M*A*S*HCast #69 – Big Mac

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 3, Episode 21: Big Mac

Special Guest Star: Chuck Coletta

Air Date: February 25, 1975

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16 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #69 – Big Mac

  1. As a huge fan of Whats Up Doc, Graham Jarvis will always be the bailiff in the court room at the end. Always like seeing him pop up here and there.

    And I am still stunned when Louden Wainwright is brought up here. You might recall I grew up my whole life thinking he wasn’t on the show later because he had died (thanks older brother for the misinformation). It was here on MASHCast I learned he is alive and well! My life had been a lie before!

  2. I love the fact that Radar, the most un-MacArthur-like member of the unit, is the one chosen to impersonate MacArthur.

    It was great to hear Chuck back on the show. I actually had the privilege to visit Bowling Green State University back in the mid-90s. I was in college and working as a resident hall assistant, and we attended some kind of RA training workshop at BGSU. I don’t remember what the workshop was about, but I remember liking the campus, and getting a nice mug from the workshop. I don’t think I saw Chuck while I was there, but it was some time ago.

    Thanks for another great episode.

  3. I definitely remember watching this episode first run, in 1975, and NOT understanding it. I remember it distinctly for the “that’s all there is?” feel of it. Maybe that’s why I’m not such a big fan of the first three seasons, because this episode confused truly Little Russell Burbage.

    Did anybody else notice that during the rehearsal, NOBODY called Radar as Big Mac by MacArthur’s full name and title, as the colonel had told them to? Haha!

    I will always remember that actor from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman….wasn’t he the husband of the character played by fellow MASH alumna Mary Kay Place?

    And yeah, where in hell did Klinger get that get-up, and change so quickly? And how did he know to stand there, if nobody else expected Big Mac to be driving out just then?

    Two more things. Margaret’s father, I think, reported to MacArthur while Big Mac was the Military Liaison to the Philippines, which was from 1935 until the Japanese invasion of 1941. That was the feeling I always got from her comment.

    And secondly, I have actually read The Naked And The Dead by Norman Mailer and I happen to know a few things about it. It was HUGELY popular when it was published circa 1948. So the doctors having a copy and knowing it would not be a surprise. It and From Here To Eternity ushered in the more “realistic” way of writing about war that had not been written by the US side before.

  4. Not quite done listening, but I have a chance to comment. Great episode of MASH (They all are; it was a terrific cast and crew, and as you say, they were willing to take chances) and of MASHcast (They all are; you have wonderful guests and great material to work with). It is of course a pleasure to hear Chuck again.

    Colonels (and lieutenant colonels) do indeed serve in these capacities for general officers. Generals, especially at the three-star level and above, really do nothing all day except take briefings, meet with people, and make decisions. The readers take more white papers and fewer briefings (General Mattis, for example). It depends on how they process information best. Their lives are tightly controlled so they can get as many iterations of those things into a day as possible.

    In the Army and the Air Force (and in joint assignments), an executive officer is effectively an administrative assistant. But it’s more than just handling the calendar. It’s also making sure the colonel is prepared for the next meeting or the next decision, which means prioritizing what he sees and whom he sees. They have to know the issues, and what they don’t know, they have to learn fast. It’s really a kind of apprenticeship for officers who are on track to make general. They get to see how it’s done. Think Pepper Potts in Iron Man.

    An aide will also work in the front office and may sub in to help the exec, but he or she is usually a little lower in rank — sometimes a major or a captain, but there are also enlisted aides. They also tend to handle more menial tasks. If someone in the front office is going to pick up the general’s dry cleaning before his trip, it’s more likely to be the aide.

    In the Navy and I think in the Marine Corps, the XO (Navy abbreviation for executive officer) is the second-in-command. Think Gary Busey in Under Siege, but almost always without the treason. (Tommy Lee: “Do you really know how to operate all these things?” Gary: “I’ve been trained!” In fact, he really would have been trained to handle quite a lot of it.)

    New topic: Klinger had to have the Statue of Liberty kit set up beforehand, obviously. I’m guessing it was either his backup plan or his real plan all along. If it was the latter, the other attempts were just to throw Henry off the scent. If Klinger had acted like he wasn’t going to take advantage of the opportunity, it would have been super suspicious, and he would have been on house arrest for sure.

    1. Regarding Klinger, why did he bother pulling his stunt with Radar-thur at all? Obviously for the gag. But as a real plan, it makes no sense to tip the MPs off. So I do like your suggestion that Klinger’s real plan all along might have been the Statue of Liberty. Further proof that Klinger is totally a cosplayer.

      “… but almost always without the treason.” *spit-take*

    2. I almost ran off the interstate when I heard them wonder if Colonels would be used in secretarial positions like that. Granted, as mentioned, Executive Officers (Assistants) have far more responsibility than that. To provide a concrete example of the prestige, in the last AF BG list, 10 of the 34 Colonels selected for promotion to Brigadier General were in Executive Officer (Assistant) positions.

      For some strange reason, I have the 1984 Army Officer Guide on my bookshelf. It has the official table of the rank of Aides that General Officers were allocated. A five-star – like McArthur – was allocated an Aide in the rank of Colonel. So that was actually accurate.

  5. I suspect being the top aide for MacArthur was a pretty sweet gig. You get to go to all the cool places and have access to top secret info an average colonel wouldn’t. Plus being so close to someone that important makes you more appealing to women. And, yes, Mac would need someone with a high rank to get things done. The colonel probably had a lieutenant or captain under him to do chores he needed that were too petty for him.

    I suspect the confusion over Howitzer Al’s assignment was either the writers trying to make Margaret look like a braggart or just poor research.

    I saw the scene of Mac driving through on YouTube. Klinger was in a kimono just a few moments before he got in his Statue of Liberty outfit. Pretty quick change on his part.

    The book selection was interesting. The Naked and the Dead was published in 1948 so someone in the Army (especially a non-conformist) reading it in Korea. The Red Grange bio was fine, but who the heck had Plato’s Republic? Mulcahy told the boxer that he and Plato were his heroes, so maybe it was his.

    But where did Frank get the books? They never mentioned a camp library so did he just go into people’s tents and steal them? If he took my book I would complain to Henry.

    I guess not saying who played MacArthur was to maintain an aura of secrecy for some reason. But why? He was dead by then so it’s not like anyone would believe that was really him. But he was the only non-fictional person who ever appeared on the show (outside of newsreels and the interviewer) so maybe that was it.

    His son is still alive and is 82. He is a recluse and keeps out of the spotlight. He lives under an assumed name but I don’t know if he legally changed it.

    Timeline update…MacArthur was fired April 11, 1951. But just a few episodes later it is September 19, 1952.

  6. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. Didn’t even have to look it up.

    I’m revising my head canon of this episode that after meeting the MASH officers, the Colonel quietly suggested to Big Mac that maybe a drive-by is sufficient, not wanting to subject him to the crazy and irreverent doctors. He could easily have read the room and said, “No, this isn’t happening.”

    Great job covering this one!

  7. I’m extremely late to the party but I’ve been catching up on your podcasts and just had to comment about Henry using the expression “his nibs.” I always get a kick out of it because my mother used to use that expression. She was born in Quebec in 1924 and raised in New England, so I don’t know where she got it, but it was a familiar expression to my ears.

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