M*A*S*HCast #83 – Of Moose and Men

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 4, Episode 11: Of Moose and Men

Special Guest Star: Clinton Robison

Air Date: November 21, 1975

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10 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #83 – Of Moose and Men

  1. Rob, you pointed out one of my favorite aspects of Mike Farrell’s acting style. It’s one of the reasons why I think he was such a good choice to play B.J. and became my favorite M*A*S*H character. His delivery of that ‘closer than others’ line was great. If Alan Alda as Hawkeye were delivering that line, I imagine he would say it in the style of Groucho Marx. Alan Alda is funny and we didn’t need a Hawkeye clone. Instead, we got the dry-witted and often deadpan style of Mike Farrell to set him apart. One of my favorite M*A*S*H lines of all time is delivered by B.J. in season 8. As is often the case, it isn’t necessarily the line as written, but how he delivered it.

  2. Welcome, Coffee and Comics Clinton! Great MASHcast episode, Rob and Clinton, but a somewhat unsatisfying MASH episode. Hawkeye is a bit of a jerk to a self-important stuffed shirt and gets away with it, but doesn’t really seem to learn. BJ feels taken advantage of, and Zale’s recognition that he’s the one in the wrong is only beginning to dawn. We don’t get to see his moral awareness develop (although I have high hopes).

    I will add this: In the opening scene with Striker, Hawkeye says he’s been up two days, and the two of you said he’s acting out of character. I’ve been on both sides of those “up for two days” conversation. That much sleep deprivation is like being high on drugs. Of course, it happens to people in all kinds of circumstances, so maybe somebody can back me up on this.

    There was one incident in particular where I let somebody who was out of line worse than Hawkeye (and similarly sleep deprived) pass. I just didn’t think there was going to be any chance of a productive conversation until after he’d recovered. I think the NCO in question must’ve appreciated it, based on how helpful and easy to get along with he was for the few weeks I had left on that deployment.

    1. Thanks for the warm welcome.

      As for the being up 2 days thing I just know it’s cease to function properly after the 24 hour period so I have no clue what 2 days of Army surgery would be. Glad you were much more understanding of the NCO than some of the ranking officers in MASH.

  3. I always liked this episode because it showed us more of BJ and less (relatively speaking) of Hawkeye. As you discussed, this episode gives us more details and more screen time for BJ. I, too, like BJ and consider him my favorite MASH character. It’s his dry wit (I love that you mention his The Fresh Earth joke) and his truly sentimental personality that differentiates him from Hawkeye and, yes, Trapper.

  4. I really liked this episode, especially BJ’s story. It’s just great seeing his character getting explored by the series.

    But I had a random thought. Is Frank suffering from PTSD? Yes, he’s a coward and paranoid, but his overreaction to those situations in this episode just made me wonder. And the problem is he’s such a jerk, no one’s able to recognize it. This wouldn’t make him less of a jerk, but it’s an interesting possibility.

    Great to hear Clinton on the show!

    1. I think it’s actually an adjustment disorder, as classified by the DSM-5. It presents as anxiety, depression, or both, among other symptoms. I don’t think Frank is reacting to trauma, but he’s having “a maladaptive reaction” to stressors — in his case, persistent stressors over a prolonged period.

      Of course, were he more empathetic, the things he’s seen in the OR could count as emotional trauma, and then it could be PTSD. But then again, maybe he was more empathetic when he showed up, and the exacerbation of his selfishness and cowardice are part of his maladaptive reaction. Regardless, it sucks to be him, and a chronic adjustment disorder would explain the several depression flip-outs he had on the show. According to the DSM-5, he’s likely to get better over time after the stressors are removed.

      What doesn’t match are the times he’s said he loves it there in Korea, but maybe he’s trying to self-treat by convincing himself of that.

      Of course, this is all just stuff I learned while I was looking up something else. 😉

  5. I like episodes that feature the second tier characters. Nice to give Zale the spotlight for once.

    Wish we could have seen Hawkeye and Frank together at wherever they had been. Guess it is one of those missing episodes we’ll never see.

  6. Two points on watching the episode and listening to your podcast.

    The first is related to your comment that a nurse should have been able to flush a chest tube. First, I am not a cardiothoracic surgeon. However, I have spent a lot of time around them. It is also important to note that this was a specialty that really did not begin until a couple of years after World War II (and therefore right before Korea). A big deal is made of the fact that Hawkeye was “certified in general and chest.” Later, Winchester is shown to have rare cardiac expertise. So it is likely that the nurses had little experience with operating directly on the heart. In addition, despite the medical dramas, most things in medicine can wait a bit. I was in the SICU (surgical intensive care unit) once with a trauma team and there was a trauma activation. The chief resident went to use the bathroom, causing the medical students to raise their eyebrows. As he came out he said, “First rule: If a patient is so sick that he will die if I go take a leak, then he is going to die with or without us anyway.” The one exception to this would be cardiac tamponade. In the cardiac ICU, a pair of wire cutters was traditionally taped to the wall near the patient’s bed. If tamponade developed, the resident would have to cut the wires closing the sternum – with the patient fully awake – and scoop out the clot from around the heart. She would only have seconds to act. So, yes, in this specific scenario this was likely not the type of thing that would have been left to a 4077th nurse, not matter how good they were in other aspects.

    Second, as I listened to your podcast, I suddenly became aware of how similar Colonel Spiker and Hawkeye are: Spiker doesn’t like an officer who does not take his profession seriously. Who does not care about the details. Who makes the bare minimum of effort, if that. Who grudgingly is part of the profession and only does so because it lets him do other things.

    Now if we flip that to the medical side, who does that remind you of? A surgeon who does the bare minimum? A surgeon who really doesn’t care? A surgeon who doesn’t respect the details? A surgeon who has said he is only a physician because of the prestige and the money? Of course, good old Major Ferret Face.

    So it is interesting to see an almost SAT analogy: Hawkeye is to Colonel Spiker as Burns is to Hawkeye.

    One final point is that Tim O’Connor also appeared in the A-Team. An episode where he was the leader of a group of pacifists who were being bullied by the locals. A strange role for him – given his role in this episode – and a strange episode of the A-Team where they were not allowed to use violence.

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