I’m reviewing every episode of AfterMASH, in original broadcast order, and asking fans to add their memories and opinions.
“It Had to Be You” (#17, 1×17)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, January 23rd, 1984 from 8-8:30PM ET
Written by Dennis Koenig & Ken Levine & David Isaacs
Directed by Larry Gelbart
TV Guide Summary
It’s supposed to be wedding bells for Radar, but he turns up at the Potters’, 200 miles from the altar, panicky and determined to call the whole thing off.
The Hartford Courant Summary
Radar shows up at the Potters’ home on his wedding day, but it isn’t until later that they learn he left his bride at the altar.
After making a brief cameo appearance at the end of the previous episode, Gary Burghoff returns as Radar O’Reilly. How many viewers watched AfterMASH week after week in the hopes another character from M*A*S*H would show up? It finally happens in this episode. Unfortunately, it’s not much of a reunion or much of an episode.
The Potters, the Klingers, and Father Mulcahy are preparing to drive to Radar’s wedding. Before they can leave, who should show up at the front door? None other than Radar himself. The night before at his stag party, Radar’s oldest friend Claude Greevy revealed he had slept with Sandy, Radar’s bride-to-be. Rather than call off the wedding, Radar went AWOL.
Klinger, Father Mulcahy, and Potter all try to talk Radar into going back to Ottumwa. Before he can, who should show up at the front door? None other than Sandy. After some yelling, Father Mulcahy performs a brief wedding ceremony.
While it’s nice to see Radar again, too much time is spent explaining how his farm went wrong and how much he loves Sandy. That doesn’t leave much time for Radar to reconnect with his friends from the 4077th. What I wanted out of this episode–and what I assume many viewers wanted–was a true reunion, not a messy soap opera story line. Everything is so rushed there’s no time for Radar to meet Soon Lee or Mrs. Potter.
I wonder if the writers considered a simpler storyline, one that would’ve given Radar and Potter and Klinger and Father Mulcahy an opportunity to catch up and swap stories about life after Korea. There’s a reason they decided to have him running from his wedding rather than show up at General General for surgery or come for a visit because he’s in town for a farming convention.
For me, the best moment of the episode comes when Father Mulcahy tells Radar about his drinking problem. It ties M*A*S*H and AfterMASH together nicely.
The episode also suffers from shoehorning in a secondary storyline in which Dr. Boyer drowns his sorrows at the local bar. He runs into Bob Scannell and meets Harry the bartender, who offers to give him the number for a hooker. The only thing I like about this storyline is Bob trying to get Dr. Boyer to buy him a sandwich. He can’t do it himself because he doens’t have a stomach (first mentioned in “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday”) and no one will give him real food.
In a ham-fisted attempt to tie the two storylines together, Sandy arrives at the bar and meets Dr. Boyer. She slaps him when he gets fresh and then leaves. Everything works out in the end, however. Dr. Boyer takes a nurse back to his apartment.
Although he never returned to AfterMASH, Gary Burghoff wasn’t done playing Radar O’Reilly. He starred in an unsold CBS pilot titled “W*A*L*T*E*R” that aired in July 1984.
Alma Cox and Mike D’Angelo do not appear in this episode. Neither does Dr. Pfeiffer, who made his last appearance in the previous episode and disappeared from General General without any explanation.
This episode aired at an earlier time (8PM ET instead of 9PM ET) to make room for the network television premiere of the 1981 film The Four Seasons, written by and starring Alan Alda. It aired from 9-11PM ET.
The Recovery Room bar makes its debut in this episode, as does recurring character Harry the bartender.
References to the 4077th
Potter mentions Radar sleeping with a teddy bear. Later, he tells Soon-Lee one thing he always loved about Korea was women’s clothes. They were elegant.
When the phone rings in the Potters’ living room, Radar picks it up and says, “Colonel Potter’s office.”
Father Mulcahy and Radar talk about Mulcahy’s hearing loss (which happened during the M*A*S*H series finale) and how he turned to the bottle (as seen in the first two episodes of AfterMASH).
This is the second of two episodes directed by Larry Gelbart and marked his final, direct contribution to AfterMASH.
This is the sixth of 13 episodes written or co-written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs.
This is the fourth of nine episodes written or co-written by Dennis Koenig. He provided the story for a tenth episode.