M*A*S*H (1981/1982) – Snappier Judgement, ‘Twas the Day After Christmas, and Follies of the Living – Concerns of the Dead

Klinger (Jamie Farr) faces his court-martial with Charles (David Ogden Stiers) defending him in Snappier Judgement. The two-parter comes to its conclusion this week in a story written by Paul Perlove. It first aired on 14 December, 1981.

While Charles smugly (and wrongly) thinks he will be able to properly defend Klinger during his day in court, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) and B.J. (Mike Farrell) plant seeds to learn and catch the true thief.

Everyone is convinced of Klinger’s innocence, rightly so, but that doesn’t mean that the evidence and the testimony doesn’t appear to be against him. Charles is fighting an uphill battle he isn’t prepared for despite his belief in himself.

Meanwhile, Hawk and B.J. are wandering around all the locales of the camp and the surrounding areas, baiting the hook, and hoping to catch a crook before it’s too late for their friend.

It’s interesting at the scrounging that takes place and how that is overlooked by the Army, but actual theft is investigated if the proper forms are (or aren’t filed).

Klinger goes and returns to the 4077th, where he resumes his post, and his scrounging, much to the relief of the entire camp. Except for the baddie who got caught by the two intrepid doctors.

‘Twas the Day After Christmas was written by Elias Davis and David Pollock and had an original airdate of 28 December, 1981.

The 4077th takes on the British tradition of Boxing Day, and allows the enlisted personnel to switch places with the officers. Consequently, Klinger is put in charge while Potter (Harry Morgan) becomes his clerk, Houlihan (Loretta Swit), and B.J. end up on KP, Hawkeye, and Mulchay (William Christopher) end up as orderlies, and all of them get a look at how the other side works, and what they put up with daily.

It’s a very important message of taking your own position for granted, and not recognizing that someone else’s job or occupation may be more involved than you know, so perhaps they are due a little more respect.

Anyone who has worked retail knows how bad people can be, and this is a bit of fantasy fulfillment because you know that some complain about your or others’ performances that wouldn’t be able to handle a day in your world.

There’s a small subplot involving an ill patient in post-op that interferes with the job trades, but overall it’s interesting to see the characters in a new way and with a bit of newfound respect for the rest of the camp.

Follies of the Living – Concerns of the Dead was written and directed by Alan Alda and first debuted on 4 January, 1982.

While the camp deals with an influx of wounded, and an ill Klinger, who is suffering from a high temperature and a kidney stone, the viewers get a look at the petty things that fill up our days and wonder about what is really important and what will be left when we die.

Klinger in his current state sees one of the soldiers, Weston (Kario Salem) rise from his body even as Mulcahy administers the last rites. There are brief conversations but Weston predominantly wanders around the camp as we hear everyone argue about their petty troubles and differences.

It makes him wonder what it’s all for, what will happen to those he loves, and what’s next. In one of the final shots of the episode, a road full of the dead walking towards an unknown destination is haunting.

All of it is there to remind us that perhaps we should enjoy life, not get lost in the little differences that separate us, but delight in them, and listen to people when they try to talk to us.

I do like an Alda written and directed episode. Let’s see what next week has for me.

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