Friday, April 17, 2020

Review of "Germ Warfare, episode 11 of season 1 of M*A*S*H"

Review of

Germ Warfare, episode 11 of season 1 of M*A*S*H

Four out of five stars

The demise of Spearchucker

 The main characters of the show are now being fully defined with the minor characters being set aside. This episode is the last appearance of Spearchucker Jones, a black physician. Supposedly, the character was dropped because there were no black physicians in the Korean War. That of course was false, the American armed forces were integrated at that time. The reality is that there was no room for the character in the series. With Henry Blake, Hawkeye, Trapper, Frank Burns, Radar and now Hot Lips, a seventh main character was unneeded.

 In this episode, a North Korean man is occupying a hospital bed and Frank Burns wants him gone. At first Henry Blake agrees, but he softens to allow the man to stay in camp for 24 hours as long as he does not take up a hospital bed. When the man needs blood, it is discovered that Frank Burns is the only person in camp with that type.

 Hawkeye and Trapper tap Frank for a pint when he is sleeping and they transfuse the blood into the North Korean, afterwards the patient reacts as if he has hepatitis. Since it could have come from Frank, Hawkeye and Trapper must keep Frank from operating or having any interaction with others until he tests clear. Since he and Hot Lips are desperate for a tryst, they must do all they can to keep Frank isolated until they can confirm that he is free of hepatitis.

 Spearchucker has only a few lines, there is an emphasis on the relationship between Hot Lips and Frank. It is clear at this point that the character is superfluous to the continuing evolution of the main characters. Linville has polished his repertoire of facial expressions, mannerisms and tones of voice that will make him one of the most attractive villains in comedy. He has always been an underappreciated actor in the series. When it comes to physical comedy, he was hands down the best in the show.

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