AfterMASH Episode Spotlight: Night Shift

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

“Night Shift” (#6, 1×06)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, October 24th, 1983 from 9-9:30PM ET
Written by Everett Greenbaum & Elliott Reid
Directed by Edward H. Feldman

TV Guide Summary

Myriad crises call Potter, Klinger and Mulcahy to night duty at the hospital.

The Hartford Courant Summary

The endurance of Potter, Klinger, Mulcahy and Pfeiffer is tested during an exceptionally busy night at Gen. Pershing Hospital.

Review

Perhaps not surprisingly, due to the “myriad crises” (as TV Guide put it) woven throughout the episode, it can feel disjointed at times. The episode is chock full of storylines. There’s a stripper, a child smuggled into the hospital, a broken elevator, a doctor exhausted due to moonlighting at an emergency room, a fight over cigarettes, and more. And yet, despite the how jumbled the episode is, it may be the strongest episode of AfterMASH since the series premiere.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Night Shift showing Mildred and Sherman Potter.

The Potters are looking for to a quiet night alone.

Why? Because Mike D’Angelo and Alma Cox aren’t in it. I’ve mentioned multiple times in earlier reviews how annoying I find these characters. I do wonder whether I’d feel the same way if this was a brand new show rather than a spin-off. If all of the characters on AfterMASH were new, they would likely all be struggling to define themselves after just six episodes. But AfterMASH is a spin-off. Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy are established characters with personalities surrounded by stock characters who have yet to establish their own identities.

This isn’t a perfect episode. There are too many storylines and too many guest stars. With all three main characters stuck at General General during the night shift, it would’ve been nice to have just one or two big storylines for all three to participate in. Instead, they’re each involved in multiple minor storylines. Klinger and Father Mulcahy take a backseat to Potter, whose interrupted night off with Mildred starts and ends the episode.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Night Shift showing the operating room.

The operating room at General General.

Unless I missed something in an earlier episode, AfterMASH tackles racism for the first time in “Night Shift.” Unfortunately, it does so in an exceptionally heavy-handed way. A white patient argues with an African-American patient about cigarettes. The two then get in a physical altercation. Later, after Potter yell at them, all of a sudden they’re friends.

Notes

Mike D’Angelo, Alma Cox, and Soon-Lee don’t appear in this episode.

A cab driver calls Father Mulcahy a “mackerel snapper,” a phrase I’d never heard before. According to Wikipedia, it was a slur against Catholics at one point in time but turned into a humorous jab before falling out of common use in the mid-20th century.

References to the 4077th

Klinger claims his credo in Korea was “Business First.” Potter’s response? “Horse hockey.”

Dr. Pfeiffer and Potter operate on a patient who has Chinese shell fragments in his body. Potter explains they often left fragments behind. “Son, we were up to our keisters in other people’s keisters, we didn’t have time to paint the trim.”

Potter meets two patients who served in the Eighth Army and fought at Pusan, where they were decorated.

M*A*S*H Connections

This is the first of three episodes co-written by Everett Greenbaum. Greenbuam wrote 24 episodes of M*A*S*H between 1974 and 1978 with writing partner Jim Fritzell, who died in 1979. For AfterMASH, Greenbaum found a new writing partner, Elliot Reed.

Lois Foraker shows up as Nurse Coleman in this episode.

Guest star Blake Clark previously guest starred in the series finale of M*A*S*H.

Guest star David Graf previously guest starred in the M*A*S*H episode “A Holy Mess” during Season 10.

According to the Internet Movie Database, guest star Martin Ferrero made an uncredited appearance in the M*A*S*H episode “That’s Show Biz” during Season 10.

2 Comments

  • Jon says:

    Nice review, but you state that Everett Greenbaum co-wrote this episode near the end of the review, but you credit Ken Levine & David Isaacs as the writers at the beginning. Who wrote this one?

    • RJ says:

      Greenbaum & Reid wrote this episode. I forgot to change the writing credit from the previous episode. Thanks for the catch.

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