*So, as this episode, which can be found, of course, on the first season DVD set, begins, Hawkeye and Trapper are on their way to the operating room, distracted because they’re playing a walking game of Gin Rummy. Suddenly, they run into a nurse just coming out of the showers, clad only in a towel. It’s Marcia Strassman as new nurse Margie Cutler. She’ll be a briefly recurring character.
*Later, while the two are chatting up Cutler, Margaret comes up and sends Cutler away and then gives Hawkeye and Trapper a reaming out and tells them to stay away from her nurses.
*Trapper then tells Hawkeye that he’s exhausted and is going to sack out for a week. Hawkeye says he’s got some patients to check up on. They then, of course, bump into each at the door to Nurse Cutler’s tent.
*Trapper is carrying a small bouquet of flowers and Hawkeye has a pair of silk stockings slung over his shoulder. “Are those for me?” Hawkeye asks Trapper, pointing to the flowers. “If you’ll put those on,” Trapper says, thumping the stockings.
*Radar brings Henry a sheaf of blank papers to sign. “It’s to cut down on your workload,” Radar says. “I’m not signing blank papers,” Henry snaps, “I don’t even know what I’m signing when they’re not blank.”
*So, Margie tells Hawkeye and Trapper that Margaret’s transferred her to another outfit. So, they hit up Henry to try to get him to override her. Henry offers them a deal. General Barker wants the 4077th to put up a boxer for the inter-unit boxing tournement. Henry says if Hawkeye and Trapper help him with his problem, he’ll help them with theirs.
*Trapper tells Henry to just get whoever they put up last year. “I can’t,” Henry deadpans. “She’s gone.”
*Hawkeye and Trapper tell Henry that they can’t do it. Immediately upon leaving his office, Hawkeye starts putting the hard sell on Trapper about what great shape he’s in: “I’ve seen the guys sneaking peeks at you during calisthenics.” “Which guys have been sneaking peaks at me in calisthenics?” “I’d rather not say. Some of them are married.”
*Next thing you know, Trapper’s sparring with Radar. Gary Burghoff does some sublime physical comedy here.
*McLean Stevenson enters, watches blank faced for about ten seconds and then says, “I’ll write his wife.” Great delivery.
*Oh HEY it’s William Christopher as Father Mulcahy! First appearance!
*The scene ends with Radar planting one right in Trapper’s stomach. Pretty good.
*More comedic sequences of training. “How far have I run?” “Thirty feet.” “That’ll do it.”
*Trapper’s working out on a punching bag, which is actually Frank’s duffel bag. Margaret happens by: “Wait a minute, isn’t that Frank’s bag?” “I thought you were Frank’s bag.” Touche, Trapper, touche. That’s the first legitimatly funny insult they’ve given Margaret.
*So, General Barker arrives with his boxer, who is, of course, incredibly huge. Radar tells a story that he heard about the guy getting mad and punching a jeep. And knocking it out. I don’t even know how to react to a story like that.
*John Orchard appears here as Ugly John. It’s his second appearance after a brief OR appearance in the Pilot. I think he vanishes pretty quick.
*Anyway, Ugly John being an anesthetist, he douses Trapper’s right glove in Ether. Just keep jabbing him, Ugly John says and he’ll go down. Does this lead to an extremely labored gag in which Ugly John accidentally passes out himself? You know it does.
*Henry decides he wants Trapper to back out since he’s afraid he’ll get hurt, especially his hands, you know, Trapper being a surgeon. Hawkeye reassures Henry by letting him in on the ether trick, but Hawkeye, rather stupidly now that I think about it, tells Henry in front of Frank. I’m not sure what Hawkeye was thinking there.
*General Barker asks Henry if he’d like a gentlemanly wager: “What do you say to a hundred?” “Dollars?”
*Frank and Margaret switch Trapper’s small bottle of ether with a bottle of distilled water.
*Father Mulcahy introduces General Barker’s fighter: “With a record of ninety-seven wins, no losses and three arrests . . .”
*Very funny gag in which Radar rings the bell very loudly and the guy sitting next to the bell on the other side flinches. It’s all in the execution. Trust me, it’s funny.
*Hawkeye figures it out when Trapper keeps getting knocked down. He dashes back to the OR for some real ether.
*So, the General’s fighter gets the ether in the face and topples out of the ring, landing, of course, right on Frank and Margaret.
*The next day, Henry brings Nurse Cutler to the Swamp: “Gentlemen, you have lived up to your part of the bargain. I have lived up to mine. *aside to Nurse Cutler* Keep moving or you’re dead.”
*Hawkeye tries to put the moves on Cutler, but she goes for Trapper and his black eye , of course. “I managed him,” Hawkeye says ineffectually. “Does it hurt?” Maggie moans, gazing into Trapper’s eyes. “No, not at all,” Hawkeye avers.
*Well, that wasn’t much of a twist. I suppose the main interesting things about this episode are all kind of cast related: it introduces Nurse Cutler who will briefly be a supporting character and, most significantly of all, introduces William Christopher, the “real” Father Mulcahy. Beyond that, it introduces him as having trained boxers in the past; that’ll be an enduring part of his character, his love of the violent game of boxing. Interesting that they had it from the beginning. Did Dago Red love boxing in the movie? Man, I don’t remember.
*On the technical side of things, it’s worth mentioning that this is the first episode directed by legendary television director Hy Averback, who would end up directing an astounding number of MASH episodes.
*Plotwise, not a particularly strong episode. Some good line deliveries, but nothing out of the ordinary.
*1/2 out of **** stars.
Hy Averback,Robert Klane
MASH Episodes, by Quality:
1. To Market, to Market
2. Requiem for a Lightweight
The Abridged MASH
To Market, to Market