M*A*S*H (1974) – There’s Nothing Like a Nurse, Adam’s Ribs, and A Full Rich Day

The Singing Doctor (Loudon Wainwright III) makes another appearance this week as all the nurses get shipped out of the 4077th when word comes down that the camp is targeted for an enemy attack. There’s Nothing Like a Nurse was penned by series developer Larry Gelbart, and first aired on 19 November,1974.

With a deluge of wounded, and the threat of attack, the nurses are ordered out of the camp and sent to a nearby installation, leaving the doctors, and the rest of the male members of the camp behind. Soon, all of them are going slightly mad, being separated and having to put up with one another.

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and Trapper (Wayne Rogers) have watched every piece of film in the camp just to catch a glimpse of the female form, until they remember Frank Burns (Larry Linville) has a reel of film under his cot that they have never seen. Trapping him in a fox hole, the pair along with Radar (Gary Burghoff), Blake (McLean Stevenon) and Klinger (Jamie Farr) watch it to see what it is.

What the writers had here was an opportunity to make Frank a little more sympathetic, instead, we are treated to a wedding film that makes the character and his choices look as bad as usual.

Of course, the nurses are brought back, especially after the attack is discovered to be led by Five O’Clock Charlie (Season Two, Episode Two), and everyone is reunited. And we are reminded once again that even though a number of the characters are married (looking at you Trapper and possibly Henry Blake – no word on whether his wife’s affair is leading to divorce) they are quite happy to find solace in another’s arms while serving in the camp.

Adam’s Ribs was written by Laurence Marks, and first debuted on 26 November, 1974. After weeks and weeks of the same food over and over, Hawkeye is close to cracking, and begins to crave ribs from a restaurant in Chicago that he knows and loves. If only he could remember the name…

With some help from Radar, Hawkeye calls Stateside, learns the name of the location, and makes a huge takeout order. With some finagling they are able to get it on a plane to Korea, but once it’s in country, Army redtape and procedures could keep Hawkeye and Trapper from having a taste of home.

But they are willing to go all the way to get their ribs, cut deals, blackmail, intimidate…

Even if Hawkeye is able to get his hands on his order, how long will it be before the war intrudes on his potential moment of bliss?

This one is just funny. It’s meant to entertain, and elicit laughs. But underneath there is a sadness, especially watching this now in the middle of a pandemic. We took everything for granted, as the characters did when they were home, now the war (or COVID) has kept us from the things we miss, love and need (even if it’s a really good takeout – support your local restaurants please!) and now, we live in a different kind of world, and miss those things and need them.

And like Hawkeye, maybe we’ll find a way… if the pandemic war doesn’t intrude on us.

A Full Rich Day ends our trio of episodes for this week. Written by John D. Hess, this episode first aired on 3 December, 1974. Hawkeye is sending mail to his dad, this time with the use of a tape recorder. He relates a few days’ events to his father, and we go along for the ride.

There are run-ins with injured Turkish soldiers, as well as with one adamant American soldier, there is confusion and laughter, as well as some maudlin reflection on the war. Coming on the heels of the highly entertaining Adam’s Ribs this one didn’t entertain me as much as the previous ones.

Sure there are some fun moments, and the characters remain fun, but this one just didn’t hit it for me. This would have been one of the episodes that as I kid I know I would laugh for a bit of it, but I’m sure I would also be doing something else at the sametime.

Still, I do love spending time with these characters, and I will keep re-upping to continue my tout with the 4077th, as I enjoy all the episodes of M*A*S*H.


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