M*A*S*HCast #81 – Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 4, Episode 9: Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?

Special Guest Star: Mike Jamison

Air Date: November 7, 1975

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9 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #81 – Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?

  1. Anytime you cast someone to play Jesus Christ, you’re asking them to do a heavy lift. I think Alan Fudge did a great job of doing so in a respectful manner. At first blush, it’s strange to think of Fudge playing BJ, but I guess I can see it. He clearly demonstrates, in this episode, that he can play a gentle soft-spoken character well.

    By the way, my wife is a big fan of Col. Potterisms, and there are some good ones in this episode.

    Thanks for another incredible episode.

  2. So let me get this straight. You’re suggesting a spin off of a hit ensemble sitcom where the central character is a smooth talking womanizer. The spin off would focus on a character that was introduced to be a small part and then became so popular he was asked to continue in his role throughout the series. Not only that, but the character he plays is a psychiatrist?!? Nah, that would never work.

  3. I thought they did an excellent job being respectful and not making a mockery of a man who believed he was Jesus. I also appreciate Rob being respectful of religious people despite not being one himself.

    I feel sad for Chandler when he tells Sydney he hopes he can find him.

    The line about God answering all prayers but sometimes answers “no” was also in the movie Oh, God. That movie was written by Larry Gelbart.

    I could see Fudge as BJ.

    I wish they had more episodes with Sydney and Flagg together. They played off each other well.

    The closing scene with Klinger dressed as Moses was hilarious. Nice touch misspelling “thou” on the tablets.

  4. After MASH killed this idea but you would think that after the war Klinger might have tried to get a job in Hollywood as a costume designer. Since this series has been micro-analysed to death, I wonder if anyone ever counted the number of different outfits that Klinger wore before he abandoned the “buttons and the bows”. As Hawkeye said in one episode, “I don’t know how you do it on your salary.”

    The line about God answers prayer but the answer is sometimes no is a standard line in the clergy. I studied to be a Baptist missionary for several years and this line was constantly used in our studies and by professors and clergy that led our training sessions.

  5. Until I listened to this I had no idea this was the first mention of ‘Walter’ for Radar. Amazing.

    Alan Fudge does have a sort of ethereal quality about him that makes him perfect for this role in this episode. There is something almost eerie about him.

    And Sidney is always a welcome addition to any episode.

  6. Thanks for another great discussion, Rob and Mike (and welcome back, Mike!).

    I’ll add to your comments on Alan Fudge’s performance and Prelutsky’s script. I think part of the reason it was so effective is because Fudge’s portrayal (or is it Chandler’s delusion?) matches the Jesus of the gospels, i.e., the Bible books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He is gentle and kind, yet resolute (except when Sidney’s question rattles his delusion).

    In the Bible, we see Jesus happy, sad, angry, tired, distressed, and frequently moved by compassion, but he never seems overwhelmed by his circumstances. In the Garden of Gethsemane, fearing his imminent torture and execution, he told the Father, “not my will be done, but yours.” Before his accusers and judges, he was matter-of-fact when he wasn’t absolutely silent. You get the impression his demeanor unnerves them, because he seems more in control than they are. He asked God to forgive his executioners even as they were killing him. Fudge was playing that Jesus, and I think he did it better than it’s been done in some major studio films.

    I also very much appreciate that Prelutsky gave Chandler a scene with Mulcahy. It would not have made sense for the two of them not to interact, and the fact that they got into a theological discussion was pitch perfect.

    Thanks again for a great examination. It made an episode I’ve seen many times seem fresh again.

  7. Interestingly, Allan Arbus had himself played Jesus…or a reasonable proximity…in Robert Downey, Sr’s 1972 cult classic, “Greaser’s Palace”. In it, he’s an amnesiac named Jesse who shows up in a small town and starts doing miracles such as restoring life to the dead and walking (well, tap dancing) on water. It makes you wonder if this episode’s screenwriter, Burt Prelutsky, had seen the film, and it inspired both using Sidney as well as doing the Christ storyline?

    And speaking of Allan Arbus, I was surprised to recently learn that he was born in 1918, meaning he was in his late 50s and early 60s when he played Sidney. I would have pegged him for at least 15 years younger. And that means Allan was only three years younger than Harry Morgan, who was paying older men even in his younger days.

    And also, I think this episode shows how uncomfortable a fit Col. Flagg had become in the “new” M*A*S*H*. He was wonderful in the earlier seasons, but with the tonal shift following the arrival of BJ and Potter, he now seems overly cartoonish. It may have worked better if they had brought him back as less of a buffoon, but now have him be much more intelligently effective and thus more sinister.

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