M*A*S*HCast #77 – Hey Doc

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 4, Episode 5: Hey Doc

Special Guest Star: Chris Lewis

Air Date: October 10, 1975

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17 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #77 – Hey Doc

  1. Thank you for the explanation of how a toenail becomes ingrown. I just recently got one. Luckily I saved myself for marriage.

    Another example of terrible sniper accuracy. The sniper can’t hit a human but he can easily hit two bottles of booze in the dirt. Well maybe not easily. There are several wasted shots in front of the bottles before they are actually hit.

    I’m amazed at the tight quarters in the command center of the tank. When Frank exits he has to compress his shoulders just to get out of the hole. Larry Linville was a very fit man but it looked like he had to squeeze himself out. My claustrophobia kicks in every time I see this scene.

    1. Randall, concur on the claustrophobia. Pretty sure I’d develop a valium addiction if I were on a tank crew. Of course, nowadays I wouldn’t fit, so I’m safe.

      I’ve thought more about the accuracy of snipers on MASH than the topic probably warrants. I looked up what the North Koreans and Chinese used as long range rifles during the war. The one that kept coming up was the bolt-action 7.62mm x 54mm, which Americans call a Mosin-Nagant (designed by Captain Mosin, except for a piece used from Belgian Léon Nagant’s design; Russians call it Mosin’s rifle). I’ve shot one of these. It’s pretty accurate, and a Chinese sniper named Zhang Taofang was crazy successful with it in Korea, and he didn’t even use a scope. So let’s not blame the rifle.

      The sniper in this episode is probably shooting from those Californian mountains in the distance — probably several hundred yards away (meters for you, Dr. Lewis). That adds a significant degree of difficulty. And the targets at the 4077th move around a lot, especially after the first shot. So that’s even more difficult. It may be noteworthy that he was able to zero in on the much-lamented bottles of Scotch — his only targets that didn’t scramble for cover or at least concealment.

      I don’t know how much training Chinese or North Korean snipers received before they were put in the field. I have the impression that the Korean War started as kind of rush job for everybody, even for the only participants who knew when it was going to happen ahead of time (the North Koreans). Of course, everybody had a cadre of experienced soldiers from World War II, but everybody also had lots of newbs. And http://www.koreanwaronline.com/arms/CCFSniper.htm says that Chinese snipers were generally good enough to be dangerous, but not outstanding. That’s right where I’d put the sniper in this episode, so let’s call it good enough for TV.

  2. Thanks for another great recap.

    This episode is a favorite of mine. That is true mainly for the two funny bits you talk about – Hawkeye lamenting that the scotch bottles were only 8 years old and Potter shooting the jeep. Both hilarious and well remembered.

    I can tell you that occasionally people will call me up for some simple medical advice or for a prescription for something simple like antibiotics or anti-nausea medicine. When I can help I will. But this is always a fine line.

    As for private records, I doubt Hawkeye has in-depth charts for these side hustles. But I can imagine that if Hawkeye is doing this fairly frequently that he might need some system to keep track of everyone. Who does he need to call back to see if they have improved? Who needs to come back for a second dose of antibiotics and when should that happen? So he might have a little calendar book that has cursory notes
    “General X, STD, first dose on XX/XX/XXXX. Needs to return in 2 weeks.” and then a reminder 2 weeks later to call the guy back in.

    Great discussion and always good to hear another Chief Surgeon on the show!

  3. Charming episode regarding a charming episode! Hopefully Chris will be back in future seasons! I think the strength of this season is on display in episodes like this and “It Happened One Night”, in that even a “regular” MASH episode in season four was a homerun. I agree that the Hawkeye/BJ team, and their machinations, harkened back to the earlier, more broad years, as does the plot overall, but it’s a welcome jolt of silliness and hilarity in a season that boasts some heavy, albeit entertaining, episodes. Thanks again Rob and Chris….Chris, don’t be a stranger, Rob, looking forward to the rest of the season. Goombye for now!

    1. Thanks so much, Mick – I had a blast recording with Rob. Hopefully I can get a repeat invitation, especially if there’s a Season 5 episode with a nice meaty medical plot line to discuss!

      1. Chris, your fandom is obvious, medical plot or not I look forward to your future appearances! Plus, now I know who to contact with my ingrown toenail questions!

  4. Great episode and great podcast! Please come back again soon, Dr. Chris!

    Every time I get an ingrown toenail I think of this episode. Ingrown toenails, or I guess their cause, curling edges of the toes, seems to be more likely to some due to hereditary. My father had terrible toes and gave them to me. Last year I actually had the edges of my big toe cauterized so that they would stop growing into the skin on the sides. Too Much?

    This is probably one of my all-time favorite MASH episodes. I could watch and re-watch it forever, I think.

    Rob, didn’t Bruno Kirby himself appear on MASH? I think he was either in the movie, or the first season? I’m sure I remember seeing him in some background scenes….?

  5. Listening to your discussion, I just realized that all of my favorite moments from Hey Doc are both Potter moments. At the top of my list is the scene in Potter’s office, where Potter offers to work twice has hard, and Radar agrees that he can be twice as scared. My second favorite moment is Potter’s nonchalant reaction to Hawkeye and BJ’s side hustle. It’s hard to believe the character has just joined the show.

    Thanks for another excellent episode.

  6. Great episode. Enjoyed your guest explaining things from a medical angle. Even better he is British and one of the subplots featured someone from His/Her Royal Army. (George VI died in February 1952).

    I get Frank is a jerk but I was surprised he wouldn’t help them get a microscope. He seemed to know all about the guy’s schemes and didn’t seem too put off by it. But did they only have one microscope? Would Potter not notice it was gone? Why is it that hard to get important medical equipment?

    Always fun to see some beloved character everyone knows but us. Maybe he stole the microscope and hired the sniper and fixed the general up with a sleazy hooker to get Frank to sign the papers.

    I imagine Hawkeye and the other doctors performed minor treatments on anyone that had a problem that cropped up. No idea how extensive records they had to keep on that.

    On Frank and the tank. Maybe he conned/bribed someone when he was in basic training to let him drive a tank. He was able to get in and start it and get it to go.

    The scene of him driving was hilarious. But where did the women shower after that? And the swamp was flattened? Where did they sleep until a new tent was built? And a new still? Or the picture of Frank’s mother? (Was that a stock photo or Linville’s real mom?). But BJ’s tuck and roll made it all worth it.

  7. If anyone is still reading these, I will mention that this podcast highlights a real case of how MASH affected American defense policy.

    In military medicine, there is something known as “MASH Syndrome.”

    As Dr. Lewis points out, it is strange that the surgeons have such a wide-ranging medical practice.

    So let’s go back to the 1980 Presidential election: Reagan and the Republicans ran in large part on the idea that the American military was a “hollow force” not equipped to defend American against the Communist threat. One example they gave of this was that the military did not have enough surgeons. As everyone knows from MASH, to fight a war, you really need surgeons. Lots of surgeons. Thoracic surgeons, Neurosurgeons, Orthopedic Surgeons. (That was sarcasm.) This is what is known as “MASH Syndrome.” This is despite the fact that the only American military conflict where there were more surgical casualties than medical casualties was the invasion of Grenada. In a real military conflict, primary care physicians – G.P.’s – would provide the vast majority of care.

    However, due to “MASH Syndrome” when Reagan won, and the defense buildup began, the military went on a surgeon hiring spree. This created several problems: First, military physicians get very large bonuses to attempt to make their salaries somewhat close to what they would earn in civilian practice. This varies according to specialty, and surgeons are therefore very expensive. Second, there were more surgeons than were needed. This meant they sat around twiddling their thumbs. Unfortunately, surgeons need to do surgery to remain proficient. In addition, when they left the military, they would need to show that they had performed a number of operations in the recent past to get credentials at their new hospital. The fact that they weren’t doing operations hurt – or at least complicated – their future employment prospects. Plus, strange as it may sound, surgeons like doing surgery. So the surgeons were not very happy. Third, the primary care physician numbers were reduced to hire the surgeons, so they were doing a lot more work, for less money, while the surgeons were doing little. This did not make THEM happy.

    If the surgeons aren’t happy, and the primary care physicians aren’t happy, then military medicine is not happy.

    Finally, in 1986 an Air Force physician who was a Major General published an article basically saying that the Reagan administration had destroyed military medicine, and lambasted the civilian medical leadership at the Pentagon for good measure. He was quickly retired.

    So MASH actually did affect military defense policy. And if you want to give a military physician or military medical administrator the willies, just mention “MASH Syndrome.”

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