Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Big Mac” (#69, 3×21)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, February 25th, 1975
Written by Laurence Marks
Directed by Don Weis
Capsule Summary: The 4077th frantically prepares for a visit from General Douglas MacArthur.
The enduring mystery of this episode is the identity of the actor playing General MacArthur, who is not credited for his brief appearance.
The first minute or so of the episode in which Frank and Hawkeye trade barbs in the O.R. is the weakest portion of the episode, and that’s saying something because the jokes are pretty good (I particularly like Hawkeye’s line about Vivisection State Teachers’ College). It’s interesting that we never learned exactly what Hawkeye needed the book for; all we know is that it is for an orthopedic case.
Henry’s impromptu cheer “That’s North, South, East or West. We’re the M*A*S*H that is the best” (and Radar’s enthusiastic “Rah Rah!”) is hilarious. As is Henry explaining how he’ll charge more per tonse for tonsillectomies now that he’s famous.
Graham Jarvis does a fantastic job as Colonel Whiteman, explaining down to the minute how General MacArthur’s visit will unfold. I think it’s the mustache.
Frank’s book burning seems really out there even for Frank but the scene is saved when he accidentally touches the hot barrel and burns his hand. I wonder if that was scripted or not. At the end of the book burning scene, when Trapper and Hawkeye head into the Swamp, they suddenly go out of focus. It happens at about 13:41 into the episode. It’s very obvious. Was it an artistic choice or perhaps a mistake not noticed until it was too late to fix? The man cleaning in the background sweeping of the Swamp is in focus, however.
The scene in which Frank and Margaret check out MacArthur’s V.I.P. tent is bizarre and one I think usually cut from the episode in syndication. Whose idea was it to hang the huge picture of MacArthur? Radar?
Klinger’s incredible Statue of Liberty costume has to be one of his most memorable stunts, right up there with the big red bird with fuzzy pink feet.