Episode Spotlight: Mail Call Again

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

“Mail Call Again” (#86, 4×14)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, December 9th, 1975
Written by Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum
Directed by George Tyne

Capsule Summary: Mail call brings Colonel Potters news of a grandchild, Frank news of a divorce, Hawkeye a newspaper with lots of news, and Radar a home movie

This was the second of three Mail Call episodes, although there were certainly more than three episodes featuring letters from home. What I find most interesting about this episode is just how small Hawkeye’s role is. He pops up occasionally to read a bit of news from the Crabapple Cove Courier but otherwise has little to do with any of the storylines. The same goes for B.J., who has no real storyline of his own.

Colonel Potter’s grandchild storyline and Frank’s divorce storyline are probably tied for the A Story. The baby pool thought up by Radar is a nice way for the camp to celebrate the arrival of Potter’s grandchild. We don’t see a lot of people placing their bets but I think we can assume everyone got involved considering how popular pools have been in other episodes. I wonder how much Father Mulcahy won?

Frank’s divorce storyline really brings out the worst in ole Ferret Face. His reaction after convincing Louise not to divorce him — and perhaps more importantly confirming he is still in her father’s will — is about as slimy as Frank ever gets. Not only did he still have Louise and her family’s money but he assumed he also still had Margaret. Little did he know she was listening in on the conversation.

What does everyone think of Radar’s home movie? Watching his family eat wasn’t nearly as exciting as seeing Frank or Henry’s home movies. I’m also not convinced having Gary Burghoff portray Radars mother was a great idea. Maybe Jamie Farr was happy to finally see someone else in drag but it really pulls me out of the episode.

I do like Klinger’s attempt to get a discharge for being his family’s only surviving son even if it was reminiscent of a similar scheme he pulled on Colonel Blake in the first “Mail Call” episode in Season Two. The story he came up with was so detailed and yet Klinger had to have known there was no chance of it working. But he still put in the effort.

B.J. and Father Mulcahy also get letters but we don’t hear much about them. Margaret doesn’t get a letter but does receive a package from Frederick’s of Hollywood, which ties into Frank’s divorce storyline.

Poor Klinger has lost his brothers in a tragic accident

Radar mentions a parade in Seoul due to Syngman Rhee being “elected dictator again.” That means this episode took place in early August 1952. South Korea held presidential elections on August 5th, 1952 and Syngman Rhee was re-elected president.

There’s only one guest star credited in this episode: William Christopher as Father Mulcahy. Nurse Kellye is seen in the Mess Tent smirking at Margaret but she doesn’t have any lines.

Hawkeye trying to figure out how to properly say “shaving mugs” is hilarious.

It wasn’t until the episode was over that I realized there were no scenes in the O.R.

13 Comments

  • Seoul City Sue says:

    Frank is the best part of this episode. Him, tearing open his pillow in disgust is always a sight to behold.
    “The crab grass is in bloom, the cat had puppies.”
    Calling Margaret ‘an army mule with bosoms.’

    Radar’s home movie was cute to see although the whole schtick with his entire family wearing glasses was a bit much. Klinger, as usual, does great in these episodes. Is this the episode where he talks about his brothers dying in an explosion at the Toledo Harmonica factory??

    Great episode. Laughs all around.

  • Of the three “Mail Call” episodes, this one is probably my favorite: it makes for a good foursome of great episodes from the season: “The Gun,” “Mail Call Again,” “The Price of Tomato Juice,” and “Dear Ma.”

  • Crabapple Cove says:

    I really enjoy this episode and it still cracks me up every time I watch it.

    Anytime Hawkeye reads the newspaper I rate it A+. Alan Alda is great at making the mundane local news the height of humor.

    I also highly enjoy Radar’s home movie (along with all the other home movies on M*A*S*H). I think Radar is hilarious portraying his mother. The laughter by Hawkeye and BJ at Radar’s various family members also gets me laughing along with them.

    Potter’s reaction to the news of a grandson is hilarious as he comments about the family traits that he hopes will (and won’t) pass on to his grandchild.

    • Jon says:

      Actually Potter had a granddaughter, not a grandson. I remember at one point he asks “My grandson’s a girl?” then says something like “Heck, no. I’m not disappointed.” I don’t recall the other vital statistics of his granddaughter other than her name, Sherry Pershing Potter.

  • Jon says:

    This was a hilarious episode to me. I think I first saw this episode when CBS was running M*A*S*H reruns late night after the local news, starting around fall 1978, dragged out to 35 minutes but with fewer (longer) commercial breaks. I still remember Margaret’s outrage, “War horse?!? Army mule?!?”, while she threw things at Frank, from the phone extension to the nightgown from Frederick’s, which Klinger probably wanted. 😉

  • doc funnypants says:

    Potter’s granddaughter was 8 1/2 lbs.and was born on the 23rd.

  • ironman111 says:

    I like wen Frank tells Radar, don’t give me any ur sass , I’m not that old ” dimwit” u work for..

  • Lady you ARE a Piece of Cornbread says:

    In this episode we find out that Radar’s dog is Ranger and BJ/Erin’s is Waggles Hunnicutt

  • mspence says:

    Potter to Klinger: “I know you. Every time you lie, your nose gets smaller.”

    It was cool being able to see Radar’s oft-mentioned “Mom” and the rest of his family.

  • Victoria Smith says:

    do you know who the actors were,in radar’s family movie?

  • Latrinogram says:

    This is one of the best episodes of season 4, which is perhaps the best season of the series. Highlights include:

    Frank is at his whiniest and slimiest. His interactions with Radar and Potter are hilarious. I also love his self-satisfaction after getting off the phone with his wife, and the subsequent run-in with Margaret.

    Klinger’s latest attempt to get out of the army is reminiscent of a previous episode; however, his fake sadness as he tells Potter about the deaths of his brothers is comic gold! “Klinger, you gotta live before you die.” “Oh, you said a mouthful, sir.” LOL

    Hawkeye’s reading of the news stories as if they were the most important things in the world is always entertaining. “Local fisherman suffers double hernia pulling in lobster traps. Eight lobsters escaped during the disaster.” is probably my favorite one.

    Kellye’s role in this episode is interesting (even if she doesn’t speak or get credited). In her first scene, she is sitting quietly in the mess tent and then snickers when Hawkeye tells Margaret “when you’re mad, you’re ugly.” Margaret then threatens to confine Kellye to her bed for a week, to which Hawkeye says “Anywhere she goes, I go with her.” This might be the only time Hawkeye says anything remotely flirtatious toward Kellye in the entire series (Including “Hey, Look Me Over”)…. .Also, in the tag Kellye is celebrating in the Swamp with the others and she is smoking a cigar!

  • Lady, you ARE a Piece of Cornbread says:

    Could someone please explain Radar’s line “….he wanted to be a Chaplin, but couldn’t find a good corner “

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