M*A*S*HCast #113 – End Run

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 5, Episode 17: End Run

Special Guest Star: Danny Ulrich

Air Date: January 25, 1977

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15 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #113 – End Run

  1. Fun fact to note for this episode. According to Nielsen’s ratings, it was the lowest rated episode for season five. The reason it went against the TV mini-series Roots.

  2. Rob, I thought you asked a really interesting question about how Hawkeye and BJ would react if they lost the use of their hands, and could no longer be surgeons. Of the two, I think BJ would handle the change better, because I think he already has something that’s more important to him than his vocation, and that would be his family. I could even see BJ becoming a stay-at-home dad after the war, if that were a thing in the 1950s.

    As was highlighted in “The More I See You”, Hawkeye doesn’t really have anything more important to him than being a surgeon, and I believe he would have a much harder time adjusting. I could see Hawkeye obsessing over the loss of his hands in a manner similar to Marvel’s Dr. Stephen Strange. Of course, that would ultimately have led Hawkeye to become Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme, which could have opened up some interesting character development and story opportunities in later seasons of the show. (Could he have called himself Doctor Hawkeye, or would Clint Barton have taken issue with that?)

    Thanks for another remarkable episode.

    1. Since posting my initial comment, I can’t help wondering what a Doctor Strange played by Alan Alda really would have been like.

  3. Excellent review of a slightly better than average MASH episode, Rob and Danny. I appreciate Danny’s reflections on how MASH’s evolution benefited the show and probably added to its length. Would that we could all evolve so well with the changing seasons of our lives, without compromising our principles or losing sight of who we are.

    Thanks also for the Suicide Hotline info and the encouragement to get help, Danny. It really matters. I would add, to anyone thinking about suicide, that you really have no idea how shattering and cratering your death would be to those around you, and especially those who love you. Getting help is hard, but it’s worth it. You may feel like you have no options and you just want the pain to stop. Call 988 in the US; other countries have their own! You can look them up! The counselors will help you realize you have options you never thought you had — or that you really can do the options that seem impossible.

    The episode may have only touched on the topic, but as you’ve already demonstrated, any excuse to get the word out is a good one.

  4. this made a life long wheelchair user think “Wow being in a wheelchair sucks. But my god how much worse would it be if I used to walk?” mind blowing
    minor thought Radar likes FOOTBALL? Not baseball?

  5. Excellent episode…as always. I noticed something for the first time as I re-watched the episode after listening to the podcast. In the beginning scene, after Billy has been hurt and a medic is taking care of him, he asks how the other wounded soldier was. After the medic tells Billy he is fine, Billy says “thank, God.” To which the medic says “you’re welcome.” In itself, it is a humorous exchange. It seems to have added depth later when Hawkeye talks about wanting to be God. Both Hawkeye and the medic are men trying to get through the war helping others. I wonder if John Hess wrote both of those lines in the same episode on purpose or if it was just a coincidence?

  6. Danny & Rob – thanks for a terrific show – I could listen to you guys chatting MASH for hours.
    Three thoughts on the medical storyline (I have absolutely no insights to add on the Klinger/Zale boxing sub-plot!)

    1] Phantom pain is a really weird symptom; my very first job as a fresh-outta-Med-School, extremely junior doctor was working for a vascular surgeon. One of the operations he performed fairly regularly was to amputate legs. Our cases were due to diabetes, smoking or a combination of the two, not a traumatic war injury (Public Service Announcement: Don’t Smoke, Kids – It’s *really* bad for you!) Whilst many of those patients were surprisingly grateful to be shot of a limb that had been causing them intractable pain for many years, the phenomenon of post-operative Phantom Pain was not that unusual, often persisting for months after the operation. The cause of Phantom Pain is still not well understood; we don’t know if it’s something that comes from the stubs of remaining nerves or the spinal cord or the pain centres in the brain. And it’s not an easy pain to control, even with modern medications.

    2] If Stanley ever needs to refer to a counsellor, I’m thinking Radar has a rosy future ahead of him as a highly intuitive and effective clinical psychologist . What an amazingly kind, empathetic and patient-led consultation Radar conducts; he gets the patient to a whole new level of understanding with the subtlest of nudging. I would like the M*A*S*H writers to script all of my patient consultations going forward, please!

    3] The main plot of this episode brings me out in goosebumps over the challenging & conflicting issues of consent that Billy’s leg surgery throws up. In the UK – and I assume in the US – any procedure requires the physician to inform the patient about what is involved, what the risks and benefits to the procedure are and to get the patient to consent to going ahead with the procedure. Billy’s consent in this story is highly conditional – “If you can’t save the leg, don’t save me”! Now… this is set in the 1950s when doctors were a whole lot more paternalistic, and Billy has shown up in a MASH unit in the middle of a war zone, and both of those factors could radically affect the understanding about what the role of a consent process entails. But in modern day, non-conflict medicine, I don’t think a surgeon could proceed with an operation with those kind of instructions from a patient. (But that doesn’t make for an exciting TV drama!)

    Thanks Danny for the shoutout to suicide support agencies; wholeheartedly endorse your wise words encouraging anyone who needs a listening ear to reach out for help.

    PS Irreverent old medical joke: Q. What’s the difference between a surgeon and God? A. God doesn’t think he’s a surgeon…

  7. hey Rob over the whole series do they talk more about football or baseball I mean there’s all the mudhen jokes but there this episode and the fact that the movie is a giant football joke. What ya think?
    I Know my father and uncles always said baseball was much bigger in the early 50s

  8. I loved the Jell-O joke. When Rob said to wear your helmet the next time you’re around Jello-O made me think of the jokes about Army Food.

  9. Baseball was a much bigger deal than football in the early 1950s. The NFL was bush league compared to today. But college football was a big thing then a farm boy listening to Iowa games on the radio wouldn’t be unusual.

    As for getting his consent before amputation, this is a war zone and he has a badly mangled leg. Much different than a diabetic who has time to weigh his options. Also, I wouldn’t take his plea to let him die if Hawkeye can’t save his leg seriously.

    I think Hawkeye and BJ could adjust if they lost an arm. The war made them surgeons and could probably drop back to being a regular doctor. I think Charles, a classically trained surgeon, would have the most trouble converting to the life of a one armed man.

    Or if Frank lost an arm. Would he fall apart, leave his wife and become a criminal? Take out his frustration by killing another Indiana doctor’s wife and framing him for the murder?

    In AfterMASH, there was an episode where a black guy had trouble adjusting to his prosthetic leg because it had a white flesh tone. So Father Mulcahy painted it black and his mood improved. A different character, but I like to think it was a shoutout to this episode.

    I enjoyed the discussion and felt the ending PSA from your guest was very appropriate.

  10. Harry Morgan’s direction in this episode is spectacular. In the earlier seasons, there were the occasional cinematic flourishes by various directors, but by this season the show’s house style had settled into what I think I can best describe as ‘TV Movie of the Week’; it was a step or two above the typical television show, with some low-key traces of film elements. But Morgan ignores all of that completely, and shoots this like an independent feature film. That opening shot alone is amazing to watch.

    I find myself wondering just how Billy wound up drafted. They didn’t mention that he had graduated yet (if he had, I expect he would have already singed a deal with a pro team), so let’s assume he was still a senior. The Army went to pains to not draft college students; during the Korean War, if you were in the top half of your class, you got an automatic deferment. Billy certainly seems smart enough to have been a good student…and even if he wasn’t, given his gridiron prowess, I suspect his coaches would have made sure he maintained good grades, by any means necessary. So I don’t quite get how he ended up in Korea.

    And it’s no surprise that Radar knew all about him. Then, as now, college football is a religion in Iowa.

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