M*A*S*H* (1973) – For the Good of the Outfit, Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde, and Kim

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and Trapper (Wayne Rogers) attempt to take on Army bureaucracy in For the Good of the Outfit. Written by Jerry Mayer, this episode debuted on 6 October, 1973.

When the surgeons learn that the civilians they are operating on were bombed by the U.S. Army, Hawk and Trap file a report expecting the Army to admit their fault in the action and make reparations. They hand over their paperwork and their evidence to Major Stoner (Frank Aletter) who arrives to investigate their claim, but when nothing happens, in fact the event is denied and blamed on the enemy, Hawk reaches out to his father, State-side as well as to General Clayton (Herb Voland).

Houlihan (Loretta Swit) and Burns (Larry Linville) are eager to jump aboard when Hawkeye and Trapper are first congratulated for doing the right thing by the Major and when the ending rolls around, it’s nice to see that they are the ones that actually help to save the day.

The story, despite its comedic elements, is handled well, and no doubt is based on an actual event(s).

Radar (Gary Burghoff) and Blake (McLean Stevenson) continue to shine, and at this point in the series, everyone seems comfortable with their characters, and knows how to work the drama and the comedy equally.

The subject matter is definitely serious, and it’s interesting to see that the show was quite willing to show that the Army will lie to protect its image (Vietnam was going on at the time, and despite the fact that the show was set during the Korean War, it served as a mirror for the Vietnam conflict).

Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde written by Alan Alda and Robert Klane first aired on 13 October, 1973. Hawkeye has been up for 72 hours, operating, interacting, and slowly losing his mind.

As those around him watch him, the doctor keeps getting orders to go get some sack time, but each time, something comes up, usually more wounded, and Hawkeye can’t stay away. Finally, having had enough, he sends a telegram to the president, he’s determined to find out who started the war, and find a way to end it.

As he grows increasingly tired, and still not sleeping, his friends begin to worry, and start scheming for a way to knock him out and put him to bed. But those efforts fail one after the other even as General Clayton arrives to investigate who from the camp has been sending telegrams to the president.

It’s a good episode, Alda’s writing shows he knows the characters, and can bring out the pathos in Hawkeye easily, but, honestly, watching it now seems a little drawn out. I think that Blake or Trapper would have slipped him a little something to knock him out a lot sooner than they did.

Of course then they wouldn’t have had a full length episode.

This one is enjoyable, and also shows that as good a surgeon as Hawkeye is, he has faults like everyone else, and is probably closer to cracking than most of his friends and fellows (and the audience) realise on an episode to episode basis.

Kim, the final episode of the week, lets Trapper have a bit of the spotlight. Written by Marc Mandel, Laurence Marks, and series developer Larry Gelbart, this story first debuted on 20 October, 1973.

When a young Korean boy, Kim (Edgar Miller) comes into the 4077th as a patient, the entire camp seems to fall in love with him, but none more so than Trapper, who contemplates adopting him, and sending him State-side to live with his family.

He even goes so far as to write his wife about it, and is delighted by her response. In fact the entire camp seems to take joy in it, but when Kim wanders out into a mine field, Trapper has to risk his life for the young boy, and may end up having his heartbroken by episode’s end.

Thank goodness he has friends like Hawkeye and Henry Blake around.

This was an endearing little episode, and I was very happy to see Rogers get a little bit more to do. While it’s nice to have him palling around with Hawkeye all the time, this one opened up his character a little bit, and gave the actor a little bit of well-deserved spotlight.

There’s more humour and pathos next week as I re-up for another tour of the 4077th, with M*A*S*H!

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