Monday M*A*S*H Discussions offers fans the opportunity to offer their opinions on a wide variety of topics relating to M*A*S*H. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. My hope is these discussion posts will continue to elicit comments in the weeks and months after they’re initially published. Have a suggestion about something you think might be worth discussing? Let me know and maybe it will become my next Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topic.
Doc Funnypants suggested today’s topic: Would Frank Burns have made a good commanding officer?
Good for the 4077th or Good for Comedy?
I see this as a two-part question. First, would Frank Burns (the man) have made a good commanding officer for the 4077th. Second, would Frank Burns (the character) have made a good commanding officer for the series and viewers.
Viewers got their first taste of Frank as temporary commanding officer early during Season 1 in “Henry Please Come Home.” Colonel Blake is assigned to Tokyo and Frank, now in command, attempts to turn the 4077th into a by-the-books military outfit. Later, in “The Trial of Henry Blake” during Season 2, Frank attempts to use his temporary power to stop Hawkeye and Trapper from defending Colonel Blake during a court-martial.
During Season 3, Frank was in charge twice. In “Officer of the Day,” Frank forces Hawkeye to take on Officer of the Day duties. In “Alcoholics Unanimous,” he bans alcohol while in command.
The peak of Frank’s power came at the start of Season 4. In “Welcome to Korea,” he is once again in temporary command–and under the impression he’ll become permanent CO. Frank and Margaret work to reshape the 4077th, with military efficiency and protocol. Sadly for Frank, he’s replaced by Colonel Potter in “Change of Command.”
Frank got at least one more temporary shot at command, as seen in “The Novocaine Mutiny” later in Season 4. He banned gambling and forced the camp to practice bugging out. He even brought Hawkeye up on charges for a so-called mutiny.
I think most fans will say no to both parts of the question. It’s hard to believe Frank Burns in command would have been good for the 4077th. Whenever he was in command, he tried to drastically later how the camp behaved. His edicts were overturned quickly and things returned to normal. Had Colonel Potter not arrived to take over command of the 4077th, how long would it take before morale sank to an all-time low? No booze, no gambling, no fun?
Would Frank in charge of the 4077th work for the series? Or would it quickly get old as the writers struggled to come up with new ways to make Frank an annoying CO? As a novelty, once or twice a season, Frank in command works.
Hit the comments with your thoughts.