Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“U.N., the Night and the Music” (#245, 11×10)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, November 9th, 1981
Written by Elias Davis & David Pollock
Directed by Harry Morgan
Capsule Summary: A visit from three U.N. delegates brings with a variety of emotions for Margaret, Charles, Colonel Potter and Klinger. Meanwhile, B.J. attempts to save a wounded soldier’s leg.
This is an odd episode in that the A-story was really three separate strands of one story that impacted various characters differently. They could be considered separate storylines, in which case the episode had an A, B, C and D-story. But since they are all connected, I think it makes more sense to consider them part of the same story.
That didn’t leave much room for the B-story involving B.J.’s patient who develops gangrene. It didn’t have a lot of time to develop and I think that hurt it in the end. I wasn’t sold on B.J. getting so emotionally attached to Private Lumley just because the private had a picture of his wife and daughter. At least not emotionally attached enough that he’d basically lie to the man and then shed a few tears after informing Lumley that his leg had been amputated.
Of the three strands making up the A-story, each having to do with one of three U.N. delegates, I enjoyed the Randolph Kent/Charles storyline the best. Charles finally thinks he’s come across someone as refined and classy as himself only to be continually one-upped by the man. And then to learn that Kent isn’t the high society, old money man Charles thought? It was hilarious.
That being said, I’m not really sure why Kent went to such lengths to denigrate Charles. When the two met, Charles was nice and excited to have someone to talk about music with. He wasn’t acting particularly snobbish or anything. But for whatever reason, Kent decided to spend his visit insulting Charles at every turn. I think that probably says more about the character of Kent than it does about Charles.
The Rammurti Lal/Potter/Klinger storyline was the shortest of the three strands and was pretty harmless. It was impressive to see so many of the actors standing on their heads for extended periods of time. I’ve never been able to do that for more than a few seconds before the blood rushes to my head and I fall over. I wonder if in certain scenes there was someone holding their legs up out of sight of the camera.
That brings us to the Per Johannsen/Margaret storyline. It was somewhat painful to watch Margaret throw herself at Per, from the first moment she saw him in Post Op, again in the Officers’ Club and finally in his tent. We don’t know exactly when Per’s injury took place or how long he’d been living with impotence. Maybe that explains why he wasn’t turned off by her desperation.
I don’t understand why Per bothered talking to Hawkeye about his problem. Why not just be firm with Margaret and tell her to leave him alone? As warm and fuzzy as it was for Margaret to stay and talk with Per, the fact that she kept pushing when he made it obvious he wasn’t interested diminished her kindness..
Finally, does anyone know what the title means? The only connection I can find is to a jazz song called “You and the Night and the Music” from a 1934 Broadway play called Revenge with Music.