M*A*S*H (1974) – The Chosen People, As You Were, and Crisis

Radar (Gary Burghoff) has some problems in The Chosen People. Written by Laurence Marks, Sheldon Keller and series developer Larry Gelbart from a story by Gerry Renert and Jeff Wilhem, this episode premiered on 26 January, 1974.

When a Korean family moves on to the 4077th, it throws the unit into upheaval, and unfortunately doesn’t quite have a happy ending. Meanwhile, a young Korean woman, Choon Hi (Clare Torao) shows up with a newborn, and claims that Radar is the father.

As Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and Trapper (Wayne Rogers) run blood to see if Radar really is the father, the young corporal, who knows he didn’t do it, begins to cotton to the idea, as he feels different, and believes he is perceived differently for no longer being a virgin.

Radar’s story is touching, it’s just too bad that the Korean family, and Choon Hi are used as little more than props.

On the flipside, Pat Morita shows up again as Captain Sam Pak, and it’s too bad he didn’t become a regular, because he really fits in with the gang, and there’s a wonderful feel of almost natural banter between he, Alda, Rogers and McLean Stevenson’s Colonel Blake .

I do like that Radar was getting a little extra attention in this episode, and it danced around the subject of virginity and its loss as well as what it means to the male ego. But that’s all under the surface, the majority of the episode is fun, and filled with laughs, as the camp tries to deal with the Korean farmers, and the paperwork that the Army creates around them.

As You Were was written by Gelbart and Marks from a story by Gene Reynolds. It first aired on 2 February, 1974. After two weeks of almost no casualties, the camp is relaxed, and some are going stir crazy. Hawkeye and Trapper keep busy by pranking Frank Burns (Larry Linville) and ordering costumes from home to liven up the joint.

But it all threatens to come apart when they are flooded with a deluge of patients, and the camp ends up being shelled (by their own side). This not only causes a loss of power to the camp, forcing the doctors to operate in the dark, but Frank’s hernia (which apparently he’s had for ten years! – OUCH!) becomes strangulated and he needs to be seen to immediately, with Houlihan (Loretta Swit) looking on.

The story goes from relaxing quiet, to fast-paced banter in a blink of an eye, and we can only hope, for the characters’ sakes that it quiets down again and that Radar is able to redirect the fire away from the camp.

This is just a fun episode, and I love to see how Hawk and Trapper go after Frank in this one, but when he needs them to operate on him, well, they’re still goofy, but focused doctors. It’s also great to see Klinger (jamie Farr) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) getting a moment or two to shine.

Crisis aired 9 February, 1974, and was written by Gelbart and Marks and finds the inhabitants of the 4077th in the depths of a very cold winter. A winter made all the worse when their supply lines are cut, and the unit is forced to conserve everything, and to share heat, are forced to bunk together, as more and more people pile into the swamp, rationing becomes stricter, and the group wonders how they will survive.

Each of the officers is assigned a department, heat, maintenance, food, and while there are exceptions to the rules, most of them work together to survive the cold snap, and the lack of supplies.

It’s a simple story, well executed, and with lots of fun little character moments. These are the episodes I love to just soak in, there’s no real message to them, it’s just like hanging out with a bunch of friends, and catching up, laughing and sharing stories.

It makes me think of friends I grew up, the banter we shared together, mirrored by the way Hawkeye and Trapper interact. The implication that even though we may not always get along, that we’re family. Of course, that may just be my nostalgia for the series, as it was one of the only shows we all watched as a family, so the show and my childhood kind of meld together because of it. And that’s also while I’ll re-up for more episodes next week!

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