The first episode up this week, L.I.P. (Local Indigenous Personnel) gets it right. Written by Carl Kleinschmitt, series developer Larry Gelbart, and Laurence Marks, from a story by Kleinschmitt. It first aired on 27 October, 1973.
While Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is trying to make some time with Lt. Regina Hopkins (Corinne Camacho), one of the guys from X-ray, Phil (Jerry Zaks) comes to him for help. It seems he’s married a local woman, and they’ve had a child together, and he wants to take them home with him when he goes back State-side in a couple of weeks.
Apparently, there are tons of forms to be filled out, as well as an investigation by CID. When the interviewer, Willis (Burt Young) shows up, Hawkeye and Trapper (Wayne Rogers) find a way to frame him when it becomes apparent he’s not going to do anything to help Phil.
All of this occurs on the night that Hawkeye was to get together for a romantic evening with Regina, but things continue to need attention.
In the end, Hawkeye, Trapper, and Phil win through, and Hawkeye is able to make the last of his date with Regina, but things aren’t going to end as well as the surgeon had hoped when he learns somethings about the nurse.
The episode also features some fun moments with Radar (GaryBurghoff), Blake (McLean Stevenson) and Frank (Larry Linville) and Margaret (Loretta Swit). I feel this is one of the early episodes I saw, and I couldn’t have agreed with Hawk’s mindset more.
The Trial of Henry Blake sees Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan going too far. Written by McLean Stevenson, and first airing on 3 November, 1973, the two majors bring charges against Colonel Blake, and he stands on trial to see whether or not he should be commanding officer of the 4077th.
We get glimpses of some of the things that have been going on that have apparently pushed the two majors over the edge; gurney races to support the Kentucky derby, Radar selling wingtip shoes, Klinger’s (Jamie Farr) continued predilection for wearing dresses, and Blake, apparently, giving aid and comfort to the enemy through his work with Meg Cratty (Hope Summers) who has been working north of the camp to bring medical assistance to the locals.
Hawkeye and Trapper are livid when they learn this, but before they can get to Henry’s side, Burns puts them under arrest. That only holds them back for so long, until an opportunity presents itself, and they go AWOL to testify.
With Cratty in tow.
When the judicial board hears the explanation they are more willing to accept Henry’s version of events, but it’s not until Hawkeye and Trapper find a way to blackmail the two majors that things go back to normal.
Having watched the series from the start, as a more cohesive whole, it’s no surprise that Blake was brought up on charges by the two majors. And he proves that he’s a better person than either of them by not booting them out of his unit.
Dear Dad… Three was written by Gelbart and Marks and first debuted on 10 November, 1973. Hawkeye pens another letter home, and we get a glimpse at some of the day to day life of the 4077th including a meeting of the high ranking staff, mixers in the Swamp (and the reveal that a coffee enema may have had something to do with Henry’s deployment to Korea) and messing with a patient.
When a wounded soldier, Condon (Mills Watson) asks that Hawkeye make sure he gets the right blood, as in from a white person, he and Trapper decide to mess with the prejudiced soldier, by tinting his skin a darker shade. There are a couple of racist moments, but in this case, it’s all done to show how stupid this soldier’s racists beliefs are and they also relate a story of Dr. Frew who discovered the process for preserving human blood as plasma.
And there’s a moment of real poignancy when Henry receives a movie reel of film from back home. It’s a real gentle moment, and is done just realistically enough to bring tears to the viewers.
M*A*S*H remains a classic television series, and I am so glad that I have a number of seasons to re-up for yet. So join me and the gang next week for more stories from the 4077th.