Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Dear Peggy” (#82, 4×10)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, November 11th, 1975
Written by: Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum
Directed by: Burt Metcalfe
Capsule Summary: Father Mulcahy gets anxious when the Divisional Chaplain arrives for an inspection; Frank gives up on a patient only for B.J. to save him; Klinger keeps trying to escape; Hawkeye tries to cram enough people into a jeep to break a world record. And it all gets jotted down in B.J.’s letter to his wife.
This was the second of three episodes during Season Four that featured the letter home plot device. It came only three episodes after “Dear Mildred” and was followed six episodes later by “Dear Ma.” As always, the timeline of the episode is a little problematic if you think about it too much as a lot of the action seems to take place the same day. That doesn’t detract any from the episode, though, which features one of the greatest subplots of any episode: Koreans being taught English so they can work in the wards.
Again, you can’t spend too much time thinking about how being taught to recite specific phrases in English is actually useful. Just laugh at Frank teaching the Koreans phrases like “Get us out of the U.N.” and Hawkeye’s “Frank Burns eats worms” line, plus the scene near the end of the episode when Hawkeye gets the whole group of Koreans to say “You tell ’em, Ferret Face.”
Hawkeye’s world record attempt at stuffing people into a jeep is another great subplot. Notice the little pat on the backside he gives Hot Lips after she asks to be photographed on her good side. Klinger’s attempts to physically escape the 4077th aren’t particularly notable although the scene in which he inflates a raft in Colonel Potter’s is a good one, if only because you have to wonder whether Harry Morgan was actually knocked over or if that was scripted.
The largest plot point, the visit of Colonel Hollister, Divisional Chaplain, is probably the least interesting. Ned Beatty certainly did a terrific job during the scene in which Hollister tries to show Mulcahy how to reach out and take his flock by the hand. It’s an impressive display of religious conviction/bravado and only a little over-the-top. I think it would have worked better if Beatty had toned this down just a bit.