Episode Spotlight: The Young and the Restless

7 Comments

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

“The Young and the Restless” (#162, 7×18)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, January 22nd, 1979
Written by Mitch Markowitz
Directed by William Jurgensen

Capsule Summary: Colonel Potter refuses to take it easy when his phlebitis acts up while a hotshot young surgeon shows up Charles.

I appreciate the way the two primary storylines compliment one another, with Colonel Potter feeling unneeded and Charles worrying he’s being overshadowed, but it’s just not a very compelling episode. Captain Simmons is a bland character who serves only to move the plot along. Perhaps it was intentional: minimize Simmons and downplay his abilities rather than depict him as a genius surgeon the likes of which the 4077th has never seen. He’s clearly competent and more than holds his own during his first experience with meatball surgery but that’s it.

It’s not like he saved a patient that Hawkeye or B.J. or Charles or Potter were going to lose. So why does Charles spiral drastically out of control, getting drunk three nights in a row? Simmons didn’t intimidate or bother Hawkeye or B.J. His presence simply reminded them to keep up on the latest medical techniques. Potter feeling that nobody needs him makes somewhat more sense only because Radar went to such lengths to tell him how easily he can be replaced by Simmons and how the 4077th doesn’t really need him for anything. Yet nobody ever mentions the fact that Radar was the one who sent Potter into a depression.

Hawkeye and B.J. take a backseat to Potter and Charles, offering support to the former and sarcasm to the latter. They do seem to be genuinely trying to help Charles recover from his latest hangover, however. That likely has less to do with any feelings of friendship towards Charles and more to do with worry that wounded could arrive at any time. Which is exactly what happens. Although neither want to be in surgery, Charles and Potter manage to goad one another into performing well at the operating table. Charles makes a rare overture to Potter, admitting that the two may be equally talented with the scalpel, only to be shut down by Potter.

Klinger’s C story is silly yet impressive. How much time and money did he spend shipping all those props and clothing over from Toledo? It’s unlikely he managed to have a personalized bowling shirt put together in Korea. He never broke character but he still did his duty, never putting patients in danger. Of course, the very fact he helped carry wounded soldiers and brought x-rays into surgery proved he wasn’t insane. Had he refused to do any work he likely would’ve been brought up charges. I wonder, though, what Colonel Potter would’ve done had Klinger not blurted out his rank while the Section 8 paperwork was being filled out.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode The Young and the Restless showing BJ, Charles, and Hawkeye.

Charles is hungover.

There’s a nice bit of foreshadowing during the scene in which Hawkeye and B.J. insist Potter stay out of surgery:

Colonel Potter: “I’ll go wherever I darn well please. It doesn’t hurt.
B.J.: “Colonel, this is one occasion you’re not going to be able to rise to.”
Charles: “It happens to all of us eventually.”

Charles didn’t realize he was talking about himself.

Margaret volunteering to talk to Colonel Potter is clearly an attempt to fit her into the episode but it works. Hawkeye just as easily could’ve been the one to try to get Potter out of bed. He would have been the obvious choice. I wonder what B.J. would’ve said to Potter had he been the one to go instead of Margaret.

This was James Canning’s second and last guest appearance on M*A*S*H. He previously played Corporal Marsh in “Excorcism” during Season 5.

7 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: The Young and the Restless”

  1. While I agree that Simmons was otherwise a bland character aside from his brilliance and intelligence, I overall find this to be a good, solid episode.

    As for both Potter and Charles, I think Potter ended up taking Radar’s comment the wrong way, but then again, even though I don’t Radar meant it the way he said, he didn’t word it the right way to get the point across. As for Charles, it’s like B.J. said, he clearly felt like he wasn’t the smartest kid in class anymore, and that ate up his mighty ego; I also love this line from his drunken stupor:

    “That pussful! First he keeps me here till my talents app-tri-phate . . . then he sends lil’ Bobby Shafto to come here to hue-milli-nilli-nate me . . . well I’ll get even with him . . . dum day, he’ll be older than I am, and I’ll show him up!”

  2. This episode has my favorite tag scene:

    Radar: I’m sorry to interrupt your feeling better, sir, but there’s a Mr. Klinger here to see you.
    Col. Potter: Thank you, son. Send it in.

    LOL. The entire sequence is just too danged funny.

  3. There’s one line that always gets me to giggle: “Scram, pee-wee!” (although, objectively, it’s not that funny. It’s Charles’delivery)

  4. I honestly don’t think it’s that far-fetched that Charles would react far worse to Simmons’ presence than Hawkeye or B.J. would. Paradoxically, big egos tend to come hand-in-hand with massive insecurities. While Hawkeye and B.J. can both get pretty egotistical at times, they’re both also humble enough to acknowledge when they need help or when they’re proven objectively wrong about something and both of them are more than happy to adapt and learn new methods of surgery if there’s a chance it will yield better results rather than doggedly stick to the “same old same old”. Charles, on the other hand (and especially in his first few seasons), is not any of these things. Thus, whenever someone looks to be encroaching on his territory as “the smartest kid in class”, he feels threatened since a good deal of how he views himself is built around that particular status. His entire attitude to Simmons right from the start is one of “how dare this youngster presume to think there’s anything he knows that I don’t”; he simply HAS to be the best. It’s like a straight-A student getting their first B; it may seem relatively trivial to everyone else but to them it’s massively destabilising because it’s something they’ve never had to deal with.

  5. I agree with Panda about Charles’ reaction to Simmons.

    Why would anyone need to say anything about Radar “sending Potter into depression”? It’s just part of the fun in this episode with Radar being Radar.

    IMP Margaret was the perfect person to get Potter out of bed, besides B.J. & Hawkeye were busy “taking care of” Charles.

    I think Potter was ahead of the game and knew Klinger would mess up while “getting the facts straight” for the section 8.

    It is nice how all story lines lead to one; but I also like the ones that don’t, however I’m new to M*A*S*H so I may change my mind by the time I’ve watched them all.

    Several great lines in this episode.

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