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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season Seven: 1978-79

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

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"M*A*S*H" on Video or DVD


Year-End Rating: 25.4 (7th place)

The creative staff rises to the challenge of keeping the series fresh as the ensemble undergoes a slight, but perceptible shift. Actor Gary Burghoff had chosen to limit Radar's involvement to thirteen appearances a year, and Alan Alda occasionally spent more time behind the camera than in front of it. As the leading players regrouped, it naturally followed that supporting characters like Corporal Klinger and Father Mulcahy would blossom during the later years of the show.

Executive story editors Ken Levine and David Isaacs write a third of the season's stories, with multiple script contributions from story editor Larry Balmagia, story consultant Ronny Graham, Alan Alda, Mitch Markowitz, and Tom Reeder.

145 Commander Pierce    First Aired: September 18, 1978
Writer: Ronny Graham
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Stars: James Lough, Andrew Massett, Jan Jorden

The 4077th is astonished when Hawkeye becomes a petty tyrant and military bureaucrat after he's appointed temporary camp commander.

146 Peace on Us    First Aired: September 25, 1978
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: George Tyne
Guest Stars: Kevin Hagen, Hugh Gillan

Hawkeye, frustrated by the lack of progress at the Panmunjom peace talks, decides to make a personal plea to the diplomats.

147 Lil    First Aired: October 2, 1978
Writer: Sheldon Bull
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Stars: Carmen Mathews, W. Perren Page

Colonel Potter develops a more-than-casual interest in a spirited Army nurse who visits the 4077th on an inspection tour.

Radar, ever the guardian on morality, keeps a watchful eye on the happily married colonel, as he did under similar circumstances for Henry Blake in the third season's "Henry in Love."

148 Our Finest Hour (one hour)    First Aired: October 9, 1978
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs, Larry Balmagia, Ronny Graham
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Star: Clete Roberts

War correspondent Clete Roberts returns for a fresh documentary look at the lives of the doctors and nurses of the M*A*S*H 4077th.

This reprise of "The Interview" sums up the show's middle period, much as that previous pseudo-documentary put a cap on the first four years. Not surprisingly, there's very little here that wasn't expressed with equal eloquence in the earlier show.

149 The Billfold Syndrome    First Aired: October 16, 1978
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Kevin Geer, Allan Arbus

Major Sidney Freedman treats a shell-shocked medic who has completely forgotten who he was before the war.

150 None Like It Hot    First Aired: October 23, 1978
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs, Johnny Bonaduce
Director: Tony Mordente
Guest Stars: Ted Gehring, Johnny Haymer, Jan Jorden

Hawkeye and B.J. receive a mail-order bathtub during a heat wave and then try to keep a few dozen interlopers away from their portable oasis.

151 They Call the Wind Korea    First Aired: October 30, 1978
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Tom Dever, Paul Cavonis, Randy Stumpf

Klinger and Winchester provide emergency medical care to a truckload of wounded Greeks after a Manchurian windstorm strands them on the road to Seoul.

152 Major Ego    First Aired: November 6, 1978
Writer: Larry Balmagia
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Greg Mullavey, David Dean, Frank Pettinger, Phyllis Katz

Charles basks in the spotlight when his medical handiwork becomes the subject of a feature story in Stars and Stripes.

153 Baby, It's Cold Outside    First Aired: November 13, 1978
Writer: Gary David Goldberg
Director: George Tyne
Guest Stars: Terry Wills, Teck Murdock, David Dramer, Jan Jorden

Winchester is well insulated in a polar snowsuit as a GI fights to survive exposure during a record-breaking cold snap.

154 Point of View    First Aired: November 20, 1978
Writer: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Brad Gorman, Marc Baxley, Edward Gallardo, Jan Jorden, Hank Ross, David Stafford, Paul Tuerpe

The efforts of the doctors and nurses of the 4077th are examined from the perspective of a wounded soldier made mute by a throat injury.

The writers' recent efforts to deepen the characters from the inside out pay off splendidly in this classic episode that lets us see them from the outside looking in. From the winning charm of Margaret's bedside manner to the disarming compassion of Hawkeye's wisecracks, the dignity and warmth of the 4077th crew are revealed with a clarity uncolored by the cloying sentimentality that would sink so many of the series's later efforts in this vein.

155 Dear Comrade    First Aired: November 27, 1978
Writer: Tom Reeder
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Sab Shimono, Larry Block, Robert Clotworthy

A Communist spy goes undercover as Winchester's houseboy to gather intelligence on the 4077th's superior record of medical success.

156 Out of Gas    First Aired: December 4, 1978
Writer: Tom Reeder
Director: Mel Damski
Guest Stars: Justin Lord, Byron Chung, Johnny Haymer

Father Mulcahy and Winchester are the unlikely emissaries sent to barter for black-market supplies of much-needed sodium pentothal.

157 An Eye for a Tooth    First Aired: December 11, 1978
Writer: Ronny Graham
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Star: Peter Palmer

When Father Mulcahy is passed over for promotion yet again, he decides to attract attention by sneaking off on an emergency chopper mission.

158 Dear Sis    First Aired: December 18, 1978
Writer: Alan Alda
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Lawrence Driscoll, Patrick Driscoll, Jo Ann Thompson, W. Perren Page

In a Christmas letter to his sister, Mulcahy laments his inability to help the GIs in ways more concrete than just the spiritual.

William Christopher, the actor who played Father Mulcahy, commented on the strength of the M*A*S*H ensemble when he told a reporter, "It's heartening to work on this show because I know my time will come each year and there will be a show in which my character is expanded." He hit a jackpot in the seventh year when these three consecutive episodes cast him in the spotlight.

159 B.J. Papa San    First Aired: January 1, 1979
Writer: Larry Balmagia
Director: James Sheldon
Guest Stars: Dick O'Neill, Mariel Aragon, Chao-Li Chi, Stephen Keep, Johnny Haymer, Richard Furukawa, Shizuko Hoshi

B.J. devotes himself to a destitute Korean family in an attempt to fill the void caused by his own separation from his wife and daughter.

160 Inga    First Aired: January 8, 1979
Writer: Alan Alda
Director: Alan Alda
Guest Stars: Mariette Hartley, Phyllis Katz, Mark Favara

A twinge of jealousy quickly develops into pigheaded sexism when Hawkeye refuses to be outdone by a beautiful Swedish doctor.

Not surprisingly, this was one of Alan Alda's all-time favorite scripts. When it won an Emmy, the writer/actor/director gleefully cartwheeled to the podium to accept the award. Alda's confirmed feminism was never so pronounced, or frankly anachronistic, as in this story that revealed how far Hawkeye had come since the days of his amorous liaisons in the mattress-supply room--and how much further he had yet to travel.

161 The Price    First Aired: January 15, 1979
Writer: Erik Tarloff
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Miko Mayama, Yuki Shimoda, Ken Mochizuki, Dennis Sakamoto

Hawkeye and B.J. shield a young Korean draft dodger; and Potter's horse becomes a source of pride to an aged South Korean war hero.

162 The Young and the Restless    First Aired: January 22, 1979
Writer: Mitch Markowitz
Director: William Jurgensen
Guest Star: James Canning

Elder statesmen Potter and Winchester are dazzled--and intimidated--by the accomplished surgical technique of a young Army medical instructor.

163 Hot Lips Is Back in Town    First Aired: January 29, 1979
Writers: Larry Balmagia, Bernard Dilbert
Story: Bernard Dilbert, Gary Markowitz
Director: Charles S. Dubin
Guest Stars: Peggy Lee Brennan, Walter Brooke, Jan Jorden

Major Houlihan, her sour marriage behind her, asserts her new independence when she rebuffs the advances of a general; and Radar is smitten by a new nurse.

164 C*A*V*E    First Aired: February 5, 1979
Writers: Larry Balmagia, Ronny Graham
Director: William Jurgensen
Guest Stars: Basil Hoffman, Mark Taylor, Charles Jenkins

The 4077th is driven underground, literally, when heavy shelling forces the camp to relocate temporarily in a cave.

165 Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys    First Aired: February 14, 1979
Writer: Mitch Markowitz
Director: Harry Morgan
Guest Stars: Edward Winter, Neil Thompson, Bob Okazaki

Colonel Flagg returns to the 4077th to investigate Hawkeye's alleged Communist sympathies.

166 Preventative Medicine    First Aired: February 19, 1979
Writer: Tom Reeder
Director: Tony Mordente
Guest Stars: James Wainwright, Larry Jenkins

B.J. takes issue when Hawkeye prescribes unnecessary surgery for an overzealous commander to prevent him from jeopardizing the lives of more boys in battle.

The filming of this episode offers a glimpse into the writers' fluid approach to M*A*S*H story material. In the original script, both doctors colluded in the bogus appendectomy--a breach of medical ethics that actor Mike Farrell found morally reprehensible. Alda disagreed, and the actors launched into a heated onstage debate, which producer Metcalfe noted and later incorporated in to the final script. As the producer observed, "It was better than what any writer alone could have done to improve the show."

167 A Night at Rosie's    First Aired: February 26, 1979
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: Burt Metcalfe
Guest Stars: Keye Luke, Joshua Bryant, Joseph Di Reda

Hawkeye drowns his sorrows in an evening at Rosie's Bar, and one by one, the rest of the camp joins him.

Levine and Isaacs wrote this story "like a little play," just so they could place the characters in a fresh setting that everyone hadn't already seen a thousand times.

168 Ain't Love Grand    First Aired: March 5, 1979
Writers: Ken Levine, David Isaacs
Director: Mike Farrell
Guest Stars: Kit McDonough, Sylvia Chang, Eileen Saki, Michael Williams, Judy Farrell

Charles develops an infatuation for an earthy Korean call girl; and Klinger is amazed to find himself the object of a new nurse's fancy.

169 The Party    First Aired: March 12, 1979
Writers: Burt Metcalfe, Alan Alda
Director: Burt Metcalfe

B.J. refuses to let an evacuation dampen plans for the grand party he's arranged for the staff's relatives back home in the States.

Burt Metcalfe's first M*A*S*H script gave the producer new respect for his scripters--he would later compare writing to visiting the dentist. He and Alda dictated the entire second act of this episode into a tape recorder over an Italian dinner at Anna's restaurant in Los Angeles, a watering hole that frequently played host to the writers' brainstorming sessions.


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