M*A*S*H (1981) – Tell It to the Marines, Taking the Fifth, and Operation Friendship

Harry Morgan directs Tell It to the Marines, which first aired on 12 January, 1981, and was written by Hank Bradford.

Charles (David Ogden Stiers) takes over as CO while Potter (Morgan) is away, and turns Klinger (Jamie Farr) into his personal attaché, and seems intent on living in a means he’s more accustomed to.

Meanwhile, Hawkeye (Alan Alda), B.J. (Mike Farrell), Houlihan (Loretta Swit) and Mulcahy (William Christopher) try to find a way to help a young Dutch man, who has enlisted as a Marine, Jost (Stan Wells) who has three weeks left in his tour, has been wounded twice, and wants to leave a week early, because his now divorced, Dutch mother, is being deported. He just wants to see her to say goodbye.

Jost’s CO denies him, the Red Cross doesn’t help, but Hawkeye has a plan to write an article for Stars & Stripes, which the Marines kill. But He and B.J. go to the civilian press, and stir up a hornet’s nest that may sting Hawkeye, but may get Jost’s situation the attention it needs.

Morgan handles the balance of humor and drama necessary for the story easily and tells an engaging tale, which makes you wonder if it has some basis in reality.

Taking the Fifth was first broadcast on 19 January, 1981, and was written by Elias Davis and David Pollock. Hawkeye is having trouble in the lady department, all the nurses have heard his lines, and aren’t going to fall for the same routines again.

He realizes he needs to shake things up a bit, but how?

Enter a Canadian Company Clerk, passing through to say hello to Klinger. He’s got a bottle of red wine from his PX, which Hawkeye grabs in lieu of the five dollars Klinger owes him. Charles learns of this, and wants wine of his own, as the bottle is worth twenty dollars State-Side.

So while Potter and Klinger head to the Canadian camp, Klinger for the wine, Potter to get an anesthetic that the Army doesn’t want to use anymore, but serves the patients very well, Hawkeye starts to screen potential partners to share the bottle with.

Of course, things aren’t going to go well for any of the parties involved in the wine scenario, but at least Hawkeye has a sense of humor about it.

While not a great episode I think it shows that the women of the camp know what they’re getting with Hawkeye, and also fosters the idea that you have to keep things fresh. The same lines and scenarios aren’t going to work all the time, but being sleazy about it is not the way to go.

Operation Friendship sees two injuries cripple parts of the camp. Charles has been haranguing Klinger, but when a generator blows, Klinger gets the major out of the way just in time. Unfortunately, B.J. is caught in part of the blast, and Hawkeye begins to worry about his friend’s condition.

Written by Dennis Koenig, this episode first aired on 26 January, 1981. Charles makes the mistake of playing Good Samaritan to Klinger, who broke his nose in the accident, and who, consequently, takes advantage of Charles’ perceived debt to him.

Hawkeye is worried about B.J.’s arm, though the doctor says he’s fine. Potter orders a couple days rest, and wants a replacement on hand, enter Traeger (Tim O’Connor!), who knows his craft, but lacks humility, and he immediately clashes with Hawkeye over camp procedures, as well as the best avenue of treatment for B.J. – who still doesn’t want to admit something is wrong.

Fortunately, when things take a turn for the worse, Hawkeye can set his grievances aside, can Traeger?

A run of the mill episode that shows Hawkeye can put things aside for the betterment of the patient, who is always the first priority. It also shows that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

More from season nine next week, as I continue my time with the 4077th!

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