M*A*S*H (1978) – Tea and Empathy, Your Hit Parade, and What’s Up, Doc?

Bill Idelson pens Tea and Empathy, which first aired on 17 January, 1978. It’s another of those episodes that has a lots going on. Hawkeye (Alan Alda) deals with a British Major, Ross (Bernard Fox), who demands that Hawkeye release his still injured soldiers so that they may return to action.

B.J. (Mike Farrell) deals with a patient suffering from a morphine addiction, and Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) and Klinger (Jamie Farr) work to track down some stolen penicillin, after the thief confesses before he heads State-side. And through it all, the war, and the injured drive the work in the operating room, and clashing with Charles (David Ogden Stiers).

But perhaps Hawkeye’s take on Ross is wrong, and B.J. works hard to help his patient through withdrawals while the Father and Klinger face danger to recover the camp’s stolen medicine.

It’s a quick-paced episode, there’s not a lot of underlying messages, just another week of war, antics, and melancholy. There’s a lot attempting to be mined between Houlihan (Loretta Swit) and Charles, as they attempt to raise themselves above the level of everyone else in the camp, which constantly backfires into them seemingly caught in not quite romantic escapades – honestly this feels like a bit of a strain, as if the writers are trying to figure out how to move the characters forward in their arcs.

Your Hit Parade was penned by Ronny Graham and first aired on 24 January, 1978.

When tempers run high, and the 4077th is being overrun by patients, Radar (Gary Burghoff) attempts to raise company spirits by taking on the role of a radio deejay, and attempting to keep the platters spinning, which involves boring Charles’ record player. Settling into a radio personality takes him some time, and he gets help from Klinger, but how far is too far?

And what will the rest of the camp think?

Klinger also loves the idea of the camp speakers playing music, while Charles continues to exacerbate every situation. The continual arrival of patients causes a number of patients to be re-housed in a number of locations including the mess tent, and various quarters including the Swamp.

This causes a number of men to have be quartered together, including, Hawkeye, B.J., Charles and Potter (Harry Morgan). Charles is infuriated, and stakes a claim in Houlihan’s tent, but no one is going to get any sleep anyway, because the camp has to keep working, and find any source of supplies that they can.

Everything works out in the end, except for Radar’s stacking the platters, Potter pulls the plug on that.

What’s Up, Doc? was penned by Larry Balmagia, and first debuted on 30 January, 1978.

Tensions are high in the O.R. because Houlihan is irate with everyone, snaps at one of her nurses, and takes shots at everyone. Eventually she opens up to Hawkeye, who works to help her figure out what is going on.

Meanwhile, Klinger comes up with a new attempt to get out of the Army, he tries to pursue a hardship excuse, by claiming he has nine children. Unfortunately all of the pictures are of the children of the officers in the camp. Charles gets taken hostage by a patient (Charles Frank) that wants to go home and Hawkeye checks to see if Houlihan is pregnant with some help from one of Radar’s rabbits.

The only way to use one of Radar’s rabbits, is to operate on the rabbit to remove the ovaries, as Radar demands that his pet, Fluffy by name, not be killed, as would usually be the process when this was done.

When the patient that is holding Charles hostage demands to go home to Idaho with his hostage, Klinger volunteers to go as his hostage (surprise!).

The camp works to resolve the issue, while Houlihan waits for her test results, and Radar worries over the condition of Fluffy.

There’s more madcap antics and melancholy to come next week as I continue my tour of duty with the 4077th.

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