M*A*S*H episode
“Dear Ma”
MASH - Radar in Dear Ma
Radar writes a letter to his mother, Mrs. O'Reilly, about the people and goings on in camp in "Dear Ma" in Season 4.
Season 4, Episode # 17
Number (#89) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) John Fujioka
Rollin Moriyama
Byron Chung
Lynne Marie Stewart
Redmond Gleeson
Kellye Nakahara
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: G-515
Writer(s) Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell
Director Gene Reynolds
Original airdate December 23, 1975
IMDb logo IMDB Dear Ma
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"The Price of Tomato Juice" (G‑519) "Der Tag" (G‑522)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Soldier Of The Month" (G‑514) "Deluge" (G‑516)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 4 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes


Dear Ma was the 89th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, and, also the 17th episode of the fourth season of the series. Written by Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, and directed by Gene Reynolds, it first aired on December 23, 1975.


Radar's letter home recounts the latest round of foot inspections, and how Colonel Potter's wife's premonition of bad luck comes to fruition. This is another episode in the by now familiar "letter home" narrative format.

Full episode summaryEdit

Radar writes a letter home to his mother, telling her about the recent goings-on at the 4077th.

Radar has been helping Hawkeye in giving the camp a monthly foot inspection, which goes smoothly except for Margaret, who can't stand Hawkeye's joking around.

Meanwhile, B.J. buys an expensive watch on the cheap from a former patient, claiming he needed the money for an operation for his wife. Hawkeye has to break the news to B.J. he's been scammed, showing him that there are no works inside it. B.J. is infuriated - "And I operated on that guy's chest!" Hawkeye finds the whole thing funny, having heard of this scam before.

Another day, Radar came across a North Korean soldier who wandered into the Mess Tent to get some food. At first he doesn't realize the guy is North Korean, but it dawns on him just as the soldier runs out of the tent with a tray full of food. He bumps into Frank chasing him, spilling food on Frank's shirt. Frank is not amused. Later when a South Korean General inspects the Mess tent, Burns attacks him thinking he's North Korean; General Pak nearly breaks Franks wrist.

Hawkeye, still doing the inspections, tells Frank it's his turn, but Frank is hostile and refuses. Hawkeye lets it go for the moment.

That same night, Col. Potter gets shot in the butt by a sniper while he and Margaret were delivering supplies to some locals. Hawkeye and B.J. remove the shrapnel, with Potter having to pretend he's fine while on the phone with his wife - she called, having a premonition that something bad has happened to her husband.

Wounded arrive, and one of them is the soldier that scammed B.J. Laying on the table, he gulps in fear when B.J. promises he'll have him "working as well as that watch you sold me."

At the end of the night, Hawkeye and B.J. lie in wait for Frank. They grab him, and pull his shoes off, to reveal...painted toe-nails?

Frank is ashamed, and B.J. asks if that isn't Margaret's color. Frank fesses up and asks it not be mentioned in the report. Hawkeye agrees, writing that Frank suffers from some discoloration "due to actions involving a hostile manicurist!"

Radar ends his letter to his mother, telling her how much he misses her.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Another episode in the "letter home" narrative format. This time it's Radar's turn.
  • Radar's math is off. With 200 people in camp, there would be 2,000 toes to inspect -- not 20,000.
  • Gwen Farrell is credited as "Nurse Able", but -- unless she's in the deep background in a crowd scene -- she is not evident anywhere in the aired version.
  • Lynne Marie Stewart (as Nurse Fox) is the nurse who immediately gets up just as Radar sits down in the mess tent.
  • Hawkeye's line to Radar "Come along Robin" is a reference to DC Comic's Batman.
  • Hawkeye's line to Radar "Lead on, MacDuff" is an often misquoted reference from Shakespeare's Macbeth. It should be "Lay on, MacDuff."
  • Klinger remarks on Matthew Ridgeway as commanding general in Korea. He held that post from April 1951-May 1952; yet B.J. came to Korea September 1952.
  • Hawkeye tells Radar that the law requires a third party present when a male doctor examines a female patient when Hawkeye is examining Margaret's feet. However, back in Season 3 (Check-Up), he gives Margaret a complete physical alone with her in her tent.

Memorable quotesEdit

(Hawkeye has shown B.J. that he's been scammed about his watch)

  • Hawkeye: I'll do you at 9 o'clock.
  • B.J.: How will I know?

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

Uncredited appearances:

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.