Discuss: Imagine an Episode With Only Klinger


Monday M*A*S*H Discussions offers fans the opportunity to offer their opinions on a wide variety of topics relating to M*A*S*H. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. My hope is these discussion posts will continue to elicit comments in the weeks and months after they’re initially published. Have a suggestion about something you think might be worth discussing? Let me know and maybe it will become my next Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topic.

Today’s topic is: Imagine an episode with only Klinger

One of Klinger’s Stunts?

We’re in the ninth week of our “Imagine an Episode with Only…” journey. We’ve already imagined episodes with only Margaret, Colonel Potter, Trapper, Father Mulcahy, Frank, Radar, Charles, and B.J. Today, let’s share our ideas for an episode featuring Klinger. He doesn’t have to be literally the only character but he should be the primary focus and any other characters probably shouldn’t be speaking English. That’s how “Hawkeye” worked and we’re trying to think of similiar experimental episodes for the rest of the characters.

I had a hard time coming up with an idea for an episode focusing almost exclusively on Klinger. I couldn’t come up with any sort of crazy stunt he could pull that would involve keeping him isolated from the rest of the cast while also giving him a reason to talk. It’s easy enough to suggest Klinger could pretend he can’t hear anyone else at the 4077th but the other characters would still be around him and interacting with him.

But what if this hypothetical episode doesn’t involve one of Klinger’s wacky stunts? What if instead the entire episode follows Klinger as he trudges through camp performing his various corpsman duties. Maybe the 4077th is low on corpsman at the moment due to illness or leave or training. And Klinger has to do other jobs as well, like peeling potatoes or serving food in the Mess Tent. Think of the episode as “A Day in the Life of Maxwell Q. Klinger, U.S. Army Corpsman.”

It would be difficult to film an episode like this without involving other members of the main cast and equally difficult to find realistic ways for Klinger to converse with himself or other people who don’t talk back to him. Maybe he’s bitter about having to work so hard, so he’s complaining out loud to nobody in particular. Or muttering to himself as he goes from job to job.

Like I said, I had trouble thinking of a workable idea for Klinger. I’m curious to see what other people come up with.

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

7 Replies to “Discuss: Imagine an Episode With Only Klinger”

  1. My idea for this episode would be that Klinger has been forced (probably by Frank during the interim after Henry’s departure) to undergo a psychiatric examination (much more intense than with Sidney.) He could discuss his (petty) criminal past, his relationship with Lorraine, and how he took Col. Blake’s death. The psychiatrist would be only seen but not heard.

    It could have been a possible segue to a more mature Maxwell Q. Klinger without the overwritten sanctimony and huxterism that poisoned his character in later seasons.

    1. Excellent idea penguinphysics.

      Initially I was thinking there would no way to make an episode with Klinger like this work, and that it would be one of the most difficult of all the characters to come up with ideas….but

      Klinger receiving a forced or even requested psychiatric examination is a PERFECT way to go about an episode like this. You could throw in a bunch of comedy with it, and use “flashbacks” showing stunts he’s tried (which would be new to us), similar to the big red bird with fuzzy pink feet “flashback” in the Trial of Henry Blake.

  2. Your plot is fascinating. However, I take issue with his character being poisoned, although I agree that his mission strayed from getting sent home on a section 8.

  3. The only way I could see a Klinger episode working in such context is perhaps his latest Section 8 stunt is isolating himself from the rest of the camp: maybe just locking himself up in his tent, refusing to interact with anyone else, as we see some of the things he does when he’s by himself, like working on creating his own dresses, writing wacky letters to politicians, reminiscing about Toledo, concocting other schemes to get out of the Army. . . .

  4. Here’s what the Klinger solo storyline absolutely should be: “The Courtship of Klinger and Soon-Lee.” This was the big gaping hole of the final season. We went from introducing Soon-Lee as a basically a dangerous enemy-type character in one episode (the next-to-last one shown) to Klinger and Soon-Lee suddenly holding hands on a beach in the next episode (the last one). The Klinger solo episode would fill in the gap of what happened with Klinger during those final several weeks before the war came to an end, and how the romance between he and Soon-Lee developed. No need for any of the other 4077th regulars to appear on camera for this one.

  5. One of Klinger’s section 8 ploys could be a plot for this. His idea is that talking to himself (as opposed to thinking aloud, a mere habit, whereas he’d be having imaginary conversations like he thinks they’re real, things like that) is seen as crazy, thus an out for him. His problem, though, is that when he starts this gambit, it’s when there’s a long slog in surgery and the officers are busy. He does consider doing it during his job as corman, but doesn’t want to make the surgeons’ job harder. He almost talks himself (literally) into it, but is relieved of his duties for that shift due to his really hard work recently. During this, we only see him enter the prep room and leaving it with the news.

    He spends the duration (up to the point we see him) wandering around camp, hoping Someone sees him. Personnel are seen too busy rushing into the action when needed, or too exhausted leaving it to notice anything. Anyone else just gives Klinger a look showing they’re on to him, that it’s too obvious.

    As he goes on, his muttering becomes more of a habit, bemoaning his bad luck with the idea, flowing into concerns he has about the army, war, etc. Near the end, he’s called in to his work, both too eager to end his thinking out loud and not interfere with his duties to keep the con up.

    I’m not sure how feasible it is that Klinger would have no duties during such a long stretch, though. If not, a similar idea might work, but that’s the gist, at any rate.

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