Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Chief Surgeon Who?” (#4, 1×04)
Originally Broadcast: Sunday, October 8th, 1972
Written by: Larry Gelbart
Directed by: E.W. Swackhamer
Capsule Summary: Colonel Blake appoints Hawkeye chief surgeon, leading Frank and Margaret to complain to General Barker, who comes to the 4077th to investigate.
This is a terrific episode through and through. The plot flows nicely, all the jokes hit and it includes perhaps the greatest line ever uttered by Colonel Blake:
Henry: “You honestly want him to call you Major?”
Frank: “I have got oak leaves on my shoulders.”
Henry: “And I’ve got dimples on my butt! None of that means anything around here, Frank.”
Poor Frank. Despite having a $35,000 house and two cars back in the States the guy just can’t catch a break in Korea. He gets no respect in the O.R., is passed over for chief surgeon and has to put up with General Barker’s obvious interest in Margaret. It’s easy to forget sometimes just how many men Margaret supposedly was involved with. The scene in which Barker and Frank run into each other outside Margaret’s tent is hilarious.
Hawkeye’s coronation as chief surgeon feels wonderfully over the top, complete with a picture of Hawkeye surrounded by ladies’ underwear, Radar tossing ripped up newspaper as he walks ahead of Hawkeye, and Hwakeye’s orb and scepter.
I will admit that during the poker game, Hawkeye’s complete lack of respect and discipline really seems to cross the line. Some of his comments to General Barker are incredibly rude.
As long as we’re being honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Klinger’s appearances in this episode. They just aren’t that funny. They feel out of place and throw off the pace of the episode. Maybe that was the point.
Following Klinger’s second appearance, Henry can be seen saying something to General Barker but you can’t quite hear what he’s saying. The subtitles indicate he’s mumbling.
In the last scene, when Hawkeye goes to assist Frank, he sticks his hands into the patient without changing into fresh gloves. That’s got to be a no-no for a chief surgeon.