Episode Spotlight: A Night at Rosie’s


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

“A Night at Rosie’s” (#167, 7×23)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, February 26th, 1979
Written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Directed by Burt Metcalfe

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye meets a soldier gone AWOL at Rosie’s and along with B.J. decide to start their own country called Rosieland to escape the war and the Army.

I’m not sure what’s more unbelievable about this episode: that Colonel Potter would allow his entire senior staff and others to disappear from the 4077th; that it would take Charles two hours to track down Hawkeye when it was time for the Officer of the Day switch; or that there would be absolutely no repercussions for anyone involved in the rise and fall of Rosieland. Hawkeye and B.J. get away with tying up and gagging Charles and the destruction of Rosie’s Bar while Sgt. Scully gets away with deserting his unit.

According to Ken Levine, this episode was a last-minute replacement when the planned Season Seven finale in which Gary Burghoff would depart the series was pushed to Season Eight. Levine and his writing partner David Isaacs wrote “A Night at Rosie’s” in a weekend, using the opportunity to script an episode set at just one location: Rosie’s Bar. Although it was the last episode produced for Season Seven, it was not the last aired.

The episode hits a high point when Colonel Potter finally shows up and chews out Hawkeye and B.J. Either they’re too drunk or too selfish to realize what he’s talking about when he tells them he needs respect. His response to their apology (“You think that helps, don’t you?”) is a wonderful line, as is his prediction that they won’t remember much of anything the following day. It’s too bad their actions in this episode were never brought up again by Potter. And nobody ever mentioned the fact that patients could have been at risk with Hawkeye, B.J. and Charles at Rosie’s Bar.

“A Night at Rosie’s” introduced Jack Scully, played by Joshua Bryant, who would return in “Guerrilla My Dreams” and “Stars and Stripes” during Season Eight as a love interest for Margaret. She fell for him pretty quickly in this episode, fawning over his broad shoulders and his strength. Had he appeared earlier in the series, Hot Lips may have found him attractive but would have turned him in for being AWOL. Margaret, while shocked to learn he had deserted, cared enough to help him elude the MPs. Hawkeye and Rosie were the only other people who knew Scully was AWOL. Hawkeye didn’t mind while Rosie was only worried about MPs showing up.

Once again, the need to include the entire cast meant forcing characters into the main plot. Klinger’s craps game added very little and removing it could have given Father Mulcahy more to do. Or, had both Klinger and Mulcahy been written out of the episode, Margaret’s romance with Scully could have been expanded. Likewise, Radar’s subplot involving Major Dorsett, while amusing, could easily have been left out.

“Shush, Winchester”

I do like the minor role played by Charles (“Now I demand a full apology even though I will never accept it”) but as I mentioned it isn’t at all believable that Colonel Potter could talk Charles out of pressing charges against Hawkeye and B.J. Not only did they tie him up and gag him, they also sat on him.

“A Night at Rosie’s” marked the first appearance of Eileen Saki as Rosie. The character was earlier played by Shizukuo Hoshi in “Mad Dogs and Servicemen” in Season Three and then by Frances Fong in “Bug Out” (Season Five) and “Fallen Idol” (Season Six). Saki would play Rosie in a total of seven episodes, the last of which was “Snap Judgement” in Season Ten.

Scully introduces himself as Sergeant Jack Scully while the closing credits refer to him as Sergeant Jerry Scully.

20 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: A Night at Rosie’s”

  1. This isn’t one of my favorite episodes. Like the author, I found it hard to believe there would be no consequences for Hawkeye and B.J.’s actions of taking away most of the MASH staff and pretty much shutting the place down. What if there had been casualties? B.J. and Hawkeye do get away with a lot, but what they did,along with tying up Charles, was going way too far.

    I actually felt bad for Colonel Potter because they undermined his command and showed him no respect, which he has earned, like in the episode when an informer is found writing complaints to the Inspector General about how Potter runs the unit. They took his command away from him, in spite of the fact he always tried to make life more tolerable at the 4077 and backed up his people when they needed him to.

    In the Margaret/Scully storyline, in the past Margaret probably would have turned him in and probably wouldn’t have taken romantic interest in him because in a previous episode, Radar was infatuated with one of the nurses and both her and Frank Burns went to Col. Blake to try to get it broken up due to regulations barring fraternization between officers and enlisted personnel. I can see her having respect for Scully because he’s brave, a good leader, and one of his future appearances we learn she thought he would make a good officer, he was still a Sergeant, making him off limits to a Major.

    The crooked crap game only serves to start the fight that breaks up the party and allows Scully to escape the Major Dorsett story is funny, but not necessary. This episode was probably put together at the last minute, using only one set made it quicker, cheaper, and easier to produce. Not one of the better episodes of the series.

  2. I think this is the second only true bottle episode after ‘Hawkeye.’ No matter what anyone says about this, I enjoy this episode. It was the one bright spot in an increasingly bleak 7th season.

  3. I have to agree with Sue on this one, I really like this episode because it was one of the last times we were able to see characters in an early series situation and how they would react to it. I do agree that what some of the characters did in this episode were morally wrong, but I still found it entertaining and having a very good message, specifically the Potter part. As for the very short stories and plots thereof, I actually prefer those to the drawn out ones, I think its nice to wonder, ponder, and come up with your own ideas to what happens or what the person was thinking. Therefore, this episode ranks within the Top 10 MASH’s of my list.

  4. I I liked when they tied Charles up! Klinger getting back his money from the crooked craps dealer and the craps dealer laughing because Klinger was tickling him. Funny!

  5. I like this episode, many funny moments.

    Hawkeye and BJ did not hijack anyone to Rosies, they all just drifted over there. Some episodes state Rosie’s is “across the road”, so it’s not like they are miles away; and there’s no indication there are wounded in post-op or that casualties are expected.

    Potter is correct that Charles has a case against Hawkeye and BJ, but there are the mitigating factors they were off duty, off base, drunk, and the “attack” was little more than a prank.

    Potter also agreed with Hawkeye’s statement that everyone needed this to unwind, and I don’t think the disrespect was as flagrant as Potter implied. I think a better response would have been to say nothing til the next day, then chew out everyone (except Charles) and make them go clean up Rosie’s (who did have to pay for all that damage?).

  6. This felt like an earlier Potter-era episode that might have worked in an earlier season. I liked how Father Mulcahy was the one who saw that the game was rigged before Klinger did, and Potter’s admonishment over the lack of respect-again, something that felt more like it came out of an earlier episode as they were toning down Hawkeye’s anti-authoritarian behavior by this time.

  7. Between the title and the basic absurdity of Let’s Make the Bar a country, it felt like a touch of the Marx Brothers. In that light, my tolerance for weirdness goes up several notches and so this becomes a welcome dose of zaniness where anything less would be uncharacteristic.

  8. Has anyone been tempted to try Hawkeye’s Breakfast of ExChampions — Rice Krispies with beer instead of milk? If so, how was it?

    1. Not me, however, I did once try the sandwich he created in “Deluge,” which consisted of peanut butter, jelly, ham, mayo, turkey, mayo, cheese, and pickles.

      It didn’t kill me right away.

      Honestly, it had so many ingredients and flavors competing for my senses that they all kind of canceled each other out.

      1. Is that the episode where BJ says, “Watch it,Dagwood” before bringing a cleaver down on the sandwich?

  9. I don’t have a good knowledge of the Andrew Sisters, but curious as to why was it considered bad to be Laverne?

    1. Maxine was the fox of the trio, and Patty sang leads. Also, it may have been how they were familiarly introduced, as “I’m Patty,…I’m Maxine…and I’m LaVerne.” Hurts your star power when there’s a conjunction attached to your name.

      1. Thanks for the answer, I think there was a similar joke in a “Taxi” episode with Alex, Latka and Tony dressed as the Andrew Sisters and the three of them arguing among themselves who is playing who.

  10. Regarding Charles confronting Hawkeye at Rosie’s about being Officer of the Day. Why would Charles demand a full apology if he knows he’ll never accept it.
    Hawkeye: Another word and I’ll have you under Citizen’s arrest.
    A very full episode with lots of action all over Rosie’s.

  11. I like this episode a lot! Having all the characters in the episodes make them seem fuller, rather then spending so much time on just a few characters. The idea behind this episode is so far-fetched that it works, in my opinion.

    Watching this episode always makes me wish that Margaret and Scully could have ended up together. They were so great together in this episode!

    Charles’ part is stinkin’ hilarious. “In between dances, they come over here and… sit on me!” LOL

    I love the chill way Potter reacts to finding Charles tied up and gagged… “Why can’t you three learn to play together?”

  12. The only issue I had with this episode (and it’s a small one) is the way they shoehorned Radar in with the passed out major that nobody knew anything about. He insists on trying to wake him up even though nobody was looking for him nor did they have any idea who he was. He was invisible to the army so why on Earth did Radar care what he was doing? At one point he tells him he’s disgusting. He’s disgusting but Radar spies on women in the shower, sleeps with a teddy bear, and acts like a child even though he’s about 45 years old with a receding hairline and has been at war for years so has learned a lot. He got more annoying as the series went on with his constant raining on everyone’s parade and trying to act as the moral compass for everyone. Perhaps that was Gary’s born again Christianity informing the character. He got downright whiny by the end of the seventh season which made little sense since people grow with every new experience, but Radar seemed to grow in reverse.

    Even though it was a big deal when he left, it didn’t hurt as much as it could have. Gary Burghoff was barely there in his final season, choosing instead to only commit to half the season so he could be with his family. I guess that got old fast when he tried to have his own spin-off series. You would think he would have wanted to do a final push and be in more episodes for his final season, but no such luck.

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