Episode Spotlight: Officers Only


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

“Officers Only” (#39, 2×15)
Originally Broadcast: Saturday, December 22nd, 1973
Written by Ed Jurist
Directed by Jackie Cooper

Capsule Summary: After Hawkeye and Trapper treat his son, General Mitchell gives the 4077th an Officers Club, leading to resentment from the enlisted men.

Here’s a rare episode of M*A*S*H that actually had an impact on later episodes and changed things for the characters. The introduction of the Officers’ Club expanded the universe of the 4077th, giving the writers a new, exciting location to write about. In order to make the club accessible to every character, however, it had to be opened up to the enlisted men. Hence the storyline of this episode.

Unfortunately, “Officers Only” isn’t a very strong episode. More than ten minutes go by before the club makes its first appearance. That’s a huge chunk of the episode. These first ten minutes are weak, in my opinion, little more than a series of character moments: Radar is afraid to wake Hawkeye, Frank wants to get in on an important surgery, Hawkeye is sarcastic to everyone, Henry makes a fool of himself in front of General Mitchell, etc.

Once Hawkeye and Trapper return from their three days (and nights) in Tokyo, things start to pick up. They’re stunned to see the Officers’ Club in the compound and, after realizing Radar and the other enlisted men are angry about being kept out of the club, decide to do something about it. It all works out in the end, of course, and the enlisted men are invited into the Officers’ Club as “relatives” of Hawkeye.

But even the last half of the episode isn’t particularly memorable. Maybe it’s just me.

There’s a very minor storyline in which Henry pursues Nurse Watson (played by Sheila Lauritsen) that eats up perhaps two minutes of the episode. I’m a fan of Lauritsen, so I don’t mind, but it adds nothing to the episode. Perhaps there was more in the script that either wasn’t filmed or had to be cut during editing.

Still from the MASH episode Officers Only shownig Nurse Watson and Henry Blake.
Henry and Nurse Watson enjoy the Officers’ Club

Who are all the male officers in the Officers’ Club? All of the nurses at the 4077th are officers. The only male officers are Henry, Hawkeye, Trapper, Frank, and Father Mulcahy and yet quite a few men are in the Officers’ Club before enlisted men are allowed in. Who are they? Where did they come from?

The “Officers’ Club” sign is grammatically correct, stating that the club belongs to multiple officers. Some might prefer “Officers Club” without the possessive but still implying use by multiple officers. The sign Radar nails above the door (“Officers’ Only”) is grammatically incorrect, however.

This was the third and last episode to guest star Robert F. Simon as General Mitchell. His previous appearances were in “The Trial of Henry Blake” and “The Incubator.”

General Mitchell’s aide is played by Ralph Grosh, who also played his aide in “The Trial of Henry Blake.” The closing credits incorrectly call him Capt.’s Aide.

Henry apparently enjoys reading nurse romance novels. He’s seen clutching Special Nurse by Lucy Agnes Hancock when Radar comes into his tent to tell him about Hawkeye and Trapper bobbing for customers at the Fujikowa bathhouse in Tokyo.

Father Mulcahy doesn’t appear in this episode.

6 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Officers Only”

  1. I’ll agree this isn’t a particularly strong episode. For me, it’s actually the dialogue that I find more memorable than any of the action – for instance, when we listen to Henry’s side of the conversation everytime somebody calls him up to report Hawkeye and Trapper’s shenanigans; or the two of them reminded Radar that they – as their aunt and uncle – taught him how to drive a jeep, and how to get drunk, both on the same night. Or even the way Hawkeye describes each of the enlistedmen men as like family members as they pour into the Officers’ Club one by one.

    This is still interesting to watch though, because I’m also a fan of another classic sitcom, BEWITCHED, in which Robert F. Simon was one of two actors who played Darrin’s father.

  2. My favorite bit of dialog from this episode:

    Radar: Telephone, sir.
    Henry: Hi, there. How are you today? – Who am I talking to? – Mr.
    Radar: Yurkuri. He runs the Imperial Hotel.
    Henry: Yes, sir, what can I do for you? When? Last night? In the main dining room? (To Radar) They sent a case of pipe cleaners to MacArthur’s table.
    Sir, I can guarantee you the men will be severely reprimanded the minute What? When? Yes, sir, I’ll grant you, that’s a little out of line.
    – What, sir? – Rickshaw races in the lobby.
    What is your name, sir? Yoger Yog Everett, is it? Everett, let me get back to you.

    McLean was so good at expressing bewilderment. LOL

  3. Just watched this episode recently on my first run through of the show on DVD. Was very interesting to me as I’ve seen every episode at least 5-6 times, but this one I hardly recognized at all. I definitely seen it before as I recognized a few scenes, but the vast majority of the episode seemed brand new to me. I wonder if this is because it was one of the ones butchered in Syndication or ME TV showings.

    1. It could be because it didn’t have a highly appealing storyline and the action was kind of bland all the way through and all that is really memorable about it is the routine environment and typical setting that you see in every episode. Plus parts of it getting cut in repeats probably doesn’t help matters either. It might be the first time you ever paid enough attention to it to where you caught on to the actual episode and it standing out from all the others,which if you’re not a major devotee like some you have to focus rather sharply on this one,bland as it is.

  4. In the episode “officers only” when Trapper John and Hawkeyes get their meals and are saluted by radar, he is called Klinger by Trapper John.

  5. This is a mediocre episode without much to intrigue me. One thing does bother me about this episode. Right before the end of Act I, Hawkeye & Trapper see the “Officers Only” sign and then Frank emerges with a smug look on his face which personally, I find repulsive.

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