M*A*S*H (1979) – Inga, The Price, and The Young and the Restless

Alan Alda writes and directs this episode, Inga, which first aired on 8 January, 1979, and definitely sees a bit of a course adjustment for Hawkeye’s (also Alda) sexist attitudes towards women.

When Hawkeye hears about a Swedish female doctor coming to camp for a brief tour, he gets ready to turn on the charm, and slips into seduction mode. But when Inga (Mariette Hartley) arrives, and shows that she’s an equal to Hawk, and that she is more than capable of making her own decisions, and taking the lead, he’s a little shaken.

And, of course, the entire camp hears about it. It allows him to examine the way he treats the women around him, and what he thinks of and expects from them. But he’s determined to work on it, and find a partner instead of a passing fancy.

It’s a solid, and important shift for the character, and one I hope stays in play. There’s nothing wrong with Hawkeye being fun and flirtatious, but I’d like to see him be more aware of how he treats the women around him.

I love that not only Inga calls him on it, but Houlihan (Loretta Swit) and B.J. (Mike Farrell), who shares what his relationship with his wife, Peg is like.

Smart, funny and a message.

The Price was penned by Erik Tarloff and first debuted on 15 January, 1979. While B.J. and Hawkeye work to hide a young Korean man, Ham (Ken Mochizuki) from the conscription forces that are pushing young men into the army, Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) has an encounter with his laundry man, Cho Pak (Yuki Shimoda).

He learns that Cho Pak served as a colonel in the calvary at one point in the Korean conflict with the Russians, and now, he feels he’s been humiliated by becoming a laundry man.

When Sophie, the colonel’s horse goes missing, he and Radar (Gary Burghoff) are wrecked, but when they learn that Sophie found her way to Cho Pak, the Colonel lets the old man have her, as he seems to need her.

It gives the man a measure of peace, and allows him to regain some of his dignity.

Of course, the episode ends poignantly, but it’s a beautiful episode, especially for anyone who has ever loved an animal and had to give them up. It’s a powerful, and understated, moment when Potter does that, as one can recall how much receiving her as a gift from Radar affected him.

And he has the chance here to give that to another person. Happy tears.

The Young and The Restless is the final episode this week. Written by Mitch Markowitz, this episode first aired on 22 January, 1979.

While Klinger (Jamie Farr) starts acting as if he’s back in Toledo, the surgeons of the 4077th have a visiting surgeon, Simmons (James Canning) who has arrived to lecture on some new surgical procedures. All of them are aghast at how young he is, and when he’s pulled into the OR to help out, he more than proves his mettle, sending Charles (David Ogden Stiers) into a drunken state, while Potter is laid up with a bad leg, both of them lamenting the fact that with Simmons on the scene they feel past their prime.

All of them have to find a way to get back on their feet after the shock delivered by a younger doctor, and regain trust in their own abilities and skills because the wounded is going to keep coming, no matter what.

It’s fun to see that Charles has grown since his arrival, the episode makes a point of showing that he’s now keeping speed up in the OR, and no longer taking his time with each soldier. He delivers the best aid he can, and then moves on to the next one.

A solid episode that almost lets Klinger get his Section 8 until that final moment when he blows it.

More next time from those madcap and melancholy surgeons at the 4077th.

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