Mash: Late Episode

In the episode of kids letters, how did Charles answer the little girl who sent him an allaeged birch tree leaf tree from New England?

I don’t know the answer, but in cast it helps find it the episode is called Letters and it was the 200th episode.

ETA: Also counted as episode 196. It depends on how you count a couple of two parters.

Dear Virginia,

It is with indescribable joy that I accept your gift. It is indeed testimony to the beauty that exists in all creation, but perhaps nowhere more than in a young girl’s heart.

Thank you both so much. This brought tears to my eyes as my daughter becomes a teen. Also, I noticed at least one episode that seems like a two-parter yet plays as one episode.

As much as Winchester was a PITA, a snob, and a bunch of other stuff they did a good job of implying that when push came to shove he was none of those things and was perhaps the most sensitive and moral of the whole bunch in his own way.

And an excellent doctor, to boot. All around, a better character than Frank Burns, but still useful as a foil for Hawkeye and BJ when the plot demanded a Frank-like action.

Exactly. I don’t know the name of the episode, but it’s one in which Hawkeye’s dad is in the hospital, and Winchester’s in Radar’s office with Hawkeye, while Hawkeye’s on the phone waiting to talk to his dad.

Winchester says, “While I have a father, you…have a Dad.”

Brings a tear to my eye when he says that.

Right before that, he looks at the leaf and says, “Autumn in New England…”

And I agree that Charles could be a very nice guy on occasion. He found classical music that could be played with one hand for a soldier who couldn’t play anymore due to an injury, he defended Margaret from a corrupt politician’s aide, and stood up for a soldier who stuttered. (His sister stuttered.) And when Hawkeye was being bullied by a superior officer, Charles said thoughtfully, “Save your hands, Pierce. Use a rock.”

And he took down Colonel Flagg.

And he was a good listener when Hawkeye’s Father was having surgery. It’s the difference between Charles and Frank. Frank was a character who never developed. Charles developed into a full person.

Don’t forget the chocolate he donated to the orphanage. It ended up on the black market in exchange for rice, but the thought was there.

The writers definitely learned a lesson from Burns. When I was younger, I loved to hate Burns and Winchester as the soggy wet blankets who ruined everything. Watching Winchester now, though, I sometimes appreciate far more the things he did than Hawkeye and BJ’s good guy routines.

As I recall it, Winchester was briefly angry when he learned that his gift had been sold, then properly chastened when he realized why. I am willing to bet he turned around and bought the kids rice.

Heck, watching the show now, it’s easy to start viewing Hawkeye and B.J. (especially the former) negatively.

BJ’s a mensch, but in the case of the doctor from Crabapple Cove, I think a little of that is intentional. Late-seasons Hawkeye clearly hated himself. Consider not only his discomfort with Radar’s hero-worship but his rejection of the advances of the comely brunette USO girl who had a crush on him; in letting her down, he listed most of his faults. I don’t think he was doing it to be ethical, either (or not simply to be ethical). Being with someone like her would have emphasized how utterly different the real Hawk was from her infatuation-goggle version.

That’s also the episode when he calls Klinger “Max”, when Klinger brings him a plate from the party to his tent, where Winchester has retired in embarrassment and contemplation.

Hawkeye’s self-loathing increased in direct correlation with Alan Alda written and directed episodes. My theory is that Alda wanted a more meaty role to work with and worked hard to create a three dimensional character out of what started as a pretty simple caricature.

Well, it’s not like Hawkeye hating himself is a monopoly. I kinda hate him, too. Jerk.

My memory may be wrong, but as I recall it, he occasionally called Klinger “Max” after that point. It wasn’t invariable, but it wasn’t unusual either.

Yep. And I’d also say that Alda realized that Hawkeye had become such a jerk that he could only remain tolerable if it was recognized that he was a jerk. Someone had to point it out, and the best person was Hawk himself. It turned his jerkiness from Frank Burns caricature to character development.

Thats how I recall it as well. While I think it showed him being a little more familiar with Klinger/Max, it was also a way that he showed more genuine respect to him as well.

He was briefly completely outraged.

Another good thing about Winchester is that although he had a high opinion of his surgical competence, his opinion was accurate - he was a darn good surgeon (unlike Frank, who was portrayed as either ridiculously sure of himself, or completely uncaring about his (low) level of competence).

I saw Larry Linville speak once, at my college. He was a very nice guy - when he was introduced, the host gave him a Bucknell sweatshirt, and someone in the audience yelled “Put it on like Frank” and sure enough, Larry wriggled into it in that stiff way Frank had.

“And hog jowls. We have seconds on them.”

Klinger called Winchester “Charles” first. Then Charles replied with “Max.”