I can’t believe it has been over a month since I posted anything. Can’t believe how busy things have been. Anyway. Season 3 of M*A*S*H is something I have been thinking about this whole time. While in season 1 it was a chore to get 5 good episodes and season 2 had more good episodes it was still pretty easy to narrow it down to 5. Season 3 is when M*A*S*H really hit its stride. Looking through the episodes, it was really difficult to narrow it down to 5 and it was impossible to do so without leaving out an episode that very easily could be considered a great episode worthy of being in the top 5.
Well, here are the 5 that I finally decided on listed in production order.
Hawkeye and Trapper are getting ready to head out to Tokyo for some R and R but they are not destined to get there. Radar takes an unusual call… from the Chinese. They have prisoners that they are not able to take care of and they offer to repatriate them to the doctors at the 4077th. While Hawkeye and Trapper volunteer without even thinking about it, Frank has to be convinced to do. As part of the rules of the meeting, they are not to bring any weapons, but Margaret give Frank a small pistol. Radar has gone along and Klinger volunteered as well. I love that Klinger volunteered. It shows a part of his personality. He may hate the army, but he does do everything he could possibly do to help, even volunteering for dangerous duty.
The enemy doctor is played by Mako. He had made several appearances through the years and is always a pleasure to see. It turns out that he went to school in the United States and actually the same school that Henry went to.
The conversation is interesting in that we get to see a glimpse of the way through the eyes of the other side. During a tense moment Frank reached for the pistol that Margaret gave him almost ruining the deal. The Chinese doctor laughs at the small pistol (“What the hell is that?”) The prisoners are brought over to the bus and are taken home.
Too tired from the trip, they miss their trip to Tokyo opting to sleep in. A major part of the episode is the guitar playing and singing if Loudan Wainright III. While the music is fine, it really does seem out of place and was never a favorite part of the episode for me.
The 4077th is inundated with wounded. There is no major story line in the episode except for the non-stop wounded being brought into the unit. There is a lot going on in this episode. Henry’s arthritis is flaring up and Hawkeye tell him it is his ticket home. Henry opens up to Hawkeye letting him know that he really does want to stay for the challenge of being a doctor and that his life at home is actually pretty boring. While Blood and Sand plays over the loudspeaker, a wounded soldier dictates a letter to his wife describing all of his indiscretions. A visibly upset Father Mulcahy takes the letter, which Trapper tell him not to send. The soldier is going to make it.
Hawkeye operates on and saves an Ethipoian soldier. This was put in as a tribute to the fact that Ethiopia in fact did since soldiers to the fighting in Korea as part of the UN.
Frank is working on a case and mutters something about removing a kidney. It gets the attention of Hawkeye and Trapper. Trapper checks the x-ray and the patient to find that Frank is removing his only kidney. Frank is visibly upset himself and later thanks Trapper for helping him and save the soldiers life.
It goes on and on. Hawkeye saves a soldier by performing open heart massage. He saves his life only for the soldier to die later in Post op. As things drag on, artillery shells start to go off right outside the O.R. After another argument, Frank and Trapper are taking a break and Frank opens up to Trapper talking about hard upbringing and that he had no one to talk to and that he had an extremely strict father.
As other things happen, like running out of sutures and the electricity going out, Sidney Freedman stops by for the weekly poker game. He is quickly enlisted in helping with surgery. After a while leaving with the immortal words: Ladies and Gentlemen, take my advice, pull down your pants and slide on the ice.
This is absolutely one of the best episodes of the entire run.
We want something else! We want something else! What we want are ribs from Chicago. Hawkeye and Trapper, with the help of Radar, scheme to order ribs from Adam’s Ribs in Chicago. A lot of things have to fall into place. Trapper has to call an ex to go to Adam’s Ribs to pick up the package and bring it to the airport. Somehow or other, the ribs make it to a supply depot where it is held up in channels. While trying to get the package, they talk to the Sargent who happens to be from Joliet and knows about Adam’s Ribs and proceeds to take some of the ribs as payment. While the description is short and even dull, check out this episode as it is really a classic.
I have been accused of not really appreciating the funny episodes as much as the serious ones. That isn’t true at all. I couldn’t be a true fan if if weren’t for the fact that I absolutely loved the comedy of this show. To me however, the true genius of the show is that it can be funny and it can also show the darker side of war and it was not afraid to put our heroes in danger. Aid Station was an absolutely incredible episode that show so much about a few of our main characters. It showed how Margaret and Hawkeye really felt about each other. Whatever else happens, they know that they are each the best at what they do and they really do have a great deal of respect for each other. This episode also, once again, shows the true nature of Klinger. I love how they show his good side throughout the series. He obviously didn’t want to go to the aid station but once there he worked hard and did everything he could to do the best job that he could. Klinger so easily could have been made into a lazy bum since he wanted to get out of the army, but he did his job better than anyone else.
I have so much to say about this episode, but none of which I want to say here. This is the most gut wrenching episode of the entire run, and not for the obvious reasons. This is the culmination of dissatisfied actors, unkept promises and compromises that never should have been made. This was a historic episode that is really still talked about debated today. Should the producers have done what they did? Was it necessary to kill Henry Blake off camera the way they did. He had filmed his last scene and was done already. Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds defended the decision as a way to show the wastefulness of war and I agree with that sentiment completely. For a comedy show in 1976, did they go too far? I don’t know. My gut tells me that they did, but M*A*S*H was one of the shows that pushed the envelope. Stay tuned. I have a rant about this topic. Basically, McLean Stevenson, for all of his comedy genius, never should have accepted the role. The other thing is that while this was a very obvious good bye to McLean Stevenson, it was also Wayne Rogers last episode. If there is one thing I am disappointed in the producers of this show in, it is the treatment of Wayne Rogers and Trapper John McIntyre. Of course, if they don’t leave, we don’t get Sherman Potter or BJ Hunnicutt, who is one of my all time favorite television characters. More on this episode later.