Every Monday, I spotlight a random episode of M*A*S*H, providing a brief review and asking readers to offer their thoughts.
“Your Retention Please” (#201, 9×07)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, January 5th, 1981
Written by Erik Tarloff
Directed by Charles S. Dubin
Capsule Summary: Klinger is devastated when he learns his ex-wife plans to marry his best friend and decides to re-enlist in the Army.
This episode is a bit of a blast from the past, resurrecting for a brief moment the Klinger desperate to get out of the Army via a Section 8 discharge. His take on Lady Godiva may not have been quite as memorable as his Statue of Liberty (and he wasn’t actually naked) but it was fun nevertheless.
I would like to think that the Army has rules about signing documents while drunk, which would keep situations like Klinger’s from happening in real life. If it didn’t in the 1950s hopefully it does now. For anyone interested, here are the current U.S. Army oaths of enlistment and office.
My one real problem with this episode is the portrayal of Sgt. Vickers, the retention officer. I would have preferred for him to have been more honest in his dealings with Klinger, less amoral and frankly proud of the sleazy way he re-enlisted Klinger.
With few exceptions, like Margaret, Frank, Rizzo and Colonel Potter on occasion, rarely were characters on M*A*S*H ever positive about their time in the Army. Understandable, given that most of them had been drafted. The vehement anti-military attitudes of Hawkeye and B.J.in this episode fit perfectly with their characters, but made their reactions to Vickers predictable.
I think just depicting Vickers as a nice person doing a job would have made for a stronger episode. Instead, the behavior of Vickers reinforced how Hawkeye and B.J. felt about the Army.
The B story involving Private Hutchinson, the male nurse the Army discriminates against, really needed more than a few minutes of screen time to be effective. It felt rushed and out of place in this episode, as if added as an afterthought to pad out the episode and give Margaret something to do.
During the opening scene in which Klinger is distributing mail, notice that Father Mulcahy is reading a boxing magazine.