Episode Spotlight: To Market, To Market


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

“To Market, To Market” (#2, 1×02)
Originally Broadcast: Sunday, September 24th, 1972
Written by Burt Styler
Directed by Michael O’Herlihy

Capsule Summary: When the Army won’t do anything about black marketeers stealing the 4077th’s much-needed hydrocortisone, Hawkeye and Trapper take matters into their own hands.

This was the third episode of M*A*S*H produced and the second aired. It features the first of many storylines about the 4077th dealing with military bureaucracy, in this case General Hammond refusing to do anything about the black marketeers stealing the 4077th’s supplies. A minor B-story sees Frank and Margaret suspecting Hawkeye and Trapper are scheming and/or involving with black marketeers.

It’s well known that Wayne Rogers grew increasingly frustrated with Trapper being little more than a sidekick for Hawkeye. It’s difficult to watch this episode and not already see signs of Hawkeye being the central character rather than sharing the spotlight with Trapper. Hawkeye is the one who calls General Hammond, he’s the one who convinces Charlie Lee to take an interest in Henry’s desk, he’s the one who suggests taking down the wall in Henry’s office, and he’s the one who saves the day by calling in a helicopter.

It’s possible that Hawkeye and Trapper have roughly the same number of lines in this episode but most of Trapper’s are reactive and secondary.

As is so often the case, you can’t think too hard about this episode or else you risk asking questions that can’t be answered. For starters, how did Henry possibly get a 100-year-old antique oak desk delivered to the 4077th? Why is there a case full of surgical supplies on the floor in his office? Why does nobody seem concerned that the jeep Hawkeye and Trapper drove to see Charlie Lee was stripped for parts? How come Hawkeye and Trapper could carry the desk at a run so easily but couldn’t seem to lift it at all while trying to remove the top?

Frank and Margaret’s B story is relatively weak and in my opinion doesn’t add much to the episode with the exception of the scene in Henry’s office when Frank reveals that Margaret’s earlobes drive him wild.

Henry and Frank watch the desk fly away.

Some of the music in this episode is really kind of silly. According to Larry Gelbart, he was the one who suggested toning down the background music.

General Hammond isn’t seen in this episode but his voice is heard on the phone and G. Wood is credited in the closing credits.

The desk in Henry’s office is clearly not the same desk seen carried away by the helicopter.

I didn’t notice this myself but at the start of the episode Hawkeye and Trapper are operating without masks on.

Father Mulcahy is mentioned in this episode but doesn’t appear. At this point, Klinger had yet to be introduced.

Chopper pilot O’Brien is also mentioned by name in this episode. He makes an appearance in “Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde” during Season 2 and is referenced again in “Kim,” also in Season 2.

Is this the only episode in which the CO’s office is locked?

Jack So later made a second guest appearance in “Payday” during Season 2 while Robert Ito also guest starred in “The Korean Surgean” during Season 5.

13 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: To Market, To Market”

  1. I really like this episode, it’s a favorite of mine from Season One. Yes, it was a little on the silly side, and yes the scoring was a tad overly quirky, but I thought this was a fun episode all around.

    I didn’t notice much of Trapper already showing signs of being reduced to a sidekick in this episode, however, I notice when Hawkeye introduces themselves, Charlie is quick to point out that he’s heard about what a terrific surgeon Trapper is.

    The mention of Father Mulcahy is cut from syndication, and this is one of those many episodes that lost its entire tag in syndication too, which unless you have the DVD, leaves the episode on a cliffhanger in reruns.

    Did anyone also notice Radar doesn’t wear his cap much in this episode? Then again, Henry’s signature look didn’t seem to solidify till next season either.

    There’s also a couple of technical goofs in this episode: when Hawkeye’s trying to figure out how he and Trapper are going to get out, he casts a shadow on the “sky” outside Henry’s office windows. Also notice that when Henry and Frank discover the knocked down wall, the windows appear to have been covered with tarp or something from the outside: I guess because it would look weird to see the camp outside the hole in the wall then see just plain blue sky outside the windows.

    1. I’ve only noticed the episode tags being cut in Seasons 1-5. Starting with Season 6, M*A*S*H started running a freeze frame with production credits, and for some reason (maybe related to some Hollywood unions) these credits are left intact, and the tags leading into them are left intact as well, in syndication. I find it frustrating that episode tags, especially from episodes like “The General Flipped at Dawn”, which wrap up the episode plot, are often removed in syndication, but fortunately this only seems to happen for Seasons 1-5, at least as far as I’ve seen.

      1. I don’t know if it’s because of Hollywood unions, but I’m pretty sure those credit flashes are reason enough that the tags from Seasons 6-11 are left alone.

  2. This episode always provokes a bunch of laughs when I watch it. It’s very much an early, sitcom-style episode of the series.

    As far Hawkeye being the lead: I think this was Alda’s show from the very beginning, including the pilot, where Hawkeye propels most of the action and has the best lines. Wayne Rogers may have been told that he and Alan Alda would be on equal footing, but it’s never demonstrated anywhere during the course of the series. Alda had a much longer resume, was top-billed, and was a far more talented actor. I loved Wayne, but there’s no comparison between the two regarding acting skills.

  3. Good comments all, and I enjoy this silly episode over and over.

    I will add to what has already been said that I really enjoy Henry’s performance in this episode. His pride at boasting about his desk to anyone willing to stand still and listen is classic Col. Blake (not to mention the lack of respect he gets from everyone in camp).

  4. I like this episode. Silly and unformed early M*A*S*H, sure, but not bad at all.

    Even though it’s severely out of place in the context of the series as a whole, I really love that funky background music near the end when Henry and Frank search for the missing desk.

    1. I loved that bit too! That, and the ascending brass notes when Hawkeye discovers Frank locked him and Trapper in.

  5. Watching this episode again today, I don’t think Hawkeye and Trapper were struggling to lift the desk when they were trying to get it out of Henry’s office to begin with, I think they were struggling to get the top off since Henry said that how he got it into the office. They even remarkable about the “lousy, good craftsmanship.”

  6. Just watched the episode on ME TV again — I’ve probably seen it 30 or more times and always enjoy it.

    In the early scene in Blake’s office where Hawkeye calls Gen. Hammond there must be a line of script that was cut when Hawkeye was imitating Henry’s voice. I say this because Hammond tells Blake “I don’t give a hoot in hell if you have someone who can get us Bob Hope…” — I can only guess that Hawkeye had offered that nugget of information in order to cut through the chain of command and reach the General?

  7. There seems to be an abrupt cut in the SundanceTV copy from Hawk and Trapper saying “That makes two of us” “Three of us.” To Radar waking Hawkeye in his bunk.

  8. I wonder what happened to the 100 year old desk from the episode and it if really was an antique make of oak.

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