M*A*S*H (1975) – Soldier of the Month, The Gun, and Mail Call, Again

Radar (Gary Burghoff) ties one on for the first time, and Frank (Larry Linville) falls ill while trying to rid the camp of a rat infestation on Soldier of the Month. Written by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason this episode first debuted on 28 November, 1975.

Word comes down that there is going to be a Soldier of the Month contest, with a pass to Tokyo as the prize. Radar is determined to win, but Klinger (Jamie Farr) is willing to put his pursuit of a Section 8 aside, and follow all military rules to win it, even if he has to cheat.

With Frank out of the picture, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) oversee the testing part of the competition, which makes for a laugh-filled sequence, while the also work to cure Frank’s infection (while the Major is busy coming up with his last will and testament).

Radar wins, of course, and the end of the episode depicts him arriving back at the camp with a laundry list of charges, and Burghoff delivering a great depiction of the young corporal completely soused to Hawk and B.J.’s amusement, and Potter’s (Harry Morgan) incredulity.

Just a fun episode all around, playing up the fun side of the series without delivering any overly dramatic blows.

The Gun features Warren Stevens as a guest star. Written by Gene Reynolds, and series developer Larry Gelbart this episode was first broadcast on 2 December, 1975.

Radar finds himself in a bit of trouble again, when a number of wounded arrive in camp, including Stevens’ Colonel Chaffey. We learn this week that when soldiers come in with weapons, it’s up to Radar to secure them, and give receipts to their owners so that they may reclaim them when they are released.

Chaffey arrives injured, and has a classic Colt .45 on his person, which needs to be secured. Radar does so, but Frank catches a glimpse of it, and wants to ‘borrow’ it to impress Margaret (Loretta Swit). Unfortunately he doesn’t get a chance to return it before it’s discovered it’s missing and Chaffey holds Radar responsibility.

With the young corporal’s military career apparently at an end, Hawkeye and B.J. begin to suspect the truth, and work to pressure Frank into finding a way to return the gun before it’s too late.

Despite his lying, and stealing, something pretty low, even for Frank, the major finds a way to return the gun to the lock-up, and Radar, who finds himself drunk again, is vindicated in his innocence, while Frank gets a bit of comeuppance.

A cute episode that lets Burghoff have a little more of the limelight.

Mail Call, Again was penned by Everett Greenbaum and James Fritzell, and had an original airdate of 9 December, 1975. Radar is making his way around the camp delivering the mail, and it seems there is something for everyone. Hawkeye gets a newspaper at home which delivers him endless amusement, B.J. gets letters from his wife, Peggy, Margaret gets a delivery from Frederick’s of Hollywood, and Klinger claims he recieves news that his two brothers (he doesn’t have any) died in a freak harmonica factory accident.

Potter learns that his daughter-in-law is about to make him a grandfather, and so a betting pool begins in the camp, while the colonel tries to get a line home to get news. Frank, in another bit of what could be comeuppance gets a letter from his wife, telling him she wants a divorce, as she’s heard about his affair with Margaret.

When Frank finally gets a call into home, Margaret listens in on the other line, and is infuriated at what she hears, as Frank works to patch up his marriage. He’s a true weasel.

The episode ends with some laughs, and some nice emotions, as Potter learns about his new grandchild, and Radar shares a movie that his family sent him. In it we see the O’Reilly clan getting together to wave at the camera, share a meal outside and make Radar miss his home. It also lets Gary Burghoff play Radar’s mother.

It’s a delightful episode, but we all know Frank and Margaret will be fine by the time the next episode rolls around, which will be next week when I dig into another trio of madcap episodes from the 4077th!

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