Episode Spotlight: Patent 4077


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

“Patent 4077” (#136, 6×16)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, January 10th, 1978
Written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Directed by Harry Morgan

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye and B.J. try everything to get a special clamp built while Margaret desperately searches for her missing wedding ring.

This episode had two storylines, one of which I liked and one of which I didn’t. The A story, in which Hawkeye and B.J. went to great lengths to design a special clamp that is sensitive enough not to crush arteries, is the one I liked.

It reminded me a little of earlier episodes like “The Incubator” in which Hawkeye & Co. butt up against the bureaucracy of the military while trying to find ways to save lives.

Charles, of course, was probably correctly when he stated that the Corps of Engineers had no business trying to build a clamp. And he was certainly right when he said that none of the doctors had the skills necessary to build it. He didn’t have to be as snotty about but he wouldn’t be Charles without his holier-than-thou attitude.

Poor Zale. He offered to try to build the clamp, perhaps overselling his skills somewhat in the process, and all he got for his efforts was yelled at. At the very least Hawkeye and B.J. could have said thanks for trying, sorry it didn’t work out. Or maybe give him thoughts so he could try again.

The clamp is stuck on Hawkeye's hand as B.J. and Zale try to get it off

A painful clamp

The B story involving Margaret’s lost wedding ring didn’t work as well for me. I think what bothered me the most was the fact that she never apologized to Klinger. Yes, he threw out her wedding ring but realistically she shouldn’t have left it on a shelf.

She eventually acknowledged that Hawkeye had done a nice thing by purchasing the replacement ring (ignoring entirely B.J.’s role) but we never saw her talking to Klinger about the fact that he dug through tons of garbage and lit his nose on fire trying to recover the original.

(We also never got to see her upset about the fact that the her original ring was apparently worth just $10.)

The vascular clamp was referred to in “Comrades In Arms, Part II” which although produced before “Patent 4077” actually aired after it, resulting in a rare continuity error for the series.

Radar does not appear in this episode. It was directed by Harry Morgan, which explains why Colonel Potter is barely in the episode.

12 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Patent 4077”

  1. I really dislike it when Margaret starts to scream and everyone else just stands there and takes it. Why is she afforded so much respect and fear?? It’s not like she gives a hoot about anyone other than herself?…..not to mention the pitch of her voice rising so high that only dogs can hear her. Ugh!!

    I also dislike the way Hawkeye spoke to Zale after looking at the clamp. Zale did what was asked of him. The least Hawkeye and BJ could have done was say “Good job, but this doesn’t work.” No need to get nasty.

    Overall, not a bad episode but the attitude of the characters puts me right off.

  2. I found the post-Frank Margaret to be shrill, bitter, self-centered, and very unlikable. At least in the first three years she was portrayed with a little more humaneness. Her personality was a lot softer than it was in later years.

  3. In case anyone noticed, Private Cohen was played by Harry Gold. If the name sounds familiar, he’s the father of “Growing Pains” star Tracey Gold as well as a agent in Hollywood.

  4. When the writer has the peddler say “miracle glue” do they mean an early version of Krazy Glue which I don’t think was around commercially in the 50s?

  5. Just now watching this episode on WGN, never noticed it before, but in the scene where Margaret is first searching for her ring after the OR scene, when Klinger comes he’s dressed in a scrub maids outfit like the one Carol Burnett used (as a cartoon) at the end of her show . Even has the scrub bucket.

  6. Margaret should have been strongly reprimanded & disciplined for conduct unbecoming an officer. Didn’t think Hawkeye & BJ’s harsh criticism of Zale was in keeping with their characters.

  7. I watched this thinking if I were assigned to the 4077th, I would not lift a finger to help these people unless given an order. I mean, Zale is a moron, but he legitimately tried to help out and all they did was mock and ridicule him for it. And it’s not the only time they’ve all sanctimoniously gone off on the enlisted personnel for just trying to help. F that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.