AfterMASH Episode Spotlight: Klinger vs. Klinger

I’m reviewing every episode of AfterMASH, in original broadcast order, and asking fans to add their memories and opinions.

“Klinger vs. Klinger” (#3, 1×03)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, October 3rd, 1983 from 9-9:30PM ET
Written by David Isaacs & Ken Levine
Directed by Will Mackenzie

TV Guide Summary

A homesick Soon-Lee wants to bring her whole family to America. Meanwhile, a semiconscious patient is brought in without proper VA admission papers.

The Hartford Courant Summary

Klinger comes under pressure from his Korean bride, Soon-Lee, to bring her family to the United States. Meanwhile, Potter and Dr. Pfeiffer convince D’Angelo to admit a semiconcious patient who has arrived at Gen. Pershing Hospital without his veteran’s identification papers.

Review

With the characters and setting established in the one-hour series premiere, the third episode of AfterMASH gives viewers their first real look at Sherman Potter, Max Klinger, and Father Mulcahy working together at General General. As the title suggests, the episode also features the domestic life of the Klingers.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Klinger vs. Klinger showing Soon-Lee and Max.

Soon-Lee and Max in their apartment.

Like so many M*A*S*H episodes, “Klinger vs. Klinger” involves multiple storylines: Soon-Lee and Klinger clashing over her desire to bring her family to the United States, Potter and Dr. Pfeiffer fighting to help a patient, and Father Mulcahy scrambling to finish an end-of-the-month report. Also like so many M*A*S*H episodes, the Mulcahy storyline feels forced, tacked on to give William Christopher something to do.

Both the Potter/Pfeiffer and Mulcahy storylines feature characters pushing back at the bureaucracy of the hospital. This is a running theme in AfterMASH, just as it was in M*A*S*H with Hawkeye and Trapper/B.J. constantly fighting against the bureaucracy of the U.S. Army. In AfterMASH, however, the bureaucracy has a face: hospital administrator Mike D’Angelo, with plenty of help from his executive secretary Alma Cox.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Klinger vs. Klinger showing Potter and Father Mulcahy.

Father Mulcahy learns he has to submit a report within 24 hours.

In one scene, Alma tells D’Angelo that Father Mulcahy is “a little holier-than-thou but certainly roll-overable,” prompting D’Angelo to call him “a real foot stool.” As for Klinger, Alma despises him. There’s also a joke about them scheming to defraud the government by marking a dinner as a business expense. Is the scene over-the-top? Sure, but it sets the tone for their relationship.

(For the record, D’Angelo quickly learns Father Mulcahy is anything but a food stool.)

Still from the AfterMASH episode Klinger vs. Klinger showing Alma Cox and Mike D'Angelo.

Alma Cox and Mike D’Angelo fiendishly scheming.

The highlight of the episode has to be Klinger yelling at a patient who calls Soon-Lee a “gook” when she brings him his lunch at the hospital. Klinger berates the man, telling him everything Soon-Lee has given up to be with a “schmo who has nothing to his name but the discharge papers it’s written on.” Jamie Farr does fine work here making Klinger’s angry reaction feel raw yet realistic.

The Potter/Pfeiffer storyline about a patient lacking V.A. papers ends with a surprise twist that I won’t spoil for those who haven’t seen the episode.

Notes

Mildred does not appear in this episode, but she is mentioned.

Klinger reads about Vice President Nixon’s trip to South Korea in the newspaper. The trip took place in November 1953.

While Potter and Dr. Pfeiffer are in surgery, they have to stop and cover the patient while a train roars by. This is a callback to something Potter mentioned in the letter he wrote Klinger in “September of ’53” about General General being located next to the train tracks.

Bonnie Hornbeck makes a brief appearance in which she makes her attraction to Klinger very clear.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Klinger vs. Klinger showing Klinger, Potter, and Bonnie Hornbeck.

Bonnie Hornbeck has the hots for Klinger and isn’t shy about it.

We learn that Soon-Lee has a large family. Her parents, of course. Unless I missed something in the first two episodes, we’re never told how she and Klinger found her parents. Recall that Klinger shockingly announced he was staying in Korea near the end of “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” to help Soon-Lee search for her missing parents. Soon-Lee also has a brother, an older sister who has four kids, and at least one living grandmother.

References to the 4077th

Although Korea is mentioned, and Klinger threatens to start wearing a dress again while arguing with Soon-Lee, there are no references to the 4077th in this episode.

M*A*S*H Connections

This is the first of 13 episodes of AfterMASH written by scriptwriters David Isaacs and Ken Levine. The two also served as supervising producers during part of Season 1. Between 1976 and 1979, the pair wrote 16 episodes of M*A*S*H. They worked as story editors and later executive script consultants from 1977 to 1979.

Lois Foraker returns as Nurse Coleman in this episode.

Guest star Randal Patrick previously appeared in the M*A*S*H episode “Follies of the Living – Concerns of the Dead” during Season 10.

2 Comments

  • penguinphysics says:

    The point in the episode when Max yells at the patient for the racial slur hits (indirectly close to me) I married a fantastic woman who (in my eyes) is just about as awesome as they come, but with one flaw (according to my immediate family): She does not have a college degree. My parents went out of their way to alienate her every time she was around them because of this fact and I spent more time yelling at them than speaking because of it. The comments, while not said out of malice, were issued out of ignorance and it really hurt her. Fortunately, my folks came around and began to see her as she really is and my mother became a close friend shortly before she passed away, but the sting still hurts me from time to time.

  • Lady you ARE a Piece of Cornbread says:

    Wonder if the title was intended to be a reference to the then current movie “Kramer vs. Kramer”

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