Episode Spotlight: A Full Rich Day


Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.

“A Full Rich Day” (#60, 3×12)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, December 3rd, 1974
Written by John D. Hess
Directed by Gene Reynolds

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye dictates a letter to his father via tape recorder, telling him about the previous day’s craziness at the 4077th.

This is a “letter home” episode with a twist: rather than write a letter to his father, Hawkeye uses a tape recorder to make an audio recording to send home to his father. Is this the only time we see anyone other than Charles using a tape recorder? And can anyone identify the tape recorder seen in the episode? It has to be a reel-to-reel recorder and it could be an early Ampex model. Note the long cord and the huge microphone.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode A Full Rich Day
Hawkeye’s Tape Recorder

Of the three stories making up the “full rich day” experienced by the 4077th, I think the Luxembourg story is the most amusing, due to its heavy emphasis on Henry and his always hilarious comments. Even though it makes no sense whatsoever that LeClerc would have gone missing. He was in post op. He had a chart. He must have had dog tags. And if he was really unidentified, are we supposed to believe that Hawkeye would not mention it to his father? That particular plot point requires some willing suspension of disbelief. But the scene with the Luxembourg national anthem and LeClerc struggling out of bed to stand proudly at attention is worth it.

Also requiring some disbelief is Lt. Smith’s plot line. But it isn’t so easy to ignore how him pointing his gun at every doctor he meets is completely unbelievable. Where were the MPs? Nobody thought to call for them? He was allowed to rove the hospital, dirty and grimy and potentially infecting patients, and even given a mask? Not to mention the fact that had someone driven into the compound with a wounded soldier, there would be nurses or corpsman or doctors swarming to help immediately. He wouldn’t have been ignored.

Finally, there’s the crazed Turkish soldier. The best part was Hawkeye and the Turk both slamming meat cleavers into the cutting board and Radar’s reaction to that. And of course the Turk driving back to the 4077th to drop off the unconscious Radar and then escaping in his stolen Jeep. But this, too, requires the viewer to accept that MPs would not be around to monitor an unruly patient or to help track him down.

12 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: A Full Rich Day”

  1. Most M*A*S*Hers agree, that this is one of the worst episodes of the series… why? BECAUSE IT MAKES NO SENSE! And even when you watch it in reruns, where scenes are obviously cut out, it makes even LESS sense (such as removing the part where Radar tells Henry that LeClerc was dead on arrival and they lost the body, which makes his tribute scene later all the more random and confusing).

  2. Great episode. MP’s were rarely in any episodes. The only time you saw an MP was when they were part of the story. You never saw any MP in the background of an episode walking around etc unlike nurses and corpsmen.

  3. The story of the sergeant holding everyone captive while they worked on his major was a re-enactment of sorts of a true event that happened during World War II – and was depicted in the movie “A Bridge too Far” – you can see the clip here – http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=James+Caan+a+doctor+at+gunpoint&mid=B37BEFF2685817B5B68BB37BEFF2685817B5B68B&view=detail&FORM=VIRE2. In the actual story, the sergeant did turn himself over to the MPS afterward, and they arrested him – for 10 seconds.

    I was going to remark on the absence of MPs in MASH myself! They often arrived in jeeps, and once they magically appeared when Hawkeye was under house arrest – but other than that, we didn’t see them just “there”.

    I looked up some trivia on this episode and came up with – the mud on the lieutenant’s face moves around from scene to scene, and that there is an “Indian in the Red Turban” sighting at the Luxemborg ceremony (evidently this person also showed up at the hora dancing after the circumcision in “Life with Father” and I have no idea if it is a male or a female. Does anyone else know anything about the “Indian in the Red Turban?” Does this person show up in other episodes?) And that this is the ONLY episode where the laugh track is ever in the O.R. – when Henry sticks himself in the hand with the Hypodermic needle filled with sedative.

    When the Turk is screaming in the O.R., Hawkeye remarks, “Why don’t we all go to Berlitz and find out?” This is a reference to Berlitz language schools where students learn a new language in a classroom where only the target language is spoken. Founded by Maximilian Berlitz, the first school was opened in Rhode Island in 1878. Who knew???

    And when Hawkeye and Radar are in the kitchen with the Turk, what was Hawkeye’s doctor bag doing in the kitchen? He came in empty handed.

    And last but not least – a truly funny quote….Hawkeye (seeing the Luxembourg soldier): I thought he was dead…. Trapper: He got better.

  4. I must have blocked out the needle scene. I am not a fan of needles and just thinking about Henry getting stuck in the hand makes me feel a little queasy. I wonder if that is why a laugh track was included (I watch the episodes without laugh tracks these days).

  5. There were other rare occasions where the laugh track was heard in the O.R.:

    In “Dear Dad… Again” (1×17), there’s an extension of an earlier O.R. scene that’s usually cut in syndication, where they’re operating in the dark, with additional medics holding the laterns for them, while Hawkeye asks Ginger for various instruments, until he gets to “snoo”.

    GINGER: “Snoo”? What’s “snoo”?
    HAWKEYE: Nothin’ much, what’s “snoo” with you?
    *Laugh track*

    Then, of course, in “The Novocaine Mutiny” (4×21), all throughout Frank’s recollection of the alleged mutiny, the laugh track plays throughout, but I think that can probably be forgiven, considering Frank’s story is obviously blown WAY out of proportion, and not meant to be taken very seriously anyway.

    Those are the only other times I can remember hearing the laugh track in the O.R… there’s always contradictions when it comes to the laugh track in the O.R., some sources say that Larry, Gene, and Burt weren’t given control over the use of the laugh track until after the first two seasons or so, while others say that not having the laughter in O.R. was an agreement reached from the beginning (which is obviously true).

    As for the “Indian in the Red Turban”, he’s seen in the Compound pretty much throughout the whole season, he’s much like the “Where’s Waldo” of Season Three, you just have to look for him in the crowd, and inevitably, you’ll find him. He’s seen walking through the Compound in “Rainbow Bridge” (3×02), and he also falls into formation in “The General Flipped at Dawn” (3×01), so perhaps he’s assigned at the 4077th temporarily that year for whatever reason?

    1. To further touch up on the feller with the headache, Season Three seemed to very much be like an experimental season as far as Larry Gelbart is concerned, he seemed to try various different things that year to make the show unique, such as inventing a camp minstrel (Captain Spaulding), among other things… I wonder if maybe turban head was an attempt to show a little more ethnic diversity among the 4077th?

  6. Hawkeye (seeing the Luxembourg soldier): I thought you said he was dead.
    Trapper: He got better.

    I love those lines!

    One of my favourite episodes…I often refer to a bad day as a “well rounded day of insanity”.

  7. That no MPs are ever seen is realistic; a MASH unit, while around 200 people, did not warrant having an MP contingent assigned to it. Plus, MPs were rarely assigned to front line units; as with any police they were called in when needed. Security for a MASH would be merely ordinary soldiers, usually PFCs and corporals, walking guard duty.

    As for the tape recorder, in reality it would be quite uncommon in a MASH unit as even consumer equipment of the day was expensive, heavy, and relatively fragile. A wire recorder, in consumer use since the thirties, would have been more accurate. If the episode shows a period tape recorder I would expect a Wollensak or B&H, at that time Ampex was involved almost exclusively with the commercial market.

  8. Probably not the best time to use the phrase “Bomb him”, when having the Turk gassed, Henry.

  9. The name of the previously unnamed or seen P.A. Announcer is revealed during this episode when Henry shouts, “Tony, hit it”, when calling for him to play the recording of the Luxembourg National Anthem during the remembrance ceremony. That is the only mention of his name in the entire series. The P.A. Announcer was played by two different actors during the series run: Sal Viscuso and Todd Susman.

  10. Losing or confusing patients is NOT unbelievable. It happens at times in regular hospitals, even in this digital age. Here we are talking about a chaotic situation in a war zone. It’s very likely that this happened quite a bit.

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