Classic TV Episodes: M*A*S*H – Abyssinia, Henry

This episode was different from any comedies at the time and would influence others. Mclean Stevenson left the show (which he would later regret) after three seasons and the show killed his character off. When Radar walked in the operating room and told everyone what happened to Henry it was a memorable tv moment.

Sitcoms just didn’t kill characters off and Mash would start mixing comedy and drama more after this.

If it’s about my discharge, give it to me straight! I can take it!

You behave yourself, or I’m gonna come back here and kick your butt!

M*A*S*H: Abyssinia, Henry

The Characters: Capt. Benjamin Franklin ‘Hawkeye’ Pierce, Capt. ‘Trapper John’ McIntyre, Lt. Col. Henry Blake, Maj. Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan, Maj. Frank Burns, Cpl. Walter ‘Radar’ O’Reilly, Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger and Father Francis Mulcahy

 

Radar has an announcement for Henry in O.R. Henry Blake has received his discharge: he is finally going home to Bloomington, Illinois, to his wife, Lorraine, and their children, the country club and his medical practice. The entire 4077 gang is thrilled for Henry and they wish him well; gifts are gotten, parties are thrown and all sorts of final memories are made. But, the entire gang is sad to be losing such an integral part of the 4077 gang. Radar, in particular, is losing the man who was a father to him. The final farewell formation is memorable; even Hawkeye and Trapper show up to tell their friend and leader a fond farewell. Some farewells are fonder than others. Klinger dresses to kill. As Henry starts to leave, Radar steadfastly holds his salute to his departing C.O. until Henry finally acknowledges him.

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0763200/

 

M*A*S*H 1980-1983

This wraps up the Mash posts…This is my least favorite period of Mash but I’m not knocking it. It was still better than some other shows at the time. Not many shows can go on this long without some lag. The episodes were hit and miss. The show had to grow up and the characters had to change to continue this long. Mash was an ensemble-based show but now more than ever the focus was on Hawkeye than the rest of the cast.

The biggest change was the atmosphere compared to the beginning. The desperate feeling from being 3 miles from the frontline seems to have disappeared. The characters seem comfortable…maybe too comfortable being there. The dirt of the earlier episodes is washed clean now.

Characters from the from years 9-11.

Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – Alan Alda – This is a period when a friend of mine called Alan Alda a Chatty Cathy doll. Pull the string and the puns would come out over and over. Hawkeye goes from a wisecracking skirt chaser to a sensitive person in these years. You see Hawkeye go through a mental breakdown in the last episode.

Captain B.J. Hunnicutt – Mike Farrell – BJ stays faithful to his wife and is known to be a practical joker. Like the other characters, we get to know BJ more in these seasons. Mash was really good at fleshing out the characters. 

Major Charles Emerson Winchester III – David Ogden Stiers – By the end Charles was bearable.  Winchester is often adversarial with Hawkeye and B.J. but joins forces with them if it is justified. He has a dry sense of humor and enjoys practical jokes as well as the occasional prank to get revenge on his bunkmates for something they did or for his own amusement.

Colonel Sherman T Potter – Henry Morgan – Sherman Potter became the father figure of the camp. He was their unquestionable leader. Henry Morgan did a great job with the role.

Major Margaret Hot Lips” Houlihan – Loretta Swit – Of all the characters Margaret goes through the biggest change. She is now one of the gang and even defiant at authority at times. She is someone by now that you would love to know. She is still tough but far from the by the book person she was at one time.

Francis John Patrick Mulcahy – William Christopher – Mulcahy understands that many of his “flock” are non-religious or have other faiths, and does not overly preach at them. Rather than lecturing at people, he seeks to teach by example, or by helping someone see the error of their ways

Maxwell Klinger – Jamie Farr – Corporal Klinger who once tried to eat a jeep bolt by bolt just to get out of the army now seems happy to serve. When he took over Radar’s job he seemed quite content.

Stand out Episodes

Dreams – After long hours operating the episode gets into the subconscious of the 4077. Each cast member is shown dreaming.

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen – The last episode of Mash. The show was so strongly anticipated that commercial blocks were sold higher than for the Superbowl that year… from Wiki…  It still stands as the most-watched finale of any television series, as well as the most-watched episode

Klinger: Rosie, I need a favor.
Rosie: Five dollars.
Klinger: I just wanna talk.
Rosie: OK, three dollars.

BJ: Do you know how to make a cow say “ah”?
Hawkeye: Not without getting emotionally involved.

PA System Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, five minutes ago, at 10:01 this morning, the truce was signed in Panmunjon. The hostilities will end twelve hours from now at ten o’clock. THE WAR IS OVER!

Hawkeye: Look, I know how tough it is for you to say goodbye, so I’ll say it. Maybe you’re right. Maybe we will see each other again. But just in case we don’t, I want you to know how much you’ve meant to me. I’ll never be able to shake you. Whenever I see a pair of big feet or a cheesy mustache, I’ll think of you.
B. J.: Whenever I smell month-old socks, I’ll think of you.
Hawkeye: Or the next time somebody nails my shoe to the floor…
B. J.: Or when somebody gives me a martini that tastes like lighter fluid.
Hawkeye: I’ll miss you.
B. J.: I’ll miss you, a lot. I can’t imagine what this place would’ve been like if I hadn’t found you here. [The two men hug, then Hawkeye boards the helicopter while B. J. mounts his motorcycle, where he shouts over the helicopter] I’ll see you back in the States—I promise! But just in case, I left you a note!
Hawkeye: What?![B. J. rides off. Hawkeye gives the pilot the thumbs-up to take off. As the helicopter ascends, Hawkeye looks down and smiles as he sees a message spelled in stones: GOODBYE]

Image result for Mash goodbye

M*A*S*H 1976-1979

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 BurghoffWe 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.

M*A*S*H 1972-1975

As I was sidelined…I drug out my Mash episodes and started to watch them in order. I got to the 5th season and then started to jump around. I also like the movie but I’ll concentrate on the TV show for these three days of posts.

Mash was one of the best-written tv shows ever. It’s hard to do a simple one page on this show because it lasted eleven seasons on a war that lasted a little over three years.

It seems everyone has their own favorite era of the show. For me, I have always liked the irrelevant feeling of the original cast. I never watched it in real-time between 72-75 because I would have been too young to get it then… I started to watch it around 1977 but after watching in syndication I liked the Henry Blake, Trapper John, and Frank Burns era.

This show was different than many other comedies. It was funny but also could turn serious.

I’ve always divided M*a*s*h up in three sections… Original cast 72-75 (S 1-3), Radar leaving 76-79 (S 4-8), and the end… 80-83 (S 9-11). The atmosphere changed in every section. I’ve always wondered what would have happened if Mclean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers would have stayed a couple of more years…how that would have changed how it evolved. I’ll be posting on these sections in the next few days.

Characters from the first 3 years.

Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce – Alan Alda – This character may have installed my love of the Marx Brothers. Alda followed Groucho’s template of sardonic humor.

Trapper John McIntyre – Wayne Rogers – I think Trapper John was Hawkeye’s best partner. They were just different enough to work. Like Henry, he left way too soon. 

Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake – McClean Stevenson – Henry wasn’t much of a leader but he was fun to have around. He really emphasized having Doctors running an Army camp. What he lacked as a leader he made up for with compassion and care for his people…

Major Frank Burns – Larry Linville – Maybe the most annoying whiny character on any show.  When I was younger I hated Frank Burns…but later on, I saw how vital he was to the show. The show really missed him when he quit…still it would terrible to meet a live Frank Burns.

Major Margaret Hot Lips” Houlihan – Loretta Swit – Of all of the characters that changed as the show progressed…Margaret changed most of all. She was still an army brat here but she could match Frank in being military and paranoid. Margaret and Frank would be an item until the 5th season.

Corporal Walter “Radar” O’Reilly – Gary BurghoffThe most important member of the 4077… He made that camp run while representing the childlike qualities of a kid from Ottumwa, Iowa.

Francis John Patrick Mulcahy – William Christopher – William did a great job of representing Father Mulcahy. He was totally believable as the friendly priest of the 4077.

Maxwell Klinger – Jamie Farr – Corporal Klinger would go to great lengths to get out of the Army…wearing women’s clothing (in the 50s), reporting relatives dying (the same ones over and over), and even eating a jeep. Also trying to escape with a glider with pink house shoes…he looked like a big red bird with fuzzy pink feet. 

Episodes that stand out are

Sometimes You Hear a Bullet – This one gets serious when a friend of Hawkeye’s is writing a book about the war and is hit on the battlefield and Hawkeye cannot save him. A young Ron Howard is in this one playing a kid who lied about his age to get in the army just to impress a girl. Hawkeye was going to keep it a secret but eventually turns him in when he sees his friend die.

“Abyssinia, Henry” – Probably my favorite Mash episode ever. They do something that just wasn’t done back then…kill a character off in a comedy. McClean Stevenson wanted off the show (a move he would regret) after three seasons and Henry Blake gets his papers to go home. He tells everyone goodbye and at the end, Radar comes in the operating room to say that Henry’s plane was shot down with no survivors.

Trapper: Klinger is not a pervert.
Frank: How do you know?
Trapper: because I’m one and he’s never at the meetings.

Frank: Your conduct in there was not only unbecoming in an officer, it was equally reprehensible as a medical man!
Hawkeye: Frank, I happen to be an officer only because I foolishly opened an invitation from President Truman to come to this costume party. And as for my ability as a doctor, if you seriously question that, I’m afraid I’ll just have to challenge you to a duel.
Trapper: Swords or pistols?
Hawkeye: I was thinking specimen bottles at 20 paces.
Frank: There are ladies present.
Hawkeye: Oh. (to Margaret) Sorry, baby.
Margaret: “Major” to you!
Hawkeye: Sorry, Major, baby.

Frank: All right, McIntyre! Time for your checkup. Into your birthday suit.
Trapper: Take a walk, Frank.
Frank: This is the army.
Trapper: Then take a hike!
Frank: Are you refusing to take your physical from a superior officer?
Trapper: No, I’m refusing to take my physical from an inferior doctor.
Hawkeye: (entering the Swamp) What’s all the adrenaline for?
Frank: McIntyre’s refused to take his clothes off for me.
Hawkeye: Well, not everybody is Major Houlihan, Frank.
Trapper: Which is a relief to us all. Out, Frank.