

    • Doc Funnypants says:

      I’ll say “Your Hit Parade”.
      As for me, if my life depended on it, I’d say “Old Soldiers”. The part where Col. Potter talks about his buddies from World War I, the cache of brandy, and the tontine they made make this worth watching. Furthermore, Potter’s rant about there being no respect for life resonates even today.

      Potter: If anything happens to that package, you’ll be peeling spuds ’til Idaho makes you their state bird.

      In case you’re wondering, Idaho’s state bird is the mountain bluebird.

  • Lounge Lizard At War says:

    My favorite episode is “Crisis”. for some reason I’ve always loved the cold snap episodes and this was at the top.

  • BeccaLeo1972 says:

    Welcome to Korea. One of the best character introduction episodes in television. Its a perfect blend of comedy and drama.

  • 007 says:

    Don’t really have a favorite, no. Like RJ there are many episodes that I think are great, such as the below list, but I’d be hard pressed to actually pick a favorite from them. With the show changing so much over the years, it seems like unless there’s an episode that really stands out to you personally for some reason, you can’t pick a favorite, because you’re dealing with such differences of a show.

    Dear Dad, Tuttle, Dear Dad..Again, Long-John Flap, Army Navy Game, 5 O’Clock Charlie, Radar’s Report, Trial of Henry Blake, Crisis, Springtime, Adam’s Ribs, Abyssinia Henry, Welcome to Korea, The Interview, Movie Tonight, Smell of Music, Your Hit Parade, None Like it Hot, The Party, No Sweat, A Holy Mess, As Times Goes By, and probably a bunch more I missed.

    And basically every Sidney/Flagg episode.

  • penguinphysics says:

    Without a doubt, ‘Dear Sigmund’ is my favorite. It is from my favorite period in MASH and has the absolute perfect balance of comedy and drama without being cloying. Also, although I enjoy him, this episode does not fall into the ‘Hawkeye & Friends Show’ syndrome – everyone gets a uniformly excellent chance to shine (either as a comedic or dramatic point)

    I would have said ‘The Interview’, but considering that Margaret has no appearance, it (ever-so-slightly) diminishes a tremendous episode.

  • dhla says:

    I have trouble picking just one. But for sheer laughs, the top 3 would be Adam’s Ribs, Big Mac and Tuttle. I guess one episode that just epitomized everything great about M*A*S*H would be Larry’s swan song, The Interview.

  • Larry P. says:

    Great question!

    I can’t pick a SINGLE favorite episode. I have favorite seasons; I consider seasons two through six to be M*A*S*H’s stride, with seasons 3 & 4 the zenith of that stride. There’s not much I don’t like in 2-6.

    That said, there are episodes I enjoy across the ENTIRE run.

    Still, this question got me to thinking about a top 10 favorites – though not for the first time. That’s just too hard to satisfactorily make happen though, so I extended it to 20. Even that was pretty tough, but I was able to come up with a list that, if I were relegated to these 20 episodes only, I’d be okay with that; they’re ones I enjoy watching over and over. Here’s what I came up with (numbered by order of airing):

    1- The Pilot (1×1)
    2 – Germ Warfare (1×11)
    3 – Tuttle (1×15)
    4 – Cease-Fire (1×23)
    5 – Divided We Stand (2×1)
    6 – The General Flipped at Dawn (3×1)
    7 – Rainbow Bridge (3×2)
    8 – There is Nothing Like a Nurse (3×10)
    9 – Adam’s Ribs (3×11)
    10 – House Arrest (3×18)
    11 – Abyssinia, Henry (3×24)
    12 – Welcome to Korea (4×1)
    13 – Change of Command (4×3)
    14 – Der Tag (4×18)
    15 – The Novocaine Mutiny (4×20)
    16 – Margaret’s Engagement (5×3)
    17 – Movie Tonight (5×22)
    18 – Fade Out, Fade In (6×1)
    19 – Sons and Bowlers (10×20)
    20 – Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (11×16)

    While there are certain episodes that are “locked in place,” there are other ones that could be subbed out, given my mood. And even now I’m a little uneasy with how few season 2 & 6 selections there are (especially since I picked four episodes from the first season – and “Yankee Doodle Doctor” was in the running, as well). I know not everyone will agree with my selections, but hey, it’s all subjective.

    Looking that list over, it’s actually not a terrible series overview, either IMO.

    It’d be easier coming up with a LEAST favorite episode or episodes!

    • LF says:

      Nice list, I think we have similar tastes as to when the show was at its absolute peak, though like you said there’s a lack of Season 2 in your selections. Perhaps it’s a case that Season 2 is more a consistently good season rather that one with individual standout episodes, though I’d say “5 O’clock Charlie”, “The Incubator” and “Crisis” at least are classics and perhaps superior to a couple of your other choices.

      • Larry P. says:

        “Consistently good” is absolutely how I’d describe season 2; I don’t think there’s an episode I wouldn’t want to watch that year.

        Like I said, it’s a subjective matter, and that list consists of episodes that I personally like to watch over and over; doesn’t mean there aren’t episodes that are considered more-esteemed. If I were to make a list of the “best” M*A*S*H episodes, it’d probably be pretty different.

        That said, “Crisis” was a serious contender for inclusion.

      • BDOR says:

        I’m personally the opposite about Season 2. I’m not saying it was a consistent season, because compared to Season 1, it certainly was a lot more consistent in many aspects . . . but I do find Season 2 to be a mostly boring and weak season. Aside from certain episodes like “Kim,” “As You Were,” “Crisis,” and maybe a couple of others, nothing really stands out about it to me.

        But it’s not just M*A*S*H; somehow, I find that with a lot of shows, their second seasons seem to be weak. HOGAN’S HEROES and I DREAM OF JEANNIE are a couple of other shows I can think of like that . . . shows like this start out with interesting (subjective) first seasons, generally weak second seasons, but then finally solidify in their third seasons and continue to improve from there. Conversely, there are some shows that I do feel had great and enjoyable second seasons, such as GREEN ACRES and definitely THE ODD COUPLE.

  • HannibalMO says:

    It’s, naturally, hard to name a favorite episode. However, Ill have to say that “A War for All Seasons” would be pretty close Obviously you have to look over the fact that the timeline is unbelievable, but once you get past that it’s a great episode.

  • BDOR says:

    Here’s my personal top 40 list:

    1. “To Market, To Market”
    2. “Requiem for a Lightweight”
    3. “Henry, Please Come Home”
    4. “Dear Dad”
    5. “The Long-John Flap”
    6. “The Army-Navy Game”
    7. “Kim”
    8. “Rainbow Bridge”
    9. “O.R.”
    10. “Check-Up”
    11. “House Arrest”
    12. “Aid Station”
    13. “Abyssinia, Henry”
    14. “Welcome to Korea, Part 1”
    15. “Welcome to Korea, Part 2”
    16. “The Gun”
    17. “Mail Call Again”
    18. “The Price of Tomato Juice”
    19. “Dear Ma”
    20. “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”
    21. “Lt. Radar O’Reilly”
    22. “Dear Sigmund”
    23. “The Colonel’s Horse”
    24. “The Most Unforgettable Characters”
    25. “Movie Tonight”
    26. “The M*A*S*H Olympics”
    27. “Your Hit Parade”
    28. “What’s Up, Doc?”
    29. “Mail Call Three”
    30. “Temporary Duty”
    31. “Potter’s Retirement”
    32. “Our Finest Hour, Part 1”
    33. “Our Finest Hour, Part 2”
    34. “None Like it Hot”
    35. “They Call the Wind Korea”
    36. “Baby, it’s Cold Outside”
    37. “Out of Gas”
    38. “Dear Sis”
    39. “The Price”
    40. “Hot Lips is Back in Town”

    “The Nurses” used to be on that list, but I got tired of it, lol.

  • David G. says:

    The one that stands out — so, soooo many great moments and such gratifyingly sharp writing in this one — is “Adam’s Ribs.” Hawkeye’s “river of liver and an ocean of fish” monologue seals this one as the winner for me, and I’d challenge anyone to come up with a single better series of sentences than this one that (I’m guessing) mostly came from Larry Gelbart. It’s probably the only time a TV series ever did a story on the desire each one of has for “that one great special food” that we’d go through great lengths to get. (Mine is the taco pizza at the Papa Pete’s restaurants along Washington’s southern I-5 corridor…!)

    Honorable mention to the couple of “trading” episodes — “The Longjohn Flap” and “For Want of a Boot.” It was kind of nice to see “AfterMASH” even do an episode like this toward the end of the 1st season when Klinger goes through the process of getting an air conditioner for a patient room at the hospital.

    And, very special honorable mention to “Goodbye Radar, Part 2” … because THIS is the one that marked the first time I ever watched a “M*A*S*H” episode.

  • Matt Manigen says:

    I don’t have a definitive favorite episode of the series because that would be downright impossible to decide. The show as a whole has so few bad episodes that I could probably tell you what I like about every single one. My favorite episodes by season are

    1. The Army-Navy Game.
    2. 5:00 Charlie.
    3. The General flipped at Dawn.
    4. The Bus.
    5. The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan.
    6. The Light that Failed.
    7. The Party.
    8. Are you now, Margaret?
    9. No Sweat.
    10. Sons and Bowlers.
    11. Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.

    I could go in depth on each of those on why I like them so much, lol.

    • BDOR says:

      I’m curious about how you feel about “The Light That Failed” and “Are You Now, Margaret?” Those seem to be considered pretty weak episodes.

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