Episode Spotlight: Souvenirs

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

“Souvenirs” (#118, 5×22)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, March 1st, 1977
Teleplay by Burt Prelutsky
Story by Burt Prelutsky & Reinhold Weege
Directed by Joshua Shelley

Capsule Summary: While Hawkeye and B.J. try to stop a chopper pilot from selling war souvenirs, Frank tries to smuggle a priceless Korean antique home to his wife.

There are a lot of overlapping storylines in this episode, most of which involve souvenirs of some sort. The A story, of course, involves Hawkeye and B.J. attempting to shut down Willie Stratton’s souvenir selling business, first by having Colonel Potter give a speech and later by threatening to ground him by falsifying his medical records.

Then there is Frank and his 800-year-old vase, which for him is primarily an investment but can also be considered a souvenir. And finally there is Margaret’s ruby ring, which Frank kept as a souvenir of their relationship. The only storyline not involving a souvenir is Klinger’s latest Section 8 stunt.

Poor Frank. He’s even more of a weasel in this episode than usual, lying to Margaret about having her ring and later begging her to wrestle with him again. Illegally buying a Korean antique doesn’t seem entirely out of character for Frank but why would he have spent $27.75 for the vase before he knew it was priceless? His defense, that someone must have used his face, was pretty pathetic.

How could the vase that ever be confused for a bowl? The M.P. definitely calls it a bowl and then immediately afterward refers to it as a vase.

Klinger’s scheme to sit on a pole until Potter gave him a Section 8 felt like an afterthought. It wasn’t the craziest thing Klinger ever did but it was perhaps one of the more dangerous. Aside from the possibility of catching a cold or coming down with hypothermia (despite the fact that nobody else in the episode seemed bothered by the weather) he doesn’t tie or otherwise secure himself to his platform. He also could have fallen off or been electrocuted if he touched the wrong wire attached to the pole. And how exactly did Klinger hear Potter’s anti-souvenir speech from atop the pole?

Klinger atop his pole

Do Hawkeye and B.J. follow Frank wherever he goes? Were they waiting hours for him to drop off a package in the company clerk’s office so they could swap the vase for a bedpan?

It’s hard to tell but I don’t think Larry Linville was wrestling with Loretta Swit in the Swamp. It looks like it was a stunt double (probably male) which is why Margaret was wearing a jeep cap.. I could be wrong.

Margaret tells Frank to “Go suck an egg” after getting her ring back. Hawkeye later eats an egg. Coincidence?

Radar is not in this episode. Father Mulcahy only appears in one scene but it’s a good one.

Reinhold Weege, who co-wrote the story for this episode, later created Night Court.

7 Comments

  • Seoul City Sue says:

    This episode feels a little weird because it is the only one that addresses the issue of war surplus being used for souvenirs. You see them everywhere on camp in this episode when you do not in any others. Example: The shell fragment being used by Col. Potter as his ashtray. It never appears before or after this episode.

    On a side note, the MP who comes to investigate the stolen vase was a very young Brian Dennehey.

  • Big Daddy O'Reilly says:

    A meh episode: not one of the best, but not one of the worst. Klinger sitting atop the basketball hoop was perhaps the highlight of the episode.

    There’s one thing that annoys me about this episode, though, it’s how Stratton was knocked out: he falls back, lands on top of the table, lies there for a moment before rolling off and hitting the floor. I don’t know why, but that always bothers me. Maybe it looks fake or something, but it’s just annoying.

  • Doc Funnypants says:

    Did anyone notice the way Frank signed his letter to his wife: ”Your husband, Frank Burns”. Now, why would Frank sign a letter to his wife that way? Does he think she forgot about him while he was in Korea? I’d appreciate a definitive answer.

  • Latrinogram says:

    This a pretty good episode. There are lots of good one-liners (a Reinhold Weege trademark). Klinger finally succeeds in one of his scams, but all he gets is a 3-day pass (and possible pneumonia).

    I wonder why Stratton the chopper pilot is constantly hanging around the unit. Doesn’t he have a job to do? Even if Potter didn’t have the authority to make him stop buying crap from the Korean kids, surely he could have caused a lot of trouble for Stratton.

    Similarly, I don’t believe for a minute that Stratton would so easily cave in to Hawkeye and BJ’s threat and give up selling souvenirs.

    By the way, what’s with the sunglasses he offers Hawkeye and BJ near the end? Were Korean kids scavenging sunglasses off of dead soldiers?

    Continuity Error: Early in the episode, BJ says his daughter is 2 years old. However, in GFA, he is desperately trying to get home for her 2nd birthday.

  • mspence says:

    You’d think Klinger would have tried to keep himself warmer…

    “Your husband, Frank Burns” That sounds exactly like something Frank would say. No wonder his relationship with Margaret failed!

    It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Stratton would rather give up the souvenir trade than his flying. But would Hawkeye and BJ really have been able to get away with falsifying his medical records? Couldn’t Stratton have gotten himself checked out by another doctor if they had?

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