M*A*S*H (1981) – Bless You Hawkeye, Blood Brothers, and The Foresight Saga

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) is having some serious problems after an encounter with a patient in Bless You Hawkeye.

Written by Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford this episode first debuted on 16 March, 1981. Hawkeye seems to be having an allergic reaction to something. As everyone tries to help out, and Hawkeye denies anything wrong, things start to get worse and worse.

He’s sneezing, scratching, and looks terrible, but all the tests come back negative. What’s wrong with him?

Potter (Harry Morgan) sends for Sidney (Allan Arbus) who checks in with Hawk, and over a course of conversations, uncovers a horrifying event from his youth, that was triggered by a smell.

Once again the show demonstrates that it can shift from humor to drama, and shows that it can have important and serious discussions about mental health issues. And in this case they are made to seem all the more important because they are affecting Hawkeye, arguably, the heart and soul of the show, so the viewer has more empathy towards him.

It’s sharp, poignant, and both Alda and Arbus are up to the task of guiding their characters through a very powerful revelation scene. This would have been one of the episodes that didn’t hold my attention as a child, and probably would have upset me to see Hawkeye so distraught; watching it now, it seems like a very important moment, showing how fragile mental health can be, and the need to tend to it.

Blood Brothers was penned by David Pollock and Elias Davis, was directed by Harry Morgan, and features a young Patrick Swayze in his television debut. This episode first aired on 6 April, 1981.

Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) is worried when he learns that Cardinal Reardon (Ray Middleton) is coming to the 4077th. He pleads with Potter to help restrain some of the less godly activities that take place in the camp; gambling, drinking, carousing, almost to no effect.

Meanwhile, Hawk and B.J. (Mike Farrell) are dealing with an ill patient, Sturgis (Swayze) who is sticking close to a wounded buddy to make sure he’s ok, and pulls through. But when Sturgis donates blood, something catches the doctors’ attention, and a tough conversation with Sturgis follows.

And a long dark night of the soul is aided with a little help from Mulcahy, who speaks to it at his weekly sermon, and smooths out things with Reardon.

Swayze is terrifically on point, and turns in a solid performance that resonates nicely with Mulcahy’s story.

The Foresight Saga was written by Dennis Koenig, and first debuted on 13 April, 1981.

Potter receives and shares a letter from Radar, though Potter is a little concerned about how positive it is. But perhaps the young man is getting by alright. Leading to the colonel making a phone call State-side to check on his former clerk.

But the main thrust of the plot comes when Klinger (Jamie Farr) breaks the colonel’s glasses, a week after Klinger busted his other pair. Enter Dr. Herzog (Philip Sterling), a wandering optometrist that comes into help.

Houlihan (Loretta Swit), meanwhile, is being short with a number of staff, and it’s because she’s worried she may need glasses. But she only has a minor allergy that can be corrected, with a warning that some day she may need glasses.

The camp is also flush with fresh vegetables when a grateful Korean family delivers to them in thanks, and a young man who also needs glasses, which the camp takes care of, and try to help the young boy get by.

There’s a lot of talk about eyes, and glasses, and the way we see things in this episode, not to mention the wrath of the war.

It’s a fairly straightforward episode, and the penultimate of season nine. Next week, we close off nine and re-up, starting season ten!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s