Episode Spotlight: Too Many Cooks


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

“Too Many Cooks” (#170, 8×01)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, September 17th, 1979
Written by Dennis Koenig
Directed by Charles S. Dubin

Capsule Summary: The 4077th enjoys the culinary wonders of a talented cook while Colonel Potter worries about his relationship with Mildred.

I really like the A storyline in this episode, the one involving the incredible culinary delights cooked up by Private Conway. It’s a fun storyline if a somewhat unbelievable one. Could even the best chef make a Spam Parmesan that would delight a Winchester? Would Colonel Potter, even distracted by his problems with Mildred, allow Klinger to turn the mess tent into a bistro complete with reservations?

The B storyline felt repetitive. Colonel Potter is upset about something and yells a lot. Hawkeye & Co. try to figure out what is wrong with him. I honestly feel there was enough to the A storyline that the episode didn’t need a completely separate B storyline. There could have been a variety of subplots involving various characters and their reactions to Conway’s cooking. Charles could have gone to great lengths to try to keep him at the 4077th.

Speaking of Charles, I love this exchange:

Charles: “Of course he’s not telling you. You all pussyfoot around him as if he were a vestal virgin. Yo must appeal to his sense of logic and common sense. You march into his tent. You demand to know why he’s behaving like an ass.”
B.J.: “Well, you’re our resident authority on behaving like an ass, Charles. You want to talk to him?
Charles: “All right, I will.”
Margaret: “Are you crazy?”
Hawkeye: “Let him go, Margaret. Sincerity didn’t work. Maybe pomposity will.”

And then Margaret goes and does exactly what she insisted others don’t do. Also repetitive.

A roll, Colonel?

Gary Burghoff receives an “Also Starring” credit during the opening credits yet makes little more than a glorified cameo appearance that added little to the episode.

What was going on with Charles and Nurse Kellye? Did he just need a date for dinner? And what exactly was on the wine list Klinger gave Charles?

Hawkeye’s comment to Margaret about “when the shower curtain fell” has to be a reference to the shower scene from the movie MASH.

When General Haggerty refers to changing Conway’s MOS, he means Military Occupational Specialty.

B.J. makes an amusing reference to Mildred Pierce, a character from James M. Cain’s 1941 novel and its 1945 film adaption starring Joan Crawford.

Notice the freeze frame at the end of this episode. Not only is it really dark but it doesn’t match the scene just before it, as if it was cut abruptly.

11 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Too Many Cooks”

  1. Ok episode. I did mention the Charles and Kellye date to the mess tent thingy for the previous Episode Spotlight. It would have been interesting to see how that storyline turned out. Did Charles invite Kellye?? How did that come about?? Missed opportunity there.

    Also, the tag is one thing that I don’t understand. What is with all those faces when Klinger mentions that his dish is called ‘Goat a la King??’

    1. I thought someone had mentioned the bizarre Charles/Kellye pairing in this episode recently in the comments somewhere but could not remember where.

      As for the tag, I would guess everyone was disgusted at the thought of eating goat.

    2. Just came here to post the same question about “Goat a la King” I don’t get it either. What would be so wrong about eating goat if it tastes good?

  2. This episode honestly felt like it was held over from Season Seven, when you consider what the rest of Season Eight is like; in this episode, humor was still a forefront, and it’s rather evident in the A story with Private Conway… then starting with the next episode, that’s when the rest of the season gets dark and depressing, so this episode feels really out of place with the rest of the season.

    The B story is a remake from “Point of View”, where Potter was upset and taking his anger out on the entire camp because he forgot to call Mildred and wish her a happy anniversary (and it was the first time he forgot, too)… this time around, he’s upset and taking his anger out on the entire camp because Mildred has done everything short of demanding a divorce because he’s been away from her for so long.

    Radar’s appearance is kind of messed up in syndication: it cuts off right after he tells Klinger about the people Mildred is possibly spending time with, so unless you have this episode on DVD, you won’t see that Radar isn’t at a party, but rather, in his hotel room sulking with magazines, while the people in the room next to him are the ones doing all the hooping and hollering Klinger heard over the phone.

  3. Did anyone feel unnerved when Margaret read Mildred’s letter? I did mainly because they filmed extremely close to her face. And what about Charles and BJ’s comments to Col. Potter. IMO, it didn’t seem necessary for them to say what they said.

  4. A good plot involving Conway is ruined by yet another over-the-top Klinger schtick. In another episode people wonder how the dead corporal could have amassed over $8000 in cash. Well, how does Cpl. Klinger get tuxedos, Toledo working man’s outfit (with hardhat, lunchbox and bowling jacket), salesman’s suit with hat and sample case (selling aluminum siding), etc.etc.etc. These ridiculous Klinger subplots ruin many otherwise enjoyable episodes.

    1. Better yet, how on Earth did they get Parmesan cheese and fresh rolls and the ingredients for coq au vin? I don’t think the bad food in the mess tent was caused by the cooks, only by the lack of fresh, quality ingredients. It seems to me that not only was Conway a wizard in the kitchen, he was also a magician able to make foods not used in any Korean cooking (Parmesan cheese) appear on command.

  5. I was kind of surprised that Charles was the one who wanted t go see Colonel Potter. Also I liked Conway’s character & was sorry for the 4077th when he had to go.

    Klinger was a scam artist; he probably had connections back home through supply (although his stuff would have taken awhile to get there).

    Otherwise the Potter storyline was repetitive, and made Potter look rather unpleasant by taking out his frustrations on the people around him (again).

    Radar’s credited appearances may have been a result of Gary Burghoff intending to leave this season.

  6. Alan Alda always overacts when he’s supposed to be tasting good food. I noticed it in Adam’s Ribs and this episode he’s acting damn near hysterical when he tastes Klinger’s Spam Parmesan. From an actor as good as Alda, I’m not sure why he felt the need to open his mouth and moan while flapping his arms. It’s unrealistic and annoying.

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