Discuss: How Would Colonel Blake and Charles Interact?

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.

Ferret Face suggested today’s topic: How would Colonel Blake and Charles interact?

Blake, Meet Winchester. Winchester, Meet Blake.

Have you ever wondered whether Colonel Blake and Charles would get along had the two characters met and worked together at the 4077th? I hadn’t given it much thought. When I asked readers to offer ideas for future Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topics, Ferret Face suggested discussing which main characters who never met would have the best interactions. Rather than use that as a single topic, I’ve decided to split it into multiple topics for various parings, starting with Colonel Blake and Charles.

At first glance, it seems obvious that Charles wouldn’t think highly of Colonel Blake upon first meeting him. At times, Henry came across as something of a buffoon. But after thinking about it a little more, I started to wonder if perhaps Charles would be fine with a laid-back commanding officer like Henry Blake. If Henry Blake didn’t bother him, he wouldn’t bother Henry Blake.

Unlike Frank, Charles had no desire to command the 4077th. He wasn’t obsessed with military discipline and Army rules and regulations. He enjoyed his downtime, the ability to occasionally relax and forget about the war. True, he’d likely consider Henry an intellectual and social inferior, but would that infuriate him? Would it even annoy him? I doubt it.

As for Henry, I imagine him being apprehensive about Charles at first. But after realizing Charles wasn’t going to come barging into his office every day with complaints, he’d realize Charles was obnoxious most of the time but a talented surgeon and considerably less annoying than Frank Burns.

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

11 Comments

  • BDOR says:

    “Have you ever wondered whether Colonel Blake and Charles would get along had the two characters met and worked together at the 4077th? I hadn’t given it much thought.”

    Neither have I. In fact, I really don’t even know what to comment, because such a thought had never entered my mind. The only similar thought that’s come to my mind is wondering how Trapper and Potter would interact, but mainly because of those old IBM commercials from the 80s featuring Wayne Rogers and Harry Morgan among the rest of the cast.

    I suppose when I stop and think about it, I can envision one of two things happening: Charles being successful at getting himself transfered back to Tokyo (and Henry being happy about it to get him off his back) because he’d be able to manipulate Henry so much easier than Potter; or Charles being almost like Frank in terms of having no respect for Henry and his lack of command, and being even more complainy about it.

  • Luv4Rosie says:

    I think Charles would have his way with Henry and he’d be back in Tokyo before long..What would be more interesting is how Charles and Frank would interact?.I would’ve loved to have seen that!..lol

    • BDOR says:

      I feel like Frank would have tried to become pals with Charles, if only because Charles did maintain some military correctness: he looked down on Enlistedmen like Radar and Klinger, had little respect for the Officers beneath him like Hawkeye and B.J. (Captains) and even Mulcahy (a Lieutenant), saw Margaret (a Major) as an equal, and did actually have a little respect for those above him like Colonel Potter.

      Not only that, but we all knew that Frank was crazy about money, so with Charles being the aristocrat that he is, I feel like Frank would see Charles as an opportunity to exploit his wealth.

    • 007 says:

      That would have been pretty good yeah and made for some great fun. Charles of course would of ripped Frank apart intellectually and verbally but it would still have been great to see Frank try like hell to be chummy with Charles because of his wealth, rank, military stature, etc.

      Another interesting angle would be the jealousy from Frank as Margaret and Charles became friends, even if they didn’t pursue the romantic aspect of Charles and Margaret like they did and dropped in season 6.

  • Larry P. says:

    Never thought of this!

    I can’t see Charles affording much respect to Henry, though I’m sure he’d have been fine with the laid-back attitude in regards to military policy. He may have been even MORE insistent on being sent back to Tokyo than he was with Potter in charge, though I don’t know how successful that would have been; Henry never gave in to Klinger, after all. That might make Winchester angrier, that he couldn’t manipulate someone as (seemingly) spineless as Henry.

    Boy, I don’t know. I guess the main difference I can see between Blake and Potter here is that Charles would have had less respect for Blake than he did Potter, mainly because Potter’s character demanded respect, and Blake’s was more along for the ride.

  • Doug says:

    I also had never thought of this.

    I’m going to go a different way, and say that Charles and Henry would not have the same antagonistic relationship as Frank and Henry.

    First, Charles may have had great respect for Colonel Potter, but he still referred to him snidely behind his back; ie, “Colonel Cowpie.” That being said, Charles is the kind of person to whom those who aren’t of his socioeconomic class are always lesser beings.

    Next, much as Charles eventually accepted that he was assigned to the unit for the duration, he would have accepted Henry as CO. He would never have tried to undermine command like Frank, who wanted to be the unit commander. Even though he took advantage when left in charge, he didn’t want it. Plus, I could see Henry as having great respect for Charles as a surgeon and doctor, and an asset to the unit, something he never felt for Frank (the best he ever said about him was that he was a “fair, but competent, surgeon)..

    Finally, I guess that Charles’ character arc would remain essentially the same. His stories could have been written with any combination of characters, except Frank.

    Similarly, had Wayne Rogers not left (which seems likely had McLean Stevenson not left), I doubt that Charles would have been created. My guess is that MASH would have gone five seasons, maybe six, and remained a mostly sitcom show. With the original core actors, it just seems to me everything would have remained stable, and the series would never have evolved into the first real dramedy on TV.

  • 007 says:

    Like others I never put much thought into it, but I will say I would have absolutely LOVED to have seen it, simply because Henry and Charles are two of my three favorite characters on the show, the 3rd being Trapper. I would be so happy to see the interaction between those three, if nothing else but to experience my three favorite characters together at once.

    That being said, I think others nailed it when they said that Charles would manipulate/bully/pressure Henry pretty easily into getting himself transferred back to Tokyo. Remember Frank didn’t really have to try that hard to get a transfer in White Gold, although one could say Henry wanted to get rid of him.

  • Ferret Face says:

    Even though I’m the one who initially suggested the original discussion topic, this is probably the pairing I’ve thought about the least.

    Now that I actually have thought about it, I’d say I partially agree with what everyone has been saying. I think that to start off with, Charles would have hated having Henry as a commanding officer. He’d basically put him in the same category as Hawkeye and BJ, but wonder how such a simple-minded booze hound ever got his position in the first place. But then eventually, I agree that he’d start to use Henry’s more laid-back attitude against him, trying more aggressively to get his transfer. However, after so many failed attempts to do so, he’d start taking it personally, think that he, a Winchester, should easily be able to out-smart/out-maneuver someone like Henry.

    I’ve also seen BDOR suggest in the past that the writers seemed to gradually make Henry more competent as a leader as the early seasons went along. I think it would have been interesting to see them continue his character in that direction, and as a result, have Charles’ opinion and relationship gradually grow and mature as well.

    I also thought that having Henry around while Charles was there would also change the dynamic between Charles and Radar. When Henry was around, it was clear that Radar had a lot of power in the camp. In a few instances, it was jokingly mentioned that it was really Radar who was in charge, using Henry as a front. And it would have taken Charles long to realize it. Because of this, there might have been times when he tried harder to actually get along with Radar in order to get what he wants.

  • Doc Funnypants says:

    That’s a very good question. I believe Winchester and Blake would’ve gotten along just fine as long as Charles remained a skilled surgeon and Henry let the rest of the staff do their jobs as best they could. At least Henry wouldn’t worry about Charles trying to usurp Henry’s authority as CO or have Margaret speaking for herself and Winchester. That’s all I want to say for now.

  • David G. says:

    I thought every single speculative topic about “M*A*S*H” had been thought of and debated years ago. But then -this- question gets raised up. Very inventive and worthwhile question here ….. and it’s probably got all of us wondering why it took -this- long for that question to ever come up!

  • BeccaLeo1972 says:

    Henry not wanting to lose a talented surgeon, even one with a snobbish attitude like Charles, arranges for him to stay. I could see Henry figuring its easier to deal with complaints from Charles than someone like Frank. Charles wasn’t looking to undermine authority as much as argue his case to be sent back to Tokyo. Henry being a stronger commander by Season 6 would dismiss Charles efforts in a similar way to Potter. Although i loved how Potter dealt with Charles it was pretty close to perfect.

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