I’m reviewing every episode of AfterMASH, in original broadcast order, and asking fans to add their memories and opinions.
“Shall We Dance” (#7, 1×07)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, October 31st, 1983 from 9-9:30PM ET
Written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Directed by Will Mackenzie
TV Guide Summary
In a campaign against depravity, Alma bans the book “From Here To Eternity” and objects strongly to a dance for the patients.
The Hartford Courant Summary
Despite Alma’s protests, D’Angelo agrees to accept a local dance school’s offer to arrange a party for the hospital patients.
“Shall We Dance” features two primary storylines, both of which relate to Alma Cox being a prude. She doesn’t approve of the hospital putting on a dance for the patients, with instructors from a local dance school. She’s also offended by the book From Here to Eternity, which she banned from the hospital. D’Angelo tasks Father Mulcahy with reading the book and deciding whether it’s appropriate for patients.
D’Angelo later tries to cancel the dance when he learns one of the dance instructors is “none desirable” but it’s too late. The patients are excited and if the hospital takes the dance away, they’ll complain.
There’s also a minor secondary storyline involving Dr. Pfeiffer trying to convince Bonnie to go on a date with him. But Bonnie only has eyes for Klinger. So, Pfeiffer goes after a pharmacist–only to have Alma catch the two of them together in an operating room.
(After trying to ignore her obvious flirting in earlier episodes, Klinger finally tells Bonnie she’s a sweet and attractive girl but he’s happily married.)
Father Mulcahy finally gets a significant role. While filling in for another priest, he hears Alma’s confession. She reveals she’s in love with Mike D’Angelo. Masking his voice, he manages to convince her to forgive someone, which saves Pfeiffer’s job. It’s nice to finally see Alma as a real person, not a caricature. It turns out there is more to her than bitterness and cruelty.
Curiously, “Shall We Dance” uses flashbacks and I’m not sure why. At the start of the episode, the staff have gathered for their weekly meeting. There are two flashbacks, the first to D’Angelo and Alma discussing the dance and the second to Alma stumbling upon Klinger reading From Here to Eternity. There’s a third flashback, too, one that goes all the way back to World War II. Potter is seen working on a painting of Mildred while in New Jersey on leave from the Army.
For the first time since the second episode, every character makes an appearance. Mildred is seen in the flashback and at the dance. Soon-Lee is also at the dance, where she meets Alma Cox for the first time.
References to the 4077th
While hearing Alma’s confession, Father Mulcahy references the adultery he saw during his time in Korea.
Klinger jokes about Army staff meetings being just as useless as hospital staff meetings.
This is the third of 13 episodes written or co-written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs.