M*A*S*H (1974) – Henry in Love, For Want of a Boot, and Operation Noselift

Series developer Larry Gelbart and Laurence Marks put Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) in some trouble this week with Henry in Love, which first aired on 5 January, 1974.

While on a quick trip to Tokyo, married man Blake meets and falls for the very young (all of twenty to his forty-four) Nancy (Kathrine Baumann). Henry thinks he’s head over heels for her, and even brings her down to the camp to meet those under his command, including Hawkeye (Alan Alda), Trapper (Wayne Rogers) and Radar (Gary Bughoff).

While they’re glad Henry is happy, they are worried that Henry is going to throw away his marriage over this, something that troubles them all, especially when Nancy makes more than a pass at Hawkeye while Henry is in surgery.

It’s a fairly basic episode, and just serves as a reminder for Henry’s character that he shouldn’t confuse infatuation with love, love that has given him a solid marriage and some great kids (course we’ve seen him have relations with others around the camp, so he hasn’t exactly been faithful, but he’s never put his whole heart into things before).

There is some gentle teasing from Hawk and Trapper about Nancy and her age, and while she seems a likeable young woman, as soon as she makes a move on Hawkeye you automatically shift to not really caring for this young woman at all, because we don’t want Henry to get hurt.

Happily, Radar arranges for a phonecall State-side, and Blake realises how good he has it… just in time.

For Want of a Boot was written by Sheldon Keller and debuted on 12 January, 1974. It’s a fun little exercise. Set in the depths of a freezing winter, Hawkeye needs new boots, his right one has a hole in it, and he’s been waiting for three months for replacements.

Checking in with Supply starts a chain of deals as everybody wants something, and they’ll help out if Hawkeye and Trapper do them one little favour, all of it culminating, and blowing up at, a birthday party for Frank Burns (Larry Linville).

The connections include Klinger (Jamie Farr) wanting four officers to sign off on a section 8 for him, Radar wanting a date with a tall nurse, dental work, three day passes, a hair dryer, and stopping Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) from sending a damaging report about Henry.

It’s simple, even with all the connections, and its funny, as everyone wants something, and just as it seems that Hawkeye and Trapper have the whole camp wired, well, of course, it’ll fall apart, and things may be worse off than before.

It’s just a fun, goofy episode that sees things get more and more out of control, and despite the moment of joy Frank has, having a real birthday party, it seems everyone has to ruin it in the end.

So will Hawkeye get his new boots, or will he have to find another piece of footwear?

Funny, and goofy, this is definitely one that made me laugh aloud as a kid, and still does so today.

Operation Noselift was written by Erik Tarloff from a story he wrote with Paul Richards. It first aired on 19 January, 1974. This one is a little troubling because there’s no comeuppance for a character, Major Robbins (Stuart Margolin in a second appearance on the show) for his actions towards Houlihan, which would be defined as sexual assault.

The main crux of the story focuses on Private Danny Baker (Todd Susman) who keeps going AWOL, and has some serious issues, all because of his nose. He figures if he could get a nosejob he’d be okay, and he wouldn’t have to suffer the slings and arrows that at levied at him. Elective surgery, however, is against military regulations.

But that won’t stop Hawkeye and Trapper. Arranging for his old friend Robbins to come down to the camp, with the promise of some female companionship, the duo concoct a plan for Baker to get his nosejob.

The operation goes fine, and with some sleight of hand, including a great sequence at the end if the episode, the entire camp fools Burns and Houlihan, and keeps Baker safe and out of the way. Unfortunately, after assaulting Houlihan, Robbins goes about his way, and doesn’t pay for his actions in anyway.

That’s bothersome.

My tour of duty with the 4077th continues next week as I continue watching M*A*S*H – Season 2.

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