Episode Spotlight: Bananas, Crackers and Nuts

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

“Bananas, Crackers and Nuts” (#7, 1×07)
Originally Broadcast: Sunday, November 5th, 1972
Written by Burt Styler
Directed by Bruce Bilson

Capsule Summary: Hawkeye pretends he’s lost touch with reality in order to get some R&R.

This is a really good episode even if the plot is implausible and the ending contrived. It helps that it features Marcia Strassman’s third appearance as the lovely Nurse Margie Cutler. I can’t believe Frank fell for Hawkeye’s wacky shenanigans even if Trapper was working hard to sell Hawkeye’s insanity. Maybe Frank didn’t believe him. Maybe he was just in enough shock to initially agree before coming to his senses. Margaret doesn’t appear to have believed Hawkeye was actually nuts.

That said, if any of us were in Frank’s shoes hearing Hawkeye talk about eating a North Korean’s liver, maybe we’d be a little shocked, too. Larry Linville did a wonderful job with his reactions in this scene. Trapper and Radar didn’t seem very surprised or disgusted, which should have raised some flags with Frank.

I’m also not sure any man in 1950, even Hawkeye, would have so openly joked about being in love with another man to a psychiatrist. Hawkeye was sure Captain Sherman would realize he wasn’t serious but it seems like a dangerous road to go down.

As for the ending, it’s easy to overlook how far-fetched Hawkeye and Trapper’s plan to get rid of Captain Sherman was because it was such a hilarious plot. What are the odds he wouldn’t realize he was in the wrong tent? It wasn’t that dark and Margaret’s tent looks nothing like the VIP tent.

The best part of the episode for me is the very real argument between best friends Hawkeye and Trapper after they return to the Swamp and discover the Still empty. Trapper’s “And don’t call me knucklehead!” is perhaps my favorite line, followed closely by Hawkeye’s “Whoever the them, we were always us.”

“I don’t think I needed that.”

Father Mulchay and Klinger are not in this episode.

Why was Margaret wearing her dress uniform (without the shirt, tie, or hat) in the Mess Tent?

It was real regular army of Colonel Blake to so smugly ignore Hawkeye and Trapper as he left for his own vacation.

I wonder how long it took to get the shadow on the wall in Margaret’s tent just right. And was it really Loretta Swit providing the shadow?

10 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Bananas, Crackers and Nuts”

  1. Sure, this one is a little implausible, a little silly, but it’s also a LOT of fun. A very good example of season one M*A*S*H. I like this ep a lot.

    “YOU’RE NOT STERILE!!”

  2. Stuart Margolin (like Michael O’Keefe) essentially played the same character twice. In both his episodes, he is written as being smitten with Margaret and comes on to her and she is saved in the nick of time, both times by Trapper.

    1. I always enjoyed Margolin’s acting. He does smarmy as good as anyone. He was very good in his two roles on M*A*S*H, as Angel on the Rockford Files and in the film Kelly’s Heroes.

      I never get tired of this episode, even with the ridiculous plot. So many good laughs.

      1. No, the director (Lt. Bricker) in “Yankee Doodle Doctor” was played by Ed Flanders. Flanders became best known as Dr. Donald Westphall on ‘St. Elsewhere’.

  3. This is a pretty good entry from Season One, if quite silly and a tad rocky.

    In retrospect, I actually didn’t realize that Hawkeye was play-acting at first, and even I was disturbed by him seemingly eating a North Korean’s liver.

    I also found it weird that after Hawkeye’s talking about being in love with Frank and Radar tells Henry about it, Henry remarks, “Oh, he’s beautiful.” Uh, yeah.

    I think part of the problem was when I watched this in syndication, they cut out the entire scene where Margaret and Frank talk about bringing in Sherman to observe Hawkeye, which is kind of essential in confirming that Hawkeye (and in a sense, Trapper too) is not on the level.

    And yeah, neither Klinger or Mulcahy are in this episode, but they weren’t regulars yet, so I don’t know if it’s really noteworthy.

  4. It’s a good early episode. I agree with the implausibility of the liver thing but it’s not even close to the wackiest thing on mash. Gold jeeps and such

  5. IMO, a very wacky, if implausible, episode. Hawkeye was beyond bizarre eating what he said was a North Korean liver and getting extremely possessive about it. And,of course, Stuart Margolin, who I thought was a riot on “The Rockford Files” showed his smarmy side impressively.
    One last thing, Happy Thanksgiving to the M*A*S*H universe.

  6. People here are always quick to point out anticronistic errors, I’m surprised no ones mentioned Hawkeye’s “I don’t think I needed that” response to being slapped which I believe was a parody of a 70s shaving lotion commercial.

    1. That’s an old movie trope, saying “Thanks, I needed that” after getting slapped by someone during a heated exchange. It was used in “The High And The Mighty” by Robert Stack to John Wayne, for example. That film came after the Korean War, but I think it shows up many other times.

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