Discuss: Storylines You Wish Had Been Revisited

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.

Today’s topic is: Are there any storylines you wish had been revisited?

Whatever Happened To…?

Like most network TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s, M*A*S*H featured few continuing storylines and little continuity between episodes. Each week saw the characters grapple with a one or more self-contained storylines that were wrapped up neatly by the end of the episode. With few exceptions, storylines or character developments from one episode were never mentioned again.

The evolution of Margaret over the course of the series is one of those exceptions. Father Mulcahy’s push for a promotion is another, although far more limited. Klinger’s wacky schemes to get out of the Army are more a recurring gag than a continuing storyline, in my opinion.

On two occasions, episodes picked up directly where a previous episode left off. “Change of Command” follows “Welcome to Korea” while ” Period of Adjustment” picks up a few weeks after “Good-Bye Radar (Part II).”

There were also a handful of episodes that followed up on events from earlier episodes. “Lend a Hand” is a sequel of sorts to “The Consultant” while “Our Finest Hour” is a sequel to “The Interview.” Likewise, “No Laughing Matter” continues the Charles-Colonel Baldwin storyline introduced in “Fade Out, Fade In.”

For the most part, however, M*A*S*H consists of standalone episodes. With that in mind, are there any storylines–or entire episodes–you wish had been revisited? Because the episodes are self-contained, there may not be many storylines worthy of revisiting. Are there episodes you wish had been given direct sequels? Or storylines that could’ve been followed up with a letter or phone call?

Here are a few possibilities I can think of:

-The fate of Ho-Jon, who presumably traveled to the United States to attend college (Season 1)
-Margaret’s improved relationship with her nurses, which went nowhere after “The Nurses” (Season 5)
-The fate of Kyung Soon, introduced in “In Love and War” (Season 6)
-More medical inventions like the vascular clamp from “Patent 4077” (Season 6)
-Hawkeye’s alcoholism, as seen in “Bottle Fatigue” (Season 7)
-Charles and his brush with death, from “The Life You Save” (Season 9)

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

20 Comments

  • Crabapple Cove says:

    The fate of Ugly John’s character. They could have at least had him ‘transferred’ or killed in an off-camera mention. I have made the point before that the lack of an anesthesiologist in the OR after the departure of Ugly John has always been strange to me. Even if the producers wanted to do away with Ugly John, they should have at least had an occasional ‘gas-passer’ in the OR even if he was a one off bit character named Dr. Able or Baker a la the minor nurses.

    • Jon says:

      Although Ugly John disappeared after Season 1, actor John Orchard returned to play an Australian colonel in “Captains Outrageous” in Season 8.

  • penguinphysics says:

    Wow! What a topic! Where do I begin?

    -How about what happened to Trapper after he returned home (ignoring Trapper John, M.D.)
    -Any of the battle-fatigue patients of Sidney
    -The fate of Gail Harris (from Nurse Doctor)? Dr. Newsome (from Heal Thyself)? Clayton Kibbee (from Blood & Guts)? Pvt. Gillis (from A Holy Mess)? Martine (from Foreign Affairs) Syn Paik (from The Korean Surgeon)? Buzz Brighton (from The Ringbanger)?
    -Whatever happened to Spearchucker? Captain Pak? Sgt. Zale (whom I prefer far more than Rizzo)? The various generals (Hammond, Embry, Barker (my personal favorite))?
    -Although I can’t stand the character, what about Park Suck (from the Foresight Saga)?

    I could go on, but I’m sure you all get the picture.

  • 007 says:

    Oh man too many to name. Really any major story line would be nice to have a follow up, but that’s not realistic. For me, I would have just liked to have more continuity between episodes, especially with props we just never see again. Like Hawkeye and BJ’s thick winter coats in “A War for All Seasons”. Where’d they go? Why do they not have them anymore in future cold episoes?

    Just listing some things I’d really have loved to gotten continuity wise:

    -Follow ups on Trapper. He never wrote a letter to Hawkeye?
    -Follow ups on Frank. He never wrote Margaret a letter?
    -More updates on Radar. He wrote one letter in “The Foresight Saga” and we never get to find out if things get better for him. Not counting the stupid never picked up W*A*L*T*E*R pilot.
    -Ho-Jon. Did he go to college? That was all in the pilot, but then he’s around for the rest of the season.
    -Spearchucker. Where’d he go? We know behind the camera what happened but what about in the show.
    -Season 1 nurses. Where’d they all go?

    Really as you can see it’s the major characters that were most important to me. As far as other props and things that were only around for a single episode, I could probably name dozens so won’t bother.

  • BDOR says:

    Honestly, this is another topic that I never really gave much thought to, to be honest. 😐

  • Doug says:

    Why didn’t they introduce Millie Carpenter a couple of episodes before Who Knew? It would have had more impact had the audience actually met the character.

    Or is that too modern and Game Of Thrones-like?

    • BDOR says:

      Oh, that reminds me, what’s the deal with Soon-Lee? Was she a recurring character throughout Season 11 to build up the situation with her missing family in GFA, or was she just randomly brought in abruptly for one episode prior? I haven’t seen much of Season 11 to know one way or another.

      • Larry P. says:

        She was introduced in the penultimate episode, then stayed for GFA, and then was part of AFTERMASH.

      • BDOR says:

        Okay, well then that makes her story-arc less plausible or believable. If she was part of the entire season, that’d give her budding romance with Klinger more time to build up in an organic manner.

      • 007 says:

        I suspect they were already in the early stages of preparing AfterMASH, so she was brought in there at the end to introduce the character for the show.

        They also probably didn’t have any ideas for what Klinger could do in the finale, so they figured have him fall in love and get married.

      • BDOR says:

        Maybe so, but it seems like if they brought her into the season much earlier, and developed the character and her involvement with the rest of the camp over the course of the season, it would feel more organic and natural that she and Klinger would slowly develop feelings for one another by the time they got to GFA, rather than spring it all in one episode prior.

        But then again, we saw Klinger quickly fell in love with Debbie in “Ain’t Love Grand,” and that was just one single episode, so maybe it’s not entirely improbable he and Soon-Lee fell in love with each other so quickly.

      • Latrinogram says:

        I too used to have false memories of her being in more than just 2 episodes of M*A*S*H. Maybe I was mixing it up with seeing her on AfterMASH (I always thought Rosalind Chao was a hottie, so I liked the Soon-Lee character). Anyway, it’s further proof that the mind can play tricks on you!

  • dhla says:

    I agree with many of the other comments – there would have been a lot of story to explore in the follow-up with those sent home, but I have a feeling that would have been unsatisfying because it is unlikely they would be a guest star (not common in the 1970s to have regulars return)… and then it becomes a crutch – letters from the states from former characters to help drive story in Korea. Part of the timelessness of MASH is the characters are trapped in early 1950s Korean War, with what today feels like primitive contact to/from home. Would I love to know what happened to Trapper, Frank, Ho-Jon, Spearchucker, Radar (more than the 1 episode) and even Henry’s family… sure. But it would detract from what drove the characters’ lives in the present.

    • Doug says:

      Radar wrote a letter back to the unit in one episode, and they sent him a kid who was good at farming to help him. But, my guess is the writers didn’t want to use this idea too much.

    • 007 says:

      They didn’t necessarily have to make it the whole focus of the episode though. It would have just been nice if there was like one or two lines randomly at times about it. Like Hawkeye could barge in on Margaret’s tent like he so often did and interrupt her reading a letter from Frank. During the course of regular conversation Hawkeye could ask “so what’s old ferret face up to?”

      Hawkeye could also periodically get letters from Trapper. They didn’t have to spend more than 10 seconds telling us about it in the episode, but just that continuity and keeping us updated on the characters we love.

      I get what you mean about them not wanting to rely too heavily on it though, and that’s likely why we never saw any other letters.

      • BecLeo1972 says:

        I agree. The writers could easily have given 20-30 seconds in episodes to give updates on Frank, Trapper, Henry’s family, and others we came to care about. A letter here and there or a mention of a phone call would have been great as they did hear f

  • BecLeo1972 says:

    hear from relatives on occasion.

  • Latrinogram says:

    These are all good ideas. I especially think that an episode where Trapper wrote a letter to Hawkeye (or called him) could have been really compelling.

    I’ll also add that I would have liked “Digger” Detweiler to return from time to time.

  • Peter Woodhouse says:

    Like the suggestion about the follow-up on a few patients, especially Sidney’s. For example Captain Chandler, who thought he was Christ.

  • JocularityGirl says:

    To agree with Penguinphysics above, I would have loved have seen a follow-up to Gail Harris from “Nurse Doctor”. I would have loved it if she’d come back as a full-fledged doctor, giving Hawkeye, BJ and Winchester a run for their money…and what would happen if this time, Father Mulcahy actually began to reciprocate her feelings for him, with the episode ending with her leaving the camp in order to not harm Mulcahy’s job, and with the two exchanging mementos of thier relationship and perhaps a “goodbye” kiss. That would tie up that storyline and show Mulcahy as a man, not just a priest, which I feel the writers should have done a bit more.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.