I LOVE LUCY
DICK VAN DYKE
MARY TYLER MOORE
ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
Season Seven: 1978-79
THE SEVENTH SEASON
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.
The 4077th is astonished when Hawkeye becomes a petty tyrant and military
bureaucrat after he's appointed temporary camp commander.
Hawkeye, frustrated by the lack of progress at the Panmunjom peace
talks, decides to make a personal plea to the diplomats.
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."
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.
Major Sidney Freedman treats a shell-shocked medic who has completely
forgotten who he was before the war.
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.
Klinger and Winchester provide emergency medical care to a truckload
of wounded Greeks after a Manchurian windstorm strands them on the road
Charles basks in the spotlight when his medical handiwork becomes the
subject of a feature story in Stars and Stripes.
Winchester is well insulated in a polar snowsuit as a GI fights to
survive exposure during a record-breaking cold snap.
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.
A Communist spy goes undercover as Winchester's houseboy to gather
intelligence on the 4077th's superior record of medical success.
Father Mulcahy and Winchester are the unlikely emissaries sent to barter
for black-market supplies of much-needed sodium pentothal.
When Father Mulcahy is passed over for promotion yet again, he decides
to attract attention by sneaking off on an emergency chopper mission.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elder statesmen Potter and Winchester are dazzled--and intimidated--by
the accomplished surgical technique of a young Army medical instructor.
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.
The 4077th is driven underground, literally, when heavy shelling forces
the camp to relocate temporarily in a cave.
Colonel Flagg returns to the 4077th to investigate Hawkeye's alleged
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."
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.
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.
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'