Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Cementing Relationships” (#197, 9×03)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, December 1st, 1980
Written by: David Pollock & Elias Davis
Directed by: Charles S. Dubin
Capsule Summary: The doctors decide to install a cement floor in the O.R. to prevent staph infections. Meanwhile, Margaret is pursued by a lovesick Italian.
This is one of those episodes where I like one of the storylines but not the other. It’s not clear which story is actually the A story. Putting in the cement floor (should it more properly be referred to as a concrete floor?) seems to be the larger story here but Margaret and Ignazio certainly get their fair share of screen time as well. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to the cement plot as the A story and our lovesick Italian as the B story.
With that in mind, it was the A story that I liked. I must admit to not actually noticing in any earlier episodes that the floor was wood. It isn’t something that really came up in earlier episodes. Although, people occasionally dropped instruments in the O.R. and the noise of them hitting the floor would suggest that it was always cement rather than wood. Furthermore, in real life I very much doubt filming could take place on a wooden floor, so the operating room set was no doubt cement or some other hard surface.
It isn’t really important whether the floor was always cement or wood. Within the context of the episode, it started as wood and ended up as cement. The fact that these pesky staph infections due to bacteria in the wood were never mentioned before can be ignored easily enough.
Klinger and Charles were in top form in “Cementing Relationships” and it was nice to see Charles get his comeuppance in the end. The expression on his face when he realized he had walked out onto the wet cement floor was priceless.
The B story involving Ignazio and Margaret was the weaker of the two. Ignazio was far too over-the-top as a character. Maybe if the soldier in love with Margaret had been much younger, it would not have seemed so creepy. We also never learn what happens to Ignazio. Does he get back to his unit in time to avoid being charged with going AWOL? The plot point is just dropped.