M*A*S*H (1972/1973) – Edwina, Love Story, and Tuttle

The first pair of episodes up this week have some similarities, especially when aired back to back, and I have to wonder if that was intentional, or just the way the series was made.

Edwina was written by Hal Dresner and first debuted on 24 December, 1972. The story centres on a calamity-centric Edwina (Arlene Golonka) who hasn’t had any success with mean, mainly because she’s a bit of a clutz. But until one of the male members of the camp pays her some attention, the female members of the 4077th have banded together and put a ban on socialising of any kind with the men.

Of course, that won’t stand, so the guys gather and figure out what is to be done, and decide that one of them must be the sacrificial lamb and take one for the team… so straws are drawn and Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is left with the short straw.

Despite some bumps, and messes along the way, Hawkeye and Edwina have a good time together. And that’s what she really needed, just a bit of a confidence boost to make her realise that she just has to be herself, even if she’s a bit of clutz and makes a mess.

She complained to Nurse Cutler (Marcia Strassman) at the beginning of the episode that she longed for a bit of attention from a man, and it got a little blown out of proportion thinking what would have to be done, but Edwina, like most of us, just want a moment of human connection.

Love Story focuses on Radar (Gary Burghoff) and was written by Laurence Marks and first aired on 7 January, 1973. Hawkeye, Trapper (Wayne Rogers) and Col. Blake (McLean Stevenson) are trying to figure out what is wrong with Radar, physically, he’s okay, but he doesn’t seem himself.

When he is finally confronted by Hawkeye and Trapper, it’s revealed that Radar was on the receiving end of a ‘Dear John’ message. So Hawkeye and Trapper try to arrange for one of the nurses to take him out for a night, and show him some attention.

All of them have something better to do.

Poor Radar.

But even as he’s lamenting his fate, a new nurse arrives, Lt. Louise Anderson (Kelly Jean Peters) and the poor corporal seems to have been struck by a thunderbolt. Hawk and Trap notice, and work to help the two become good friends, if not something a little more.

As the friendship grows, Burns (Larry Linville) and Houlihan (Loretta Swit) are upset about an officer socialising with an enlisted man, and they begin making complaints… That is until Hawk and Trapper find a way to blackmail them into leaving the two new friends alone.

It’s a cute little episode, and obviously doesn’t develop into anything big because it’s episodic television, and things have to be status quo by the end of the episode. Still it’s interesting how both parties handle similar events.

And it’s nice to let Radar shine a little. That being said, I really enjoy watching Burns and Houlihan getting their just desserts from Hawk and Trapper.

Tuttle is a very funny episode that also shows how silly things can get. Written by Bruce Shelly and David Ketchum, this one debuted on 14 January, 1973.

Hawkeye and Trapper are giving supplies to Sister Theresa (Mary-Robin Redd) but knowing they’ll get in trouble for it, they make up a captain, Tuttle (named after Hawkeye’s imaginary friend as a child, and don’t get Radar started on his) to take the credit, and then, create an Army record for him to collect his back pay, and donate that as well, along with a continuing supply of medicinal needs.

No one wants to be made to look the fool, so everyone claims to have known, met or seen him, until Tuttle’s name seems to be everywhere, and Burns and Houlihan are constantly missing him.

It’s a riot, until General Clayton (Herb Voland) shows up in camp to give Tuttle a commendation. There’s a lot of fun had in this episode, Houlihan falls for Tuttle’s description, Burns wants to room with him (to keep an eye on him and away from Hot Lips Houlihan), and Radar, Hawkeye and Trapper just want to keep helping out Sister Theresa and her orphanage without interference.

But when Clayton shows up, Tuttle’s fate must be played out. So much fun, and watch for an appearance by James Sikking!

More laughter, martinis, and war next with more of M*A*S*H!

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