M*A*S*H (1975) – Bulletin Board, The Consultant, and House Arrest

Alan Alda steps behind the camera to direct Bulletin Board, a bit of a vignette episode written by Simon Muntner and series developer Larry Gelbart. It debuted on 14 January, 1975.

Trapper (Wayne Rogers) is writing a letter home to his kids (and occasionally smooching a nurse or two), Frank (Larry Linville) and Margaret (Loretta Swit) are temporarily on the outs over a matter of money, and Colonel Blake (McLean Stevenson) is feeling a little down over losing a patient.

The war weighs heavy on them all, and an afternoon’s party to help raise money for a local charity allows all of them to blow off some steam and have some fun.

This ends up being a very enjoyable episode, and with Alda in the director’s chair, his character, Hawkeye, isn’t so prevalent, letting Trapper shine, and letting other characters have a moment or two, including Klinger (Jamie Farr), Radar (Gary Burghoff) and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher).

Poor Henry, he has a real tough time in this episode, and just as he’s starting to come out of it, while involved in a game of tug-of-war, the real war intrudes once again.

Alda has shown to have a very able hand writing and directing in addition to his performance of Hawkeye, and this may be my favourite episode of season three so far. It’s a nice melding of all the things that I love about M*A*S*H; the humour, the pathos, and the humanity that drives both.

The Consultant features a teleplay by Robert Klane from a story by Gelbart. It first aired on 21 January, 1975.

Hawkeye and Trapper get to enjoy a quick leave, supposedly to take in some medical lectures, but use most of it to go drinking and carousing. On returning to the 4077th, where Blake and Radar have fashioned a bit of a pool to soak in, one of the speakers from the lecture, whom they met in the bar, a Doctor Borelli (Robert Alda – Alan’s dad) shows up to have a look at their hospital unit, and get a better understanding of the war from their point of view.

As he checks things out in the O.R. he offers advice on how to save the leg of a patient that Frank is working on by performing an arterial graft. This is something the unit has never heard of, and Borelli says he can carry it out, if they can find a piece of artery to use.

Hawkeye and Trap set off to claim one, and prepare to assist in the surgery, until Radar calls Hawkeye to the Swamp – Borelli can’t operate, he’s under the influence.

This leaves Hawkeye in the lurch, as he now has to perform the operation, under Borelli’s guidance.

He pulls it off, but confront s Borelli afterwards, and the two of them have as close to a frank discussion about alcoholism as has been presented on the show so far. As Borelli points out that Hawkeye and Trapper drink a lot as well – they have a still in the Swamp!

House Arrest was concocted by James Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum and first hit the airwaves on 4 February, 1975. It finally happens, Hawkeye hits Frank after a long turn in the O.R. and of course, Frank wants to press charges, so pending a court martial Hawkeye is under a very pampered house arrest.

Of course, there are differing accounts of what actually happened by while that gets sorted out, Radar gets new shoes to get some height (and has a heartfelt talk with Hawkeye about it), and a Colonel Reese (Mary Wickes) arrives in camp to help improve the nurse’s efficiency, and develops a bit of a thing for Frank, much to Margaret’s surprise and jealousy.

This one is pretty damned funny, and of course the only way to get Hawkeye out of trouble is to get Frank into it, which of course happens so that everything can be back to normal by episode’s end.

There’s some nice dialogue, as well as some interesting revelations about the treatment of prisoners, Hawkeye seems to never have had it better.

And honestly, know that they’ve gotten that out of the way, as you know it simply had to happen, the series can continue and I will follow it, as I re-up for another tour with the 4077th next week!

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