M*A*S*H (1981) – Oh, How We Danced, Bottoms Up, and The Red/White Blues

Oh, How We Danced written by John Rappaport, and with an original airdate of 23 February, 1981, has a fantastic A-story, that really touches the heart (even as it messes with series continuity), and a completely forgettable B-story.

The B-story first then. Charles (David Ogden Stiers) delivers a substandard sanitation rating to a nearby American encampment, consequently, the camp’s CO, Major Finch (Arlen Dean Snyder) shows up and decks him one, and Charles has to deal with the results and its affect on his own perceived abilities to handle himself.

In the A-story, we learn that B.J. (Mike Farrell) has been in Korea for slightly less than a year (but how many seasons?), because this is his first anniversary away from Peg (Catherine Bergstrom) and he’s having a tough time with it.

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and the rest of his friends in camp, see that B.J. is in some real pain, and concoct a wedding anniversary celebration for him that isn’t as good as the real thing, but the lengths they went to for their friend speaks to their relationships, and the result is completely heartwarming, and breaking.

And watching emotions play out across Farrell’s face, and the way his friends watch him, it’s incredibly poignant.

Alan Alda settles into the director’s chair and brings Bottoms Up to life from a script by Dennis Koenig. It first debuted on 2 March, 1981.

Hawkeye pulls one prank too many on Charles, and the camp turns against him, but every Hawk tries to make amends things go sideways, and it gets worse. With a little nudge from Klinger (Jamie Farr) Hawk learns that B.J. has been setting him up, so he and Charles plan to turn the tables on the quiet doctor.

The other story in this episode follows one of Houlihan’s (Loretta Swit) friends, Captain Whitfield (Gail Stickland) who’s time in Korea is almost over and she’s getting ready to go home. But she’s making errors, and Klinger (this guy knows everything going on in the camp) caught her alone in the supply closet, drinking.

Alcoholism on MASH is all over the board, and it’s a difficult subject to tackle anyway. Everyone in the camp has tied one on at one time or another, but Whitfield is drinking all the time. And the series works to show that a line needs to be drawn and self-control needs to come into play.

Whitfield keeps her word about being off the sauce as the climax of her story arc demonstrates, and it shows that it can be a scary thing.

The Red/White Blues is the final episode of the week. Written by Elias Davis and David Pollock this one first aired on 9 March, 1981.

When Hawkeye gives Potter his yearly physical , he discovers that the colonel’s blood pressure is higher than it should be, but the camp has two weeks before they have to submit the report. If they can get his pressure down, he’ll be able to hold onto his command. If it doesn’t go down, he may be transferred to a desk job, and then retired.

The camp works to keep the pressure off of Potter, but things are going sideways quick as a number of the camp, including Klinger come down with anemia relating to a drug being used in the camp. There’s even a tag about it at the end of the episode.

The rest of the staff have to work to save the day, and keep Potter calm and relaxed, and he’s a little upset that the entire camp knows thanks to Hawkeye.

It’s fun, and seeing everyone doing there best to keep Potter calm, and away from the things he enjoys, a good belt, a cigar, high stakes poker, is really entertaining. And then there’s poor Klinger, everyone initially thinks he’s goldbricking, but the truth soon comes out…

There will be more next as I sign up for more time at the 4077th!

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