M*A*S*H (1977) – Post Op, Margaret’s Marriage, and Fade Out, Fade In

The penultimate episode of the fifth season is a hectic affair with a teleplay by Ken Levine and David Isaacs from a story by Gene Reynolds and Jay Folb. Post Op first aired on 8 March, 1977.

There are patients everywhere, and more arriving all the time. The doctors and nurses of the 4077th are being run ragged with extended shifts in the operating room, further complicated by a lack of plasma for their patients. With a round the clock blood donation going, as well as seemingly non-stop surgery, tensions are high, and everyone is snapping at each other.

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) are trying to keep things light, but Frank (Larry Linville) is really getting to them, and even Potter (Harry Morgan) isn’t above telling them all to shut up. While each of them interact with their numerous patients in post op, we see that they are tired, and frustrated, but they are always willing to help.

Klinger (Jamie Farr) helps a Puerto Rican soldier who had to lose his moustache during surgery, and is now lamenting it, and Frank, who is refusing to donate blood, reveals that he’ll be going home soon.

It’s a rapid-fire episode that doesn’t let up until the arrival of some troops to donate blood in thanks to the 4077th for saving one of their own.

The fifth season’s final episode, Margaret’s Marriage, was written by Everett Greenbaum and James Fritzell. The season came to a close on 15 March, 1977.

Donald Penobscott (Beeson Carroll) arrives in camp, intent on marrying Margaret (Loretta Swit) immediately, thanks to Frank’s inadvertent urging. The entire camp gets swept up in the excitement, everyone turns out for it, and Hawkeye and B.J. have a great gag for Margaret, Klinger delivers a wonderful gift, and there are paries throughout the camp in celebration.

Potter gives the bride away, Frank serves as Best Man, and everyone turns out in their class-A uniforms, but of course, there are more complictions that arise, when halfway through the ceremony, Radar (Gary Burghoff) announces incoming, and everyone, even Margaret in her wedding dress, helps out around the camp.

This allows Donald to see what goes on in the camp when the team comes together, and as the pair say goodbye to the camp as they climb aboard the chopper to go on their honeymoon, Frank is left alone on the landing field, setting up his exit in the season six, hour long opener, Fade Out, Fade In…

Season Six got underway on 20 September, 1977, with a script by Fritzell and Greenbaum. Frank begins to lose it while Margaret is on her honeymoon in Tokyo. This neccesitaetes him being sent home, achieving a Section 8 before Kiinger, and leads to the need for a replacement, not only in the cast, but in the Swamp.

Enter Major Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers), a much different character to Frank, and written as almost an equal to Hawkeye and B.J., making him a worthy adversary to the pair. He’s only supposed to be a temporary replacement, but, of course, things play out against Winchester.

Larry Linville doesn’t appear in the episode at all, we only hear about his antics over the phone.

Charles is completely unhappy in the camp, and attempts to keep himself elevated above it all, but you just know that he’s not going anywhere. He works on cleaning up the Swamp, and his stiff upper lip and attitude are going to be a lot of fun, especially in clashses with Hawk and B.J.

But just like Hawk and B.J., he’s a very good surgeon, but he needs to catch up to the speed of the meatball surgery that makes up the majority of the camp’s surgeon – they’re here to patch them up, and save lives, and they have to do it quickly.

Margaret returns from her honeymoon early, and confides in Hawkey and B.J. that nothing happened on the honeymoon, and the boys console her that he may have been intimidated by Margaret’s past, but that he’ll probably come around.

I’ll be back for more next week, as I enjoy the antics and pathos that make up the 4077th…

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