M*A*S*H (1978) – Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde, Major Topper, and Commander Pierce

Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde is the ‘drugs are bad’ episode of M*A*S*H. Written by Ronny Graham, Ken Levine and David Isaacs, it first debuted on 27 February, 1978.

The 4077th in the midst of an onslaught of patients, and everyone is doing there best to just survive, get through, and give their patients the best treatment they can. Unfortunately, Charles (David Ogden Stiers) is having issues with the pace, and right after warning Klinger (Jamie Farr) of the dangers of taking amphetamines, he begins taking them himself to stay alert, and ahead of the game.

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) see there is something going on, but are unsure what, until the major practically collapses, and then they have it figured out, and work to help Charles deal with it.

The b-story involved Radar (Gary Burghoff) and one of his many pets, this time it’s a mouse. It seems a bunch of surly marines that are in post-op have a mouse of their own that they run in races, and after they pick on Radar a bit, he challenges them with his mouse, Daisy.

Of course, the whole camp turns out for the event, but will Charles ‘fix’ the odds in Daisy’s favor?

Major Topper is the final episode of season six, and was first broadcast on 27 March, 1978. This one was penned by Allyn Freeman.

While Charles keeps telling tall tales that top those of Hawkeye and B.J., Klinger deals with a real nutcase, Miller (Hamilton Camp) who may get himself a Section 8 before Klinger does!

While all of this is going on, the doctors are shocked to learn that the camp is out of morphine, and the next delivery isn’t until the morning. That’s going to be a problem, as they are dealing with a lot of injured patients who are going to be in for a night of pain if they don’t get some kind of medicinal relief.

Potter (Harry Morgan) hits on the idea of using a placebo, though Charles isn’t quite on board with it. Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) on the other hand is delighted with the exercise in faith.

The episode ends with Hawkeye and B.J. calling Charles on one of his, seemingly most impossible of tales, only to discover a horrifying truth.

It’s a fun way to close out the season, there are laughs, a dramatic moment or two on the pontification of the human mind and its ability to heal, as well as showing that Charles is definitely not going to be comparable to Frank, because he’s very much an equal to Hawkeye and B.J.

Season seven of M*A*S*H got underway with Commander Pierce, written by Ronny Graham from a story he developed with Don Segall. Opening the season on 18 September, 1978, the episode shows what happens when Hawkeye is put in temporary charge of the 4077th, and despite his abilities as a doctor and surgeon, he may not be the best leader.

He begins to see that his usual manner of behavior is not going to serve him in the position, and he also sees what Potter goes through on a daily basis. Hawkeye does his best, juggling as much as he can, but with Charles sick, and B.J. racing out of the camp to help an injured man just as more patients arrive, not to mention all the admin work… he’s slowly succumbing to the stress, and may not be able to handle what command really throws at him.

And B.J. has himself a moustache! This signifies a change that begins to take place with the character over the remainder of the series, as he eschews the majority of his uniform, dresses more shabbily, and isn’t restricted to just being seeing as Hawkeye’s partner in crime, or sidekick.

In fact their last scene in the episode is almost antagonistic compared to where they usually end up. It’s going to be interesting watching this new dynamic develop. So I’ll be checking in with the patients of the 4077th again next week!

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