M*A*S*H (1978) – Our Finest Hour Part 2, The Billfold Syndrome, and None Like It Hot

The second part of the clip show, Our Finest Hour, airing on 9 October, 1978 featured segments written by Ken Levine, David Isaacs, Larry Balmagia, Ronny Graham, and David Lawrence. We get glimpses of pranks, the many romances of Hawkeye (Alan Alda), the humanization of Houlihan (Loretta Swit), Radar’s (Gary Burghoff) really bad day, and Klinger’s (Jamie Farr) numerous attempts to garner himself a Section 8 and a ticket home.

Speaking of a ticket home, that was the subject of Radar’s bad day, that incredibly impactful episode when Henry Blake (Maclean Stevenson) got to go home, and the gut punch ending of the episode.

In fact, this entire clip show walks that line, reminding us of the laughs, but also the tears that the show, and the characters have delivered.

It’s touching, funny, and encapsulates in one episode why so many viewers loved this show, and would come back to it year after year. We also learn in this episode that despite the fact that we are in season seven, the war is only entering its third year. So that’s a lot of stuff to have happened in three years, and yet, you take it in stride, because we love these characters, and will stay beside them for as long as they’ll have us.

The Billfold Syndrome, first airing on 16 October, 1978, was written by Levine and Isaacs, and features Alda in the director’s chair again. And like I mentioned in the above entry, this one balances the comedy and the tragedy brilliantly. When Charles (David Ogden Stiers) receives a notice that he is no longer in consideration for a lofty position in a hospital at home because he’s currently in Korea, he shuts down and refuses to talk to anyone.

Of course, Hawkeye and B.J. (Mike Farrell) can’t leave it at that! It’s a challenge to get him to talk now, and the pair set to it with gusto.

Meanwhile a brilliant young medic, Jerry Nielson (Kevin Geer) arrives in camp with no memory. He’s a complete blank, so Potter (Harry Morgan) sends for Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus) to have a look at the young man. Sidney, who is always a delight to have in the camp, recruits Hawk and B.J. to help out with a hypnosis session on Nielson to uncover the problem, and it’s a brutal dive into a heartrending moment.

It’s completely devastating, so there’s one final gag to help balance out the tears by episode’s end.

Loved this one!

The final episode this week is None Like It Hot. Written by Levine, Isaacs, and Johnny Bonaduce, this first hit the airwaves on 23 October, 1978.

While Radar suffers from tonsilitis, the rest of the camp is under a heat wave that is threatening to break them all, and gets Klinger the closest he’s gotten to a Section 8 yet.

Lucky for Hawk and B.J. a tub they ordered some six months ago has finally arrived! They can soak and luxuriate in the cool water, uninterrupted…

… unless the rest of the camp learns about it, and then queues form, fights break out, and trouble for the entire camp ensues.

This is one of the lighter episodes, and is just a good chuckle to relax with after the emotions the previous episodes have put us through. It also shows that the unit really is a family, looking after one another, and are at their best, when they have a common goal.

Seven seasons in, the show hasn’t lost its touch, and still knows how to entertain, enlighten, and just unite its viewers. Many a night, I remember being sprawled on the living room rug, watching M*A*S*H with the entire family. I love my 4077th!


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