M*A*S*HCast #85 – The Gun

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 4, Episode 13: The Gun

Special Guest Star: Britt Schramm

Air Date: December 2, 1975

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15 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #85 – The Gun

  1. had two hamstring surgeies when 4 and 8 and Rob that freaking thing was HEAVY AND the second one stimulted so much hair growth my legs may not work but by god they grow hair like a shirtless Batman

  2. The Mash Matters podcast had Loretta on for a 2 part interview and she did mention she was doing Yoga and brought that into the character.

  3. Britt and Rob! Thanks for another great episode about another great episode. Topically arranged comments follow:

    Outlaw Frank Burns and Campground Justice – There were some problems with the characterization of military law here. First, I don’t think a court martial would convict Radar. The evidence is all circumstantial, and it would be very easy to create reasonable doubt. Second, if they did convict Radar, he wouldn’t get fifteen years. My internet searching revealed that currently, the maximum penalty for larceny is five years under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Congress created the UCMJ in 1951, so it applies here. There’ve been revisions, but nothing that radical in the punishment of larceny, I don’t think. There’s a good chance Radar might have ended up owing the value of the gun as the result of a non-judicial investigation. That’s a heck of a lot to a corporal, but it ain’t fifteen years.

    But let’s talk about the real criminal here, one Major Frank Burns. He’s added a federal case to the state crimes he admitted to while he had hemorrhagic fever. He committed not only larceny, but conduct unbecoming an officer, maybe obstructing justice, and certainly multiple false official statements. And I’m not sure, but I think the UCMJ probably agrees with Frank: Lying really is worse than stealing. Regardless, if Frank were prosecuted, the sentence could have been much worse than Radar’s would ever have been. This is another example of how there was nowhere else to go with this character.

    Prayer, Firearms, and Foreign Policy – So, I agree with Rob. Father Mulcahy’s query about whether the gun was at least American was at least half in jest. The other half might have been an honest inquiry into the circumstances. And Rob, I don’t share your (perfectly understandable) distaste regarding guns, so I thought it was pretty funny.

    I think the way Father Mulcahy phrased his joke indicates something interesting: When it comes to the Korean War, he seems to have picked a side. He probably thinks it was wrong of North Korea to invade its neighbor with intent to conquer. He may also think America was right to lead the sixteen other nations under United Nations Command to defend South Korea from a rapacious, totalitarian, aggressor state. Communists, isolationists, and total pacifists might disagree with him, but I don’t think many others would. American foreign policy decisions aren’t always so morally unobjectionable, and I’m sure many specific actions in the Korean War were less clear cut. Regardless, given Father Mulcahy’s character, I’m not surprised by his choice.

    Regarding whether it’s right to pray for a gun, I’m sure many in mortal danger — and almost everyone who’s ever mislaid a government issued firearm — has prayed for a gun. (To your unspoken question: The answer was yes!). In this episode, they were really talking about a prayer for the recovery of stolen property and justice for a falsely accused young man. That seems godly to me. Besides, despite the myriad of emotions people attach to guns as symbols, we should remember that they are inanimate objects. They have no inherent moral value. That’s my opinion only, of course; animist readers will disagree.

    The Duke, the Clerk, and the JKS Graduate – Rob, your impression of Gary Burghoff’s impression of John Wayne is really good!

    The Trouble with Shiny Things – I liked Britt’s analysis of why the revolver was trouble and why Colonel Chaffey was determined to keep it anyway.

    Thanks again! Looking forward to next Wednesday!

    1. Klinger was going to get six months of hard labor for stealing a camera.

      I agree this was bad even by Frank standards. Stealing a gun from a career officer is pretty low. At least he tried to fix things when he saw Radar was going to take the fall.

      I always viewed the gun as some antique that he used more for show.

      And why did Potter salute him if they are the same rank?

      1. George, good example and good memory regarding Klinger, particularly since cameras were so much more valuable then.

        A salute is a greeting. I’ve been told it goes back to the days of knights in armor, when they would lift their right hands to show they weren’t holding a weapon and lift their visors to show their face. It’s unusual for an officer to salute someone else of the same rank, but people do it sometimes as a way of showing respect. It fits Potter and the situation here. He disagrees with the brother in arms he’s sending back to the battlefield, but they still have mutual respect.

        It was good to have an O-6 — a full colonel — in charge of the 4077th, especially one who had been a combat soldier. He was useful when they needed some weight to throw around, and he was great at dealing with the brass that came through. We all love Henry, and he deserves more credit than he gets as a leader. But Potter gives the writers more opportunity to show senior officers as human beings. The writers could even portray conflicts that would have been one-sided routs if the 4077th had a different leader. I think those producers and writers running MASH might have known what they were doing.

  4. Another great podcast about another great episode~! At this rate, Mash Cast’s 4th Season will be just as great as MASH’s! 😉
    I, too, enjoy this year to watch the slow decay of the Margaret-Frank relationship. This episode is another great example of their slowly changing dynamic, as you both point out. Frank is clearly not the man Margaret thought he was. And although this season’s Frank is hilarious, and very well portrayed by Larry Linville, I can’t help wondering what would have happened if he had been portrayed as being a little less incompetent.

    1. Frank had a few flashes of humanity from time to time. I think he could have done more if they had let the character evolve.

  5. Russell a couple of the the very early charles ones seem to be playing charles as more compatent frank (he’s hot for Marget and has scams) but he’ s much more interesting as the guy who cant be bothered to pretend to like people.

  6. I just want to say thank you for another great episode, and an excellent podcast! I enjoy listen to it so very much. I love MASH (of course) , but I don’t really have anyone to discuss it with in real life. My friends and family are not fans (but they do have other good qualities, I promise), so listening to the episodes is like listening in on the insightful conversations about the episodes I would like to be part of in real life. If that makes sense 🙂 I look forward to many, many more episodes (thank goodness there are many seasons left)!
    My favourite season is number 5, so I very much look forward to that. Season 4 is also awesome, but there is a Major-shaped absence in several episodes, and since Margaret is my favourite character – her not being there forces me to deduct some points from the season 🙂
    And speaking of Margaret and her doing yoga in “The Gun”, I heard in an interview with Loretta Swit recently (think it was on MASH Matters), that she was really into yoga at the time, so that was written in to the script. I like that it also shows that Margaret is open to other cultures and their influences. Like she learns to speak some Korean. It shows that she is openminded in a way Frank most certainly is not.
    Thanks again for an great podcast! Keep up the good work, and take care!

  7. I am always a bit intrigued in the Frank Burns character progression.

    He seems to go from irritating guy (we all have those in our workplaces) to awful human being to despicable human being to social outcast because he is so horrible.

    Episodes like this feel like a big step on that path.

    I just wonder, and I will have more to say on this later in the season, if maybe there was an opportunity for the better humans at the 4077 to help Frank course correct.

    That said, he is pretty despicable.

    1. Anj, I agree with everything you say here about Frank. I think the writers used Frank as a foil for the protagonists so often it became a habit. Over time Frank became so despicable filling the roles they gave him to play. If Hawkeye and BJ were in favor of keeping PCP off the playground, the writers would have had to figure out a way to make Frank in favor of PCP on the playground.

      Any moral, emotional, or logical progress on his part would have made him less useful in the roles they gave him. Consequently, no one could help him course correct, even though in real life, personalities like these might have been inclined to do so — or just to get him arrested or transferred to where he could do less damage.

      The few times you see Hawk and BJ trying to help him are enjoyable, and those moments ring true to their characters. Colonel Potter is in the right role to mentor him, but he doesn’t have the time or energy available. Also he often seems even more surprised and disgusted by Frank’s thoughts and actions, maybe because the other Swamp Rats are more accustomed to it. Potter really doesn’t want to spend time with Frank.

      I think Larry Linville made the right choice leaving — one that helped the show move forward. I know we didn’t see him in much after that. I hope that was largely his choice — that he used his MASH money to spend time with his family and took the roles he wanted.

  8. I found Britt’s insights into Frank’s character journey (i.e., his search for identity) in Season 4 to be quite interesting. It makes think about how his journey contrasts with Margaret’s own search for identity. Her journey is ultimately a successful one, while Frank’s leads to his own implosion.

    Thanks for another excellent episode.

  9. I was disappointed that Margaret didn’t express sympathy for Radar’s plight when she was chastising Frank for having stolen the gun. In another season or two something like that would have been foremost in her mind, thankfully.

    And for one brief instant, it appeared that the show may have been giving Frank a moment to be human when he admitted he had done a terrible thing. I desperately wish they would have evolved Frank as a character (a sentiment which I’m certain Larry Linville shared), and this would have been the perfect opportunity, as he at last realizes he went too far, and the realization horrified him. But instead they went for the easy laugh…albeit a very funny one.

    And how dumb is Frank? He didn’t need to sneak the gun back into the locker…he could have simply placed it on Radar’s desk to be discovered in the morning, thus minimizing his risk of being caught (or shooting himself in the foot, as the case may be).

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