M*A*S*HCast - Season 6, Episode 2: Fallen Idol
Special Guest Stars: Matt McLean and Stefan Van Schaick
Air Date: September 27, 1977
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12 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #122 – Fallen Idol”
After listening to this, I can see why this episode bother you. The episode should’ve done the everyone’s kinda right type of plot and I believe that’s what they were trying to go for with Charles sort of being on Hawkeye’s side. That scene in particular is not important to the story but it shows a key difference between him and Frank. If Frank were there, he would’ve probably either join in on everyone yelling at Hawkeye or congratulate Hawkeye for yelling at a subordinate in his eyes in Radar.
While I probably wouldn’t put this at the top of my list, I really like this one. It’s an interesting exploration of how an inflexible perception of a friend, or someone important in your life, can be toxic to that relationship. And it’s really well acted by both actors. I do get why some people wouldn’t really care for it though, since it does lean into some of the worst traits of the characters.
I do see what you mean with Hawkeye telling Radar to do that. I do think that one difference between here and the previous scene you mentioned is that Radar actually seems to want to do it. He still seems to be doing it for a lot of the wrong reasons, so I still feel like maybe Hawkeye should have said something about that, but he’s less reluctant about it here than before. Maybe it wouldn’t be as awkward if it had a better set-up, but I do kind of agree that it was the weak point of the episode for me.
Also, about the syndicator cutting out all of Charles’ scenes: Blasphemy! How dare they get rid of the best character on the show?
I really enjoyed listening to your conversation!
I’ve seen a lot of hate for “Fallen Idol” online, but I have always liked it. If I can just suspend my disbelief enough to buy the whole set up…
Totally agree that it is incredibly strange for Hawkeye to tell Radar to go get himself laid, and their whole beautiful scene in Hepatitis is just forgotten about and that’s a shame. And also, the implication is that The Pink Pagoda is a place where you can meet ladies of the night, like at Rosies. Hawkeye, the great humanitarian who gets so upset when the local villagers gets hurt, tells his young friend to go buy himself a woman. That is just horribly wrong. I know morale was different in the 50s, but still!
But then again, this is the Hawkeye who in season 1 gets so upset that the young girl is being kept as a slave, basically, in “The Moose”, but two episodes later is perfectly happy to set one of his colleagues up to be assaulted. And one season later walks in on an attempted rape and just lets the perpetrator go, because he is a friend. So his morale is high when he wants it to be, I guess, other times it’s just what’s convenient for him.
But other than that, I like the episode. A big reason for that is that neither Hawkeye nor Radar is 100% right or 100% wrong.
No, Radar had no right to idolize Hawkeye, there is for sure enough on his shoulders. But Radar is 19. A kid in a strange, frightening place far from home. Of course he is gonna look up to the cool, suave man, who is the best doctor and gets all the ladies.
And Hawkeye never signed up to be someones idol, but he sure liked being the “big man” in other ways, being chief surgeon, number one, getting the ladies, getting away with a lot of sh*t just because of who he is as a person.
But also, being the way he is, annoying as he can be, he also helped keep up the spirit in camp in many ways.
Hawkeye was very wrong to react the way he did, getting so drunk and then yelling at a wounded boy, but he was eaten up by guilt. Scared, and ashamed of himself.
Of course the rest of the characters were gonna be on Radar’s side, a wounded boy who also got yelled at by the person he trusted so much.
I just really like this “gray-zone”, I can really see where everyone is coming from, and there are no right answers.
So, I think it’s a very good episode, with some stellar performances.
Interesting conversation. I have never thought that any of the interactions here were ‘wrong’. If anything, I think the purpose of this episode is to elevate the Hawkeye/Radar relationship. For 6 seasons (however many years that is in MASH time), Radar has been the innocent country kid and Hawkeye the infallible, cool Big Brother. You can’t stay like that forever. I definitely had hero worship of my older brother for a long time. But it had to change.
So maybe this is an apologia for Hawkeye. I don’t know if this will come across right.
I don’t think Hawkeye telling Radar to go to a brothel was so wrong. I think he probably never thought Radar would go through with it. As you point out, Hawkeye already did a beautiful, soulful conversation in Hepatitis. And yet here is Radar again bemoaning he hasn’t been laid … again. In the meantime, Hawkeye is probably mentally and physically exhausted from his day to day. Should he give the Hepatitis speech again? How many times can you give that speech? How many times does Hawkeye want to give that speech? Can you go to that well over and over? If Hawkeye is burned out (and I think him getting drunk like this is a hint maybe he is), he probably wants to roll his eyes. So maybe this time Hawkeye decided to say something different.
Think about the tongue click Radar does later in this episode. You say it is to denote that he has heard Hawkeye’s speech before about death and war. I bet Hawkeye has heard the ‘shucks, Im just a virgin from Iowa’ speech just as many times. Maybe he is so tired of hearing it that he just wants Radar to have sex so he won’t hear it again? He didn’t click his tongue or roll his eyes. So he said something maybe he thought would be considered a joke.
So when Radar actually tries to go to a brothel and gets injured, Hawkeye feels truly awful. Who knew Radar would do it!
And yes, Hawkeye is under tremendous stress and strain. So when he actually goes to apologize to Radar and Radar doubles down on being pissed, I’m not surprised Hawkeye loses his temper. He *has* been neck deep in death and blood, in a way Radar will never understand. The fact he still feels anything, still feels lousy enough to go and apologize to Radar, shows just how human he is. Good for him for taking the time. Imagine being derided for it. I am not saying yelling at Radar is the right thing. But I can understand how it could happen, in the right context.
In the end, I think both Radar and Hawkeye are both right and wrong in this episode. And in the end, the two are in a better place as friends.
This is definitely one of my least favorite episodes. I just don’t like it. The drama depends on a scene that just doesn’t work, and the idea that this is the first time that Hawkeye ever got SO drunk that he had to step away from an operation doesn’t really ring true, either. If it IS true, all of the doctors (except for Frank) have been SUPER lucky up to this point!
And maybe I’m a revisionist, but I never really felt like Radar “worshipped the ground Hawkeye walked on.” He respected him, yes, but he knew Hawkeye could be a jerk (he had been the butt of several of his jokes before). And I can’t recall any episodes after this where the Radar-Hawkeye relationship was all that different than, based on what happened here.
And the episode is just not funny. It’s the first one I can recall that is so prevalently dramatic with so little comedy.
This whole episode seemed forced and contrived, and that’s why I just don’t like it that much.
It’s funny the tricks that memory plays on you. Until I rewatched this recently, in my recollection, I’d have SWORN that the scene where they discover Radar among the wounded occurred outside in the compound during triage, that it was BJ who recognized him and called for Hawkeye, who instantly rushed over. Am I remembering a scene fro a different episode, or is this just how my subconscious thought the scene should have been done?
And Rob, I will take slight exception at your statement that the Archie Comics house style was interchangeable from the 1950s to the 80s and beyond. Actually, it was considerably different over that expanse of time. In the Fifties, Archie himself was drawn much more comically exaggerated, with buck teeth and a physicality that was more, for lack of a better word, “rubbery”. And because readership of Archie in the Fifties included more teenagers and young adults than in later decades, Betty and Veronica in particular were usually drawn in more of a ‘Good Girl’ sexy art style, so as to appeal to that readership. There’s a reason why whole generations at some point doubtless declared themselves on one side or the other of the Betty or Veronica line. By the Eighties thought, with the main readership being grade schoolers, the girls of Riverdale were largely sanitized.
And for the record, I think Radar was solidly a Betty man.
Actors tend to want to give their characters feet of clay, even if the audience would rather them just remain the unflappable archetypes we’ve come to know and love. Many a TV show has been derailed by actors who wanted to freshen up their performances with a little “out of character” drama. M*A*S*H of course escaped this for the most part, but it looks like this may be a shining example that even this show isn’t bullet-proof.
This episode was actually on MeTV a few weeks back and I caught the scene of Hawkeye running out to barf. Out of context I was thinking “How has this never happened before?”
I’ve always found this to be an incredibly powerful episode, but I also find it very difficult to watch. (I chalk that up to my conflict avoidant personality).
Like most relationship problems, I think both Hawkeye and Radar share some responsibility for this one. Radar’s hero worship of Hawkeye is definitely not healthy, and shows a lack of boundaries. I think Hawkeye is correct that he is not responsible for Radar’s feelings of disappointment at Hawkeye’s behavior. (Only Radar is responsible for his own feelings). That being said, while Hawkeye doesn’t necessarily encourage Radar’s hero worship, he hasn’t really done anything to discourage it, prior to this episode.
What I’m interested to see is whether or not this more mature relationship between the two characters carries forward in future episodes?
Thanks for another remarkable episode.
This episode and the last got me thinking about the MASH Multiverse. We all know that the actual Korean War lasted only 3 years while the show lasted 11. As Rob noted, Radar became much MORE innocent as the series progressed, and he wasn’t the only one that changed. So here’s where my comic-book brain went:
MASH-1: In this universe, the entirety of the war was played out with the original cast, with Henry being killed just before the armistice. This is a more slap-stick/cartoony universe.
MASH-2: Here Henry was killed and Trapper left 6-9 months into the war, then BJ came along. In this universe, Margaret is married (and Frank goes nuts) just before the armistice. Radar is much more of the innocent than he is in MASH-1 and there’s a bit more drama going on. Still slap-stick, but not so much a cartoon.
MASH-3: In this world, all of the Trapper/Henry stuff only takes a couple of months, with BJ being a fixture for much longer. Frank is gone by the 9 month mark, with Charles coming in for the rest of the war.
MASH-4: This time Frank is gone by Month 6, Trapper & Henry never existed, and Radar leaves around the 1 year mark. This is the much more grounded drama world, with flashes of comedy.
Hawkeye, somehow, remembers all of the worlds and realizes when they change. That’s why he completely cracks up at the end of the series, the world rewriting itself and ALWAYS trapping him there, experiencing almost 4 times the horror as everyone else, drove him over the edge.
Yes, I do think about this stuff too much.
I am absolutely ready and willing to accept the MASH Multiverse concept…although I prefer to call it the Klinger Continuum. 😉
Only if you spell it “Klinger Kontinuum”. 😀
I find this episode interesting because I think that, in telling Radar not to put him on a pedestal, Hawkeye is also telling the audience the same thing. By this point, MASH was a hit and people were holding Hawkeye up as a role model; however, this episode underscores that war is so ugly that it erodes goodness, even the inherent goodness of Hawkeye Pierce. Perhaps the audience was getting to comfortable with Hawkeye and MASH and this episode reminds them that war is never comfortable.