Episode Spotlight: Henry in Love

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

“Henry in Love” (#40, 2×16)
Originally Broadcast: Saturday, January 5th, 1974
Written by Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks
Directed by Don Weis

Capsule Summary: Colonel Blake returns from more than a week in Tokyo madly in love with a beautiful 20-year-old civilian clerk typist.

This is the 126th entry in the Episode Spotlight series of reviews here at MASH4077TV.com, which is about as close to halfway through the series as you can get. The very first episode I reviewed was “Major Ego” back in January 2013. There are 125 episodes left to go and by my estimate that means the final episode won’t be reviewed until October 2017.

Anyway, “Henry in Love” is an episode with a plot both thin and weak. It’s thin because there’s really not much going on other than Henry announcing he’s in love with Nancy Sue Parker and everyone else reacting to his announcement and later reacting to Nancy Sue Parker herself when she visits. It’s weak because a) Henry’s infidelity was nothing new, and b) it’s hard to believe even a sometimes buffoon like Henry would seriously believe he had fallen in love with 20-year old.

The thin and weak plot don’t matter, though. This is a superb episode from start to finish. McLean Stevenson really gave it his all to sell the 44-year-old Henry first as head over heels in love and then as remorseful and thankful. Kathrine Baumann did a fantastic job as the perky Nancy Sue Parker, especially that cheerleading routine.

It’s interesting that at no point does anyone bring up Henry’s past infidelities. In fact, after he tells them about Nancy Sue Parker, Trapper and Hawkeye act like this is the first time Henry’s ever cheated on his wife. Or maybe they were just stunned at his proclamations of being in L-U-V. Maybe they meant this was just the first time he’d had a week-long fling in Tokyo.

The best parts of this episode are the reactions. Watch Margaret’s face during Frank’s speech. Her expressions are brilliant: adulation, confusion, approval, dismay, and shock. Then there’s Radar’s stupefied stare upon seeing Henry’s dyed hair and later his befuddlement at meeting Nancy Sue Parker. I’m particularly fond of the look on Nurse Sheila’s face while watching the cheerleading routine not to mention Trapper’s reaction.

Radar putting in a call to Lorianne may have reminded Henry that he loves his family (and kept him from learning about Nancy Sue Parker’s infatuation with Hawkeye) but it certainly didn’t make him any more faithful in the long run.

Henry’s in L-U-V

I can’t decide which is better, Henry’s “Well, goombye, people” or Hawkeye’s “Gloriosky, Henry.” Of course neither top Frank’s “It’s nice to be nice to the nice.” I’m sure I’m not the only M*A*S*H fan who’s managed to work that into conversations in real life.

It’s obvious that Nancy Sue Parker’s arrival and departure were filmed at the same time. She’s wearing the exact same outfit and the barrette in her hair hasn’t moved an inch.

While in command of the 4077th Frank apparently had most of the rocks laid out around the compound painted red, white, and blue.

In November 1980, Kathrine Baumann guest-starred in a two-part episode of Trapper John, M.D.

9 Comments

  • TWoods says:

    Half-way through, already? It’s gonna stink once you (we) reach the end……

    This one is a “meh” episode for me. I can take it or leave it. I do know that it’s rather painful for me to watch the cheerleading routine, one of those “umm, yeah – okay. Moving on!” scenes. But, you are so right RJ about your “it’s nice to be nice to the nice” line. I’ve used it a number of times! It’s fun to watch the “huh?” reactions of those who aren’t familiar at least with this episode! My wife doesn’t care for this episode, but she does get a laugh from that scene.

  • Big Daddy O'Reilly says:

    This is an amusing episode at best – not really great, but certainly not a bad episode.

    I will say that this episode is absolutely ruined in syndication: the scene where we see Henry actually dying his hair darker in his tent is completely cut, which makes the later remark by Hawkeye about Henry’s hair bleeding very confusing and a little disturbing too.

    One thing that I find odd is that Trapper even reacts to Henry’s infidelity when he himself was also unfaithful to Louise his entire time in Korea. A little hypocritical, don’t you think?

    I think Nancy’s infatuation with Hawkeye was a nice and subtle way of showing that she hadn’t really matured in terms of relationships: she may be 20, but she clearly still has a lot of growing up to do, and it seemed her youthful hormones were still raging – I bet up until that point, any relationships she may have been in were brief and none too serious, so she may not have even been in love with Henry the same way he was with her. Hawkeye’s younger, tall, and handsome, and probably would make any horny young woman’s heart thump.

    What I find interesting is when you compare this episode to “Lil” from Season Seven, Radar’s reaction is totally different in terms of the respective Colonel’s situation. Here, he almost kind of turns the other cheek, yet as pointed out, he does place a call to Lorraine as a subtle way of bringing Henry back to his senses in terms of his marriage. In “Lil” on the other hand, Radar is furious at just the idea of Potter possibly cheating on Mildred and takes it a lot more personally.

    Finally, my last comment is this: while Radar bringing Henry back to reality with the phone call to Lorraine may not have done much for Henry’s infidelity afterwards, I believe it was the events of “Life with Father” that finally did it: Henry finally got a taste of his own medicine upon learning Lorraine had a fling with an orthodontist back home, and his was devastated about it. That seemed to be the moment where Henry changed his own cheating ways, because I don’t recall him trying to have his way with any of the nurses anymore since then.

  • Big Daddy O'Reilly says:

    Oh, and BTW, thanks RJ for informing us about how far we are in weekly episode spotlights, because I was actually beginning to wonder how many we’ve reviewed so far and how many we have left.

  • Crabapple Cove says:

    I like the early scene where Radar knocks on Margaret’s tent door to inform Frank that Henry will be a “few more days” in Tokyo. Therefore Frank and Margaret should “keep carrying on”.

    I also chuckle at Hawkeye’s “Goodnight tonsillectomy” line (along with the “thank you from the bottom of my mouth”… etc)

    Like others here I have used the ‘nice to be nice to the nice’ line a number of times.

  • Captain Louise Klein says:

    I’ve always had a thing for Nancy. I am ok admitting that!
    The “Nice to be nice to the nice” line is a classic, but I love Margret’s reaction to the line.
    I’ve always had a soft spot for this episode…not my favorite, but it’s probably in my top 10.

  • Doc Funnypants says:

    Aside from the perky presence of Nancy Sue Parker, this episode is uneventful. Incidentally, Kathrine Baumann is from the same hometown as her character. My late father once met her many years ago. Other than that, I don’t have a lot to say about this episode.

  • Hal Pritzker says:

    Beneath the humor is this: Nancy had given Henry the impression that she shared his attraction. Then she tried to seduce Pierce. So typical of a woman…of any age. They shuffle guys like a card deck…but God forbid that a guy would step out on them. I think a stronger conclusion would have been Henry SEEING FOR HIMSELF Nancy showing her true character. Then, Henry—his mind now clear—could have said something to her like, “…lady, did I ever overestimate you! That, unfortunately, is a mistake I keep making with people of you gender. Eventually, I’ll learn my lesson.” Then he could walk away…seemingly deaf to her attempts to explain.

  • Lady, You ARE A Piece of Cornbread says:

    For whatever reason TVLand is running this episode back to back with itself tonight.

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