Dear Mildred was the 80th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H television series, and, also the eighth episode of the fourth season of the series. Written by Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, and directed by Gene Reynolds, it first aired on October 24, 1975.
Colonel Potter writes his anniversary letter to his wife. Meanwhile, Frank and Margaret try to find the perfect anniversary gift, only to be outdone by Radar.
Full episode summary
Colonel Potter writes a letter to his wife, Mildred, to let her know his first thoughts of the 4077th and wish her a happy anniversary. As Radar nervously cleans the Colonel's office, Frank and Margaret show up, asking the Colonel to pose for photographs for a “yearbook.” Frank takes a couple pictures, laughs like a fool, and they quickly depart. “Curious, aren’t they?” Potter wonders out loud.
Radar seeks out Hawkeye's advice in the Swamp, for he's uncomfortable around the new Colonel. He equates his experience with staying with an aunt, having to be polite and acting proper. Hawkeye understands and tells B.J. that Henry Blake was like a father to Radar. B.J. reassures Radar that Potter is okay and to give him a chance.
A lone chopper arrives with a mail delivery, so the three of them drive to the landing pad. The pilot asks if there is a sharpshooter in camp because there is a wounded horse close by and he wants to put it out of its misery. Radar talks the captains into picking up the horse and bringing it back to camp.
Potter returns to his letter and tells Mildred about Father Mulcahy, who he calls a “fine, young priest.” He relays a story about a movie night where technical difficulties led to a brief delay. The Father, along with Lieutenant O’Connor (Barbara Christopher, William's wife) give the crowd a preview of a musical number they've been rehearsing for the orphans’ show. While they may not be pitch perfect, their song generates a lot of smiles and is rewarded with a round of applause. (This scene is usually omitted from syndicated reruns, even though the first screenshot of the end credits shows Mulcahy and the nurse singing.)
The chopper pilot guides Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar to the injured horse, who is alone and wandering a canyon. Hawkeye and B.J. fail in their attempts to lasso the horse, but Radar the horse whisperer turns on the Iowa charm and easily ropes the horse. Frank and Margaret have taken the Potter photographs to Chin (Richard Lee-Sung), a local Korean artist, and request he carve a wood bust of the Colonel as an anniversary gift. As proof of his quality work, Chin shows them a typical 2×4 piece of wood, intoning “Used to be round.” He's a good negotiator, too, talking Frank up from $6 to $7.50 (“umb-day!”)
Back at camp, Hawkeye and B.J. work on the horse after avoiding a couple nasty equine kicks. The horse is a little high-spirited, but once sedated, they're able to extract a piece of shrapnel. Radar hides the horse in the motor pool. Hawkeye suggests he give the horse to a local farmer, but Radar insists on keeping it.
Chin delivers the bust to Frank and Margaret, and despite Frank's protest, follows them to Potter's office for the unveiling. They encounter Hawkeye and B.J., who have no gift, but tag along. Chin tries to sell them an anniversary gift for the Colonel, including “Hitler’s pencil box.”
As Potter wraps up his letter, the medical staff arrives to give the Colonel his gift. The wood carving looks very much like the Colonel, except the eyes are a little too Asian. Radar enters, stating he has a present for the Colonel's anniversary. Potter's jaw drops and eyes moisten as Radar leads the horse into his office. He's overwhelmed at the gift and doesn't mind at all when he slips on some manure (even though Burns expresses disgust), exclaiming “Son, to me, that’s a tiptoe through the tulips!”
The final scene shows the Colonel riding his new steed to the chopper pad as the others drive and run there, calling out, "Let's get 'em, boys and girls, let's get 'em!"
- First appearance of Colonel Potter's horse, who is represented as male in this episode, but later is referred to as Sophie.
- During the song that Father Mulcahy and Nurse O'Connor are singing, you can see William Christopher break character for a second when he puts his hand on the nurse's shoulder (the nurse was played by his real-life wife), then quickly removes it.
- William Christopher as Father Francis Mulcahy
- Richard Lee-Sung as Cho
- Buck Young as Dan
- Patricia Stevens as Nurse Able (character name in credits, not used in dialogue)
- Barbara Christopher as Nurse O'Connor