M*A*S*H (1981) – Wheelers and Dealers, Communication Breakdown, and Snap Judgment

Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox deliver Wheelers and Dealers which first aired on 23 November, 1981.

While Potter (Harry Morgan) deals with taking a remedial driving class due to an incident on leave, B.J. (Mike Farrell) gets some news from home. It seems the second mortgage on the house is coming due and to help pay it off in time his wife, Peg, has had to take a job to help with the bills.

This somehow serves as an affront to B.J. Peg helped pay his way through med school and now he was hoping to be the one to look after her so she could raise the family. A little police action in the form of the Korean conflict got in the way.

He’s upset that his wife has to take a job and consequently leans into gambling in any form to get cash so that Peg won’t have to work.

No one, but B.J., seems to think it’s unusual for a woman to work, and while one can respect the notion that B.J. wanted to provide for his family, he needs to come to the realization that it’s a partnership and each party does what they have to and need to to make things work.

He’s not happy about it, but Houlihan (Loretta Swit) rightfully sets him straight, and he comes around and apologizes to all involved; ready to move forward and learn as he does.

Communication Breakdown was written by Karen Hall and had an original airdate of 30 November, 1981. There’s been a holdup somewhere along the way, and little in the way of mail and newspapers are getting through to the 4077th.

Charles (David Ogden Stiers) is lucky, he’s just received a huge delivery of Boston Globes to satiate his need for news of the world back home. Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. learn of their existence, and it spreads through the camp. The major agrees to share the newspapers when he’s done reading them.

But when it appears that one of the issues goes missing Charles calls out and belittles the entire camp, which causes them to turn on him, and make the subject of practical jokes until he apologizes when the truth comes to light.

This one is fairly funny and light. It’s just a laugh-filled episode. Having said that there is a solid b-story that sees two Korean brothers who are on opposite sides of the conflict, one an injured enemy combatant, and the other military police, are given a moment together through the sneaky work of Hawkeye and the rest.

Snap Judgement is the first half of a two-parter that finds Klinger (Jamie Farr) getting into some serious trouble through no fault of his own.

Written by Paul Perlove this episode first debuted on 7 December, 1981.

A thankful father sends Hawkeye and B.J. a brand new camera, one of these new-fangled Polaroid things, and both doctors are eager to put it to good uses, as soon as they understand how to make it work.

Unfortunately, someone comes into their tent while they are in surgery and steals it. Klinger also learns that there are other thefts going on not only in their camp but in others. With a little detective work, he finds a roving black market where he is able to recover the camera.

He’s stopped on the way back to camp by some MPs who verify that the camera was stolen (as detailed in the report that Klinger filed) and promptly arrest him for it.

An easy mix-up right?

But an ongoing mess of interaction with the contradiction that is military intelligence sees the possibility of a court-martial coming for Klinger and a CID officer arriving in camp to carry out an investigation that could see Klinger lose everything.

And that gives us our first To Be Continued in a long time for the series. I’ll have to find out what happens next week!

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