There are some great episodes during the middle run of Mash. We see Henry’s replacement in Colonel Sherman T Potter. He led the 4077 but let everyone be themselves. Potter was unquestionably a better leader than Henry was but I still missed Henry. We also see Frank Burns leave and Margaret change.
We see Trapper leave and BJ Hunnicutt take his place as Hawkeye’s friend and fellow Frank Burns tormentor. BJ was faithful to his wife unlike Trapper and was a little more level headed.
Frank Burns leaving left a hole in the show. I will admit sometimes the writers would go too far with Frank but he united Hawkeye and BJ. After Frank goes crazy attacking different women (off-camera) in Tokyo (thinking they are Margaret) he gets transferred to his hometown and promoted much to Hawkeye and BJ’s dismay.
His replacement is Charles Winchester III and he is a good foil for the show but balances out because he is such a good surgeon. It’s easy to dislike Charles but he is not Frank.
We also say goodbye to Radar in the 8th season.
Characters from the from years 4-8.
Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – Alan Alda – Hawkeye was funny as always but a bit more serious in these years. After the 4th season
Captain B.J. Hunnicutt – Mike Farrell – BJ was a good partner with Hawkeye but in other ways opposite of Trapper John. BJ was faithful to his wife Peg in Mill Valley. He was more level headed than Trapper or Hawkeye.
Major Charles Emerson Winchester III – David Ogden Stiers – The snobby surgeon who was called into duty because he was owed money by a higher ranking officer so he was sent to the 4077. Charles replaced Frank and had a few unlikeable qualities but unlike Frank, he was a great surgeon, was intelligent, and could be kind at times.
Colonel Sherman T Potter – Henry Morgan – Sherman Potter was real Army but still had his fun side. He was a much better leader than Henry and took control of the 4077 but let everyone be themselves.
Major Frank Burns – Larry Linville – I love how they wrote for Frank’s character. Many times writers will soften the “bad” guys up but Frank stayed his annoying whiny self until he left the show in the 6th season. Frank starts going insane when Margaret gets engaged to Donald Penobscot.
Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan – Loretta Swit – When Margaret got engaged to Donald Penobscot and left Frank… The character started to change. She became a little more fun-loving and went with the flow of the camp much more. She respected Colonel Potter much more so than Blake and she was a little more understanding now.
Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly – Gary Burghoff – We learn more about Radar during these seasons. One episode has his home movies and we meet his mom (Burghoff in drag) and his relatives. He also grows close to Colonel Potter and gives the Colonel a horse (Sophie) in one episode.
Francis John Patrick Mulcahy – William Christopher – His character was pretty consistent during the run of the show. He is a caring man who could very well be mistaken as a priest.
Maxwell Klinger – Jamie Farr – Corporal Klinger still dresses in women’s clothing and tries different stunts trying to get out of the army. When Radar leaves he has to take over the corporal duties and he starts being more of a conventional part of the team…though he always pulls his weight throughout the show.
Stand out Episodes
Welcome to Korea – Hawkeye gets back from Tokyo and finds out that Trapper John left that morning to go home. He wanted to say goodbye and grabbed Radar and went to the airport to catch Trapper before he left. He missed him but met BJ Hunnicutt coming in. After a few drinks, they become fast friends and bond and BJ gets action right away on the way to camp.
The Nurses – Margaret confronts her nurses and we learn a lot about her in this episode. She becomes much more of well-rounded character from this episode on…more of a human than previously explored.
The Interview – Real life war correspondent Clete Roberts interviews the gang at the 4077. The episode is shot in black and white and the jokes are kept at a minimum in this episode.
Good-Bye Radar – Radar reluctantly prepares to depart the 4077th. We see Klinger trying to do Radar’s job when he is off on R&R and Radar comes back to a mess. His Uncle Ed dies so Colonel Potter tells him he can go home and take care of his mom. He wasn’t going to go at first because he felt a responsibility to the camp.
BJ: Frank, weren’t you a Boy Scout?
Frank: Yes. I was. Later, I was Scoutmaster.
Hawkeye: Until those little ingrates set fire to his pants.
Frank: Not true. That was a drill.
Margaret: Did you ever once show me any friendship? Ever ask my help in a personal problem? Include me in one of your little bull sessions? Can you imagine how it feels to walk by this tent and… [gasps and breaks down] hear you laughing and know that I’m not welcome? Did you ever offer me a lousy cup of coffee?
Nurse: We didn’t think you’d accept.
Margaret: Well, you were wrong.
Potter: We all know when the Good Lord passed out paranoia, Frank Burns got on line twice.
Hawkeye: Three times; and the third time, he denied ever being in line!
Charles: (trying to find a place to sleep in Potter’s tent) I demand a space for my cot.
Hawkeye: (picks up a small box) Hello, room service, send up a larger room.