Episode Spotlight: Run for the Money


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

“Run for the Money” (#244, 11×09)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, December 20th, 1982
Teleplay by Elias Davis & David Pollock
Story by Mike Farrell and Elias Davis & David Pollock
Directed by Nell Cox

Capsule Summary: A world-class runner is assigned to the 4077th so Klinger suggests a bet with the 8063rd. Meanwhile, Charles befriends a wounded engineer with a stutter.

There are many who feel M*A*S*H was a little tired by its 11th year but it doesn’t really come across that way in this episode. About the only weary part was Klinger confusing the out-of-shape Jessup McFarland with his son the sprinter, leading Margaret, Hawkeye, and B.J. to once again become furious with their scheming company clerk. But as Colonel Potter points out, that’s just Klinger being Klinger. Once he gave up wearing dresses all he ever did was scheme.

The A story here is obviously the race. There was probably a simpler way to pit Father Mulcahy against the 8063rd’s Jackrabbit but that would have left Klinger without much to do. Cutting out the whole McFarland plot point would have also meant more time devoted to Charles and his B story, which could have been nice. Klinger getting his comeuppance by having to give all his winnings to the orphanage was fitting but what about poor Hawkeye, B.J., and Margaret? They lost everything, too, and weren’t to blame for the situation. That was Klinger. B.J. losing a week’s pay meant Erin might not get new shoes.

It was a nice touch to have Earl “Jackrabbit” LeMasters turn out to be a decent guy, willing to throw the race to help orphans. Considering how unpleasant the 8063rd’s commanding officer and head nurse were, it would have been easy to have Jackrabbit be obnoxious as well. Hopefully he didn’t get into any trouble for losing to the 4077th.

The best part of the episode, of course, is the B story in which Charles befriends the stuttering Private Palmer, who doesn’t seem to have any friends. Even his CO dislikes him. While it may seem a little heavy-handed that his fellow soldiers and his CO made fun of him, given the time constraints of a 30-minute episode it was necessary. We see just enough of Palmer to realize that he has low self-esteem, thinks he’s dumb, and just wants to be left alone (probably because few people in the Army have ever been nice to him).

This wasn’t the first time Charles showed his compassionate side and, as always, it’s very nice to get to see Charles drop his holier-than-thou attitude and act like a human being. His brief exchange with in the Mess Tent (“Klinger, you don’t have to suck up to me. I didn’t bet and I don’t like you anyway”) was the perfect parallel to his reaction to Captain Sweeney insulting Palmer.

Learning that Honoria stutters explained why Charles was so nice to Palmer and so infuriated with Captain Sweeney. But was it necessary? Did we need an explanation?

Charles listens to a tape from his sister

Mike Farrell was involved in providing the story for this episode along with Elias Davis and David Pollock, who wrote the script. According to this website, scriptwriter Elias Pollock was given a special award by the National Stuttering Association (NSA) in recognition for his work on this episode and a copy of the script was auctioned off at a fundraiser.

David Ogden Stiers made a few guest appearances on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1976 and 1977 as a station manager with who stuttered, which actually led to him getting the role of Charles on M*A*S*H.

There are a lot of MASH 4077 clothes seen in this episode. Father Mulcahy wears a MASH 4077 tank top, B.J. a t-shirt, and Margaret and Hawkeye have on sweatshirts. None were olive drab, however. We do see some nurses wearing olive drab t-shirts while Colonel Potter is chatting with Father Mulcahy before the race.

Speaking of clothes, I wonder how many of the MASH 4077 and MASH 8063rd tank tops and sweatshirts were made specifically for this episode? We see a number of them on background characters.

17 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Run for the Money”

  1. I didn’t particularly like this episode because a lot of the dialogue wasn’t really funny even though the laugh track thought it was. At this stage of the series, they were running out of ideas.

  2. I missed the end credits when this ran on Sundance today, did they credit the person providing Honoria’s voice on the tape? If so who was it?

    1. There wasn’t a credit for Honoria’s voice. I just saw this episode on Sundance Saturday night and honestly, I thought it was as bad as I remember it.

  3. I don’t see it mentioned, but this is a rare “what year is it?” episode.. At one point Hawkeye says about the re-betting “It’s that kind of thinking that’s kept us in the war for three years.”

    1. It kinda makes sense though since this was the last season. This is probably the only season where we know it’s gotta be about 1953 since they finally know when the war is ending for the first time all series.

  4. I think learning that Honoria stutters is a key and very important moment. Reminding us that Winchester is still Winchester, and it’s just the personal connection to the malady that makes him human and fight for the little guy. Just watched the episode again for the first time in decades and the tape still brings tears to my eyes.

    1. I think you’re right. For Winchester to show that level of compassion and outrage it’s a good move to show why. Since it’s against the grain of his normal personality an explanation is welcome.

  5. I happen to agree with the notion that this great series was wearing down by this point. It’’s to be expected when a series reaches the 11th season. What bothers me about the later episodes is in stark relief here. The minor characters- the stutterer and his tormentors in particular- are written in such simplistic terms that it’s almost insulting.

  6. Sorry but the actor who was supposed to be the stutterer was so bad it was comical. It was so obvious he didn’t really stutter.. I realize it was a small role but he could have at least practiced.

    1. And the guy playing LeMasters was wearing shorts that were uncomfortably short. You could see practically see his groin muscle through the bottom..

  7. Klinger made me sick the way he got down on his knees and begged Hawkeye and BJ to give him money to bet with. He really had a very serious gambling problem and had trouble controlling it. It was ridiculous that nobody tried to cut him off. He’s not very likable when he behaves that way.

  8. I totally LOVED seeing Charles read the riot act to that Class A jerk Captain Sweeney. Private Palmer himself was a tougher nut to crack, but Charles eventually succeeded.

    Parallels to that included helping a pianist who lost the use of his right hand, and the Christmas episode in which he donated exquisite chocolate to an orphanage – only to have the orphanage director sell it on the black market. Furious at first, Charles was thoroughly chagrined when the director said the proceeds of the sale would buy enough staple food to feed the kids for a month. Klinger, who overheard that exchange, saved for Charles the last of the holiday goodies.

  9. Only redeeming value of this episode was Charles having genuine sympathy for the stutterer. Charles was pompous but loved his sister. He was empathetic to victims in several episodes. It was good to know his sister was the source of his kindness. The marathon story is not credible, the writers had zero ideas, the actors were going through the motions.

    1. I had always assumed that it was only the profits and not the entire amount including the bets that was donated to the orphanage. That’s what Mulcahy implied when he told Klinger “all you lost were your winnings”. Of course the people of the 8063rd still lost their money on a race that was fixed so it is unrealistic that Mulcahy would be willing to profit from dishonest gambling even for the orphans. He was never a RobinHood type of character. At its core, it was no different than drugging Radar’s mouse to win the race with the marines.

      Still., this is one of my Favorite episodes, I really like both storylines. I considered David Ogden Stiers to be the most talented actor on the show and he did his normal fine work here.

      I love the exchange when the bets are being discussed with Sweeney.

      B.J.: “were in this deep enough already”
      Margaret: “And that’s why we’ve got to see it through.”
      Hawkeye: “that’s the same kind of thinking that’s kept us in this war for so long”

      That line of thinking sure does apply to a lot of things in life it seems.

      1. Another question I always had is how would an army corps of engineers have time to build a roof for an orphanage without receiving official military orders to do it? Didn’t these units have their hands full doing the jobs that were assigned to them by the government? On that note, why was Captain Sweeney even still present at the 4077th when they have the discussion at the O-club about the roof? Why didn’t he leave to rejoin his unit after visiting his men in post-op and berating Private Palmer? What was his business there? I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to go to a war so it’s a serious question, did soldiers in war Zones have “side jobs” like this?

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