Episode Spotlight: Payday


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

“Payday” (#70, 3×22)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, March 4th, 1975
Written by Regier & Markowitz
Directed by Hy Averback

Capsule Summary: It’s payday at the 4077th and paymaster Hawkeye winds up with $3,000 that the Army wants back. Meanwhile, Trapper finds himself in a losing streak at the poker table.

This is a great episode with a lot going on. The A storyline involves Hawkeye as paymaster getting $3,000 from the Army after making an off-hand remark to Radar. He doesn’t want the money but Radar won’t take it back, so he gives it to Father Mulcahy. Not surprisingly, the Army wants the money back.

Captain Sloan, Supervising Acc-Fin (played to perfection by Eldon Quick) is sent to get the money back. Sloan previously appeared in Season Two’s “The Incubator” and Quick would play a similar character in Season Four’s “The Late Captain Pierce.”

The B storyline could be either Trapper’s run of bad luck at the poker table or Frank’s purchase of two sets of pearls, one real and one fake, to give to his wife and Margaret, respectively. Both probably get about the same amount of screen time. Of the two, Frank’s storyline is by far the more amusing, as Margaret shrewdly tricks him into giving her the real set of pearls. I do like Trapper begging Hawkeye for some money (“What about all our knee-scraping, commode-hugging good times?”).

Paymaster Hawkeye

Jack Soo made his second and last appearance in this episode, having previously guest starred in “To Market, To Market” as an entirely different character. Too bad he didn’t appear in additional episodes. Both his characters are terrific.

Frank tells Klinger to “stand a little closer to the razor when you shave.” He said almost exactly the same thing in “Dear Dad,” telling Hawkeye to shave again and “this time take one step close to the razor.” I wouldn’t exactly call it a repeated joke. I only noticed the similarities because I watched the episodes back-to-back while preparing to review them.

Hawkeye refers to Trapper as “Ravenal,” which I had to look up to learn is a reference to compulsive gambler Gaylord Ravenal from the novel Show Boat.

6 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Payday”

  1. Kind of a meh episode, I tend to skip it.

    Two interesting things to note: 1. Notice how this is the only time we actually see Frank wear a wedding ring. 2. The nurse sitting in on the poker game is Larry Gelbart’s wife.

  2. The “knee scraping, commode hugging good times” kinda quotes are exactly why I love Trapper over BJ.

    Eldon Quick’s appearances were always fun. The way he delivers his lines with that straight face always cracks me up.

    Good episode, not great although this episode clearly demonstrates Frank’s desire to be thought of as being smarter than he actually is. Hot Lips pulls a fast one on him and he blindly falls for it.

    I can either take or leave Jack Soo. He was terrible as Charlie Lee in ‘To Market, To Market’ and he is clearly terrible here. A Korean merchant speaking with a perfect American accent……yeah, totally believable.

  3. This was always my favorite episode! Couldn’t find it on YouTube? I entered “M.A.S.H. Payday episode, M.A.S.H. episode 70” nothing came up? Does someone know if it even IS on YouTube? Another GREAT & FUNNY epsisode is the one where they all watch Frank’s home movies of his wedding with Hawkeye & Trapper commenting (even Klinger, Radar, & Henry) all the way through….HILLARIOUS!

  4. It occurs to me you have the wrong writer and director for the episode. Hy Averback directed this episode and John Regier and Gary Markowitz wrote it. The scene where Frank buys the strands of pearls is comical.

    1. You’re right. I must’ve accidentally copied the writer/director credits from another episode. I’ve corrected the error. Thanks.

  5. Is the nurse who sits in on the poker game supposed to be the character Starch from the first few seasons of “Trapper John MD”? The actress on TJMD was a regular but died a few years into the series, the character was supposed to be a scrub nurse who served with Trapper in Korea and got a job under him at the hospital in SanFran.

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