*This episode features, for the first time, I think, the theme song used as a mournful underscore. It’s such a great piece of music. It’s used under a lengthy opening sequence in OR.
*Oh, look, it’s Odessa Cleveland as Ginger! She has a line: “It’s Friday.” Her day has come at last!
*Hawkeye and Trapper have a fight over a mistake with the still that has left them with no martinis. “Our first fight.”
*Hawkeye tries to get some leave for R&R, but Henry turns him down. Hawkeye decides to act crazy, so he can get some leave.
*Migawd, Odessa Cleveland as Ginger again! Hawkeye has her check on a patient that Hawk thinks may have overexerted himself writing a letter to his mother. When she gets to the bed, it’s a dog, complete with oxygen mask.
*Nurse Cutler tries to engage flirtatiously with Hawkeye and he reads her the riot act in front of everyone, saying that he knows what she wants and that he’s not that kind of guy.
*Next, he enters the mess hall in full OR gear and proceeds to use surgical instruments to cut up a piece of liver. He then implies that it’s human liver. “He was very clean,” he says when Frank evinces disgust.
*Hamlet’s got nothing on this guy.
*When Frank tries to investigate the liver, Hawkeye starts choking Frank. Trapper intervenes, telling Radar, “Take him back to the Swamp and give him the blue pill.”
*So, Frank, who is charge, while Henry is gone on R&R, finally takes the bait and Trap gets him to give both of them three days of R&R in Tokyo. Margaret, however, is still suspicious and calls in an old friend of hers, Phil Sherman, a psychiatrist.
*Sherman is, of course, deeply pining for Margaret. “I waited for you in the bar until 4 AM. You never came.” “I said I wouldn’t.” “You didn’t lie.”
*The episode starts going for some cheap shots during Hawkeye’s therapy sessions. “Ah, well, maybe it’s because I’m in love. And he doesn’t even know I exist.” *reaction shot of Sherman looking askance* I’m sure this was all very funny in 1972. Or was it 1973? Well, I’m sure it was all funny back then in the early seventies.
*It is, of course, Frank Burns that is the object of Hawkeye’s affections. Alda is not exactly doing his best work.
*I admit I did get one laugh out of this scene. “If only he knew I sleep every night with his shaving brush under my pillow.” *lifts pillow, reveals shaving brush*
*The line? Not so funny. The reveal of the actual brush under the actual pillow? Somehow hilarious. It’s a good example of how you can save a middling joke with some prop business.
*Henry comes back and instantly knows that Hawk’s pulling a scam. He starts trying to convince Sherman that Hawk is joking by running through a litany of practical jokes that Hawk has pulled on Frank. The jokes aren’t that funny, but Stevenson starts deadly serious and ends laughing hysterically at the memories. Again, a good example of how a great comic actor can take a riff that isn’t that funny and actually make you laugh at it by sheer force of will. He’s great in this bit.
*Sherman ends up saying he wants to take Hawk away for a few weeks. At this news, Frank and Margaret decide to go along with Hawkeye, in hopes that he won’t be back.
*There’s a kind of surprising moment here where Hawkeye just openly tells Sherman that he was only joking about Frank Burns and Sherman reveals that he knows that. But he still thinks Hawkeye needs some observation because he is rather erratic. I kind of liked the reveal that Sherman isn’t quite as stupid as Hawkeye thought he was and that he knew Hawkeye was putting him on the whole time. I’m just glad they stopped that joke in its tracks.
*Sherman tells Hawkeye he can’t really sympathize with him behaving oddly: “My sense of reality is my gyroscope. Whatever the situation, it keeps me right on course.” Boy, is this guy riding for a fall or what?
*So, Hawkeye gets Radar to blow a lot of hot air at Sherman about Margaret really being in to him. Then they change the signs and send him into Magaret’s tent , thinking that it’s the visitor tent. He doesn’t realize it because the lights aren’t working. So, Margaret arrives and the lights are off, so she doesn’t see Sherman until she starts undressing. Sherman wakes up and, of course, thinks that Margaret has come to his tent . . . yes, it’s all very sitcommy. “It’s true . . . it’s true,” Sherman murmurs when he realizes that Margaret s in his tent.
*Everyone comes running. Of course, Sherman acts unhinged, yelling that it was a set up and that he thought Margaret wanted him. “You’re just having a little gyroscope trouble,” Hawkeye deadpans. “Trouble with your what?” an incensed Henry bellows.
*Okay, so the epilogue is of Hawkeye and Trapper heading off for a week of R&R. Then suddenly, Radar hears choppers. Hawkeye and Trapper leave the jeep disgustedly. Back to work.
*So, we spent lots of time in the Swamp and no sign of Spearchucker. I think maybe he’s gone for good this time.
*So, this wasn’t a very good one. Stuart Margolin doesn’t play Sherman very well. The plot is very predictable and hackneyed. And I wasn’t particularly amused by any of it. Not Hawk playing crazy, not the psychiatrist examining him, not Hawk and Radar contriving to make the psychiatrist look nutty. I dunno, this one just didn’t do much for me.
Bruce Bilson, Burt Styler
MASH Episodes, by Quality:
1. Chief Surgeon Who?
2. The Moose
3. To Market, to Market
4. Yankee Doodle Doctor
5. Bananas, Crackers & Nuts
6. Requiem for a Lightweight
The Abridged MASH
To Market, to Market
Chief Surgeon Who?