Penobscot from M*A*S*H

The Wiki says Penobscot got demoted. Is that correct and, if so, in what episode was the demotion mentioned?

I’ve got no memory of that at all, and I’m a huge fan of the show. I wonder if they’re confusing Donald with Sgt. Scully, her boyfriend who shows up a few times and is later demoted to Private after punching a superior officer?

As far as I know, the character was consistently a Lt.-Colonel during his few appearances and references.

I also vote for a conflation with Scully.

Did the audience ever SEE Penobscot, or was he like Charlie and Vera, from Charlie’s Angels and Cheers - never seen, only talked about?

I’m racking my brain and cannot remember Penobscot being demoted. There was a sergeant sent off to the States after harrassing Winchester. But that was due to the Hawkeye/B.J. treatment. He was sent with false orders and a bunch of other crap.

Yes, we saw Penobscot at least twice, but not played by the same actor.

In one episode he married Margaret. In another he participated in the MASH Olympics.

And I vote for Wiki being mistaken.

He was played by two different actors, first Beeson Carroll in an episode where he arrives at the 4077 and is married to Houlihan by Mulcahey, to Frank Burns’ distress. The imdb page for this episode incorrectly lists two actors in the role.

In a later episode, Col. Potter, dissatisfied with the level of fitness of the 4077 personnel, organizes a mini-Olympics which a visiting Penobscot (now played by Mike Henry) gets roped into. He blows it in the final contest when, set against a chubby 4077er in an obstacle-course run, gets overconfident and stumbles into some camouflage netting. By this time, Frank Burns had left the series.

Even later, Houlihan pursued divorce proceedings, seemingly entirely by correspondence.

I just read the article, I see no mention of Donald’s demotion

Somebody named otto took it out. Perhaps he can also edit the imdb page for the “Margaret’s Marriage” episode, which incorrectly lists both actors. The Mike Henry entry should be removed.

Looks like someone read this thread and made the correction.

Maybe it’s not taking longer than we thought.

Actually, he left it in the same episode when we first met Donald.

Well, that was Larry Linville’s last appearance, but his character didn’t depart at the time. The last shot of Frank Burns was him standing near the landing pad, watching Houlihan and Penobscot’s helicopter leave, saying only “Good-bye, Margaret.” The messy details of the character’s departure, involving him going on leave, getting severely drunk, diving into a hot-tub where some General and his chippie (who supposedly had some resemblance to Houlihan) etc. were revealed in the subsequent episode (the season six premiere) and Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) joined the 4077 as replacement.

Something I wondered is how long Houlihan and Penobscot were married. It was for about a season or less on the show, but the show covered 2 years of the war in about 11 years, so would her marriage have only lasted a month or so?

Well, yeah. Much like we heard about Trapper, Henry, and Radar long after they were discharged.

Funny how we never heard about Hojon(sp?), Spearchucker, or Ugly John though.

Well, my point is the character didn’t have a “good-bye” episode as such. Much like Trapper (whose departure was only described in the opening minutes of a season-premiere) but unlike Henry or Radar, whose departures were the plots of entire episodes with the actor fully participating.

It’s a trivial distinction, I admit. Just trying to avoid any implication there was an episode that ran: “Margaret got married and Frank transferred out.”

Good point. But I do wonder what the purpose of the show was. When it was written, did Linville already have plans to leave the show? Or did the writers come up with something they liked, and get Linville fired for the sake of the plot? I’ve been wondering about that for years.

IIRC, it had been stated that the character of Frank was too one-dimensional as compared to the newer, more complex characters of Potter and Hunnicutt. Burns was a good fit with Trapper and Blake, but not so much after the switch. The writers had taken the character as far as they could

Frank had no redeeming qualities–he was a miserable doctor, a miserable husband who cheated on his wife, and a miserable human being. He only took plasure in the misery of others.

Charles Emerson Winchester was a good doctor and he had some fine moments (helping the one-handed pianist, befriending a prostitute, his compassion for his stuttering sister). However, he was a snob who couldn’t stand Hawkeye and BJ. I loved it when he bested them is their childish competition. He also had the “New England” way of expressing anger, rarely blowing his top.

Ah. So did Linville know he was being fired when that episode was shot?

And I have to disagree with the writers. The Potter/Burn years were, IMO, the best episodes of the series.

Everything I’ve read on suggests Linville wanted out, and I find this very easy to believe since his character had become little more than a clown, to stand as contrast to Hawkeye’s increasing sanctimony, itself a product of Alan Alda’s increasing creative control.

Also of note is the show’s increasing conventional morality. When it started, Hawkeye was an unrepentant hound and the other three surgeon characters were all married and having affairs. Eventually, cast changes brought in two other married surgeons (Hunnicut and Potter) who were devoted to their wives (with occasional temptations they successfully resisted) and an unmarried surgeon (Winchester) whose drunken fling only happened after he thought he was married, though in his later hangover he had no memory of the entire business. Pierce himself still liked the babes, but wouldn’t sleep with one after she referred to Koreans as “gooks”. I mean, c’mon, you’re on an army post in 1950s Korea. Hearing the word “gook” has to be about as shocking and unexpected as hearing “What time is it?” or “Hello.”

I don’t doubt Linville knew his “Good-bye, Margaret” line was his last. I’m a little more curious if Wayne Rogers, while filming an episode about the departure of Henry Blake, fully grasped that his time was up, too.

As an afterthought, I’m pretty sure the Burns character could have been significantly improved and Linville could have played it convincingly. Winchester, at least, had some ability to fight back. Burn could have developed that, and it was even hinted in one episode when a practical-joke contest was on, although Frank’s final defeat was mandatory and predictable. Frankly (heh), I wanted to see him win.