M*A*S*HCast #95 – Deluge

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 4, Episode 23: Deluge

Special Guest Star: Captain Entropy

Air Date: February 17, 1976

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36 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #95 – Deluge

  1. As I drove into work this morning, innocently listening to MASHcast, I did not anticipate that the first thing I would be looking up today would be “How to treat phosphorus burns”..! ;o)

    1. Dr. Lewis, we’re just trying to help by keeping you ready for anything — like Inspector Clouseau’s manservant Cato.

      1. So… since you asked (!)

        In 1669, Hennig Brand (a German merchant and alchemist) was searching for the “Philosopher’s stone”. He unintentionally prepared white phosphorus by boiling a mixture of dried urine and sand. The resulting vapours created were passed through water causing the white phosphorus to become a soft, waxy, white solid material. The new element was named phosphorus deriving from the Greek word *phosphoros*, meaning “light bringer”.
        With a melting point of 44 °C, white phosphorus is insoluble in water but above 30 °C, the particles spontaneously oxidize in contact with the atmosphere, forming phosphorus pentoxide – a strong desiccant and dehydrating agent. Due to its dehydrating action, white phosphorus is a highly corrosive substance. In the dark, white phosphorus emits a greenish light and white fumes with a garlic-like odour. The bulk of phosphorus produced with this method is then converted to phosphoric acid that is used in agriculture for the production of fertilizers, rodenticides, fireworks, and is used in the manufacture of semiconductors.
        For military personnel, materials such as white  phosphorus present a high risk for burns from incendiary shells and detonators.
        Burns are very common injuries, but chemical burns are a relatively rare type of burn, and phosphorus burns are a rare form of chemical burn, largely seen in the context of military incidents or industrial or firework-related accidents. Phosphorus causes very serious partial or full-thickness burns – potentially fatal, even from a relatively small burn area.
        Typically treatment would include cooling & irrigation with water or saline, prompt removal of the phosphorus particles (copper sulphate can be used to make phosphorus particles more visible … but it’s not quite so straightforward – see below), surgically cutting away any affected tissue (paging Captain Pearce!) and using skin grafts to repair damaged areas.
        The burn can cause considerable imbalance in fluid and electrolytes, so very close monitoring of kidney function and calcium is recommended, and replacing lost electrolytes where necessary is essential.
        Application of copper sulphate does make the phosphate particles more obvious but turning them jet black. This is different from the episode, where the phosphorus is seen to glow. Why would M*A*S*H show it this way? My guess is that glowing particles are just more tellygenic than little black specks. The use of copper sulphate seems well established, but the Cochrane institute (The UK’s primary organisation promoting evidence based medicine) reviewed two studies which found no evidence that application of copper sulphate improves the outcome of a phosphorus burn, and – as copper sulphate itself is poisonous – the treatment may cause additional unnecessary fatalities if enough is absorbed into the body. For this reason, the Cochran’s Institute does not recommend its use in the treatment of phosphate burns.

        My usual disclaimer… If you think you might be suffering from phosphorous burns, please see your usual medical practitioner. Quickly. Really, really quickly.

  2. Such a great episode of MASH and such a great review episode. I love the people you bring on as guest hosts here Rob and Capt Entropy’s knowledge of the military certainly was very interesting to hear.

    I will not look up phosphorus burns today as I am busy. So I hope Dr Lewis will inform.

    That said, I almost asked to cover this episode.

    I will again say that I am not saying that the job of MASH surgeon and my job as an ER doctor are equivalent. But there are ripples of similarity and when I rewatched this episode, it certainly struck home to me. There have been days that the line at ER triage is nonstop, that the waiting room is filled, that you are constantly moving as you look to admit/discharge patients efficiently just so the room will be open to see the next patient. We work in shifts, but if the place is mobbed you often stay late to try to help your colleagues. When I saw the zombie-like BJ and Hawkeye at the end of this episode I said to myself ‘I recognize that’. Sometimes after those shifts I’ll get on my phone to try and unwind and see that my buddies have been talking about nonsense and I say ‘the world does keep on turning’. But knowing that nonsense and reading the tweets and texts is like a spiritual balm of sorts. The shift is over, hopefully the patients got the best care, hopefully in the organized chaos nothing was missed or misdiagnosed, and now I get to hear why someone thinks Predator 2 is a great movie.

    I will also say that concept of decision fatigue is so true. After having to make a million decisions during a shift about what needs to be done, what needs to be done next/now, what needs to happen sooner rather than later … I can’t make a decision. I can’t decide what I want for dinner … please someone just decide for me.

    Again, I am not saying the utter chaos we see in this episode is a life I live. But I see the reflections now that I didn’t as a kid watching these reruns and I respect the show even more.

    Just a phenomenal episode. One of my top 5 easily.

    1. Thanks, Anj. I would’ve loved to hear your take on this episode, as well, and I’m so grateful for this comments page so we can hear at least some of the thoughts this episode inspires.

      And I know what you mean about the spiritual balm. I didn’t communicate it effectively in the recording, but I take it the same way. It’s a little surprising when I’ve been wrapped up in my dramatic little world to know that my buddies are discussing Predator 2, but it’s good to know. It’s encouraging to see that normal life continues, because, if I may presume, I think normal life is part of what you and I are both fighting for.

    2. I can absolutely confirm Dr Anj’s comments; there definitely comes a time at the end of a long day when decision fatigue sets in, and it’s better to step away and rest. Decisions which seemed impossibly complex to a tired brain almost invariably become much more straightforward with the benefit of a few hours sleep!
      Thank god we don’t have the pressures of constant warfare (no matter how awful a clinic might seem!) to prevent any sort of meaningful R&R between work shifts!.

  3. I saw this episode in its original run and many times since. I must admit I don’t have the same adoration for it that you and your guest do. I have always seen the interspersed news clips as a slam at the “folks back home” stating how can they be having fun and carrying on with their lives when the Army is fighting a war. It seems like a condemnation on living your life when there are others who are in graver circumstances. I think you can agree that America threw itself into World War II heavier that any other conflict in our history and still people went to dances, saw movies, and, yes< probably even taught their cats to bat a ball. I have always interpreted the news reel clips as a denunciation of the American people.

    I think the Dagwood reference to the sandwich was simply to the sandwich. Tall sandwiches like that to this day are still called Dagwoods. There was even a no w defunct sandwich chain called Dagwoods. So when the sandwich was sliced they were calling it by its name, Nothing else.

    I found the first shower scene with Potter and Houlihan to be technically interesting. Harry Morgan was under the water but it's obvious that his lines were said on the set. In the close ups of Loretta Swit, it's obvious that her lines were looped. You would think if they had to loop one actor it would have been Morgan under the water. Wonder what happened there?

    1. Randall, I agree 100% on the sandwich. I think it was a coincidence they exploited when they spotted the cat footage. I also agree with your point about how life and recreation naturally continue — and honestly, have to continue — while “the boys (and girls) are fighting over there.”

      But I don’t think the creators meant the newsreels as a denunciation. In 1976, the cast, crew, writers, etc. had all been on the home front during war, and many of them had served in the military. Given those experiences, I would imagine they agreed with you too. IF that guess is correct, then the episode was meant to point out the dichotomy without judging. But I’m really just mirror-imaging and assuming their opinion matches mine, so maybe not.

      I never catch the looped dialogue until someone points it out. Then it’s obvious. I’d blame my mild hearing loss, but I think I just don’t pay enough attention.

  4. Wonderful episode, guys. Well, they are all wonderful, but some are more wonderful than others.

    I didn’t see the newsreels as being anything other than a glimpse of home life and a way of introducing the war progress.

    The Dagwood line probably referred to the sandwich but I bet they added it in after they found the cat video.

    I wonder how this episode would play with young people today. I am 54 and only know of newsreels because my mother told me about them. Now that we are another generation removed from them, would a 20 year old know what one was?

    BJ’s comment about the dead soldier was very un-BJ like. Maybe they gave him that line to show how he has changed from the fresh faced kid puking during his first encounter with war.

    Frank was both human and Frank-like here.

    Good point on Margaret should have said the nurses needed to be there because they are nurses and not she just wanted to be there. But it is a good moment in her transition from Hot Lips to Margaret.

    I can only recall one other time Hawkeye pulled rank. I think it was when Potter had high blood pressure and Klinger was sick but everyone thought he was goofing off. Hawkeye ordered him to clean up the office so Potter wouldn’t flip out.

    I think Goldman didn’t speak because extras who have a line get paid more than one who just stands around.

    If you ever do AfterMASHcast you have to do WALTERcast.

    Thanks to your guest for his military insight.

    1. Thanks for the kind review and the thoughtful analysis, George. I remember the incident between Hawkeye and Klinger. The only other instance I remember was between Hawkeye and an enlisted troop who used a racial slur, but there may have been more.

      1. The time Charles was acting CO and using Klinger as his personal servant. Hawkeye was trying to help the Dutch soldier whose mother was being deported and Hawkeye wanted Klinger to make a phone call for him. Klinger said he was busy and Hawkeye reminded him he outranked him.

        Today’s episode took place in 1951, but Potter arrived in 1952 and was had a scene with Nixon as VP. Of course, Potter was also there December 31,1950.

        You making your debut inspired me. I am going to apply for a spot next season. It is the end of Frank, so I want to get in on it.

        1. George, that’s another good one, and you’re right about the fractured timeline. Was it Chris Franklin who posited that each MASH episode took place in its universe, with its own slightly different continuity?

          Good luck! Hope to hear you next season!

          1. Another reason Goldman might not have had any lines was because, according to Jeff Maxwell over on his MASH Matters podcast, the real Goldman was incredibly shy and not good at saying lines. So he might have been offered them, but turned them down.
            Besides, in real life I’ve had buddies who enjoy just listening to us “talkers,” without saying a whole lot. So I never noticed that Goldman wasn’t actually speaking.
            (Jeff Maxwell’s podcast is wonderful, by the way. If you haven’t listened to it, I heartily recommend it. Rob was actually on an earlier episode!)

  5. Little tidbit, the song playing at the beginning of the ballroom dance montage was i believe, “The Tennessee Waltz” A song that gets more airtime in season five’s “Movie Tonight”! …. What a treat this podcast was about a wonderful episode!

  6. “You’re not old enough to drink.”

    I don’t want to read too much into a silly, off-hand comment, but in the ’70s there were movements to lower the drinking age to 18 to match the new voting age. Some states did, some didn’t, and some split the difference, allowing eighteen-year-olds to buy maybe beer or wine, but having to be 21 for hard liquor. My own state allowed beer of 3.2% alcohol or less (most beer is about 5). Through my puberty and early adultery we talked of “three-two” beer, or, derisively, “near beer.” A good chunk of the audience at the time would know that asking for a scotch rather than a beer might get you the admonishment that you aren’t old enough to drink.

    1. My read on that was that Radar was authorized to hand out beer to the wounded but the Army didn’t OK hard liquor. I just saw it as a joke.

    2. I was going to say something to that extent about the reference to laws/rules.
      Today outside the States there are countries that do that for example Denmark has a law that you must be 16 to buy anything above 0.5%(considered non-alcoholic) to 16.5% and 18 for anything above that. However that’s buying not consuming the rules around consuming is a bit more squishy.

  7. This is another one of my favorite episodes. I love the dichotomy of newsreel footage of “news” bumping up against scenes of our heroes trying to keep people from dying. The whole thing is just so well written, and acted, and edited. I have nothing to add that Rob and Capt Entropy didn’t touch on. Great podcast about another great episode!

  8. It was great to hear a brother in arms on the show. I was on the ground during Shock and Awe. It was really quite amazing. I recall being in southern Iraq and it was pitch black. We had no lights on so that the enemy couldn’t see us. Then there were bright flashes of light on the northern horizon. The flashes went on for about five to ten minutes. It stopped for a bit and picked back up. This went on for most of the night. Thanks to CPT Entropy and the other service members for that support to us ground pounders.

    The Army has a joke similar to the one that the Marines have. “There’s just one thief in the Army. Everyone else is just getting their shit back.”

    The news reels really help illustrate that Korea was the forgotten war. It didn’t have the same community support that WWII did. And it was not brought into living rooms like Vietnam was.

    In all, this was a great episode. I’m looking forward to next season.

    MAJ Joe

  9. Thanks very much for the kind words, Joe. We were very happy to support.

    You remind me of a conversation that happened several years after that. I was in a class that was mixed civilian gov’t employees and military personnel. Some of the civilians had picked up on the inter-service banter and felt sure enough of themselves to try it out. They had just started in on a fellow Airman and I when, before I had a chance to respond, a special forces NCO classmate walked by. One of the civilians, thinking he’d get some better qualified help, asked the Soldier to join in their ribbing of the “Chair Force.” The NCO stopped, faced him, and said without a hint of irony, “I have nothing negative whatsoever to say about the United States Air Force.” Then he walked on. That took the wind out of their sails before we even got to parry, and they went to finish their break somewhere else. I never got the story of how that SF troop developed such a resolutely positive opinion of the Air Force, but I bet it was a good one.

    1. I can tell you for sure that the SF Operator had jumped out of a lot of Air Force planes. It’s likely that he also trained with the AF Rescue teams. Either way, we can tease each other with inter service rivalry. It’s like siblings teasing each other. One of my Air Force friends said that the Space Force gives the Coast Guard someone to make fun of.

      1. I’m sure you’re right, Joe. I’m hoping we provided some useful close air support at some point, too.

        I’m so happy that the Space Force named their people “guardians.” It makes me smile every time I hear it.

  10. Quick question: What happened to the MASH theme music to open and close each episode? I miss that. I realize the Apple ITunes commercials at the beginning are a necessary evil, but I’d trade those for the classic music. 🙂

    1. Now that the show is runnings ads, I have to be especially careful about using copyrighted material, and even more especially when it comes to music. So the theme(s) had to go.

      1. Thank you for the explanation. I miss the music as well, but I would miss MASHcast more if intellectual property lawyers got it shut down.

  11. “Deluge” is such a good episode, but I really don’t remember it well. I’m not sure if I’ve really watched it before. But the cat video. Of course I remember the cat video.

  12. Interesting as I was born one day before MASH ‘s first episode premiering. And I do remember specifically the cat playing ping pong during the first run of the show. Thanks Captain for your interesting debut.

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