M*A*S*H (1982) – Promotion Commotion, Heroes, and Sons and Bowlers

Promotion Commotion by Dennis Koenig first aired on 1 March, 1982. It’s just a fun goofy episode, though there’s a nice story that develops between Potter (Harry Morgan) and a wounded soldier, Danielson (Jim Boyce) who is catching flak from the rest of his unit because he wants to stay faithful to his girl at home instead of messing around with the women in Korea.

The main story follows Hawkeye (Alan Alda), B.J. (Mike Farrell), and Charles (David Ogden Stiers) as they are put in charge of the promotions recommendation board. All the enlisted men try to butter them up, one of them tries to bully Charles, and all of them want the extra pay and stripe on their uniform.

Of course, the buttering up messes up a number of things for the men, and they have to see their way through the mess to recognize and recommend those who truly need it. So it comes as no surprise that by the episode someone gets a long-overdue promotion.

The Potter/Danielson story is really nice as the pair connect over fishing, and memories of the same fishing hole, and Potter gets a chance to feel like a father to the young man. It’s well done.

Heroes was written by Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox and first aired on 15 March, 1982.

A famous prizefighter, Gentleman Joe (Pat McNamara) arrives in the 4077th as part of a tour for the troops (something he’s not so keen on in private). Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) is delighted to meet him, as he was one of the father’s childhood heroes, but the reality is so different from what he thought it would be.

While in the camp, Joe suffers a stroke and lapses into a coma. The Press Corp descend on the camp and all of them are trying to get the story, which has Hawkeye at the center of it because he’s Joe’s doctor.

Things chafe and cause problems all over the camp, and everyone, with Houlihan (Loretta Swit) putting voice to it, is upset that the press is here to cover the story of one man, a minor celebrity, while soldiers are out there fighting and dying.

There are some important messages here. One of them is remembering your heroes are generally just as flawed as you are, not perfect, and you need to remember that when meeting them.

Hawkey does his best to share some of the press attention he’s getting, especially when B.J. saves a patient with a revolutionary idea… but the press can’t be bothered, it won’t sell papers.

Sons and Bowlers was written by David Pollock and Elias Davis and debuted on 22 March, 1982. When a bunch of Marines beat the 4077th at any contest they can think of, Potter and Klinger (Jamie Farr) challenge them to a bowling game.

Potter throws his team together, completely ignoring the offer of Houlihan who could be the player the team needs. It’s a funny, light-hearted tale that balances perfectly off of the other main storyline.

Thanks to the slow mail, Hawkeye learns that his father is going in for surgery, and is unable to get in touch with him before it happens. He doesn’t even know what it’s for. He waits and worries by the phone, where he is joined by Charles of all people.

The two have their most in-depth conversations ever as we learn what home life was like for both of them, and the revelation that they both may have had fathers, but Hawkeye had a dad. Charles stays with him through it all, counseling, consoling, and rejoicing and it feels like a really well-earned moment between the two.

There’s more next time as we finish up season ten, and begin the series’ final season.

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