Amph MASH Chronology: Disc. Bananas, Crackers & Nuts!

Discussion in 'Community' started by Rogue1-and-a-half, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    GK, this is almost entirely first time viewing. I had seen, get this, exactly one episode on television prior to starting this project of watching the whole series. I'll point out the episode when I come to it. It's a second or third season ep.
  2. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Chief Surgeon Who?

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    *I foresee shenanigans about Hawkeye being promoted to Chief Surgeon instead of Frank. Didn’t this happen in the movie? Anyway, I read the title and I frankly feel like I’ve already seen the episode.

    *In the opening sequence, of the three surgeons lounging about in the Swamp, Hawkeye is cradling an acoustic guitar. He never plays it, but he sure holds it close. That’s random.

    *Hawkeye reveals the recipe for the perfect martini: “You pour six jiggers of gin and drink it will staring at a photograph of Lorenzo Schwarz, the inventor of Vermouth.” Now, that’s funny.

    *Frank, meanwhile, is typing a letter to send to his patients back home. He reveals that he sends them a form letter and then Hawkeye mocks the content of the letter, but still, I kind of find that an interesting character shading on Frank. I mean, even a form letter would be cool to get if your personal doctor was off in a MASH unit, wouldn’t it? I kind of like that idea.

    *Hawkeye shocks me with what you could say on television in 1972: “Your exploits make Superman seem like a fairy.”

    *Frank reveals that he was in practice for three years back home and that he owns a thirty-five thousand dollar home and two cars. That’s an interesting detail.

    *Omigod, it’s Spearchucker. In the OR, operating on a pancreatic case. He asks for advice on what to do and Frank and Hawkeye clash about the advice they offer. Hawkeye tells Frank that he’s a year behind on his medical journals.

    *Henry and Radar in a nutshell: HENRY: *pawing through a file drawer* “I can’t find anything.” RADAR: *entering the room* “You left it in your tent, sir.”

    *Very good bit of physical comedy from Burghoff when he lets Major Burns into Henry’s office and Henry gets angry. It’s hard to describe, but it’s good stuff.

    *So, Frank is pressing charges against Hawkeye for insubordination and failing to salute and such. Henry shows his general style of leadership: “I have got oak leaves on my shoulders!” “And I’ve got dimples on my butt!”

    *So, Henry decides he has to appoint a Chief Surgeon in order to stop all the arguing in the Operating Room. He wants someone to officially be in charge.

    *Stevenson sells a legitimately awesome bit of dialogue: “The job will be a killer.” “I can adjust.” “I hope you can. I’m giving it to Pierce.” That “I hope you can” is a great line and Stevenson gives it a very real sense of weariness.

    *He then follows it up with a great joke: “What? You can’t! I won’t stand for it!” “Frank, the one thing that will get you nowhere with me is impersonating my wife.”

    *Henry looks genuinely tired and worried as Hawkeye leaves: “Hawkeye. Don’t let me down.” Hawkeye gestures to his bathrobe: “Would I do anything to disgrace this uniform?”

    *Loretta Swit, who I have hardly talked about, does a priceless bit when Frank storms into her tent while she’s putting Peroxide on her hair with a swab. “I was just fixing this cut on my head,” she cries.

    *Great bit of comedy here. Frank sniffles and Margaret says, “Frank, it is not unmanly to cry.” Frank rallies himself: “I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction,” he says and then he holds a smirk for about one second and then just dissolves into sobbing. The timing is perfect.

    *So, there’s a party, of course, in which Hawkeye acts insufferable. Ugly John is there and so is Scorch, dancing with Henry. Hawkeye’s speech is typical: “I always wanted to be a doctor. Just ask any little girl I grew up with.”

    *Spearchucker is, of course, wearing a huge sombrero. Considering that in the Pilot he wore a samurai hat, I have to say that this character has something like the hugest ratio of appearances to stupid hats of any character in television history.

    *So, Frank and Margaret call General Barker. Yes, it’s Sorrell Brooke as General Barker, who was, of course in the last episode. This is his second and final appearance.

    *So, General Barker arrives and Frank tells him that there’s a badly wounded patient who’s been waiting half an hour to be operated on. Meanwhile, Hawkeye, Trapper, Ugly John and somebody name of Kaplan (?) are playing poker.

    *So, while Hawkeye keeps playing poker, he fills in an ever more and more infuriated General Barker in on the situation. Seems the patient isn’t stable enough for surgery, but should be in an hour or so. A nurse is monitoring him.

    *This delightful double conversation, in which Hawkeye talks to an enraged General Barker out one side of his mouth and plays a hand of poker out the other side is a nice moment for Alda to really shine.

    *It culminates when General Barker gets nose to nose with Hawkeye and barks, “You’re in deep trouble, Pierce.” Hawkeye drawls, “I don’t think so. I can beat a pair of threes.”

    *Wow, this “Kaplan” who’s involved in the poker game. He gets one good close up and it’s Jack Riley! Veteran television actor, probably best known for his role as the irascible Elliot Carlin on The Bob Newhart Show. For that role alone, appearing in sixty-two episodes of what is probably still one of the two or three best sitcoms ever, he goes down in history. Unfortunately, this is the only episode of MASH in which he appears. Still, good to see him.

    *An enraged General Barker storms over to Henry’s office and bursts through the door to find . . . Radar with his feet up on Henry’s desk, a massive cigar clenched in his teeth, swirling a snifter of Henry’s brandy. What a reveal.

    *General Barker storms out of Henry’s office (doin’ a lot of storming this episode). And then, quite suddenly, a voice barks, “Halt! Friend or foe!”

    *And it’s Jamie Farr making his first appearance as Max Klinger! Yes, he’s in a dress, a simple brown uniform dress. “Still trying to get out on a psycho, eh, Klinger?” General Barker shouts. “Well, I can tell you it’ll take a lot more than this.” “Well, then I’ll just have to keep trying, Mary,” Klinger shouts back. He then turns and skips away. Well, on screen less than a minute, but it’s clear that this guy would have to be back. I mean, that’s commitment, right there.

    *General Barker bursts into a nearby tent. He finds Spearchucker, removing his shirt while Odessa Cleveland’s Ginger lounges on a nearby bed. “Strip dominoes,” Spearchucker explains. Well, at least they gave him one good joke before they sent him packing.

    *Okay, in case it’s not clear by this point, this is an inspired episode. The funny bits just keep on coming.

    *That’s what she said.

    *Oh, man, sorry. Had to.

    *So, Spearchucker tells General Barker where to find Henry’s tent. It’s two tents down the row and, as we see when he arrives, it has a huge sign in front of it that says “HENRY BLAKE COMMANDING OFFICER 4077th MASH” on it. General Barker takes a long, angry look at it. This doesn’t make General Barker look particularly bright, I must say; on most shows that would be an accident, but I don’t think it is here.

    *So, as he storms toward Henry’s tent, there’s an inspired bit of Margaret sneaking Frank out of her tent only to run him right into General Barker. “Bet this looks funny,” Frank stammers. “Bet it doesn’t,” General Barker deadpans.

    *General Barker bursts into Henry’s tent. Scorch is lounging in her pajamas. Henry enters a second later, carrying a can of nightcrawlers that he’s just dug up for fishing.
    *Henry Blake and Leadership: “Do you realize you’ve got a man in guard duty in a skirt?” “Luckily he’s got the legs for it.”

    *Henry and General Blake burst into the Swamp. Ugly John has his head down on the table and Kaplan has his feet up. They don’t move, but tell Henry that Hawkeye’s in OR. “As you were,” Henry snaps as he leaves.

    *Once again, Hawkeye and Trapper pull it out of the hat by doing a great job in the OR. General Barker is so impressed that he admits that Hawkeye was right to wait until the patient had stabilized and that he’s a brilliant surgeon. Yes, this episode is essentially a second Pilot. It reintroduces everyone, including Klinger, and features exactly the same resolution. However, it’s way funnier and much better than the actual Pilot, so good job, guys.

    *General Barker prepares to depart when Klinger appears, naked save for rifle. “Come on, Klinger,” Hawkeye moans, “Put on a dress or something.”

    *In the final scene, Frank asks Hawkeye for help in the OR with a messy resection. Hawkeye joins him and the two reach a rapprochment. “We’ll split the fee, right?” “Right.”

    *Surprisingly humane ending for Frank. Just another reason this one is better than the Pilot.

    *This one is a sort of frantic classic, if you ask me. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s written by creator Larry Gelbart and is, as I say, essentially him rewriting his own script for the Pilot. And like most rewrites, it’s better than the original iteration. Gelbart honing his own script and getting it better the second time. Kudos.

    *And, of course, it has Klinger’s first appearance. Yes, this one goes in my Abridged MASH.

    *** out of **** stars.

    E.W. Swackhamer, Larry Gelbart

    MASH Episodes, by Quality:
    1. Chief Surgeon Who?
    2. To Market, to Market
    3. Requiem for a Lightweight
    4. Pilot

    The Abridged MASH
    To Market, to Market
    Chief Surgeon Who?
  3. SiouxFan Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2012
    star 3
    Rogue:

    Your review had me chuckling. I honestly don't even remember this episode, and I can still hear the banter! Nice.
  4. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    That's definitely what I'm going for. Some of the fun of watching the episode without having to actually watch the episode.

    The Moose (1.5)

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    *Okay, so Hy Averback returns already. He’s getting off to a good head start. He directed Requiem for a Lightweight just two episodes ago.

    *Have I talked yet about what a gorgeous title sequence this actually is? I don’t think I have. You know back when TV shows had time for actual theme songs. This is one of my favorite TV theme songs actually. I love a good sitcom with a theme song about how we should all just kill ourselves. Beautiful song, actually.

    *So, this new guy arrives in camp, Sgt. Baker, and he has with him a Korean woman, Young Hi, that is his “moose,” which in this case means, basically, a personal slave. This will obviously be the first “socially conscious” episode. Unless To Market, to Market was about a real desk shortage.

    *Hawkeye gives directions to Sgt. Baker: “Turn left and you look for a broken-down, dirty old man and you follow him.” “Yes, sir. He’ll take me to Col. Blake?” “He is Col. Blake.”

    *Oh, Spearchucker appears here, coming out of the OR with Hawkeye and Trapper.

    *Sgt. Baker uses the word “gook” and Hawkeye tells him he doesn’t care for the word.

    *Ho-Jon tells the surgeons that Sgt. Baker bought Young Hi from her family for five hundred dollars. The show doesn’t make a big deal about it. They don’t even give him a line and the reaction shot is quick. But the show wisely cuts to Spearchucker for the first reaction shot. It’s understated, but clever.

    *Hawkeye tries to get Henry to do something about the situation, but Henry says it won’t do any good. All Henry can do is report Baker to his superior officer, but Henry happens to know that Baker’s superior officer has a moose of his own. “I thought we were here to liberate these people,” Spearchucker opines. “Must have been a misprint.”

    *So, Hawkeye and Trapper decide to convince Young Hi to leave Baker with their help. However, she tells Hawkeye that Baker paid for her and to run away would be like stealing and would dishonor her family.

    *We then do a sharp, and rather hilarious, cut to Hawkeye in full dress uniform, lecturing Baker about morality. It’s hilarious to see Hawkeye clean up like this, especially under his own aegis, as it were. He’s dressing up to give a dressing down, as they say. I enjoyed this moment. I mean, we all know Hawkeye; it killed him to dress up like this, especially when he wasn’t being made to do so. But how else to give someone a direct order?

    *This is even funnier when you’ve watched farther in the show. Hawkeye unironically barks, “Stand at attention, soldier,” at one point. Now, THAT’s funny.

    *Baker ain’t havin’ it though: “No meat cutter with a temporary commission’s gonna work me over.”

    *Hawkeye then switches tactics and tries to buy Young Hi from Baker. When Baker expresses confusion over this sudden switch, Hawkeye excuses it by saying, “You’ve got to swing with the times.” Baker won’t sell, however. “You think it would look suspicious if he got run over in the shower?” Hawkeye wonders.

    *So, of course, they next try to win her away from Baker in a card game. They’re cheating, of course. Hawkeye is wired with an earpiece; Radar is watching Baker’s hand through a telescope, a la Goldfinger.

    *Ugly John appears in this sequence.

    *So, should I talk about the laugh track? Yeah, let’s talk about it. So, the show didn’t want a laugh track, but the studio basically forced it on them. They made a deal whereby there’s no laugh track in the OR scenes. Later on, they do some episodes with no laugh track at all and they keep the laugh track fairly minimal. Luckily, the DVDs allow you to watch the episodes the way the show intended, meaning with no laugh track. You can watch with or without and after watching a couple of episodes both ways, I quickly settled on without as the best experience. In many ways, viewed as the show creators intended, MASH appears ahead of its time. Seen with the laugh track, it just feels sloppy.

    *But I’m re-watching the episodes with the laugh track, just for fun, as I write these reviews. And, boy, in this card game sequence, the laugh track is just obnoxiously intrusive and stupid. Man, oh, man, is this awful. So, definitely, ditch the laugh track when you watch the DVDs.

    *Radar gets distracted when a nurse strolls in front of the telescope on the way to the showers. “Wait, something’s blocking me . . . I’m still blocked . . . oh, boy, am I blocked.” Alda does some great low key reactions to this chatter.

    *So, they get Baker for twenty-two hundred dollars, twelve hundred on an IOU. He takes the deal and gives Young Hi to Hawkeye.

    *When Baker brings Young Hi to Hawkeye, he actuallly tells her goodbye with a good deal of affection and Hawkeye keeps telling him to shut up. That’s an interesting layering. I mean, sure, Baker’s a jerk, sure, slavery is a bitch, but . . . let him say goodbye, dude. For just half a second, Baker seems to actually care.

    *But Hawkeye’s problem isn’t over. I’ll let Young Hi sum it up: “Go? I be good moose for Hawkeye slob-san. Make shave for you, shine shoes, laundry, cooking on stove . . . I get my gear, start work. You see. Everything be okay. You be happy like hell.”

    *I guess Virginia Lee deserves some kudos. This part is pretty broad, but she sells it to some degree. Not entirely. For one thing, she’s too old. But to the degree she can sell it, she does sell it. Even with all that stage show broken English.

    *This is a more layered look at the whole concept than you might expect. The show very definitely casts Baker as a villain; I mean, he bought a person. But it casts Hawkeye, not as a hero, but as something of a fool, who quickly gets in over his own head when he tries to bull into something with no real cultural understanding. Young Hi isn’t an American or a philosopher. She doesn’t understand what Hawkeye means when he tries to tell her she’s “free.” She knows her place in society and she doesn’t understand why Hawkeye doesn’t understand it too. It’s a good look at culture clash. Sometimes idealism has to meet some harsh realities; maybe not everyone in the world wants to be “liberated.”

    *There is a hilarious scene of Trapper and Spearchucker entering the Swamp to find that it is spotlessly clean. That’s pretty funny and has to be the only time we actually see the floor of the Swamp. The boys are oddly angry about this. “Get your butt in here,” Spearchucker bellows.

    *You know who’s not in this episode? Frank. We need his perspective on this.

    *So, Hawkeye forces a weeping Young Hi to get on a truck to Seoul. She is screaming that she wants to stay and crying. But he forces “freedom” on her, sending her to Seoul where she probably knows no one and will be worse off. The American flag flutters in the breeze above them. Accidental or deliberate framing? Do you really have to ask?

    *Okay, so I don’t know that I want to address the politics of the show really. But this is a compelling story for me. It feels like every foreign policy blunder we’ve ever made. The war in Iraq. The war in Afghanistan. Vietnam. We go in; we liberate; everyone rejoices; democracy and prosperity abounds. Or perhaps we go in; we destroy the only social environment the native people have ever known; everyone is desperately confused and/or angry; we leave; things get worse for everybody.

    *I’m not saying that I necessarily always believe the latter has happened. But neither has the former always happened. And it’s a compelling and important thing to think about that the real world is not so simple as Hawkeye thinks it is in this episode or as people think it is in real life. I enjoy the complexity of the show’s vision. Baker isn’t right in this episode; but neither is Hawkeye really. Hawkeye’s idealism is more morally correct, but he doesn’t have any vision of the pragmatic realities that he has to deal with in the world as it is.

    *So, that night, Trapper interrupts Hawkeye in the middle of a make-out session in the middle of a minefield to let him know that the Moose is back, having hitched a ride back. “But you’re free,” Hawk mumbles. Trapper has some more words of wisdom: “This kid is part moose, part yo-yo.” Trapper, for once, comes off like the smarter of the two.

    *Hawkeye decides to make some plans with Trapper. He barks at Young Hi, “Just stand there. Don’t clean anything.” Virginia Lee kills this moment. As soon as Hawk turns his back, she begins edging toward his bed and is plumping his pillow before you know it.

    *Ah, Hawk finally mentions that Frank is in Tokyo on R&R. At least they finally explained it.

    *So, Hawk decides to give her some “person lessons.” We get some short scenes of Hawkeye teaching her better English, Young Hi making conversation with some of the nurses and Spearchucker talking to her about eye contact.

    *Ho-Jon has found the “head of Young Hi’s family.” It’s a kid that looks about ten. He is smoking a cigarette and reading Hollywood Scandal. His name is Benny. Hawkeye is relieved when Benny agrees to take Young Hi off their hands. Until . . . “You come back to Seoul. We get a thousand, maybe fifteen hundred bucks for you.” Yes, that’s right; Benny’ll take her back . . . so he can sell her again!

    *Young Hi’s fine with it. Hawk isn’t. “I have duty to my family.” “What about your duty to yourself?” She tells him flatly; she doesn’t think she has a duty to herself. Her family is her self. She thinks Hawk and Trapper anyway. They’ve taught her a lot.

    *The after show denoument is of Hawk reading a letter from Young Hi to Trap and Spearchucker. She’s in a convent school, learning towards becoming a nurse, or at least a nursing assistant. They all mention how much they miss her. Hawkeye says he misses her especially; look at his boots, he says, they’re disgraceful. The episode ends with Spearchucker and Trapper beating Hawkeye up.

    *Well, much is made of several breaks in the show’s run. The third season closer, Abyssinia, Henry, is rightly seen as a watershed. With the fourth season opener, Welcome to Korea, the show begins moving in a more verite direction. Many people point to Sometimes You Hear the Bullet, a first season ep, which is one of the first to really deal with a death in the OR seriously and emotionally. But I say it all kind of starts here. The episode is still farcical. Young Hi’s sudden reversal at the end feels very “early MASH.” Later in the series, the story lines wouldn’t have such tidy wrap-ups. But there are large portions of this episode that are quite serious and quite thoughtful in detailing serious culture clash and the problem of idealism meeting harsh reality. This isn’t Sometimes You Hear the Bullet or Welcome to Korea or Abyssina, Henry or The Interview or any number of better episodes. But it’s a darn good first pass at a socially conscious episode. We’ll forgive the sitcommy resolution. The show is only five episodes in; it’s already signaling where it’s headed, even if it doesn’t have the nerves necessary yet to really pull it off.

    *** out of **** stars.

    Hy Averback, Laurence Marks

    MASH Episodes, by Quality:
    1. Chief Surgeon Who?
    2. The Moose
    3. To Market, to Market
    4. Requiem for a Lightweight
    5. Pilot

    The Abridged MASH
    To Market, to Market
    Chief Surgeon Who?
    The Moose
  5. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Yankee Doodle Doctor (1.6)

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    *So, the episode starts with Herb Voland, making his first appearance as General Clayton, driving up to the camera and stopping. He then, rather surprisingly, turns to the camera and starts speaking directly to us.

    *Yes, it’s a meta episode. Again, I ended up last time briefly mentioning The Interview, which is a very significant episode, not just of MASH, but of television history. And then right here in the sixth episode of the show, they start kind of dealing with the same thing that The Interview is going to be about. It seems that Lt. Bricker, played by the perfectly named Ed Flanders, is making a documentary about American heroism in the Korean conflict. General Clayton is helping him out. General Clayton is “helping him out” by steering him toward the 4077th.

    *General Clayton avows that the 4077th is made up of “real soldiers.” Quick cut to Hawkeye and Trapper slow dancing. “You dance beautfully,” Hawkeye murmurs.

    *Frank’s back. Thank God.

    *Henry brings Lt. Bricker into the Swamp and Lt. Bricker says he wants to tell the story of the 4077th by featuring everyone, but focusing on one doctor, of course. He asks if anyone has done any acting. Hawk busts out the absolute worst Jimmy Cagney routine I have ever seen in my life. “I never saw Carmen Miranda done better,” Trapper says.

    *Frank tries to get Bricker’s attention. “In college, I played Romeo.” “And Juliet.” “For a while it was a toss-up whether I’d become a doctor or an actor.” “What finally happened?” “Shut him up.”

    *I must admit the “what finally happened?” line really got me. That’s darn funny. Alda delivers it well.

    *Bricker wants Hawk to star, of course. He turns it down, until Trap points out that if Hawk doesn’t do it, Frank will. Hawk agrees. He instantly bristles as the camera starts getting in his space in the OR. At one point, while Hawk is
    performing triage, Bricker asks if he could have a longer conference with the other doctor. Great. This guy is great.

    *Bricker films Henry and Radar doing a little presentation. Henry mentions, for the first time, I think, that Radar is from Ottumwa, Iowa.

    *Bricker and Radar decide to make a pass at replacing the Three Stooges: “Keep your head down so we don’t get any reflection on the glasses.” “Yes, sir.” “Now, look up at the colonel, but keep your head down. Look up at the colonel, but keep your head down. But look up at the colonel.” Curly doesn’t have anything to worry about, frankly.

    *Bricker has asked Frank to narrate the documentary. Good choice. Larry Linville has a great voice.

    *Margaret walks right into this one: “He’s a fantastic performer.” “Really? Can he act too?”

    *Loretta Swit does an inspired bit here as Frank reads the narration. She mouths it along with him.

    *Of course, the narration alerts Hawkeye and Trapper that the “documentary” isn’t going to have a lot of proximity to fact, if you get my drift.

    *Hawkeye reacts to a line that refers to the staff of the MASH as “all volunteer:” “When they came to get me, I was hiding under my front porch trying to puncture my eardrum with an icepick.”

    *So, of course, it’s going to be sabotage.

    *While Hawk and Trap break into the film canisters and destroy the film, Radar distracts Bricker in the mess tent by getting him to explain how he got into pictures. “Where was I?” “You just married your high school teacher.” “Wonderful woman. Helped me a lot with my career. I wonder if she’s still alive.”

    *Henry Blake discusses the sabotage with General Clayton: “Oh, everything’s fine, sir. Well, not actually fine. Uh, actually terrible rather than fine.”

    *Henry figures out, of course, that it was Hawk and Trap and they confront them. Bricker tells Hawk that he’s shooting the whole thing again. Hawk refuses to be the star. Henry storms out, with one last word for Hawkeye: “I’m not through here.” “We’ll disregard the rumor.” That’s a good one.

    *So, Bricker goes back to talk to General Clayton to tell him he’s going to use a different MASH unit. Unfortunately, he leaves his camera and script there. Hawkeye tells Henry that they’ll do the movie themselves while he’s gone.

    *So, Henry prepares to debut the completed film to the entire unit, complete with a special visit from General Clayton.

    *We all know where this is going, right?

    *Let’s just say this involves Hawkeye doing a pretty good Groucho Marx impression. Trap honks violently as Harpo. “Nurse, is that patient prepared for surgery?” “Yes, doctor.” “Well, I’m coitainly glad one of us is.” *HONK HONK*

    * “Well, I think it’s time for some sewing.” “Sew what?” “That’s what I say.” *HONK*

    *The film then ends with Hawkeye talking seriously to the camera about how they don’t have a happy ending and how the guns and bombs have more power to take life than they have as doctors to save it.

    *General Clayton is suprisingly not angry. “Save that last bit. With Captain Pierce talking.”

    *Nurse Cutler, by the way, appears in the film, Yankee Doodle Doctor. As the episode ends, Hawkeye is chatting Cutler up and Trap tries unsuccessfully to break in on the conversation. “After all, he is the Yankee Doodle Doctor.”

    *Right and Trapper got his brains knocked out for you a few episodes ago, which you seem to have forgotten about. Yankee Doodle Doctor was brief. As woman’s love. Frailty, thy name is Cutler.

    *I think the best thing about this episode is the fact that Clayton isn’t even slightly miffed about the disastrous film. It’s a surprisingly humanitarian take on his character, him being a General and all. He realizes, of course, that there’s no way the film can be shown to the public, as planned, but he doesn’t seem to mind the creative sabotage that much, which is surprising.

    *Hawk’s Groucho is good. But Trap’s Harpo wins the prize, I think. He’s very good. But on the whole, only an average episode.

    ** out of **** stars.

    Lee Phillips, Laurence Marks

    MASH Episodes, by Quality:

    1. Chief Surgeon Who?
    2. The Moose
    3. To Market, to Market
    4. Yankee Doodle Doctor
    5. Requiem for a Lightweight
    6. Pilot

    The Abridged MASH

    To Market, to Market
    Chief Surgeon Who?
    The Moose

    And check out Absolute Knave, which is revamped and will eventually archive all my writing.
  6. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Bananas, Crackers & Nuts (1.7)

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    *This episode features, for the first time, I think, the theme song used as a mournful underscore. It’s such a great piece of music. It’s used under a lengthy opening sequence in OR.

    *Oh, look, it’s Odessa Cleveland as Ginger! She has a line: “It’s Friday.” Her day has come at last!

    *Hawkeye and Trapper have a fight over a mistake with the still that has left them with no martinis. “Our first fight.”

    *Hawkeye tries to get some leave for R&R, but Henry turns him down. Hawkeye decides to act crazy, so he can get some leave.

    *Migawd, Odessa Cleveland as Ginger again! Hawkeye has her check on a patient that Hawk thinks may have overexerted himself writing a letter to his mother. When she gets to the bed, it’s a dog, complete with oxygen mask.

    *Nurse Cutler tries to engage flirtatiously with Hawkeye and he reads her the riot act in front of everyone, saying that he knows what she wants and that he’s not that kind of guy.

    *Next, he enters the mess hall in full OR gear and proceeds to use surgical instruments to cut up a piece of liver. He then implies that it’s human liver. “He was very clean,” he says when Frank evinces disgust.

    *Hamlet’s got nothing on this guy.

    *When Frank tries to investigate the liver, Hawkeye starts choking Frank. Trapper intervenes, telling Radar, “Take him back to the Swamp and give him the blue pill.”

    *So, Frank, who is charge, while Henry is gone on R&R, finally takes the bait and Trap gets him to give both of them three days of R&R in Tokyo. Margaret, however, is still suspicious and calls in an old friend of hers, Phil Sherman, a psychiatrist.

    *Sherman is, of course, deeply pining for Margaret. “I waited for you in the bar until 4 AM. You never came.” “I said I wouldn’t.” “You didn’t lie.”

    *The episode starts going for some cheap shots during Hawkeye’s therapy sessions. “Ah, well, maybe it’s because I’m in love. And he doesn’t even know I exist.” *reaction shot of Sherman looking askance* I’m sure this was all very funny in 1972. Or was it 1973? Well, I’m sure it was all funny back then in the early seventies.

    *It is, of course, Frank Burns that is the object of Hawkeye’s affections. Alda is not exactly doing his best work.

    *I admit I did get one laugh out of this scene. “If only he knew I sleep every night with his shaving brush under my pillow.” *lifts pillow, reveals shaving brush*

    *The line? Not so funny. The reveal of the actual brush under the actual pillow? Somehow hilarious. It’s a good example of how you can save a middling joke with some prop business.

    *Henry comes back and instantly knows that Hawk’s pulling a scam. He starts trying to convince Sherman that Hawk is joking by running through a litany of practical jokes that Hawk has pulled on Frank. The jokes aren’t that funny, but Stevenson starts deadly serious and ends laughing hysterically at the memories. Again, a good example of how a great comic actor can take a riff that isn’t that funny and actually make you laugh at it by sheer force of will. He’s great in this bit.

    *Sherman ends up saying he wants to take Hawk away for a few weeks. At this news, Frank and Margaret decide to go along with Hawkeye, in hopes that he won’t be back.

    *There’s a kind of surprising moment here where Hawkeye just openly tells Sherman that he was only joking about Frank Burns and Sherman reveals that he knows that. But he still thinks Hawkeye needs some observation because he is rather erratic. I kind of liked the reveal that Sherman isn’t quite as stupid as Hawkeye thought he was and that he knew Hawkeye was putting him on the whole time. I’m just glad they stopped that joke in its tracks.

    *Sherman tells Hawkeye he can’t really sympathize with him behaving oddly: “My sense of reality is my gyroscope. Whatever the situation, it keeps me right on course.” Boy, is this guy riding for a fall or what?

    *So, Hawkeye gets Radar to blow a lot of hot air at Sherman about Margaret really being in to him. Then they change the signs and send him into Magaret’s tent , thinking that it’s the visitor tent. He doesn’t realize it because the lights aren’t working. So, Margaret arrives and the lights are off, so she doesn’t see Sherman until she starts undressing. Sherman wakes up and, of course, thinks that Margaret has come to his tent . . . yes, it’s all very sitcommy. “It’s true . . . it’s true,” Sherman murmurs when he realizes that Margaret s in his tent.

    *Everyone comes running. Of course, Sherman acts unhinged, yelling that it was a set up and that he thought Margaret wanted him. “You’re just having a little gyroscope trouble,” Hawkeye deadpans. “Trouble with your what?” an incensed Henry bellows.

    *Okay, so the epilogue is of Hawkeye and Trapper heading off for a week of R&R. Then suddenly, Radar hears choppers. Hawkeye and Trapper leave the jeep disgustedly. Back to work.

    *So, we spent lots of time in the Swamp and no sign of Spearchucker. I think maybe he’s gone for good this time.

    *So, this wasn’t a very good one. Stuart Margolin doesn’t play Sherman very well. The plot is very predictable and hackneyed. And I wasn’t particularly amused by any of it. Not Hawk playing crazy, not the psychiatrist examining him, not Hawk and Radar contriving to make the psychiatrist look nutty. I dunno, this one just didn’t do much for me.

    Bruce Bilson, Burt Styler

    MASH Episodes, by Quality:

    1. Chief Surgeon Who?
    2. The Moose
    3. To Market, to Market
    4. Yankee Doodle Doctor
    5. Bananas, Crackers & Nuts
    6. Requiem for a Lightweight
    7. Pilot

    The Abridged MASH

    To Market, to Market
    Chief Surgeon Who?
    The Moose

    Don't forget to check out Absolute Knave, the hub for all my writing (eventually).
  7. General Kenobi Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 31, 1998
    star 6
    Season 1 is a little inconsistent as they get their legs under them. You've some some good ones coming up. But even in the lesser episodes, I usually find great scenes or individual lines. As you mention, often the greatness is in the delivery.