I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season Six: 1977-78
THE SIXTH SEASON
Year-End Rating: 23.3 (8th place)
The war continues for a sixth year of contained madness as the 4077th
welcomes David Ogden Stiers in the role of Major Charles Winchester
III, a skilled surgeon and vituperative adversary for B.J. and Hawkeye.
With the departure of Frank Burns, the ratio of slapstick to drama of
the early years has reversed. Stories in this third phase of M*A*S*H
often sacrifice belly laughs for the sake of the characters' emotional
Gene Reynolds ceases day-to-day involvement to become a special creative
consultant for the remainder of the run--a title he shares with Alan
Alda, reflecting the actor's growing involvement behind the scenes.
Burt Metcalfe continues as producer. Executive story editor Jay Folb
oversees the sixth season's scripts, along with story editors Ken Levine
and David Isaacs, and Ronny Graham, who signs on as a special program
Frank is shipped home after he goes bonkers in Tokyo, leaving the 4077th
to wonder if his replacement--the
skilled, articulate, and thoroughly strident Major Winchester--is much
of an improvement.
Burt Metcalfe hired the classically trained David Ogden Stiers after
spotting him on The Mary Tyler Moore Show where the actor had
played Mary's station manager during the show's final season. The producer
knew immediately that he'd found the man to play the William F. Buckley
of the 4077th. "David has this unique quality," he told TV Guide.
"He can be lovably unlovable."
For all his pomposity, Winchester finally gains our sympathy when
he musters a humble, if grudging, admiration for the skill of the 4077th's
surgeons. The new doctor may be insufferable, but he's not unlikable.
Metcalfe's hunch to replace Frank Burns with a more formidable adversary
was a master stroke. With Winchester, the show's central triangle achieved
a parity that made the balanced ensemble of the final years possible.
Radar comes to the painful realization that Hawkeye is only human after
the surgeon's performance is compromised by a hangover.
An ironically, by the sixth season, Hawkeye had already lost most
of the flaws that had rendered himmade him so human in the first place.
In the following seasons, Alda and the writers gradually purged the
doctor of his remaining excesses: Hawkeye's womanizing was reduced to
a series of halfhearted one-liners that rarely rated so much as a bemused
smile from the disinterested nurses; his onscreen drinking would be
severely curtailed; and even the selfish outrage that once fueled his
most elaborate practical jokes would be sublimated to the service of
his frequently self-righteous antiwar protests.
The Army questions B.J.'s medical credentials as a result of an elaborate
practical joke staged by one of his old college chums.
Major Freedman arrives as a casualty, just in time to offer therapeutic
advice to the squabbling staff of the 4077th.
Charles is the butt of B.J.'s merciless practical jokes, even as he
dictates a letter pleading with his influential father to get him a
There is a playful degree of heat generated when Margaret and Winchester
discover their meeting of the minds, but of course, nothing comes of
it. The writers are too smart to limit the characters with an ongoing
The M*A*S*H crew play amateur sleuths when they try to determine
whodunit in a mystery novel that arrives minus the final page.
Hawkeye finds a brief respite from the war when he romances an aristocratic
South Korean woman who shelters the local orphans in her home.
In the final scene, Hawkeye and Margaret raise a toast to the flickering
flame of romance in war. She drinks to a temporary reunion with her
estranged newlywed husband, while Hawkeye raises his glass to a love
he knows he'll never see again. It's a wistful moment that defines perfectly
the romantic pessimism that would underlie many of the best shows in
Winchester concocts a scheme to profit from the hapless villagers when
the Army announces a scrip exchange.
Against everyone's better judgment, Radar is determined to sharpen
his image with a tattoo.
Inspired by the 1952 Helsinki games, Potter organizes his own Olympics
for the men and women of the 4077th.
Mike Henry appears as Margaret's husband, Lieutenant Colonel Donald
Penobscott. The character's only other appearance on the show was at
his wedding, when he was played by a different actor, Beeson Carroll.
Hawkeye is aghast at a military strategist's enthusiastic predictions
of incoming casualty figures.
Lost behind enemy lines, Hawkeye and Margaret form a personal truce
and seek shelter in a roadside hut.
This two-parter was the only episode of M*A*S*H to be jointly
directed, by Alan Alda and Burt Metcalfe--though a Directors Guild rule
required them each to take individual credit for one of the two separate
Margaret and Hawkeye seek solace from enemy fire in each other's arms
and end up, briefly, as lovers.
A pivotal episode for the head nurse. Her night with Hawkeye signaled
the end of their comic enmity and foreshadowed her divorce from Penobscott,
setting the stage for her final evolution as a confident and secure
member of the 4077th family.
When B.J. and Hawkeye are unable to repay loans to Winchester, he extracts
petty favors from the pair until they're forced to even the score over
a few stacks of poker chips.
Hawkeye and B.J. wage a battle of wills with their bunkmate when they
refuse to bathe until Winchester ceases his agonizing French-horn practice.
Klinger loses Margaret's wedding ring; and the doctors commission a
peddler of cheap jewelry to build a surgical clamp.
Klinger and Father Mulcahy volunteer to retrieve a stolen cache of
penicillin from the black market.
Radar plays disc jockey to keep spirits from sagging when the 4077th
is deluged with an overflow of wounded from other M*A*S*H units.
Hawkeye performs delicate rabbit surgery to determine if Margaret is
pregnant; and Klinger is the willing hostage of a mad GI who demands
passage to Ohio.
A tardy sack of mail brings a batch of misdelivered love letters to
Hawkeye and a Dear John letter for Klinger, from his wife, Laverne.
The unfortunate corporal had married Laverne Esposito in a shortwave
ceremony during the third season, but never did get to Toledo to consummate
The camp is enlivened by the arrival of a boisterous surgeon on temporary
assignment to the 4077th.
Colonel Potter discovers that somebody down there doesn't like him
when unflattering reports of his command are filed by someone in his
Winchester falls prey to drug abuse when he relies on self-prescribed
amphetamines to help him through a long tour of duty.
The doctors resort to placebos when the morphine supply is contaminated;
and Klinger has competition when a new nut is introduced into the 4077th.