M*A*S*H (1979) – Dear Uncle Abdul, Captain’s Outrageous, and Stars and Stripes

All Klinger(Jamie Farr) wants to do is write a letter to his Dear Uncle Abdul. Written by John Rappaport and Jim Mulligan this episode first debuted on 3 December, 1979.

Each time Klinger settles in to write, he gets pulled into helping one of the officers with one of their eccentricities, Houlihan (Loretta Swit) is arguing for a new foot locker, Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) wants to use him to flush quail, and Potter (Harry Morgan) wants him to sit a horse so he can do a self-portrait.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) are having a tough time with one another, when B.J. steals one of Hawk’s jokes, and seems to tell it better than he does, causing some friction between the two friends.

Throw in a soldier, Eddie (Richard Lineback) who is a little slow, who arrives in camp looking for his wounded friend, and you’ve got a fun slice of life episode that never quite gets to be a full letter home by Klinger because he keeps getting interrupted.

There’s a great tag with Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) working on a war song about Korea, and its message really hits home, but not to end on too maudlin a note, we have a final patching up scene with Hawk and B.J. which suggests that Hawk is growing a moustache; it’ll be gone before the start of the next episode, but it’s a laugh out loud moment.

Captain’s Outrageous was written by Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox, and was first broadcast on 10 December, 1979. After a fight between Greek and Turk soldiers breaks out in Rosie’s Bar, Rosie (Eileen Saki) ends up in post-op for a week while some busted ribs mend.

But that doesn’t mean Rosie’s can close! If it does, her wait staff will make off with all her supplies, and everything will be gone. Potter okays a plan that sees Hawkeye, Houlihan, B.J., and Winchester running the place until she comes back.

Wackiness ensues.

Meanwhile, Potter and Klinger spend most of the episode on the horn State-side to the Pentagon trying to follow-up on Father Mulcahy’s long promised promotion to captain. It’s up, it’s down, it’s up again, and so is Mulcahy’s mood accordingly.

In Rosie’s, the new barkeeps have problems with tipping, supplies, and bribing the MPs to stay in business.

This is a fairly basic episode, but it finally pays off on Mulcahy’s arc, he’s been passed over four times for his captaincy, and the man was due. And while Hawkeye and B.J. seem okay behind the counter, Winchester has a real problem with it, which adds to the humor.

Stars and Stripes was written by Dennis Koenig, while Harry Morgan slips into the director’s chair. First airing on 17 December, 1979, the episode gives us two solid stories, one follows B.J. and Winchester who have been asked to write a paper about a procedure they conducted in the O.R. while the other one follows Houlihan and her relationship with Scully (Joshua Bryant).

Initially delighted about the chance to write a paper, things get pretty rough pretty quick when the pair begin to argue over the smallest details, who gets credit for what, and whose name comes first on the paper.

Houlihan and Scully meanwhile have some problems as Scully is a man very set in his ways, and his mindset of who should be in charge, what’s expected in the relationship, and of Houlihan. And as we see, Houlihan isn’t the person she was when Scully first popped up on the scene, she’s really come into being her own person, strong, intelligent, and dedicated. And while she may occasionally like to dress up for Scully, that’s not who she is all the time, but he doesn’t see that, he just wants what he wants.

Houlihan wants more.

And that’s a great moment for her character. Sure, it’s emotionally tough for her to call it quits, but she does it. She may not have done that a couple of seasons ago. At episode’s end, she ends back in the Officer’s Club, and we get a chance to see the way her friendship with Hawkeye has continued to grow. It’s a nice bow on the episode.

More from the 4077th next week.

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