AfterMASH Episode Spotlight: Yours Truly, Max Klinger

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

“Yours Truly, Max Klinger” (#16, 1×16)
Originally Broadcast: Monday, January 16th, 1984 from 9-9:30PM ET
Written by David Isaacs & Ken Levine
Directed by Burt Metcalfe

TV Guide Summary

Klinger cites numerous examples of how “things are always jumping here at General-General” in a letter to Radar. Among them: Klinger’s own daytime moonlighting, and the activities of a feisty new surgeon (David Ackroyd).

The Hartford Courant Summary

Klinger writes a letter to his old Korean War buddy, Radar O’Reilly describing life at Gen. Pershing Hospital. Gary Burghoff makes a special appearance reprising his role of Radar.

Review

For the first time since the series premiere, AfterMASH has a character writing a letter to someone, recounting various goings-on at General General. This time, it’s Klinger doing the writing and the letter is intended for none other than Radar O’Reilly.

There are two main storylines in this episode but only one involving Klinger. He tells Radar about becoming a father and how he suddenly realized he can’t afford a baby. To earn extra money, Klinger finds a second job as a meat salesman, which he does from his office at the hospital. When that doesn’t work, he starts trying to sell toupees.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Yours Truly, Max Klinger showing Klinger.

Klinger tries to sell beef to make extra money.

The second storyline, which Klinger doesn’t participate it and doesn’t mention in his letter, sees the introduction of the rude and disrespectful yet talented Dr. Boyer (played by David Ackroyd). Dr. Boyer is a veteran of the Korean War, only he didn’t have the luxury of serving in a MASH unit like Potter, Klinger, and Father Mulcahy. He was a surgeon at a battalion aid unit and lost his leg during the war. Update: Dr. Boyer was never given a first name on AfterMASH. I incorrectly referred to him as Dr. “Ron” Boyer. I apologize for the mistake.

Mike D’Angelo agrees to hire Dr. Boyer as a favor to someone important. He doesn’t consult with Potter about the decision, which Potter doesn’t appreciate. The two quickly come to very different conclusions: Potter learns Boyers a natural surgeon and wants to keep him while D’Angelo wants to fire him after realizing how rude and mean Boyer is.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Yours Truly, Max Klinger showing David Ackroyd as Dr. Boyer.

Introducing David Ackroyd as Dr. Boyer

Potter ultimately gets his way and Dr. Boyer decides to stay at General General.

Father Mulcahy has a minor and very pointless storyline in which a husband and wife of different faiths argue about who should counsel their son while he’s at General General. The argument leads to a brawl and Father Mulcahy winds up with a minor head injury.

There’s also a truly ridiculous scene in which D’Angelo wears a giant Native American headdress while Alma Cox struts around his office spinning the medicine stick he was given.

At the end of the episode there’s a brief scene of Radar reading Klinger’s letter during his wedding rehearsal. Klinger is looking forward to the wedding. Radar absentmindedly can’t remember to say “I do” but isn’t worried. He has a week to memorize his line.

Still from the AfterMASH episode Yours Truly, Max Klinger showing Radar.

Radar at his wedding rehearsal

Although viewers may not have known it at the time, “Yours Truly, Max Klinger” features the final appearance of Dr. Pfeiffer. It’s too bad, because after a slow start I grew to appreciate the character. More importantly, with this first cast change AfterMASH started down a road from which it never recovered: attempts to “fix” the series by making changes to the cast and characters.

There’s no way to know for sure whether CBS doomed AfterMASH by insisting on so many changes, but the changes definitely didn’t help.

Notes

Klinger is seen helping a patient run on a treadmill. In the previous episode (“C.Y.A.”) Klinger started helping out as a physical therapist to earn a little extra money. It’s a nice bit of continuity between episodes.

References to the 4077th

There are a handful of references to the 4077th throughout the episode. “A guy who had to shave his back and put on a bra to go to work could be somebody’s father,” Klinger writes in his letter to Radar.

Later, when Potter meets Dr. Boyer, the two briefly discuss their time in Korea, and Potter mentions the 4077th by name.

M*A*S*H Connections

Gary Burghoff makes a brief cameo appearance at the end of the episode, returning to the role of Radar O’Reilly for the first time since the M*A*S*H episode “Good-Bye, Radar Part II” during Season 8.

This is the sixth of 14 episodes directed by Burt Metcalfe.

This is the fifth of 13 episodes written or co-written by Ken Levine & David Isaacs.

Guest star Britt Leach makes his third and final appearance on AfterMASH. He previously played Dan Blevik in the M*A*S*H episode “Heroes” during Season 10.

Guest star Tom Kindle, making his fourth appearance on AfterMASH, previously appeared in the M*A*S*H episodes “Blood Brothers” (during Season 9) and “That Darn Kid” (during Season 10).

6 Comments

  • David G. says:

    I wrote to Larry Gelbart in 1984 to ask what happened with Jay O. Sanders’ Dr. Pfeiffer character. In a handwritten response on “AfterMASH” letterhead, Gelbart wrote — and these are close to the exact words — that there was some mutual agreement that “the character never worked out.” (I can also recall a TV Guide article at the time that offered a similar explanation about this news.) I always thought this explanation didn’t make any sense. Of the totally new characters on the show, Pfeiffer came across as the one that was probably the best fleshed-out and had the best fit for the series. His role as the new doctor made sense, he gelled well with the 4077th gang, he was able to be naturally funny, he was able to be sensibly serious when a story called for it, and Jay O. Sanders was thoroughly likable in that role. It was an even further weird change when considering that this character was replaced for the rest of the series by the consistently abrasive Dr. Boyer, who would only ever have just a couple of moments when he came across as someone that the audience could feel comfortable rooting for.

    I always thought the incident regarding the noise with the Potters’ car to be a truly George Burns/Gracie Allen-level moment for Mildred. (Shame that this Mildred would also be getting the Jay O. Sanders treatment during the 2nd season….)

    Fun bit of trivia you probably won’t find anywhere else: Dr. Boyer was never given a first name on the series. (Where’s the reference to him ever being called “Ron”…?) There’s even a scene in a later episode where a romantic entanglement calls him simply just “Boyer.” But publicity photos of David Ackroyd from the show contained some text at the bottom that called his character “Dr. Mark Boyer.”

    • RedArrow says:

      I was curious about the “Ron” name as well. A few years back, the A.V. Club ran a piece on AfterMASH that gave Boyer’s first name as “Mark”, but without any documentation.

      https://tv.avclub.com/aftermash-tried-everything-to-bring-back-that-m-a-s-h-f-1798280076

      • David G. says:

        If photo uploading was possible here, I could provide the documentation regarding the “Mark” first name: The signed 8×10 B/W glossy publicity photo from the series that I have from David Ackroyd…! On rare occasions, you do see that picture pop up on “the ‘bay.”

        Interesting article you linked to. May very well be the only in-depth piece ever done that focuses on a single episode of “AfterMASH”!

    • RJ says:

      I honestly can’t remember where I came across “Ron” as Dr. Boyer’s first name. I don’t see it anywhere in any of the AfterMASH research I’ve collected over the past 15+ years. I am just getting over a nasty cold and don’t recall when I finished this review. Perhaps we’ll chalk it up to the fog of impending illness.

  • 007 says:

    This episode is one of only 3 AfterMASH episodes I’ve seen any of the episode. The other two being the one after this with Radar, and 3rd being the one with Col Flagg. Just can’t bring myself to watch the show. Oddly enough it’s probably how a lot people these days feel about M*A*S*H itself.

    Always hated what they did with Radar in the various spin offs. It’s already bad enough they had to make it so his farm was failing in The Foresight Saga, but to then have his fiance cheating on him, him marry her anyways, and then have her leave him in the W*A*L*T*E*R spin-off on their honeymoon, with Radar then wanting to kill himself is just absolutely ridiculous and almost offensive as a fan. Really makes it seem like somebody had a strong dislike for the Radar character and/or Burghoff.

    All I can choose to do is pretend these AfterMASH episodes and W*A*L*T*E*R never occurred.

    • Belvedere Jehosaphat says:

      I have also decided these post M*A*S*H Radar appearances never happened. Radar married the nurse he met while waiting for his flight in Goodbye Radar and got a good job in the VA.

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