M*A*S*H Season 2 Top 5

Season 2 of M*A*S*H was a sort of a restart after Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds realized that the first season was a mis-step.  The 2nd season opener, Divided We Stand, was a far better “pilot” than The Pilot was.  Some actually calling it a second Pilot.  It did a great job of reintroducing the characters. The actors had a year under their belts and they started to make the characters their own as opposed to just playing characters’ others have done before.  The show was really starting to come together, even though there was behind the scenes strife with two of the three top billed actors.  More on that in season 3.  The fact that Divided we stand didn’t even make the first list of episodes on my way to narrow it down to my top 5 shows that the season was pretty strong.  Getting it down to 5 wasn’t easy, but here we go.

#5 – The Sniper

The Sniper

There are any number of episodes that could have put in this spot.  Narrowing things down to 5 is a standard, but I could have very easily had a list of my 10 favorite episodes of this season.  I have settled on The Sniper.  The second season brought in a some more serious story lines.  Some feel that the show’s strength is in the comedy and were less of a fan of the stronger drama.  Personally, I feel the drama was fantastic as life really is a mix of laughing and crying.  The Sniper had a little of both.  It was a serious topic but the episode was still strong on the comedy.  Some parts of the episode that stand out are when Henry, using Radar as a shield yells out to the sniper from the shower.  When Radar tries to leave the shower to get help wearing only his towel, he is forced back to the shower where he loses his towel.  They say that it was NYPD Blue that first showed backside.  It was MASH.  The scene where Frank tries to go out to hunt the sniper, and is found by Hawkeye is the best scene of the show.  Hawkeye could have gone the usual route of making fun of Frank, but it was a good moment where he actually tried to help him instead.  The end showed the reality of war with the chopper with the machine gun firing into the woods and the humanity with Hawkeye taking the risk of going out there to help.

#4 – A Smattering of Intelligence

A Smattering of Intelligence

The 4077th is over run with spys.  While Edward Winter was in Deal Me Out, and it can be ret-conned that it was the first appearance of Colonel Flagg, this is the first official appearance of Flagg.  (Flagg does say to Hawkeye that they played poker once, so the writers themselves may be ret-conning Flagg).  Flagg is with the CIA and Trappers friend, Captain Pratt with is G2, Army Corps and Division level intelligence.  Both intelligence officers, using fake names and codes to communicate are looking for a leak in the 4077th that doesn’t exist.  Hawkeye and Trapper give them both plenty of leads that all lead back to Frank with them then accusing Frank of being a leftist communist and right wing fascist.  Once they realize they have been duped, and with the surgeons called to work, Pratt offers to “buy” Flagg a cup of coffee.  Just another day at the office.

#3 – Radar’s Report

Radars Report

Another version of the letter home.  Radar is typing his weekly report to I-Corps outlining the events of the week at the 4077th.  It is another great way to get a lot of little story lines in there at the same time without the episode seeming at all disjointed.  Quite the opposite, this episode’s pacing is great.  A North Korean is brought into surgery.  While no one is paying attention to him, he jumps up and grabs a knife.  He knocks over and breaks a bottle of blood contaminating the field around Trappers patient.  The North Korean also wounds a corpsman and a nurse before being subdued by Klinger responding with a weapon to the altercation.

Treating the nurse played by Joan Van Arc, Hawkeye falls in love and starts to weirdly plan their wedding, apparently without telling her.  Trappers patient is not doing well at all.

This episode marks the first appearance of Maj Sidney Freedman, though here he is Milton Sidney Freedman.  It was a rough first start as he seems angry at Henry for bringing him up for an evaluation of Klinger.  Though he eventually goes along with it saying he can get Klinger out for being gay, but then he has to go through life in high heels.  Klinger rejects it saying he is not gay or a transvestite, he’s just crazy.

Hawkeye finds out from his “fiancé” that she has no intention of getting married, but they can still have a short engagement.

Trapper’s patient dies.  In one of the best scenes of the show, Trapper comes in to where the North Korean is being held and with a crazed look in his eyes, it seems that Trapper was about to cut off the blood supply that the North Korean needed.  Hawkeye comes in stops Trapper saying that is not what they are about.  Upset, Trapper just leaves.  A great scene.

#2 – The Trial of Henry Blake

The Trial of Henry Blake

This is another version of the letter home.  A lot of minor story lines fit together perfectly to tell the overall story.  Under the guise of charges being file from Burns and Houlihan, we get to hear the story of Radar selling black and white shoes, of the gurney races called by Henry and how Klinger almost got away hang-gliding out of camp looking like a big read bird with fuzzy pink feet (a week mis-step in another brilliant episode).  When Henry is accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, Hawkeye and Trapper bring Nurse Cratty to the trial.  She is an American nurse working in Korea to help poor refugees, women and kids and some of her patients are North Korean.  In one of the best scenes of the year and something I wish they did more of, Henry makes a speech about caring for people and that even of some of those people are North Korean women and children they still need and deserve to be helped.  Written by McLean Stevenson, it seems that even he thought Henry deserved to come across as a stronger, sometimes clueless type of leader that allows antics, but knows how to get the job done and is a not only a good doctor but a good person.

#1 – Deal Me Out

Deal Me Out

Nothing like a poker game with friends.  The guest stars are what make this episode.  Sidney Freedman, Col. Flagg, Sam Pak played by Pat Morita are the guests of honor and even though we have only seen these characters a handful of time, they already seem to be at home at the 4077th.  The banter is funny and quick and it seems that it could be the conversation that any of us would have while playing poker.  There is also a great level of coordination and even choreography here with the quick hits of people leaving and joining the game.  What makes this episode great isn’t the individual situations or one story line or the other, but rather how well everything in the episode fits together so well.  It also doesn’t hurt that one of the other guests is John Ritter.  To me, this episode is a treat whenever I happen to catch it on TV or when it is the next one up while going through and watching the episodes.  Absolutely one of my all-time favorite episodes.

M*A*S*H Season 1 Top 5

Going through the Facebook pages and forums for different shows I like, mainly M*A*S*H and Star Trek in it’s many incarnations, people always talk about their favorites and least favorite episodes.  So I thought I would list my favorite episodes by season, starting at the beginning.

For a show that I truly love, Season 1 was not fantastic, but even with that, there were some excellent episodes.  Staring with #5:

#5 – Henry, Please Come Home

Henry Please Come Home

Due to the success of the 4077th, Henry Blake was transferred out of the MASH unit and to Seoul working with General Hammond.  With Henry away, Frank takes over the unit, effectively killing morale.  Hawkeye and Trapper concoct a plan to get Henry to come back to the unit.  I wouldn’t call this a fantastic episode, but the thing that I do like about it is that they show the strong side of Henry.  They don’t often do this.  The character of Blake was supposed to be a World War 2 vet with extensive military experience, while still being oblivious to chaos going on around him.  Sometimes they make Henry too silly and it goes against what the character is supposed to be.  McLean Stevenson played the role brilliantly.  I just wish they made him as strong as he comes across in this episode.

#4 – Dear Dad.. Again

Dear Dad Again

I do love the letter home episodes.  I was going back and forth about which one of the two to put on my list, but then realized that the first Dear Dad was the episode where they effectively destroyed the character of Trapper, so it was off the list.  I like the letter home since it gives the writers license to jump around from story to story in a way that makes sense.  It shows that there is more than one thing going on at any given time.  The story about the fake doctor, Adam Casey (Schwartz, actually) was a really good one.  Hawkeye bets Trapper he can walk through the camp naked without being noticed.  Klinger is walking around in a wedding dress without a slip and Hawkeye wears a tux to their no-talent night where Margaret sings My Blue Heaven.   For some much going on, it was really held together nicely and narrated perfectly by Alan Alda.  This more than it’s predecessor for me really solidified the letter home format.

#3 – Tuttle

Tuttle

In order to not put his name on things, Hawkeye signs paperwork with the name of his imaginary childhood friend, Tuttle.  As it happens in the 4077th, things got out of control.  Tuttle started to get a lot of attention because of the good work and deeds that he was doing.  The obvious problem is that Tuttle doesn’t exist.  Hawkeye, Trapper and Radar create the paperwork to invent Captain Jonathan S. Tuttle.  The Sister at the orphanage wants to meet him, General Clayton wants to give him a medal, Frank is mad that Tuttle has been ignoring him, Margaret apparently finds him attractive, even though it was just from his description in his paperwork and Henry insists that he has been having several meals with Tuttle over the course of a couple of days.  Hawkeye even demands Tuttle get all of his back pay, which he then sends to the orphanage.  It is a silly comedy of errors, but it was a lot of fun.  There was also one shot that always stuck with me.  When there was an announcement for Tuttle to report to Blakes office, Hawkeye and Trapper are just coming out of the OR.  The shot is from the ground up, which I don’t think is ever used again and it was obviously shot on the ranch later in the day as it seems like they are losing the light.  I like this because things always tend to happen in the middle of the day or in the middle of the night.  This was probably just because of how the shooting schedule fell since again, you never see this sort of twilight again.

#2 – The Army-Navy Game

The Army Navy Game

The Army-Navy football game is an annual tradition.  Just as the game get underway, the 4077th is under attack.  The bombs must have hit some sort of antenna because now they can’t get the game on the radio.  (Though their phones work.  I don’t understand this).  This is close to the top of my list because of some individual scenes.  The story that Henry tells Radar about the football game is one of my all-time favorite scenes in the entire show.  When Hawkeye is talking to I-Corps about the un-exploded bomb, Hawkeye is asked if he has a stethoscope.  His quick and angry response of “we’re a medical unit!” is really funny in a scene that is otherwise quite serious.  Having the scene end with Hawkeye being told to call him back at half-time was also funny.  The end-game of the bomb being a CIA propaganda bomb was actually anti-climactic for me, but it didn’t matter as the whole rest of the episode was very solid.

#1 – Sometimes You Hear the Bullet

Sometimes you hear the bullet

A childhood friend of Hawkeye comes to camp.  He is a foot soldier writing a book call “You Never Hear the Bullet” since war is not like it is in the movies.  You don’t hear the ricochet, you are just gone.  At the end when his friend is back but this time on the gurney severely wounded, he tells Hawkeye that the funny thing was that he heard the bullet.  Hawkeye suggests that he then change the title to Sometimes You Hear the Bullet, it is a better title anyway, though Tommy Gilles dies on the table.  It is really the first time M*A*S*H dealt with a really serious issue.  It was not a comedy, it was truly tragic and it is when M*A*S*H is at it’s best.  They never forget that they are at war.  Funny things happen, but the underlying endeavor is violent and tragic and they never forget it.  The great topper of this episode is the B story of the underaged Marine that Hawkeye at first says he is not going to blow the whistle on, but after the death of his friend, he turns over to the MPs.  That kid is played by a young Ron Howard and it is one of the best scenes in the whole season.  I’m going to hate you for the rest of my life.  Let’s hope it is a long and healthy hate.  Great lines delivered well with feeling.  This is clearly the best episode of the year, and among the top of the whole series.

Honorable mentions – I really struggled for even five excellent episodes.  After the top 3, it went downhill fast.  Though there are some other decent episodes including The Ringbanger with Leslie Nielson as a gung-ho West Pointer that Hawkeye and Trapper try to convince is going crazy.  Nielson was great in this episode.  Cowboy was also a good episode.  Good mix of comedy and drama and you do get the feeling that Henry is in trouble.  To Market, To Market was also a fun episode with the running gag of “you’ll never guess what kind of wood this is.” “It’s oak.” “Nope, it’s oak.”  Also Jack Soo is always fun to watch.

 

Apple Pie

IMG_20151125_144647I haven’t made my apple pie in a while.  Thought I would give it a try yesterday for today’s festivities and I have to say that it is the best looking pie I have ever done.  I can’t wait to cut into it!  I got the recipe from a Williams-Sonoma Dessert Book we received as a wedding gift.  I always had trouble with the pie crusts, but this time I don’t know what I did differently, but they came out perfectly!

Death Threats Over Star Wars

So some Fox News personality insulted Star Wars fans.

““I have never had any interest in watching space nerds poke each other with their little space nerd sticks, and I’m not going to start now.”

The the death threats started.

Death threats are never okay.  Never ever ever ever.  Though when asked if she was going to apologize for insulting people on air, the response was this..

“A lot of people are clearly a lot of upset. But guess what? I’m not apologizing. Why? Because the all-too-common knee-jerk reaction of apologizing for harmless jokes after overblown hysteria is ruining our culture. This political-correctness obsession threatens free speech, and I absolutely refuse to be a part of it.

“….Bottom line: If you are telling me that I should die and/or apologize for making a joke about a movie you like, then you are too sensitive. You have the problem, not me. I’m sick of oversensitive mobs in our overly sensitive society bullying people into saying that they’re sorry over jokes — even if the subject of the joke is something as serious as Star Wars. So, for that reason, I will not apologize.”

She is right in one aspect:  we have become too sensitive as a culture and people are looking for anything and everything to be insulted about.

But here is the problem:  she fired the first blow by using the term “space nerds”  It is another typical response we have here in America over things… if you bully someone, which is what she did, then get called out for it, you then claim you are the one being bullied.  This person should have known that it is not okay to insult people on the air especially when you claim to be a respectable news organization.  When you get called out for being a bully, you are not being bullied.  Just another idiot in the world playing the victim card.

This is also not the first time Fox News has insulted Star Wars and it’s fans.  On Fox Business someone dedicated an entire segment to saying that there are too many news segments about Star Wars.  Now that makes sense.

The new Star Wars movie isn’t being distributed by Fox as the previous movies were, so no wonder Fox is bashing it.

Dreams

As a fan of M*A*S*H, there are several things that I really enjoy about the show.  One of the things is that they were not afraid to do different things.  Some of the out-of-the-box episodes were The Interview, which the cast members, except Margaret, were interviewed on screen.  This episode was actually ad-libbed by the actor answering the questions in character.  Larry Linville was particularly good at this.  Another was Life Time, where they had 20 minutes to save a soldier or risk paralysis and there was a clock on the screen for the whole episode.  Another was Dreams.  One by one the members of the 4077th grab a nap during a long session and each of them have a nightmare (except Potter).  This was more like a Twilight Zone episode.  I go to a M*A*S*H group on Facebook and Dreams comes up quite a bit.  Unfortunately it comes up in the context of people’s most hated episode.  I don’t get it.  This is one of the absolute best episodes of the entire run.  At least to 20, and with 251 episodes, it is still well within the top 10%.

People say it is scary or just too different.  These are the reasons I like it.  It really puts the characters psyche in perspective.  I think it is really telling that Potter’s dream is about the war, but he is literally playing a game, then is called home for dinner.  He is a battle hardened vet, but we know from other episodes that he is tired of war and hates the killing.  Deep down, however are we seeing another story?  Does he think that war is a game?  Or does he think that war is childish?  To me this was the most interesting part of the episode.  The other dreams were just as telling.

BJ was dancing with this wife and called away for surgery.  He is operating while Peg waits and BJ doesn’t look at for even a minute until Peg is whisked away back to the party, though she is obviously disappointed.  Is BJ worried that because of this work he will forget what it is like to be with Peg?  He will forget how to be a husband?

I also liked Charles’ dream.  I think it shows his attitude toward medicine.  He often tells Father Mulcahy that the skills are his alone.  Though we also see that he is fascinated by the workings of the human body.  I think that he often considers the work he does to be magic and almost beyond comprehension, even his own.  It also shows how upset he gets when he fails to save a life, even with the magic he can perform.

I thought Margaret’s dream was too chiche even for Margaret.

I thought Klinger’s dream was a little on the nose.  He finally gets home, but even after he gets home he is haunted by the visions of war and scared of the fact that he is going to die.

Father Mulcahy’s dream was very interesting mainly for one part.  It was pretty on the nose that he was disappointed that people were no longer paying attention to him, and by extension, God because of the war, but the interesting part was when Christ on the cross was replaced by a wounded soldier.  I wish I knew what the writers were thinking here.  To me it means that he fears that the masses will forsake God for war.  That violence will win the day and that people will no longer turn to God.  A soldier on the cross could mean that people will look more to death and even revenge and war will become a never ending event. (Prophetic if you ask me)

Hawkeye’s dream is meant to be the anchor of the episode.  I don’t think it was as interesting as Potter’s or Mulcahy’s or even Winchester’s but it does show where Hawkeye’s mind it.  He is fearful of not being able to help.  Of not knowing the answers and for every answer he doesn’t know he will be punished with another limb or another death.  There are some really frightening images of an armless Hawkeye floating down a river of his own failure until he comes to a wounded little girl who he can not help.  The image of a nurse trying to hand him an instrument and his yell up to the incoming choppers was a perfect chilling ending.

To me this is M*A*S*H at its absolute best.  I am really surprised that people who are fans of this show can say that it is their most hated episode.

Red Cups

So I have a question… why are red cups insulting and proof a company hates Christmas even though their history says otherwise and red is a traditional holiday color, but other companies have things like evergreen leaves and only words like “Joy” or “Faith” or “Believe” and they are not insulting?  These words in and of themselves mean nothing, but we associate these words with Christman so it is ok.. the problem is that we also associated red with Christmas so these red cups are either just as insulting or not at all insulting as these others.

The truth is that the insulting part is that this is what we are up in arms about at the same time that we are dealing with a record amount of hate and anger in the world including in our presidential election process.

Good day for some Geocaching

This has not been my best year of caching.  My work situation has changed pretty drastically this year and I haven’t had the time that I had previously to go out during lunch.  Since I am no longer in NYC, it takes quite a few new caches out of play for me as well.  A time that I usually take to get out there is usually on Sunday morning.  Lately, I have been taking that time to go to the gym since I had been neglecting that important activity, which I do enjoy.  This morning I only had about an hour and a half so I decided to grab a couple of easy caches this morning.  Made my first usual stop before caching: Dunkin Donuts for a coffee.  Asked for a medium.. got an Extra Large.  Not complaining.  I was only able to grab two caches.  One was a simple park and grab the other was a short walk on the Bethpage Bike Path to an easy but well hidden cache.  After almost a a half a year of not doing any major caching, it was good to get to there and put my name on a couple of log sheet.  I am only a few away from 1,600 at this point, so I will probably grab a few more to get to the milestone already.  It really is good to have something like this to be able to get out into the real world.  I do miss caching and I hope to be able to work it back in to my schedule soon.

A lot of Anger

I have had a lot of friends talk about how Facebook has become very angry and depressing of late.  It makes sense considering the ridiculousness that is the Presidential election and the state of politics today.  There is no more compromise.  The other guy is the enemy and everything the other side says is not only wrong it is ludicrous.  There is a lot of hate and anger towards all sorts of people and people feel free to post all of that hate behind the anonymity of the internet.  Politicians and corporate media fan the flames of hate as well.  When you have incidents like the recent attacks in Paris, then that hate get turned up to 11 with people and politicians talking about shutting down Mosques and having citizens register to they could be tracked.  It has gotten to the point when going to social media to talk to friends, all you see is bad news and in so many cases you see the worst of people.  A lot of people have been saying it is time to take a break from Facebook.  I would have to say that I agree.