M*A*S*H (1979/1980) – Yessir, That’s Our Baby, Bottle Fatigue, and Heal Thyself

Alan Alda directs Yessir, That’s Our Baby from a script by Jim Mulligan. First airing on 31 December, 1979 the story brings to light the very real nature of Amerasian babies that American soldiers fathered with Korean women, and then left behind taking no responsibility for them.

When one of them ends up in the 4077th, the entire camp is taken with the little bundle of joy, and Hawkeye (Alda) and the rest are determined to find a way to offer her a better life. But neither the Korean government, nor the Red Cross, nor the American Army want anything to do with it, and all of them have rules and guidelines to prevent their involvement.

The Korean official points out that the American forces are the only ones who haven’t looked after their responsibilities in this nature, the UK, and others, have all provided for their children born from the circumstances of war.

Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) points out that the only real option is to leave the child at a monastery to be raised there, and possibly find a way out of the country, which will vilify her for her mixed parentage, and deny her rights because of it, when she’s older.

It’s a harsh reality, and despite their efforts to take on any and all officials, Hawk and the rest get absolutely no where…

Bottle Fatigue was written by Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox, and first aired on 7 January, 1980. When Hawkeye goes on the wagon after he gets his bar bill and he begins to drive the entire camp crazy! He sees things in a new way, and gets under everyone’s skin, and ruins a date with Lt. Mendenhall (Shelley Long).

But he slowly learns that he can drink, but not as a crutch, and he can decide when he takes that sip, not the drink.

Meanwhile, when Charles (David Ogden Stiers) learns his sister is getting married, to an Italian, we start to see that he is a bigot, and things get very strained between he and Klinger (Jamie Farr) and even eventually Mulcahy, when he makes snide remarks about the Irish.

And through it all, B.J. (Mike Farrell) just wants to find a place to get a good night’s sleep.

Does all of this mean that Hawk is done with drinking for good? Probably not, but we may see him do it a little more measured than before.

And Charles may get a glimpse of how bigoted he is. Will he change? Hard to say.

There’s a commentary here on drinking, and it’s an important conversation to have, I just don’t know if they did it as well as they could have. Doesn’t mean it’s not a fun episode though!

Heal Thyself is directed by Mike Farrell and written by Dennis Koenig from a story by Gene Reynolds. It first aired on 14 January, 1980.

While Potter (Harry Morgan) and Charles are quarantined in the colonel’s tent with mumps, a replacement surgeon, Steven Newsome (Edward Hermann) arrives to fill in for them. He immediately fits in with Hawk and B.J., making a wonderful third for their sense of humor, camaraderie and drinking (but only when Hawkeye wants it).

He can hold his own in the O.R. and gets along with everyone.

In the quarantine tent, things can’t be said to be going well, as Potter and Charles start getting on one another’s nerves…

But things come to a head, when Newsome, who is as strong a surgeon as Hawkeye or B.J. has ever seen, breaks under the deluge of wounded, oh so many wounded, and suffers a break, leaving all of the characters to wonder how long until something like that happens to them.

It’s a horrifying realization that it can happen to anyone, and Hermann’s performance is incredibly convincing.

There are definitely more message and issue shows in the series now, and that’s a good thing. We’ve journeyed with some of these characters for eight seasons, we care about what happens to them, and we can worry for them and ourselves through the narratives of the story.

More from the 4077th next week.

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