AfterMASH Episode Spotlight: Staph Inspection

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

“Staph Inspection” (#5, 1×05)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, October 17th, 1983 from 9-9:30PM ET
Written by David Isaacs & Ken Levine
Directed by Burt Metcalfe

TV Guide Summary

A flasher and a staph carrier are on the loose–just two days before an inspection by VA top brass.

The Hartford Courant Summary

D’Angelo puts the entire staff on overtime in anticipation of a visit from Washington officials.

Review

I hate to sound like a broken record, especially since we’re only on the fifth episode, but AfterMASH clearly suffered from the same problem that plagued the latter years of M*A*S*H: divergent storylines that keep main characters from interacting. There are two major storylines in this episode. There’s the mysterious staph infection, which Potter tells Dr. Pfeiffer to solve. There’s the surprise inspection that isn’t a surprise. Klinger has small roles to play in both storylines but mostly he just worries about keeping his job after Alma Cox once again threatens him.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Staph Infection.

The flasher at General General exposes himself to Mike D’Angelo.

There are also two minor storylines. One involves a flasher roving the halls of the hospital, who Father Mulcahy attempts to handle. The other starts with Potter running into an old friend from World War I who isn’t feeling well. The flasher storyline ties into the surprise inspection, but isn’t funny or significant. The storyline involving Potter’s old friend, on the other hand, offers Harry Morgan the opportunity to do some fine acting. I’m reminded of his emotional tour de force in the M*A*S*H episode “Old Soldiers” from Season 8.

Although Potter and Klinger have several scenes together, I don’t recall Father Mulcahy interacting with either of them. I have to wonder how William Christopher felt about these early episodes. Did he look at each new script and wonder why his character was almost always separated from the other main characters?

Still from the AfterMASH episode Staph Infection showing Klinger.

Klinger worries about his job.

As has been the case with the previous episodes I’ve reviewed, I didn’t find anything amusing in this episode. Not even a chuckle. That’s not necessarily a criticism, because many M*A*S*H episodes don’t strike me as particularly funny. The problem with AfterMASH so far is that many of the supporting characters aren’t simply not funny, they’re annoying to watch. Plus, they’re too one-dimensional. Mike D’Angelo is smug. Alma Cox is spiteful. Dr. Pfeiffer at least has a few character traits: he’s dedicated to his patients, frustrated with bureaucracy, and eager to learn.

Of course, M*A*S*H may very well have suffered from one-dimensional characters at this point in its first season as well. I can’t say because I didn’t watch the show when it first aired. I watched the episodes and seasons out of order, meaning I knew all about the characters by the time I saw the first few episodes.

Notes

Mildred and Soon-Lee don’t appear in this episode, although Klinger talks to his wife on the phone (we only hear his side of the conversation).

References to the 4077th

There are no references to the 4077th in this episode. Potter does run into an old friend from World War I, however.

M*A*S*H Connections

Lois Foraker shows up as Nurse Coleman in this episode.

Guest star James Gallery previously guest starred in the M*A*S*H episode “Tell It to the Marines” during Season 9.

Guest star Natasha Bauman previously guest starred in the M*A*S*H episodes “Bombshells” and “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” during Season 11.

3 Comments

  • penguinphysics says:

    I hate to be a nitpicker, but I think the title is Staph Inspection (in an attempt to provide a bit of wordplay. Otherwise, a truly unremarkable episode…

    • RJ says:

      That’s not a nitpick, that’s a big mistake. And I literally realized I had the title wrong as I started reading your comment. Thanks for the correction.

  • BDOR says:

    I, personally, am not to big on shows where the secondary/minor characters are annoying and unlikable. Slightly off-topic, but although I’m a fan of Alvin and The Chipmunks, one of the things that has been annoying me about their current show on Nickelodeon is that it has a relatively good-sized cast of supporting characters, many of which are just downright unlikable: if they’re not negative characters, they’re stereotypes, and many of them are, likewise, one-dimensional.

    Sometimes, though, I can’t help but wonder why certain shows do this. Is it to emphasize the appeal of the main characters? Is it a feeble attempt to create the conflict, since conflict is what gives you story? I don’t know, but either way, unlikable supporting characters isn’t always a good thing.

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