M*A*S*HCast #50 – Rainbow Bridge

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 3, Episode 2: Rainbow Bridge

Special Guest Star: Cory Drew

Air Date: September 18, 1974

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13 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #50 – Rainbow Bridge

  1. I can still here Mako say ‘what the hell is that’ when Frank pulls out that tiny little gun. Hilarious.

    He has many of the great quotes from Conan as he does the voice overs. “He did not care anymore. Life? Death? The same.”

  2. A big 180 degree turn from last week’s silliness to the drama of this week. Not uncommon for this show.

    It did have some light moments with Henry ordering porn under a pseudonym.

    Trapper quoting the facts about the Chinese guns was one of the biggest WTF moments on the show. Where did that come from?

    I didn’t know Mako was only on four times as it seemed like more. He was always good whenever he came on.

    Margaret giving Frank the gun didn’t make sense. What did she expect him to do with that against regular machine guns the Chinese would be carrying? I also thought Mako’s character was a little hypocritical about Frank having one small firearm when his men were packing major heat.

    I didn’t remember they were supposed to be in China. Bad writing on that part.

    It was interesting hearing from someone who just saw the episode for the first time.

    Frank’s Pearl Harbor comment reminded me of Animal House.

    Another great episode, thanks for keeping it going.

  3. Your discussion of Margaret and Frank’s relationship got me thinking that Margaret’s attraction to Frank is largely based on that fact that he has such a weak personality of his own. As a result, she can project her own strong personality on to him and live vicariously through him. Perhaps, that’s her way of coping with all of the stress she must face while serving in a “man’s” army during a war. Her backhanded complements to Frank reveal that deep down she knows the truth about him, but she maintains the illusion to maintain her sanity. I believe a lot of her later growth as a character comes when she embraces her own strength and realized that she doesn’t need to live vicariously through the men in her life. Great stuff.

    It was also a treat to see Mako in this episode. I hadn’t realized that this was his first appearance on MASH. His reaction to Frank’s gun is probably my favorite moment in this episode.

    Of all the things I’ve seen Make do, I have to say that his performance as Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender is my favorite, because you really get to see, or rather hear, him run the whole gamut from great comedic moments to incredibly tender and dramatic scenes. That series is definitely worth a watch.

  4. Those MASH episodes that features interaction with Asian characters are some of my favorites. Of those, this is one of my early favorites.
    As Cory mentioned, Mako is a Japanese-American actor. He appeared on MASH four times and played Chinese (here) and Korean the other times. His real name was Makoto Iwamatsu, and his name is pronounced closer to “Marco” (like Marco Polo) than it is to “mecho.”
    If you have never seen him in The Sand Pebbles with Steve McQueen, you owe it to yourself to watch it. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, IIRC the first Asian man to be so honored. (He lost to Walter Matthau.)
    Interesting that Cory thought this episode had feelings of theatre staging, because what is Captain Spalding if not a type of Greek Chorus? (BTW, put me down in the “not really a fan of Spalding” column, haha)

  5. Did Spaulding ever speak or interact with the other characters? I don’t have access to the episodes so I am relying on memory when reviewing them here. I recall one OR scene where someone said “Spaulding, take over” and someone in a mask and gown stepped up to a patient but he never spoke.

  6. This is what I watch MASH for: finding the humor in this incredibly difficult situation. I can relate to that a lot right now.

    Mako was excellent in Avatar: TLA, but my favorite of his voiceover work was in Samurai Jack, where he’s the voice of Aku, the big bad guy. It let him be over-the-top evil and also hilarious. He’s so good, there’s a good reason Aku gives the 30-second intro in every episode. And my goodness, he was so great in this episode. What a talent.

    Thanks for coming by the Swamp, Cory!

  7. I know this comment is really late, but I want to make it anyway. The apparent inconsistencies of this episode didn’t make sense to me, especially when you had people on the cast and crew who had served in Korea and even remembered the war. So I did some research. Here’s my explanation of what I think they meant. The main part of it is portrayed visually in four maps at this site: https://pacifism21.org/the-korean-war-a-pacifist-history.

    On 25 June 1950, North Korean forces crossed the border at the 38th parallel, rapaciously invading and attempting to subjugate South Korea (Map 1). At least, that’s how I see it. The Kim regime would probably say they were unifying the Korean peninsula by liberating it from Western imperialists.

    After running south under an unexpected onslaught, South Korea and its allies were able to hold in a little pocket called the Pusan perimeter (Map 2). In September, General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the United Nations forces, directed an amphibious invasion at Inchon on the western coast. That invasion diverted and divided the North Korean forces, saving the forces trapped in the Pusan perimeter. It also drove a change in momentum so significant that the United Nations forces went on to take almost the entire Korean peninsula (Map 3).

    Then, in mid-October, because the Western forces were pushing way too close to the border of Mao Zedong’s China, the People’s Liberation Army invaded North Korea in October. They rescued the Kim regime and eventually drove the UN forces back south. That’s when the stalemate began, and each side spent the rest of the war fighting over relatively small changes in territory. For example, Seoul was captured four times.

    Finally, after Stalin died, the USSR would no longer support North Korea’s protracted and costly effort to take the south. At least, that’s how some historians explain the sudden progress in the peace talks at Panmunjom in 1953, when each side signed an armistice that placed the border pretty close to where it was before the war (status quo ante bellum). Who knows why people really make the decisions they do?

    I argue that the episode “Rainbow Bridge” took place in the fall of 1950, shortly after the Chinese Army invaded, but before they’d managed to drive the UN forces back south. That time frame is when the statements made by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake and others would make sense. “Fifty miles inside their territory” means fifty miles north of the current forward edge of the battle area (i.e., “the front”). “Less than twenty miles from their border” means less than twenty miles from North Korea’s border with the People’s Republic of China. In fact, since the antecedent of “their” is “Chinese forces,” that’s the only border that makes sense. I think the only time when any part of the front was within seventy miles of North Korea’s border with mainland China was the fall of 1950.

    So, leaving friendly-controlled territory in an unarmored bus still seems insane to my military mind, but this time frame makes the story feasible. Besides, those crazy medicos were pretty heroic, so I’ll just press the “I BELIEVE” button that gets so much use when I’m reading comics.

    Footnote: Further research indicates that Margaret’s mother’s gun is a Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket, a .25 caliber semi-automatic with a six-shot magazine. My experience with .25 caliber semi-autos is that they are unreliable and inaccurate, but I never fired one made by Colt. This one is supposed to be reliable (with decent ammo) and as accurate as anyone can expect a bullet coming out of a tiny little barrel to be. That said, given the opposition’s armament, the honorable Mako was right to laugh. Operatives in the OSS and the UK’s Special Operations Executive carried Vest Pocket .25s in World War II. Unlike Frank, they would have been smart enough not to bring them up.

    Thank you for indulging me.

  8. One more thing while I’m clarifying (and I realize that this may not make it into the feedback episode, ‘cause it’s so late): The Geneva Convention of 1864 says you have to provide medical treatment to enemy prisoners. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 clarify that to say the medical treatment must be impartial, I.e., priority is to be determined by medical need, the way Hawkeye and Trapper do it.

    It is difficult for me to imagine that the U.S. Army’s policies and procedures would contravene that. Mind you, what an individual jingoistic idiot might do is different, but when you put it down on paper and teach it in training schools, you would follow the policy the government stated when it signed the convention.

    I can’t find anything on treatment of the enemy in the Korean War to confirm or deny that, unfortunately. In the interest of full disclosure, U.S. ratification of the Conventions happened after the armistice. But treatment by nationality just doesn’t seem like something that would be a policy even in World War II, before the Conventions. I can tell you for sure that impartial treatment has been military medical policy since long before I joined the human race, much less the military.

    I could be wrong, but think Frank’s small mind, which often can’t spare the room for larger moral issues and their practical implications, is imagining things. I honestly feel for him. Sometimes he really wants to do right and just can’t figure it out. All the other doctors, including the one played by the great Mako, are correct.

  9. Oh, and my thanks to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Harvard Law School, and the U.S. Army for operating the sites that fed me this info on military medical law and practice.

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