Episode Spotlight: Hey, Doc


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

“Hey, Doc” (#77, 4×05)
Originally Broadcast: Friday, October 10th, 1975
Written by Rick Mittleman
Directed by William Jurgensen

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye and B.J. handle a number of unofficial requests for help, including a general who needs penicillin and a sergeant who wants to ship home enough equipment to start a restaurant.

I don’t really have much to say about this episode, truth be told. There’s nothing wrong with, nothing to criticize or complain about. Neither is there anything particularly noteworthy. It’s a regular, run-of-the-mill early Season Four episode. A solid episode. A good episode. And sometimes that’s enough.

The highlight of the episode for me is the wild tank ride of Frank Burns. He certainly looks gleeful driving the tank through the camp, destroying tents and crushing tents. At least at first.

Its obviously not the Swamp that Frank drives through, although the signpost has been placed in front of it to suggest it is. If you look carefully as B.J. is diving through the side of the tent, you’ll notice it’s absolutely empty other than the chairs and table. No mention was made of the Still being destroyed by the tank.

A gleeful Frank driving a tank

Frank in the Tank

Of the three requests for help that gave the episode its title, Sergeant Kimble’s plea for his medical record to be changed so he could take a ship home was given the most screen time. When Hawkeye and B.J. first approached Frank to sign the papers for Kimble, I was a little surprised that Margaret didn’t suggest he do it in order to get the microscope.

Of course, I then remembered this was Hot Lips Houlihan, not Margaret Houlihan, as evidenced by her infatuation with Colonel Criswald and attempt to talk up Frank’s accomplishments. The Margaret Houlihan seen later in the series would have been more interested in helping patients and probably would have been fine with falsifying a document to get a microscope.

19 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Hey, Doc”

  1. There’s one thing I like about this episode, and one thing only: the aforementioned joyride Frank took in the tank. That was hilarious. Especially when he flattens Potter’s jeep, and Potter pulls out his pistol to shoot it like a wounded horse.

    Well, there ARE SOME other memorable lines in this one:

    POTTER: We’re doin’ all we can; I’m workin’ hard, and Radar’s scared.
    B.J.: And that’s all?!
    POTTER: I can work twice as hard if you like. Radar, can you be twice as scared?
    RADAR: Done, sir!


    RADAR: (On the phone) Hey, listen, can you speak up a little louder please, somebody’s trying to kill me!

  2. Another good line immediately after the above quote:

    BJ: Colonel, look at this, come here.
    POTTER: What is that?
    HAWKEYE: Two bottles of toenail juice.
    BJ: The scotch– eight-year-old scotch.
    POTTER: Ah, well… the good die young.

  3. Fun episode…..although I do have to wonder if Generals usually asked favors of the doctors like that. Treating them for unmentionable illnesses and then not keeping records.

    Frank’s destruction of the compound is fun to watch as always. Good episode.

  4. First off, Griswold was a general and I don’t know if anyone noticed but Lt. Chivers looked a lot like Charlton Heston. Frank comparing himself to George Patton seemed typical of his ego-driven personality.

    1. Which may explain Frank stealing that general’s pistol in another episode. Patton wore a pair of pearl handled revolvers.

      1. Patton carried ivory-handled pistols. As he put it: “Son, only a pimp in a Louisiana whorehouse carries pearl-handled revolvers. These are ivory.”

  5. I’ve seen a lot of comments on this episode in various places and all seem to gloss over the fact that Sgt. Kimball is a racist. Worse, Hawk and BJ seem to be ok with this. The scene is explicit: Kimball’s Korean Kafe, a joke about the linen coming from the Ku Klux Klan by name and a joke about putting the salt and pepper in the eyeholes of the linen. MASH was generally against racism and that’s what makes this scene confusing. In spite of the blatant racism, Hawk and BJ help this Sgt. I prefer to think that it was poor writing or poor editing. Maybe someone here can point out something I missed.

    1. I don’t think that exchange should be taken so seriously. The way I took it was that Kimball thought he was clever using alliteration with the name of his restaurant. In his usual joking manner, Hawkeye just points out what 3K also stands for back in the World. It’s just the guys joking amongst themselves about a trivial coincidence.

      Although racist attitudes may perhaps were more prevalent in the 1950s, there’s nothing to suggest Kimball actually is, or that he’s not a good guy. Just my thoughts on it.

  6. Here’s a perfect example of how this show needed a military-knowledgeable consultant: Kimble is stated as the motor-pool sergeant, which is usually a E6 (staff sergeant) or E7 (sergeant first class) at the company level. However, he’s wearing the rank of a first sergeant (3-up 3-down with a diamond). First sergeants report directly to a company commander and are the CO’s adviser in enlisted affairs. The E7 platoon sergeants report directly to the first sergeant as part of the NCO support chain.

  7. Maybe the reason we don’t see the lab that often, I know they had to show the missing microscope, but that layer of dust when Hawk and BJ notice it missing was embarrassing even if they do do as Hawkeye said in another episode “change the filth every day”.

  8. When the tank commander and Hawkeye walk through Radars office, Radar and Klinger are are holding hands and Radar is saying something about his undying love? Then as they scramble out the double doors, the voice of Klinger is clearly dubbed as he says “See? I told you we should have gone to my place!” Does anyone know what this scene really was about? I really don’t think it was for a talent show on Saturday night….

  9. This is one of those episodes that when I watch it I get the sense that it is completely unfamiliar. I guess it is just a regular season 4 episode, neither poor nor memorable.

    … and did the episode really have to make Frank Burns look bad because Frank * refused to * falsify a record? It actually managed to make Hawkeye appear to be pretty shifty.

    For nautical buffs this episode has numerous bloopers, insofar as the plot about Kimball means he wants to go home by boat instead of by plane. All characters (Hawkeye, BJ, Kimball) talk about boats.

    They should have been referring to returning to the USA on a ship, not a boat.

    Boats are smaller recreational craft, ships traverse oceans. And that would have been well known in the 1950’s, the peak of international ship travel and certainly well known by military personnel who desire to fill out forms requesting that they return to the USA by ship.

    A small point, but there you go.

    Also, the bottles of scotch are 2 8-year old bottles of Scotch. They were pointedly described as top quality Scotch, including by the British commander, so I wonder why the script referred to them as 8 year old Scotch instead of the more usual 12-year old scotch.

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