M*A*S*HCast #115 – Hepatitis

M*A*S*HCast -  Season 5, Episode 19: Hepatitis

Special Guest Star: Russell Burbage

Air Date: February 8, 1977

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14 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #115 – Hepatitis

  1. I think I would make an exception guest for when you get around to Fallen Idol, as a counterpart because that’s one of my favorite episodes of M.A.S.H.

    I certainly understand the hate, but I feel like it gets unfairly hated among the M.A.S.H. Fandom.

    Feel free to contact me at giovanni.orellana.89 @gmail.com

  2. When I think about “Hepatitis” I always think, “oh, I love that episode!” Then I watch it and realize I like the episode, it’s only the scenes with Margaret and Radar I love. 🙂
    But it’s a really good episode, I like how Hawkeye is a bit subdued, and has all the interactions with the rest of the characters, some funny, some serious.

    The scene with Radar is so sweet, I love when Hawkeye acts like a big brother. I love the “quiet” moments of MASH, when there is no big life and death situations, no crazy shenanigans, and we get so see a bit of what goes on with the characters and learns a bit more about them. Gary Burghoff really shines in this scene too.

    And the scene with Margaret – one of my favorites in the entire series! I agree that she and Hawkeye were not at a place yet where her confiding in him feels really believable, but I don’t even care, because the scene is so good!
    He has been so horrible to her on many occasions, when he should act like a professional. The creepy way the towers over her in “Check-Up”, when he can’t stop being a creep when he should be examining her appendix, when she bends over to get something in the OR and he tells her she should donate her ass to science, when wounded arrives in the night and she comes running out in her robe and he tells her she knows how to excite a doctor. Dude, just chill! Maybe Margaret would have been a nicer person if she didn’t have to deal with harassment all the time.
    Anyway, I love that she has come to a point where she can take him down ever so eloquently. We are not that far away from the Margaret who would stomp her feet and huff angrily at Hawkeye’s and Trapper’s shenanigans. Her respect-line is simply amazing, and actually important to me on a personal level. That is some beautiful writing right there!
    And I love that he actually listens and realizes he was out of line.
    Loretta Swit and Alan Alda are so good together, they really bring out the best in each other as actors. This whole scene is like a dance, the way they listen and react, the way the dialogue flows. Acting masterclass!
    And thank you for pointing out the little sound she makes when he is leaving! It’s so freaking funny; I love it so much!
    (On a side note – I always picture Donald’s mother as Emily Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls”. They just give off the same vibe 🙂 )

    And what a sad case of life imitating art, with Frank’s imaginary disease being what actually killed Larry Linville.

    Thank you for this episode, I really enjoyed it!

  3. Rob, I’ll agree with MarieKristina here. It’s a problematic episode of MASH with some nevertheless great moments, covered very, very well by you and Russell.

    Just so you know, the general officer ranks in the Army go like this:

    Brigadier General – 1-star
    Now colonels command brigades, but I think that’s where the name comes from. This is the rank wherein one learns to be a general.

    Major General – 2-star, division commander rank, and the last “permanent” rank one can hold — I.e., after this, the ranks are positional

    Lieutenant General — 3-star — can command a corps or a numbered army (think Patton’s Third Army) — goes back to the original meaning of “lieu” “tenant” – the tenant in lieu of the real captain, or in this case, general

    General — “full” general, can command a large major command like Forces Command or be Chief of Staff of the Army

    General of the Army — 5-star — This is equivalent to some armies “field marshall” rank. The entire US military has been too small to justify using this rank since WWII.

        1. You’re welcome, Corporal Captain Burbage! And I keep forgetting to sign with MY MASHcast name, bestowed upon me by Iron Guts himself — Captain Captain Entropy!

  4. I come in defense of the humble turnip! Not only are they delicious roasted, they’re also very tasty when thinly sliced and included in a soup.

    Slightly more seriously, I remember from various bug-out scenes that the canvas tents are draped over large wooden frames. I imagine it wouldn’t be too hard to nail a board or shelf to the frame.

    Most seriously of all, I always assumed that the conversation between the soldier and Radar didn’t make it to syndication because “different from other guys” could be read as “gay.” I wouldn’t be surprised if squeamish distributors or TV station managers wanted to avoid any blowback from narrow-minded viewers. I agree with Rob and Russell—there were other, less powerful scenes that could’ve been cut instead.

    Oh! One more thing: This feels like the beginning of Margaret’s transition from shrieking tight-ass to competent, warmly human, tough-as-nails Head Nurse Margaret. The depth Loretta Swit would bring to the character in later episodes and throughout the rest of the series is incredible.

    1. Max, I think the viewers would have to be pretty thick to read the Radar-Hawkeye scene that way, with Hawkeye’s talk about Radar saving something special for his wife. MASH had gay characters and even characters who were accused of being gay but weren’t who made appearances on the show. It was all handled tastefully, but at the same time unambiguously — especially for the seventies. So I hope that wasn’t why they cut it out. However, they say nobody ever went broke underestimating the audience, so maybe you’re right.

      You’re correct on the wooden frames. I wanted to make the same point but forgot. And I agree 100% about Margaret.

      1. I was actually referring to the soldier confiding in Radar (I think? I’m confused now.), but those are all good points. M*A*S*H was definitely ahead of the curve in so many ways.

        1. Ah. Sorry I misunderstood, Max. I should really use my glasses when I’m reading on my phone. Anyway, as Gilda Radner used to say, never mind.

  5. Great discussion gentlemen. I enjoyed Russell’s story about seeing Larry Linville in real life at a school event. I like that he was a nice guy but still laughed the same way as Frank. That is awesome. I know cast members like Loretta Swit have said how nice he was in real life.

  6. Even though it was a minor point, I really liked Father Mulcahy’s part in this episode, insisting that he has to keep doing his job, whatever it takes. He’s a gentle and kind and mild mannered sort, so it’s easy to forget that he has a quiet strength. But when pushed, he lets it out to fight for what he believes in. Many days, I wish I was as strong as Mulcahy and I’m inspired by him.

    Is there room for more praise about Margaret’s scene with Hawkeye? There is?! Great! What it said without being obvious is “I expect and deserve respect, not as a woman, not as an officer, but as a human being.” And I think that’s what gets thru to Hawkeye, where he realizes how he’s been acting, and relents. If just for a moment, because he’s Hawkeye. But such a great performance by Loretta.

  7. I appreciate the warning that this pocast episode would be negative. It was, and it wasn’t that bad.

    It looks like if you have a tent to yourself, you customize it. Look at Margaret’s tent with the paneling. So a shelf in the good Father’s tent is no surprise.

    I see the encounter between Hawkeye and Margaret to be just business as usual. Remember this series was supposed to be set in the early 1950s. Bosses back home were chasing their secretaries around the desk. Movies and TV programs were showing women as objects more than as people. I always find it very egotistical for people of one era to downgrade a previous era by applying current mores. If anyone had watched any episode from the first 4 1/2 seasons of MASH they would see that Hawkeye was acting very Hawkeye and Margaret was acting very Margaret.

    Margaret’s confiding in Hawkeye I think also is just the characters being themselves. Several times Margaret has stated her admiration of Hawkeye’s surgucal skill and has probably noticed that many people come to Hawkeye for advice. The only other person Margaret could have gone to would have been Potter and she didn’t have him in her tent at the time.

    Finally the scene with Potter and Hawkeye endorses my belief that psychaitry is overrated. I’ve often called psychaitry as being “rent a friend”. Any person can help another person if they know the person, listen carefully and provide advice only when asked. They didn’t need Sidney because Potter was just as good at listening. Just because Hawkeye said “Doctor, doctor, I’m cured” doesn’t mean he was no longer in pain. It just meant that mentally he felt better. And let’s face it — Potter’s advice was just as good as the non-advice that Sidney gave to Hawkeye when he was having nightmares.

  8. An addendum to the above about ranks of generals…

    John Pershing (who commanded a young Sherman Potter) was given the rank General of the Armies after WWI. So he outranked all the five star generals from WWII. He lived until 1948, but was basically retired although he received full pay until he died. He is sometimes said to have six stars, but no official insignia was ever designed for him and he always wore just four stars and was buried in a four star uniform.

    During the bicentennial, George Washington was declared (by an act of Congress) to outrank everyone who had ever served in the military.

    Listening to the episode, it felt rehashed. Hawkeye going around giving shots seemed the same as when he went around inspecting feet. I agree it wasn’t a very efficient method of immunizing the camp.

    The scene of him being a creep giving Margaret a shot was done when he was giving flu shots in the Trapper era.

    And haven’t they dealt with Radar being a virgin before?

    Why does Frank read the Crabapple Cove Gazette?

    Anyway, still a great review.

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