Monday, October 24, 2011

M*A*S*H: "Trick or Treatment"

Too bad the enemy was dressed to kill! Halloween in Korea: bobbing for shrapnel.
-Hawkeye Pierce

First time I ever heard of where being dead wasn't terminal.
-BJ Hunnicutt

Premiered November 1, 1982

It's Halloween in Korea, 1953. Hawkeye Pierce (in a Superman costume) and BJ Hunnicutt (dressed as a clown) are getting ready to attend the 4077th M*A*S*H unit's Halloween party at Rosie's bar. Their tent-mate Charles Winchester is on surgical duty, so he won't be joining them. Maj. Winchester doesn't care for Halloween or any of its trappings. Klinger shows up and says a group of Marines has arrived at Rosie's. One of these "pirahnas" has gotten a pool ball stuck in his mouth. Charles says he'll show the Marine "some Halloween spirit."

We get a funny scene where Charles taunts the Marine, Pvt. La Roche (played by George Wendt), who, indeed, has a pool ball stuck in his mouth. Later, Charles tends to another Marine who thought it would be a good idea to punch an electric fan at Rosie's. Charles calls this man "the lowest form of Marine life."

BJ and Hawkeye meet up outside with Col. Potter (wearing a makeshift cowboy costume) and Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (wearing an oriental-style silk dress).

Halloween plans are put on hold when new injured troops arrive. One of the wounded appears to be dead, he even has a toe tag attached. In the operating room, Potter, Hawkeye and Margaret all tell ghost stories to lighten the mood. Charles is dismissive of all the spooky tales insisting that "we're all adults here."

Another batch of wounded arrives, including a morbidly-thin soldier named Pvt. Scala, who is wounded but conscious. Hawkeye tries to cheer him up with jokes, Scala doesn't respond. Hawkeye asks Nurse Kelleye to get some x-rays of Scala. BJ is helping Marine Cpl. Hrabosky (played by Andrew "Dice" Clay), who has a head wound. Hrabosky says he was racing a jeep and accidentally crashed into a chicken coop, resulting in his injury. Nearby, the dead soldier has been left on the ground in a stretcher. Hawkeye calls for someone to cover him up.

A military police officer tells Potter that Hrabosky should be considered a prisoner, since he ran over the chickens. Potter points to all the blood on his hands from operating on wounded soldiers and doesn't "give a damn about any blessed chickens!"

Finally, two soldiers from graves registration show up to take away the dead soldier's body...but is he really dead?!

And will Charles make it through Halloween without experiencing a haunting?

J.A. Morris says:

I watched M*A*S*H religiously for about the first 18 years of my life, not much since then. This was the first episode I've watched in years.

"Trick Or Treatment" is a lot like other good episodes of the series: there are some laugh out loud moments combined with some very sad commentary about the futility of war. At the end of the show, the Army doctors have saved lives and will likely have to do the same tomorrow. Yes, it's formulaic, but that's okay. Plus, it's always funny & interesting to see actors (like Wendt and Clay in this episode) unexpectedly pop up in cameos before they were well known.

I imagine soldiers and doctors tried to celebrate Halloween just to make life during the Koren War a little more bearable. Alan Alda (Hawkeye) and Mike Farrell (BJ) are funny as always, but David Ogden Stiers (Charles) was funnier than usual in "Trick Or Treatment." Charles was often the but of the jokes, but he gets some of the best lines in this episode.

My rating:
3 jack o'lanterns

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