Back to Classic Sitcoms Home Page


Order Classic Sitcoms now at Amazon.comVisit Our Bookstore!
HomeClassic Sitcoms BookstoreAbout Vince WaldronContact UsOther ChannelsImportant Legal StuffComing Soon to This SiteSite Map
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season Six: 1977-78

SEASON ONE: 1972-73
SEASON TWO: 1973-74
SEASON FOUR: 1975-76
SEASON FIVE: 1976-77
SEASON SIX: 1977-78
SEASON NINE: 1980-81
SEASON TEN: 1981-82

Click Here To Order
"M*A*S*H" on Video or DVD


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 growth.

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 consultant.

121 Fade Out, Fade In (one hour)    First Aired: September 20, 1977
Writers: Jim Fritzell, Everett Greenbaum
Director: Hy Averback
Guest Stars: James Lough, Raymond Singer, Tom Stovall, Rick Hurst, Robert Symonds, William Flatley, Joseph Burns, Barbara James

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.

122 Fallen Idol    First Aired: September 27, 1977
Writer: Alan Alda
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Frances Fong, Robin Riker, Larry Gilman, Roy Goldman

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.

123 Last Laugh    First Aired: October 4, 1977
Writers: Everett Greenbaum, Jim Fritzell
Director: Don Weis
Guest Stars: James Cromwell, Robert Karnes, John Ashton

The Army questions B.J.'s medical credentials as a result of an elaborate practical joke staged by one of his old college chums.

124 War of Nerves    First Aired: October 11, 1977
Writer: Alan Alda
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Allan Arbus, Michael O'Keefe, Peter Riegert

Major Freedman arrives as a casualty, just in time to offer therapeutic advice to the squabbling staff of the 4077th.

125 The Winchester Tapes    First Aired: October 18, 1977
Writers: Everett Greenbaum, Jim Fritzell
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Stars: Thomas Carter, Kimiko Hiroshige

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 transfer home.

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 romantic involvement.

126 The Light That Failed    First Aired: October 25, 1977
Writer: Burt Prelutsky
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Enid Kent, Gary Erwin, Philip Baker Hall

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.

127 In Love and War    First Aired: November 1, 1977
Writer: Alan Alda
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Kieu Chinh, Susan Krebs, Soorah Ahn, Enid Kent

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 later seasons.

128 Change Day    First Aired: November 8, 1977
Writer: Laurence Marks
Director: Don Weis
Guest Stars: Phillip Ahn, Noel Toy, Glenn Ash, Richard Lee Sung

Winchester concocts a scheme to profit from the hapless villagers when the Army announces a scrip exchange.

129 Images    First Aired: November 15, 1977
Writer: Burt Prelutsky
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Stars: Susan Blanchard, Larry Block, John Durren

Against everyone's better judgment, Radar is determined to sharpen his image with a tattoo.

130 The M*A*S*H Olympics    First Aired: November 22, 1977
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: Don Weis
Guest Stars: Mike Henry, Michael McManus

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.

131 The Grim Reaper    First Aired: November 29, 1977
Writer: Burt Prelutsky
Director: George Tyne
Guest Stars: Charles Aidman, Jerry Hauser, Kellye Nakahara

Hawkeye is aghast at a military strategist's enthusiastic predictions of incoming casualty figures.

132 Comrades in Arms (Part 1)    First Aired: December 6, 1977
Writer: Alan Alda
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Stars: Jon Yune, James Saito

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 episodes.

133 Comrades in Arms (Part 2)    First Aired: December 13, 1977
Writer: Alan Alda
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Jon Yune, James Saito, Doug Rowe

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.

134 The Merchant of Korea    First Aired: December 20, 1977
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: William Jurgensen
Guest Star: Johnny Haymer

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.

135 The Smell of Music    First Aired: January 3, 1978
Writers: Jim Fritzell, Everett Greenbaum
Director: Stuart Miller
Guest Stars: Jordan Clarke, Nancy Steen, Lois Foraker, Richard Lee Sung

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.

136 Patent 4077    First Aired: January 10, 1978
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: Harry Morgan
Guest Stars: Keye Luke, Brenda Thomson, Harry Gold, Pat Stevens

Klinger loses Margaret's wedding ring; and the doctors commission a peddler of cheap jewelry to build a surgical clamp.

137 Tea and Empathy    First Aired: January 17, 1978
Writer: Bill Idelson
Director: Don Weis
Guest Stars: Bernard Fox, Neil Thompson, Sal Viscuso

Klinger and Father Mulcahy volunteer to retrieve a stolen cache of penicillin from the black market.

138 Your Hit Parade    First Aired: January 24, 1978
Writer: Ronny Graham
Director: George Tyne
Guest Stars: Ronny Graham, William Kux, Ken Michelman

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.

139 What's Up, Doc?    First Aired: January 30, 1978
Writer: Larry Balmagia
Director: George Tyne
Guest Stars: Charles Frank, Lois Foraker, Kurt Andon

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.

140 Mail Call Three    First Aired: February 6, 1978
Writers: Everett Greenbaum, Jim Fritzell
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Oliver Clark, Jack Grapes, Carmine Scelza, Terri Paul

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 union.

141 Temporary Duty    First Aired: February 13, 1978
Writer: Larry Balmagia
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Stars: George Lindsey, Marcia Rodd

The camp is enlivened by the arrival of a boisterous surgeon on temporary assignment to the 4077th.

142 Potter's Retirement    First Aired: February 20, 1978
Writer: Laurence Marks
Director: William Jurgensen
Guest Stars: George Wyner, Peter Hobbs, Ken White

Colonel Potter discovers that somebody down there doesn't like him when unflattering reports of his command are filed by someone in his own unit.

143 Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde    First Aired: February 27, 1978
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs, Ronny Graham
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Chris Murney, Joe Tornatore, Ron Max, Rod Gist

Winchester falls prey to drug abuse when he relies on self-prescribed amphetamines to help him through a long tour of duty.

144 Major Topper    First Aired: March 27, 1978
Writers: Allyn Freeman
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Hamilton Camp, Andrew Bloch, Donald Blackwell, Peter Zapp, Paul Linke, John Kirby, Michael Mann, Kellye Nakahara

The doctors resort to placebos when the morphine supply is contaminated; and Klinger has competition when a new nut is introduced into the 4077th.


HomeClassic Sitcoms BookstoreAbout Vince WaldronContact UsOther ChannelsImportant Legal StuffComing Soon to This SiteSite Map