Season 4, Episode 24
Written by: Larry Gelbart & Simon Muntner
Directed by: William Jurgensen
WHAT EPISODE IS THIS?
Interspersed with clips from Fox Movietone News from 1950, a deluge of wounded pour into the 4077th and everyone has their hands full: BJ gets squirted in the eye with blood during a tricky arterial operation, a wounded man is robbed of his personal effects, and Potter is served WWII surplus chicken stew for lunch – complete with beaks.
One wounded man with a troubled conscience seeks out Father Mulcahy. It seems he promised God he’d become a priest if He got him out of the fighting alive. The Almighty delivered him, but he really doesn’t want to be a priest. Father Mulcahy consoles the wounded soldier, stating many a man has made the same bargain with God.
Another wounded man has phosphorus burns and has to be treated in the supply sink with his damaged leg under water. Hawkeye explains the phosphorus is in the soldier’s leg tissues and if it comes in contact with air, it could ignite. Copper sulfate is added to the water, causing the phosphorus to shine, allowing BJ to easily extract it.
As wounded continue to arrive, a sobering announcement comes over the P.A. system: the Chinese have attacked and disrupted the entire United Nations line with 300,000 troops, squashing any hope of a quick end to the war.
An interesting montage follows with alternating clips of couples’ energetic dancing at New York’s Harvest Moon Ball along with Hawkeye, Radar and corpsmen’s fancy footwork maneuvering around all the newly-arrived wounded.
The deluge of problems intensifies: the camp is running out of plasma, a great rainstorms arrives, and the Chinese are “pouring over the border like the country’s sprung a leak.” Colonel Potter has decided to evacuate the nurses, which causes Margaret to confront him while he’s taking a shower. Margaret insists she and the nurses stay, so Potter reluctantly agrees to let them stay.
And the problems continue to mount: the laundry outside O.R. catches on fire (thanks to a thoughtless G.I.), an operating table bulb shatters, raining glass into a patient, and a landmine outside O.R. explodes, collapsing a wall and enveloping the staff in smoke.
The deluge finally comes to an end. The camp’s P.A. announces the 4077th has been awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for outstanding service under adverse conditions. Turnabout being fair play, Colonel Potter pays a visit to Margaret while she’s showering to thank her and the nurses for staying.
BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL
Frank: I really wasn’t expecting more wounded. General MacArthur said the fighting would be over by Christmas.
BJ: He didn’t say what year.
Margaret: File copies of your copy in triplicate.
Klinger: Major, I’ve done this a hundred times. I write to my mother in triplicate. I’ve got triplicate on the brain. Somebody wants change for a ten, I give them three fives.
Klinger: Boy, seeing you guys work with the wounded, the way you deal with burned-up legs, ripped-up bellies … makes me proud every time I throw up.
Potter: Amazing what can get stuck in the human body. My sister-in-law, Rose, swallowed a dried apricot at her bridge club. Ten minutes later, she drank a glass of water. The fruit expanded to its original size, lodged in her duodenum. They rushed her to the hospital, called me, and I had to perform an apricotectomy.
Margaret: I had no idea what a civilian was. I thought it was somebody waiting for his uniform to come back from the cleaners. When I was five, I had a crying fit because they wouldn’t let me have a crew cut.
Hawkeye: Hey, put out that cigarette, there’s a lot of ether in there.
Soldier: Hey, I’m a sergeant, fella.
Hawkeye: And I’m a captain, fella, which means if we’re blown up, I’ll fly higher than you.
TRIVIA & OBSERVATIONS
The use of Fox Movietone news clips is used extensively in this episode. Here are the eleven clips used:
#1: Winston Churchill in Plymouth, England speaking about Korean War
#2: American ship in Wonsan Harbor making a nighttime rocket attack
#3: Joe E. Brown urging Americans to donate blood
#4: President Truman speaking to students at the University of Wyoming (this occurred May 9, 1950)
#5: French fighting the communists in Vietnam
#6: Harvest Moon Ball in New York City, featuring some of America’s top dancers
#7: General MacArthur’s tickertape parade and speech in New York City on April 20, 1951
#8: National Celebrities Gold Tournament featuring Danny Kaye, Milton Berle, and Bob Hope
#9: Rita Hayworth returning to New York City
#10: Dagwood, a Ping-Pong playing cat (“Dagwood, you’re really the cat’s whiskers!”)
#11: End clip for Movietone News, copyright 1950
Some of the opening scenes of wounded arriving are (once again) taken from season one’s “Cowboy” episode. You can tell which ones are from “Cowboy” – they are very grainy.
Syngman Rhee: corrupt President of South Korea, first elected in 1948 and was reelected in 1952, 1956, and 1960.
According to Klinger, when the draft board asked his religion, he replied “Aztec.”
Duodenum: the part of your small intestine directly leading from the stomach
China attacked the UN line with 300,000 men in October 1950 after the allied troops closed in on the Yalu River. The Chinese feared the UN would cross the Yalu and attack China directly, thus the overly-aggressive response. The allies retreated to the 38th parallel area which is where the rest of the Korean War was centered. Of course, this October 1950 attack does not fit the current M*A*S*H timeline which, so far, has been autumn of 1952.
Another timeline issue is the Movietone News clips, supposedly from 1950, but the MacArthur clip is clearly the General’s tickertape parade from April 1951. Also, Rita Hayworth’s return to New York happened in 1951 after her failed marriage to Prince Aly Khan.
Harvest Moon Ball: held from 1935 to 1984, this was the most famous dance contest in the world. Held in Madison Square Garden, music was supplied by leading band leaders like Bennie Goodman and Artie Shaw.
Hawkeye correctly mentions there are four other M*A*S*H units. Last episode, he said there were five M*A*S*H units and three evac hospitals in Korea. Larry Gelbart wrote both episodes, so he better get it right!
Margaret grew up in the following army posts: Fort Benning (Columbus, GA), Fort Ord (Monterey, CA area), Fort Dix (Trenton, NJ area) and Camp Kilmer. Kilmer is about 32 miles SW of New York City and was the largest processing center for troops arriving from and departing to Europe during World War II.
Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn were semi-autobiographical books about life in Paris written by Henry Miller. First published in France, they were banned in the U.S. for being sexually explicit.
Hawkeye tells Mulcahy he reminds him of a B-girl he knew in San Diego. A B-girl is short for “bar girl”, slang for a woman employed by a bar to entertain or make conversation with men to keep them occupied and drinking.
Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton: 19th century British poet, author and feminist
When Margaret is in the shower and turns toward Colonel Potter, you can see the towel she is wearing.
This is an interesting episode, the way the news clips are weaved in and out of the story. Being a lover of history, I’ve always enjoyed this episode and the clips, though they really do not correlate with the story. According to Larry Gelbart, filming of the episode resulted in the show being four minutes short, so the clips were added. Therefore, this episode was not planned this way, but still is very effective.