M*A*S*HCast #49 – The General Flipped At Dawn

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 3, Episode 1: The General Flipped At Dawn

Special Guest Star: Shawn Myers

Air Date: September 10, 1974

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31 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #49 – The General Flipped At Dawn

  1. In answer to Shawn’s question, as I discussed on Cheers Cast 2.11 “Just Three Friends”, Markie Post first appeared at the beginning of season 2 of NIGHT COURT in a one-off guest shot, only to come back starting in season 3 and continuing for the rest of the series. Her situation is slightly different than Harry Morgan’s in that she played the same character both times, public defender Christine Sullivan.

    Also, on HBO’s DEADWOOD, the actor Garret Dillahunt played different characters in each of the show’s first two seasons. The difference in this case is that both characters were regular recurring. In season one, Dillahunt played Jack McCall for six of the season’s twelve episodes, and in season two he plays Francis Wolcott for ten out of twelve episodes.

    1. Remembered one more. The actress Charlotte Ross made a two-episode guest appearance in NYPD BLUE’s fifth season, and then returned to the show playing a different character, Detective Connie McDowell, starting in season eight and continuing for the rest of the series.

  2. Adding to Ryan Daly’s list.
    Jerry Orbach appeared as a defense attorney on Law & Order before he started as Detective Lenny Brisco for several seasons.
    Ted McKinley was in the Married With Children episode “It’s a Bundy-ful Life” as the alternate reality husband of Peggy before his regular series role of Jefferson D’arcy
    Jon Lovitz played two separate characters on Newsradio before joining the final season as the replacement to the late great Phil Hartman.
    I know I’ll come up with a few others to.
    Anyways. Great to have MASHcast back!

    1. Oops that’s Ted McGinley not McKinley

      Also Dana Alcar was a completely different character in the pilot episode of MacGyver before becoming series regular Pete Thortan
      And Sean Gunn showed up as Biff in an early episode of Gilmore Girls before he joined the cat as Kirk (Human Kirk… fellow fans of Gilmore Girls will get that)
      And since Harry Morgan started this discussion, Kent McCord appeared in Dragnet as an under cover police officer accused of armed robbery before he became Officer Jim Reed, of Adam-12 who also had appearances in later episodes of Dragnet.

  3. Doctor Who:

    Nicholas Courtney played space security agent Bret Vyon in a few episodes of classic 3rd season. And then in the 5th season he plays Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart. Promoted to Brigadier, Lethbridge-Stewart would be a regular or recurring character for the remainder of the classic series, appeared in a 21st century spinoff, and whose photo still appears in the show.

    Ian Marter played a 1920 naval officer in classic season 10 and former, then-modern-day ex-naval officer Dr. Harry Sullivan, a regular companion in season 12

    Colin Baker played a nasty security chief from the Doctor’s home planet in classic season 20 who sentences the 5th Doctor to death, and then in late season classic season 21 he takes over as the 6th incarnation of the Doctor.

    Eve Myles plays the Victorian Welsh girl Gwenyth in the third episode of new series 1. She also played lead character Gwen Cooper in the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood. When she encounters the Doctor in a crossover, he notices the resemblance and puts it down to “spatial genetic multiplicity”

    Freema Agyeman plays a Torchwood operative in the final episodes of new series 2 where her character is killed and then she plays regular companion Martha Jones at the beginning of new series 3. (There’s a throwaway line to her cousin having been killed.)

    New series 4 story “Fires of Pompeii” features Peter Capaldi as Caecilius (a Roman named for the character in the classic high school Latin textbooks – which I studied in school) who the Doctor rescues from destruction and Karen Gillan briefly appears as a priestess. In season 5, Karen Gillan plays the Doctor’s companion Amy Pond. And starting in series 8, Peter Capaldi plays the 12th incarnation of the Doctor. (It’s later established that the Doctor willed himself to have Caecilius’s face as a reminder to save people.)

    There are also a lot of guest actors who appear in many roles. A grey area may be Jean Marsh who first appeared as King Richard’s daughter in classic season 2, and then “companion” Sara Kingdom in season 3 but her character is killed in the same serial in which she first appears. And then she returns in season 26 as Morgaine le Fay.

    1. Yes – Doctor Who was my first thought as well (swiftly followed by “Ohhhh, Rob’s gonna just love this”!)
      To your excellent and very thorough list, I’d add Lalla Ward – playing guest character Princess Astra in “The Armageddon Factor”, returning at the start of the next series as the regenerated regular Time Lady companion Romana.

        1. You remembered Nicholas Courtney, who I didn’t have on my list!
          Since Doctor Who has been going (on and off) since 1963, I guess a bit of “actor recycling” now and again is acceptable!

  4. Another example comes in the 1950s TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood.

    The show reused the same guest actors time and again in various roles. But there are two notable examples.

    Victor Woolf appears a Merry Men called Cedric in the early episodes. But soon, he’s playing a Merry Man named Derwent. But in addition to that, he also plays guest roles — even in epsidoes where one of his regular Merry Men characters appears. In one episode he apparently played four different parts.

    Paul Eddington was one of the regular stock players — playing servants, foppish lords and many other parts. But in the fourth season, he started playing Will Scarlet (who appeared in two episodes much earlier by a different actor). He actually was resistant to going the Merry Men as his guest roles were often meatier and more diverse.

  5. Great to have MASH Cast back! I’m glad Rob mentioned Harry Morgan’s work in the “Support Your Local..” movies. Those were favorites in the Franklin household. Who doesn’t love James Garner (or Harry Morgan)?

    James Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum co-wrote many of the best episodes of The Andy Griffith Show together. Man, I really need to get on that Mayberry, P.O.D. show!

    Oh, and another obsession of mine, Dark Shadows, was constantly recasting actors as different characters. It was essentially a repertory company doing a show with a limited number of actors, just inhabiting different roles at different points in the show’s run.


    1. Harry Morgan was also in The Shootist. It is notable for being John Wayne’s last film while also featuring Ron Howard of Mayberry and MASH fame.

  6. Welcome back! Long-time listener, first-time commenter.

    Not that I’d ever watch the show again (and it’s sad for all of the innocent people who worked on it), but “The Cosby Show” regular Joseph C. Phillips, who played Denise’s husband Martin in the last few seasons, first appeared in an episode a few years before as a guy Cliff tried to set up with older sister Sondra.

    I wonder if there is any “AfterM*A*S*H” fanfic out there that has Bartford Hamilton Steele visit River Bluff, Missouri, and mistaken-identity hilarity ensues.

  7. Barney Miller had two examples.

    Ron Carey played a burglar before landing the role of Officer Levitt. Steve Landesberg was a priest on one episode before becoming Dietrich.

  8. On the list of actors to reappear
    Star Trek
    The (I think) most interesting ones are Armin Shimerman and Marc Alaimo.

    Armin Shimerman first played the Ferengi Letek in the TNG season 1 episode the Last Outpost then later was Quark in DS9
    Marc Alaimo in TNG played the Cardassion Gul Macet and then Gul Dukat in DS9.

  9. I’m so glad to see that we’re up to this point, in order to see one of my favorite episodes featuring the actor who would in less than a year, become my favorite MASH character. Harry Morgan played this so exceptional, that I wouldn’t have blinked had they stunt-casted Harry to reprise General Steele and somehow through film trickery, return to interact with the 4077th’s new CO, Col Potter. It could’ve been done! I’ve thought a lot about this episode over the years, and I’ve sort of built a bit of a military profile for Steele. He’s likely well into his seventies, probably graduated West Point around the time of the Spanish American War, like Gen MacArthur, and this is probably his third or fourth war and God knows how many campaigns.

    With a half-century of the Army under his gun belt, his best days are obviously behind him, and so is his sanity. Korea featured a lot of officers like that, those who should have went to the veterans corps long ago, but are stretching out their time for another star or better pension. That he’s been put in to the role of overseeing MASH hospitals – despite not being a Medical officer- is proof that his Corps is trying to hide him away from combat command, and doing him no favours in the process. Historians still argue that eventuality in Harry Truman’s firing of Douglas MacArthur and that he likely should not have overseen the Korean conflict.

    While (spoilers) we all know how this season is going to wrap, I do look very forward to many more MASHcasts, Harry Morgan, and the very different (yet somewhat alike!) character of Colonel Sherman T. Potter, Regular Army.

    1. Oh, I should add, since I mentioned Harry Truman… Harry Morgan in fact ALSO played the Korean War President in a mini-series called “Backstairs at the White House” – and filmed that role while MASH was on the air. A little Meta-Morgan information there.

    2. I always thought that they should’ve had General Steele and Col. Potter interact. I always thought why didn’t they just have the two talk on the phone once.

  10. Welcome back MASHCast! I hope you enjoyed your R&R in Tokyo.

    What a great episode with which to kick off a season. There are so many humorous scenes in this one that it’s hard to pick a favorite. One subtler performance that always makes me smile is the reaction of the legal officer after Steele sings and dances his way out of the court martial hearing. Without batting an eye or saying a word, the officer just starts gathering up all of his papers. His reaction makes me think this isn’t the first crazy general he’s encountered.

  11. Glad to see this show is back!!

    This season has my absolute favorite episode so I am excited to get there.

    I can remember seeing this episode the first time in syndication (MASH was a staple at the house). When he asks for a song, I can remember being as perplexed as the other characters. I don’t think that I recognized just how crazy Steele was until then.

    Thanks for mentioning the Ox-Bow Incident. Such a great movie. And yes, it is odd seeing him as the heavy, the thug, in The Big Clock.

    For me Trapper > BJ. So I will relish coverage of this season.

  12. Hasn’t been much chat about the actual episode, so here goes.

    This was a funny episode. Steele was one of the best one shot characters, though I wonder how well we would remember it if Morgan never joined the show full time.

    I have only seen this in syndication and I have seen the sniper scene.

    I also liked how the guy running the court martial just left without saying a word. He didn’t even say Hawkeye was not guilty.

    It would have been great if at the first staff meeting Potter had read about Hawkeye’s court martial and made some comment about meeting Steele.

    Steele’s views on race were a little icky. I remember he said Hannibal was a “darky”. (He was from Africa). He also made a comment about Radar being Irish. But I didn’t see him as being really racist. He was born circa 1890. He was more out of touch and didn’t know what he was saying was offensive. I saw him more as your crazy uncle who makes you cringe at Thanksgiving. Today we’d say “OK, Boomer” to him.

    RIP to Timothy Brown, who played Spearchucker on TV and another role in the movie.

  13. Great episode, and great review. I would have to disagree about General Steele not being a racist, though. I agree with George W who pointed out that Steele would have been born circa 1890….and racist ideas were more prevalent among the older Americans. It’s a truism that each generation is less racist than their fore-fathers.
    Still, even if he treated the pilot without obvious disdain, I would still say that his comments about the Irish and “darkies” and the big number at the end (as you pointed out, the song itself is inherently racist) would make him a racist.
    …but maybe that’s me, who grew up in a biracial (black-white) town & high school, and married a Japanese woman.

    1. By “not racist” I meant he probably wasn’t the type who would join the Klan. He was the kind who grew up in an era where comments like that were common. So he may never have stopped to think that was wrong. He was also clinically insane.

      I have lived in the Deep South my whole life so I have always known people who had his views. Fortunately things have gotten better over time.

  14. Just found the podcast. Bingeing on it. Discussing the General’s racism, Steele’s request that the pilot give a little show suggests the minstrel shows as well. This is one of my favourite early episodes. Morgan is so great.

  15. Harry Morgan’s largest parlay into comedy pre-MASH was an early 60s sitcom called Pete and Gladys. He also did an Elvis Presley movie and a couple of films with Don Knotts and Tim Conway.

    I think the name of the game they were playing with the pretzels was jack straws. Sticks are dropped randomly in a pile. You try to remove sticks without moving others. In the regular game you were awarded points for each stick successfully removed. In the MASH game you were awarded a tasty snack.

    I’ve always thought that Steele WAS racist. Just because he showed the pilot “respect” in the OC doesn’t deplete his racist personality. But you have to remember at the time of filming, the number one show in the country starred a character who was a flaming racist (Archie Bunker). Early 70s audiences were finding humor in racism. I never understood why. I think that people watched it so they could say they were superior to the characters but then they laughed at the racist jokes so it’s kind of a catch 22.

  16. I’m trying to remember if last season’s “Crisis of Infinite MASHes” included General Steele, because he definitely belongs in the crazy wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff of MASH’s continuity.

    Mr Morgan was absolutely hilarious in this role. His performance has been covered amply, so nothing new to say on that front. It was just a delight to rewatch, and I get the feeling the rest of the cast enjoyed it, too.

    That was a pretty long 3-day pass to Tokyo, but I’m so glad this show is back! Thanks, Rob and Shawn!

  17. Even though I don’t recall ever seeing this episode, I do recall a connection to it via Dynamite magazine. Dynamite had many M*A*S*H cover features and that was certainly true when there was the big cast change. In that particular issue, Harry Morgan states that he had already appeared on M*A*S*H as a General who sang “Mississippi Mud.” I knew that song from The Muppet Show record! (The Muppets replaced the two-syllable derogatory word in the original with the word “people,” and the song becomes more joyous.) What puzzles me at this late date is the timing. The magazine must have come out before the record, so was it an issue that I frequently re-read? I can’t recall any other specifics from that article, or that issue, just “Mississippi Mud!”

  18. I recently watched High Noon after realizing Harry Morgan was in this movie. I thought it was an interesting side note that Morgan’s character in the movie has a wife named Mildred.

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