M*A*S*H (1977) – The Most Unforgettable Characters, 38 Across, and Ping Pong

Radar (Gary Burghoff) tries his hand at writing in The Most Unforgettable Characters. This episode was penned by David Isaacs and Ken Levine, and first aired on 4 January, 1977.

After filling out an ad in the back of a comic book, Radar enlists himself in a writing school with dreams of becoming an author.

Other happenings in the camp include the reveal that it is Frank’s (Larry Linville) birthday. So as a gift, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) pretend to have a fight and be at one another’s throats. But what if Frank ends up driving them apart?

Klinger (Jamie Farr) tries countless things to secure himself a discharge, including threatening to light himselfon fire, and through it all, Radar writes about it and works on expanding his vocabulary. And maybe, just maybe, it will be Radar who reunited Hawk and B.J., reminding them of who they are, and why they’re friends.

The episode features some nice voice-over narration by Radar as he writes his reports, and there are lots of funny moments and a realisation that your friends don’t have to be perfect, they just have to be there for you. Happily, Hawk and B.J. remember this, and the everything is status quo by episode’s end.

38 Across was written by James Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum, and was first broadcast on 11 January, 1977. Lacking something to do Hawk and B.J. find a crossword puzzle and begin wotking their way through it. All while Klinger works his way through eating a jeep, and Frank busies himself with a game that arrived by mail.

When they are stuck on a last entry, 38 across, Hawk has Radar reach out to an old colleague who is serving on a Navy ship on the coast, Lt. Tippy Brooks (Oliver Clark). All Brooks hears because of the static and interference on the line is Hawkeye’s request for help.

So guess what. He and the ship’s serving admiral, Cox (Dick O’Neill) arrive to lend a hand. With no eremgency beyond the need for a word, things are going to go sideways for everyone real quick, but when Cox sees how things are in the O.R. and the sheer pace of having to deal with the wounded coming in, he softens to the 4077th, and perhaps there won’t be that much trouble hitting the fan.

This one is just a cute and funny episode, and sure a number of Korean wounded arrive just in time to save Hawkeye, B.J. and Brooks from some serious trouble, and that feels a little too neat, but they had to wrap the story up somehow and not have the guys in too much trouble.

Ping Pong was penned by Sid Dorfman and first went out over the airwaves on 18 January, 1977.

The 4077th is caught up in the intermural ping pong that is going on between camps, and their man Cho (Richard Narita) is going to be the big winner. And for him, the good news just keeps coming, as Hawk and B.J. are going to help him buy a wedding ring for Soony (Sachiko Penny Lee) and the camp is going to host the ceremony.

But then he disappears.

Meanwhile in the O.R., Potter (Harry Morgan) comes across an old war buddy, Lt. Col. Harold Becket (Frank Maxwell) who needs five more days on the frontlilne to earn a promotion to full colonel. But when the truth comes out about what happened at the front, Potter has to decide whether its worth mens’ lives for Becket to get his promotion.

Cho ends up back in camp, but in a Korean uniform, he was forcibly conscripted while he was shopping for the wedding ring! Hawk and B.J. keep him safe until the wedding can proceed.

Again, this is just one of the fun pleasant episodes that touches on the horrors of war without quite dwelling as deep on them as some of the other episodes, which is too bad because the subject matter is very interesting. Still, it’s entertaining, and I love this cast so very much.

That must be why I keep coming back to the 4077th! I’ll see you next week.

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