Episode Spotlight: Baby, It’s Cold Outside


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

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (#153, 7×09)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, November 13th, 1978
Written by Gary David Goldberg
Directed by George Tyne

Capsule Summary: Frigid temperatures cause a variety of problems at the 4077th, including wounded soldiers suffering from hypothermia and Klinger temporarily losing his hearing.

It’s rare for me to watch an episode of M*A*S*H and see something I don’t remember. After all, I’ve watched every episode multiple times. However, I had absolutely no recollection of Klinger’s C story while rewatching “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” for this review. I don’t know if I forgot the entire storyline or if it was cut for syndication. If the latter, that means this is the first time I’ve watched the episode uncut.

All three storylines in the episode revolve around the cold. There’s the A story in which Hawkeye’s patient has a severe case of hypothermia. There’s the B story about Charles and his polar suit. And Klinger’s C story, which I’ve already mentioned.

The A story never quite comes together for me. It’s fine, I guess, but nothing special. Hawkeye tries everything he can think of to raise his patient’s temperature. Nothing works. He wants to submerge the man in warm water as a last result. Colonel Potter thinks it’s too risky but ultimately agrees to try. With the help of Radar and Father Mulcahy, the treatment is a success.

The Charles B story is the weakest, in my opinion. Charles comes across as pathetic, trying to convince Margaret to return the gloves because they have “breaking in” period. He sounds a lot like Frank Burns here. I will admit, it’s funny to see him trick Margaret into putting the gloves down in the Mess Tent so he can snatch them and run off. In a nice bit of continuity, Charles is later forced to hand his polar suit over to black marketeers in “Out of Gas” later in Season 7.

That brings me to the C story. Jamie Farr does a fine job with what is clearly supposed to be a harmless, amusing storyline. When Klinger is rattling off the list of beautiful sounds he’ll never hear again, it’s obvious he’s frightened. The storyline is basically a repeat of of Hawkeye losing his sight in “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” from Season 6 5, only on a smaller scale. And, of course, in the series finale, of course, someone else loses their hearing.

Still from the M*A*S*H episode Baby, It's Cold Outside showing B.J. and Charles

Charles tries on Margaret’s gloves.

Nurse Baker refers to Hawkeye’s patient as Sgt. Davalillo, according to the subtitles.

The closing credits list two unnamed patients, one played by Teck Murdock and the other by David Cramer. Neither of these are Sgt. Davalillo, who has no lines in the episode. The two unnamed patients are likely seen in pre-op. Hawkeye helps one, who can’t feel his foot. B.J. tends to the other, whose hand hurts as his circulation returns.

Weather in Korea changes fast.”Baby, It’s Cold Outside” aired three weeks after “None Like It Hot,” in which a heat wave grips the 4077th. However, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was produced before “None Like It Hot.” That explains why Hawkeye and B.J. don’t think of using the bathtub they purchased in “None Like It Hot” to warm up Sgt. Davalillo. Based on production order, it hadn’t arrived at the 4077th yet.

12 Replies to “Episode Spotlight: Baby, It’s Cold Outside”

  1. Even so, Hawkeye and B.J. wouldn’t have been able to use their bathtub anyway, because they traded it to Sergeant Rhoden for the ice cream for Radar’s tonsilectomy.

    Other than that, I like this episode: before I started sitting down and watching M*A*S*H regularly over ten years ago, I remember seeing a glimpse of this episode while channel surfing late one night – I remember the opening with Hawkeye’s comments about the temps, “Reaching puberty levels. 13-16 degrees.”

  2. “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” aired in Season 5. A decent episode for one obvious reason: Charles lording his polar suit over everyone in camp.

    Hawkeye: Keep your eyes on his ears.
    Potter’s joy at watching Sonja Henie added a touch of humor to this episode.

    With missing snow boots, staffers angry at Radar for swiping their tent heaters, Klinger worried about going deaf, and land mines exploding without human contact, this was a lot to take in.

  3. During my recent rewatch of the 7th season, I’ve come to realize that this was the season that Charles really came into his own, and that the writers really seemed to fall in love with writing for him, since there were so many stories (both main and side-stories) focusing on him, and it has helped raise my love for what was already one of my favorite characters on the show.

    That being said, there may have been better uses of the character that season, but this is a great example of how fun his character could be to watch IMO. It was great seeing him lord the coat over on everyone, and then trying to weasel out of his one small act of kindness.

    I also thought the story with the hypothermia patients was pretty interesting, and a nice contrast for the more comedic storyline with Charles. I especially liked the part where they have to quickly come up with a way to heat them up, and they end up using the coffins.

  4. Not much to say about this episode although I do enjoy it. Seeing Charles in that big polar bear suit is always funny and makes me think to Out of Gas and that scene where he’s in his scivies yelling at the black marketeers as they steal their truck, albeit without his suit.

    I guess at this point the writers were still toying with the idea of Charles and Margaret having a relationship since he singles her out as offering the gloves. I believe this is one of the last instances where we see any hint of a relationship with them, although even into the finale their “friendship” was a bit different than it was with every other member of the camp.

    The scene with Klinger when he first realizes he can’t hear is always funny to me. When Hawkeye clangs the pan and the funny look on Klinger’s face as the actor pretends not to hear it. He did a good job of it, but it’s just comical to me.

  5. One part that bothered me was that they tried to hide the knowledge that being deaf could get Klinger out of the Army. It was only temporary, but wouldn’t they have been bound by medical ethics to tell him?

    1. Col. Potter told Klinger that deafness would get him out of the Army, then warned him if it was a scam, he’d nail Klinger’s hide.

  6. Having first heard of Sonja Heinie from Potter’s rumblings in these episode(s) with SH movies I remember being a grade school kid referencing her as Sonja “Heinie” until my older brother heard and corrected me to the proper pronunciation.

  7. This episode was great but there was a part that was a bit disturbing. When the hypothermia patient wakes up to take his last breath, it really was horrifying. The camera was close on his face only to see him die right in front of us for a moment. Very disturbing but brilliant for the show.

  8. Always bothered me a tad to see leaves on the trees in a winter episode. Comes from coming from a place where it’s winter six months a year.

    Always loved the little exchange
    Margaret: “I hope you melt in that suit”
    Charles: “hee hee, so do I!”

  9. I’ve read, probably on his blog, that Ken Levine and the other writers & producers were angry w/ the actors for some reason that I don’t recall now. As revenge, they decided to film this episode in the hottest part of summer, early in the season, so the actors would be miserable playing cold in the terrible heat.

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