Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Dreams” (#191, 8×22)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, February 11th, 1975
Written by: Alan Alda & James Rubinfier
Directed by: Alan Alda
Capsule Summary: Exhausted after countless hours in the O.R. and with more wounded constantly arriving, members of the 4077th cope with disturbing dreams.
I have a feeling there aren’t going to be a lot of positive comments about this episode. Over the years, I’ve gotten the impression that “Dreams” is not particularly well-liked by fans of M*A*S*H. And yet, it received a Humanitas Prize and was nominated for both an Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing and a Writers’ Guild of America Award in the Episodic Drama category.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the concept of the episode. In fact, it was territory M*A*S*H had covered before to some degree in “Hawk’s Nightmare,” which focused on Hawkeye’s nightmare and his sleepwalking. “Dreams” took things a step further by actually depicting the dreams rather than just reacting to them. And that is where it went too far for some viewers.
Easily the most bizarre and surreal episode of the series, “Dreams” allowed the fears of the characters, as manifested in their dreams, to take center stage. With the exception of Colonel Potter’s, all of the characters were left upset and disturbed by their dreams, so much so that at the end of the episode they were unwilling to go to sleep despite being exhausted.
In some respects, the dreams are easy to understand. Margaret is afraid of never being able to settle down because the Army is all she knows. Klinger is afraid of never making it back to Toledo or, if he makes it back, not being able to escape the horrors he witnessed in Korea. B.J. is afraid of losing Peg because they have been apart for so long. Father Mulcahy is afraid he is not able to help the wounded the way the surgeons and nurses are. And Hawkeye and Charles are afraid of being helpless, that all their talents as doctors will not be enough.
The only dream that doesn’t really make any sense is Colonel Potter’s. Yes, playing polo with a grenade was weird but otherwise it was a nice dream in which he saw himself as a child. When woken, he’s actually upset he wasn’t able to finish the dream.
The actor playing the patient trying to confess to Father Mulcahy deserves recognition for being able to remember all that gibberish. At first I thought it might be Latin rather than pure gibberish but here’s what the captions have to say:
“The first time was a bar in Seoul in which I trove sobbert in farley quince to civilar falamaries with closive infliches and depationary farven.
So, of course, we started drinking and then I saw again staven in tusiflia thurgis. In frawl with sagullery purchel. But franges are gurvel, you know. Iskeep perobic tondo.
The scene in the supply tent when Klinger reveals he has been warming blood inside his fur coat was a nice one and I think one often cut in syndication. I don’t recall having seen it before. That’s the nice thing about rewatching episodes on DVD.
There’s no option on the DVD to watch this episode without a laugh track because it doesn’t have one.