M*A*S*H (1979) – Mr. and Mrs. Who?, The Yalu Brick Road, and Life Time

While the 4077th tries to deal with an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever, Charles (David Ogden Stiers) arrives back in camp completely pickled, and a complete amnesiac when it comes to discussing his time in Tokyo.

Happily, he took pictures, and Klinger (Jamie Farr) gets them developed in Mr. and Mrs. Who. Written by Ronny Graham, this episode first debuted on 12 November, 1979.

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) delight in looking through the pics, until the come across one that seems to depict Charles getting married (!). The proper gentleman is completely gobsmacked, and embarrassed, even as he and the other surgeons try to figure out a way to help their patients deal with the course of the fever.

When Donna (Claudette Nevins) arrives in camp, Charles is shocked to learn that this wonderful woman is the one he’s married to. They get along like a house on fire, and Charles soon learns that they aren’t actually married.

As this is playing out, Hawk and B.J. may have guided their patients through the worst of the fever, and all of it culminates in a joyous celebration and undoing of a fake marriage.

Any excuse for a party at the 4077th.

The Yalu Brick Road was written by Mike Farrell, and first aired on 19 November, 1979.

While most of the camp gets salmonella from Klinger’s Thanksgiving turkey, Hawkeye and B.J. are lost behind enemy lines trying to bring back the antibiotics for the ill camp, who are quick to be angry with Klinger. But if Potter (Harry Morgan) and Klinger ate it as well, and they aren’t sick… well, until they are.

Laughs abound with Hawk and B.J. as they get lost, run afoul of an enemy soldier (the wonderful Soon-Tek Oh making another appearance), who they christen Ralph, and who seems to want to get out of enemy territory as much as they do.

It almost feels like a fish out of water homage to the Crosby/Hope Road movies, something Hawkeye references in the course of events.

In fact, overall, this episode is just a fun little romp, even the situation at the 4077th is pretty comedic, and isn’t interrupted by the arrival of wounded, it’s just everyone feeling sick from bad turkey, and Hawkeye, B.J. and Ralph bumbling from one misadventure to another until they find their way home.

On the flipside there is some rampant sexism being doled out by Charles when he’s expected to take on some cleaning and laundering duties, that he deems not only beneath him, but beneath his sex as well. Yikes!

Life Time is directed by Alda, who wrote it alongside Walter D. Dishell. It first aired on 26 November, 1979.

Told in ‘real time’ as we’re reminded by the ticking clock on the part of the screen, this episode is tense, fast-paced, and layered in emotion that can really strike home if you let it.

Hawkeye has a patient that needs a graft from an aortic valve, they’ve been keeping him in ice to slow down his vitals, and encourage a bit of hypothermia to keep him alive and safe. B.J. meanwhile, may have a patient who isn’t going to make it, and could supply the graft needed… if he dies quickly enough.

While B.J. and Father Mulchay (William Christopher) watch over the dying man, the man’s friend, Roberts (Kevin Brophy) who is dealing with the realization that his friend is going to die, but he may be able to help another soldier.

Charles helps out with a blood donation, and Hawkeye is struggling to hang on while he impatiently waits for B.J. to supply him with the graft, unaware of what his friend is going through in the next room.

It’s powerful, smart, and we worry until the last moment about what the fate of one soldier will be, at the cost of another.

The melancholy and the laughs continue next week as I spend more time with the 4077th as I explore more of Season Eight of M*A*S*H!

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