Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“What’s Up, Doc?” (#139, 6×19)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, January 30th, 1978
Written by Larry Balmagia
Directed by George Tyne
Capsule Summary: Margaret thinks she’s pregnant and needs to use Radar’s rabbit for a lab test to confirm. Meanwhile, a wounded soldier takes Charles hostage in an attempt to get back to the States.
The A story in this episode involving Margaret’s potential pregnancy included some really great lines from Hawkeye. Perhaps the best came when they were talking in the scrub room after surgery and Margaret was explaining her symptoms. She says she’s been irritable lately and Hawkeye responds “Well, if you count irritability you’ve been pregnant since I’ve known you.”
Given Margaret’s personality, I would have expected her to try to medically verify whether or not she was pregnant herself. Of course, it wasn’t like she could just go buy a home pregnancy kit. It wasn’t that simple in the 1950s. You needed a rabbit, or a mouse or a frog to run a pregnancy test.
It fits with Margaret’s character that she’d ultimately confide in Hawkeye and fits with his that he’d a) be overjoyed at the news, and b) immediately offer to help. Notice that after congratulating her, Hawkeye hugs Margaret and then quickly pulls away, apologizing, as if hugging her too tightly could harm the baby.
I do wonder if Hawkeye was really qualified to perform surgery on Fluffy the rabbit or the pregnancy test using Fluffy’s ovaries.
The B story involving B.J.’s patient, Lt. Mortinson, taking Charles hostage with a pistol was reminiscent of “Deal Me Out” in which a patient takes Frank hostage with a pistol. Things play out quite differently, though, and given the number of angry patients with guns I suppose we can believe it would happen more than once. I do wonder how Mortinson was able to smuggle his pistol into Post Op, though.
I wonder if Margaret later took Nurse Bell off report once she found out she wasn’t pregnant and cooled off. Poor Bell.
Does anyone else find it amusing that Lt. Martinson was played by Charles Frank, a man with two first names that happen to be connected to M*A*S*H? I wonder if anyone made any jokes about his name during filming.