M*A*S*H (1976) – Margaret’s Engagement, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, and Lt. Radar O’Reilly

Alan Alda directs the second episode of season five, Margaret’s Engagement, which was written by Gary Markowitz and first aired on 28 September, 1976.

Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) calls the 4077th while she’s attending a medical conference, and confides in Potter (Harry Morgan) that she has big news to share when she gets back to the camp, and she sounds happier than anyone has ever heard her.

While the camp is abuzz with possibilities about what the news is, Margaret returns and initially confides in Hawkeye (Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell)… she’s engaged. They are a little underwhelmed, as they expected news about the war, but take it all in stride, but everyone is anxious about how Frank (Larry Linville) is going to take it, considering the ongoing affair he and Margaret have pursued.

Margaret won’t shut up about her betrothed, Donald Penobscott, which really starts to both Frank, though he works to hide it, and actually, as a consequence gets rather chummy with Hawkeye and B.J.

Hawk takes Margaret to task for constantly raving about here fiancee in front of Frank, he may tease and prank the major on a regular basis, but he’s never kicked the man when he’s down. But Margaret just doesn’t seem to care, until Frank gets one good zinger in at the end of the episode…

The episode shows a shift in the character dynamic between Margaret and Frank, and shows that Hawkeye enjoys a joke, but not when someone is hurting, even if it’s someone he’s not a fan of.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind was written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs. It was first broadcast on 5 October, 1976. While trying to get the furnace in the nurses’ tent running again, a minor explosion blinds Hawkeye, and he has to attempt to deal with the loss of his sight, what it will mean for him. He meets a fellow patient in the post-op who has suffered permanent blindness and is now going home to an uncertain future.

Frank meanwhile, has become a bit of a schemer, taking money from camp members in a betting scheme when they listen to the rebroadcast of the baseball game from the night before. It’s interesting to see the shift in character, he’s still a weasel, but now he’s got a bit more of an edge to him. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Hawkeye seems to be dealing with the loss of his sight better than some thought he would, and he learns to pay attention to the things around him, noticing details, and things he may never have noticed.

Of course, by episode’s end Frank’s scheme has been revealed, foiled by Hawkeye, B.J., Radar (Gary Burghoff) and Klinger (Jamie Farr), and Hawk’s eyesight has been returned to him. And he knows how lucky he is.

An entertaining episode, I like seeing Hawkeye learning, and Frank being more conniving than usual.

Lt. Radar O’Reilly was penned by Everett Greenbaum and James Fritzell, it had an original airdate of 12 October, 1976.

Problems aplenty arise for company clerk, Radar, when during a card game, it seems one of the players can’t pay his debt, but he can pull some strings with command. Hawkeye and B.J. decide that the sound of Lt. Radar O’Reilly sounds really good, and if that happens, the debt is considered paid.

Days later, the confirmation comes through, and Radar is now an officer, but the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and the enlisted men are now treating him differently; he’s been saluted, a potential love interest is no longer intent on him, he has to give orders (and hope they’re obeyed) and Klinger is being trained to take over his position.

Soon all he wants is his old rank back, and to be one of the guys, happily, B.J. and Hawkeye are excellent doctors and can take care of that for him, and everything settles back to normal in time for another roll of end credits, while another series of episodes waits in the wings.

Next week more mirth, madness and medicine from the 4077th!

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