M*A*S*H (1983) – Give and Take, and As Time Goes By

Here we go, the penultimate installment of my re-watch of M*A*S*H. There are two episodes this week. The first one is Give and Take. Written by Dennis Koenig, this episode was first broadcast on 14 February, 1983.

While Charles (David Ogden Stiers) tries to pawn off being charity collection officer, which leads to countless favor asking and blackmailing from all parties, a wounded soldier, Private Kurland (Craig Wasson) is delivered a harsh look at the war, and his direct effect on it.

He’s brought in wounded, and the man in the next bed, an enemy Korean soldier, who Kurland shot. Not only does Kurland begin to see the man as a fellow human being, he learns some of the causes for why he was where he was, and what motivated the skirmish that got them both wounded.

It’s sharp and on point.

Everyone else in the camp is eager to get out of the collection officer duty, and all end up giving charity in a different way. They take on some unwanted task or objective in order to pass on the book. So while they are only doing it to get out of the duty, all of them are actually helping those around the camp.

And, as these things always do, it all comes back around and bites Charles right on the ass. But he comes up with an ingenious solution. At least until the next time it happens.

It’s fun, has a message, and is prepping us to get ready to say goodbye to the characters.

As Time Goes By is the penultimate episode of the series. Written by Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, it first debuted on 21 February, 1983.

In what feels like it could be a perfect set up to the finale, Houlihan (Loretta Swit) hits upon the idea of collecting items to create a time capsule for the 4077th. The episode is dedicated to their technical advisor, and it was actually the last episode of the series filmed.

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) insists on helping out, and Houlihan is dubious, but he actually brings his A game by the end of the episode as the capsule is filled with items that truly commemorate who and what the 4077th was.

There are a couple of b-stories; Rizzo (G.W. Bailey) who has his hands on a dummy grenade and is pranking people with it, and a young Korean woman, Soon-Lee (Rosalind Chao) who is trying to find her elderly parents, and a missing helicopter.

That brings the regular series to an end. All that is left now is the series finale, and I still remember watching it for the first time. I haven’t watched it since, so I will be curious to see if it still has an effect on me. I know there are moments I’ve never forgotten.

We’ll find out next week as we say Goodbye, Farewell and Amen to the 4077th.

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