M*A*S*H (1980) – Goodbye, Cruel World, Dreams, and War Co-Respondent

Klinger (Jamie Farr) has enough, and almost makes a disastrous mistake while one of Hawkeye’s (Alan Alda) patients, Michael Yee (Clyde Kusatsu) is having some serious issues, and attempts to take his own life, necessitating a visit from Sidney (Allan Arbus) in Goodbye, Cruel World.

Written by Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox, this episode first debuted on 11 February, 1980.

When Klinger receives a crate from home, he uses its contents to redecorate his office/quarters, and no one approves of it. Potter (Harry Morgan) even orders it all taken down, and Klinger feels more than slighted. Everyone else can have things that remind him of home, so he concocts a plan to forge signatures, get his discharge papers and vamoose once and for all.

When Potter changes his mind, and lets Klinger put some of his items up, while maintaining the dignity of the work area, Klinger has to track down the discharge papers before he gets in some real trouble.

And despite being the b-story, Yee’s tale is very important, and Sidney drives home some very important facts about Yee’s situation. I know when Sidney shows up in an episode that there’s going to be a serious undercurrent to the story, and that I should really pay attention to what he says.

This time is no different.

Dreams was directed by Alda, who wrote the teleplay from a story by James Jay Rubinfier, and was first broadcast on 18 February, 1980.

It’s a beautiful, tragic, and horrific tale. The 4077th is trapped in a cold spell, yet again, and they are being overrun by casualties because the 8063rd, the other closest M*A*S*H unit has bugged out. So there’s no time to stop, to unwind, to rest.

The doctors and nurses grab snatches of sleep when and where they can, but as the episode illustrates, they can’t even escape the horrors of the war in their dreams. It is all pervasive, and something that will be forever part of who they are.

Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) attempts to dazzle with magic while his patient dies, Margaret (Loretta Swit) watches the man she loves leave her to be claimed by the war, and her bed is littered with the dead. B.J. (Mike Farrell) has a moment with his wife, but is called to the O.R., Potter loses himself in a dream of horse-riding as a child, but is pulled away too soon, Mulcahy (William Christopher) feels the weight of war on his faith, Klinger visits a desolate version of his hometown, and Hawkeye gives of himself, literally, until he is unable to help anymore.

It’s powerful, heart-rending, and would have been one of the episodes that when I watched it as a kid would have been disappointed in, but now realize how amazing it really is.

The final episode of the week, War Co-Respondent, puts B.J. in a tough spot, though he’s been here before, when he falls for Aggie O’Shea (Susan Saint James) a visiting war correspondent. Though the beat may sound familiar, this time around, Mike Farrell writes and directs the episode, so it feels a little more personal.

First airing on 3 March, 1980, B.J. finds himself falling for Aggie, and she him, and despite being reminded by Hawkeye that he’s been down this road before, B.J. is really dumbfounded, because this time, he could see himself really falling in love with Aggie. He thought Peg, his wife at home, was his one chance at real happiness, and then here comes Aggie.

B.J. really wrestles with himself throughout the course of the episode, and Farrell is determined to show that struggle on the screen.

And all of this puts out Hawkeye quite a bit, as a single guy, he was hoping to get his flirt on with Aggie, but she only has eyes for B.J., and as they confront their feelings, and the possibilities, she grows to love him more for his decisions.

Next week, we leave the eighth season behind, and move onto the ninth, as I re-up for another tour with the 4077th M*A*S*H.

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