M*A*S*HCast #86 – Mail Call, Again

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 4, Episode 14: Mail Call, Again

Special Guest Star: Jess McDonald

Air Date: December 9, 1975

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Theme music by Johnny Mandel

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9 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #86 – Mail Call, Again

  1. A few moments hit home with me listening to this.

    My parents would wrap Christmas gifts to my brother and me as being from our dog and cat.

    My dad had a mail subscription to his hometown paper. He was from a small town and it came out weekly. It also had a gossip column similar to what Hawkeye was reading.

    I always had a themed lunchbox in elementary school.

    I suspect they taped the script to the inside of the paper so he could literally be reading it to make it sound more natural.

    I always saw Margaret’s 180 on the baby pool as wanting to kiss up to the boss. I agree she respected Potter as a CO as he was career Army like her dad. She didn’t seem to dislike Henry as a person but knew he didn’t belong in charge.

    I think Potter’s follow up to the line about having to live before you die was “and they never did”. My mental fan fiction has Potter putting the letter with the one where half Klinger’s family was dying and the other half was pregnant.

    Frank was definitely a weasel here. Trapper and Henry were scummy husbands but they did seem to love their wives and kids. Frank obviously just wanted her money. I think the only mention of his kids was when Margaret told Nancy Sue Parker he had three daughters. But Linville did do a good job conning her on the phone. A fake phone call isn’t easy to do and he always did it well.

    Potter told the virgin soldier he taught to fly fish he had one child, a girl. Maybe his son ran off with Hawkeye’s sister.

    I loved Radar’s home movie. Burghoff in drag sounds silly but it came off sweet. I know this guy. He is around 50 and heavyset. He is Italian so his complexion is close to Jamie Farr’s and he has a big nose. I met his mother once. She looked exactly like him. You would have thought it was my friend in a dress, not exaggerating.

    The band of transvestites was played as a joke but I don’t see that flying today. The Klinger character wouldn’t work today, either. But this was written in the 1970s and set in the 1950s so I don’t get too bent out of shape about it.

  2. Interesting fact, Col. Potter’s son and Chuck Cunningham went missing on the same day, when the plane, on which they were both traveling, mysteriously vanished in the Bermuda Triangle.

    Thanks for another incredible episode.

  3. Another great episode, glad to see Jess (Captain Universe) back.
    Here’s another nail in the coffin of the relationship between Frank and Margaret. Loretta Swit got a lot better scenes as the 4th and 5th seasons continued. I really wish we had gotten more “serious” (if that’s the right word) scenes with Frank, too, rather than so many that painted him as a caricature that he ended up being. How about if he had started trying to hit on some of the new nurses after his breakup with Margaret? What if he tried to be the “sweet” (?) Frank he pretends here to be with Louise? Or if he had aped more of Potter’s “style” to try to be a mock military guy? The show could have gone in all sorts of different ways, showcasing his evil as in this episode rather than his idiocy. Oh, well, he WAS always funny.

    1. As president of the Frank Burns Fan Club (I ran
      unopposed and I am the only member), I agree more should have been done with him. Maybe an episode where he and Hawkeye go to an aid station and bond for a bit. Or he does something out of character and saves the day.

      If Linville stays after S5, seeing his reaction to Margaret’s divorce would be interesting. In my mind, she goes back to him but he says he has moved on and just wants to be friends.

      I can’t see him being a player like Hawkeye (except for that young redhead) but he could settle into a normal life at camp.

  4. Not to keep the “kick Frank party” going, but boy, the end of the call with Louise. It proved that Frank is the worst kind of weasel: he knows he’s a weasel and uses it to get out of trouble. He deliberately plays up sounding pathetic to get Louise to take pity on him, and he’s pleased with himself for doing it. Further proof that he’s not just clueless, but manipulative, stringing Margaret along because he knows she wants a future together, and whenever Margaret pulls away, all he has to do is pull the pathetic act again. It’s a real turning point for the character. Anytime he sounds pathetic and wants forgiveness, just picture that little laugh right afterwards. Ugh!

    1. All true, Tim. But, Frank is no less pathetic for being manipulative. In fact, he is more pathetic and less sympathetic at the same time.

  5. Sorry this is sooo late. This was a great episode, and Jess is a wonderful guest. I hope to someday have an “I am Iron Man” moment like she did with her Captain Universe identity – maybe if there’s a podcast Civil War.

    I loved the discussion of Margaret and the baby pool, because just like y’all, I love her relationship with Colonel Potter. The respect is genuine, and it’s clearly more than enough to overcome her reticence to participate.

    You mentioned sad Catholic church names. As my wife and I moved around with the military, we spent a lot of time visiting churches to find the right one in our new home. As a way of remembering which was which, I would rename them, and even though we’re Protestant, they always seemed to end up with Catholic “Our Lady” names. For example, Our Lady of the Frequently Injured had a congregation sorely in need of some safety training. Folks that moved to Florida to party and then became Christ-followers attended Our Lady of the Reformed Exotic Dancer, and so on.

    I loved the letter from Waggle. My wife used to write and send emails on behalf of our pets, and after we had kids, our infants and toddlers. They were amazing and tremendous for morale. One of my favorites was the one from our aggressive cat. He wrote about how he was taking his duties as man of the house seriously and defending our home against anyone who came by, including friends and family. I think she captured his essence.

    Frank’s outing just reminded me how many enlisted men he must’ve ticked off in his time there. How we treat people is important for so many reasons.

    We had one of those newspapers in my home county like Hawkeye had in Crabapple Cove. My Mom would send me clippings whenever anyone from our family rated a mention. Ask me about the write-ups on my high achieving nieces, someday when you’re feeling tolerant and have a lot of time to kill.

    I thought Colonel Potter’s reaction to hearing Frank call him dumb was priceless. His offense had nothing to do with disrespect to rank. Colonel Potter takes his responsibilities as a colonel seriously, but the status means nothing to him and isn’t a part of his identity. He was offended because he’s clearly so much smarter than Frank.

    I love this podcast. Thanks again.

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