M*A*S*HCast #134 – The Merchant of Korea

Season 6, Episode 14: The Merchant of Korea

Special Guest Star: Jeff Polier

Air Date: December 20, 1977

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9 responses to “M*A*S*HCast #134 – The Merchant of Korea

  1. This is one of my favorite episodes of Season 6. Now that doesn’t make this objectively the best of the series, but I always really liked this one.

    The plot you could never do with Frank, or at least not as good as you could with Charles. He’s the perfect person to have BJ get mad at over being indebted to.

    As for the Margaret/Donald “marriage” this is A BIG RED FLAG and something Margaret should’ve saw through. I’m not married so I don’t know how normal this is for couples, but this episode really paints Donald as not just a bad husband, but a con artist.

  2. Lovely podcast episode!

    And a charming episode of MASH, I really like it.
    It does feel a bit strange that it comes right after Comrades in Arms, though. Last we saw Margaret, she was writing the Dear Hank-letter (I don’t think she ever meant to send it, though, in my mind it was just a way for her to work through her emotions. Like Sidney does, in Dear Sigmund, kind of. It was just for her and Hawkeye).
    Her sending Donald her money does feels very strange. He is rich, right? She says so, and Charles talks about the Winchesters and The Penobscotts in another episode, like they are of the same social standing. It for sure feels like a way for Donald to control his wife. But, maybe it was the way of the 50s, I don’t know. Maybe a working woman was supposed to just hand it over for her husband to handle. I’m happy she seems over it towards the end of the episode, though, with her winnings. 🙂

    Also, I don’t usually like to talk about peoples appearance, but Margaret in that halter top? Damn, she looks hot! In every meaning of the word! 😉 And I really like it as a little insight to her character. She is all about rules and regulations, unless she can break them to get something she wants, and here – I’m going to assume it’s not in the army manual how to manufacture a shirt into a tiny top that covers very little. But she does it, and it’s freaking fabulous!

    One thing I never really understood about this episode, is how exactly Radar sees to it that Peg gets the money so quickly? Like, he is handed cash , and then what? I’m sorry if I’m stupid, but I’ve always wondered.

  3. I agree, this was a fun one. I love how it highlights Charles’ less favorable traits, as he tries to take advantage of BJ’s (and eventually Hawkeye’s) situation. And of course that makes it all the more satisfying as karma gets him in the end during the poker game. And it seemed much more fitting for his character, as opposed to his scheme in “Change Day.”

  4. Just my take on Charles asking BJ to close for him.
    ‘Closing’ is sort of finishing the surgery after all the real hard or intricate stuff is done. This is most likely sewing the abdominal muscle layer and then the skin layer closed. It is simple, time consuming, and almost anyone can do it. Usually new residents or even advanced medical students can do part of the ‘closing’. In some episodes, I believe even Margaret closes.

    The ‘surgeon of record’ is the person who did the ‘heavy lifting’ of the operation.

    Anyways, in the OR, Charles and BJ are equals (surgeons) even if their rank is different. But Charles asking BJ to close is Charles treating BJ like a subordinate. That’s why it feels a little galling.

    Great discussion and great guest.

  5. I have to agree with everyone, this is a fun episode, and satisfying that our entire cast is involved.

    For a different item, you wondered about how much horse blankets cost. Now I’m not an expert, but my wife is, so here’s what she says. A horse blanket covers the animal from the base of its neck, over its back and sides, and stops above the legs. It has several straps and buckles to secure it across the chest and belly so it doesn’t fall off even when the horse rolls on the ground with it on, which they do getting it filthy. A horse blanket today is around $200-$300, and a price of $50 would be appropriate in the 1950s as it was more expensive to make them but today materials and manufacturing have improved and make it cheaper adjusted for inflation.

    So I can’t help with the medical stuff, but when any future equine inquiries come up, I’ll check with my consultant. 🙂

  6. A fun episode and an interesting discussion.

    When Ken Levine did daily posts he discussed this episode. I added a comment and he was nice enough to answer it.

    I’ve always said that the two things the writers never understood were alcohol and poker. The guys could drain the still and be ready for OR in one episode and then in another Trapper, Hawkeye and Hot Lips can collectively drink only a half carafe of brandy but are three sheets to the wind.

    Most poker scenes in MASH have taken unusual turns to advance the plot. This one, though, really oversteps reality. With everyone at the table except Charles losing large amounts the only way that everyone could have gotten even would have been collusion. Then in the last hand Charles borrows money and then raises $30. Everyone stays in because they can beat Charles but that’s not the way it works. There is only one winner per hand so when everyone called the raise they were throwing their money away (with the exception of the winner of the hand of course).

    1. I have noticed this over the years as well. As silly as the poker scenes are, I do however feel it does work for this episode. It showcases that karma came back for Charles to “taking advantage” of Trapper and later Hawkeye.

  7. The opening music in the first scene threw me…for a moment, I thought someone accidentally grabbed a tape of the “Eight Is Enough” soundtrack. 😉

    And I don’t quite understand how the whole ‘send Peg money’ system works. Since I’ve never seen a Western Union office at the 4077, wouldn’t that mean that BJ would have to go to Seoul to wire it to her?

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