Monster M*A*S*H

Dear Uncle Abdul is the twelfth episode of the eighth season of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, as well as the 185th overall series episode. Directed by William Jurgensen, the episode was co-written by John Rappaport and Jim Mulligan; it originally aired on December 3, 1979.

Plot synopsis[]

In a letter to his uncle, Klinger tells about all the crazy things going on in camp, and eventually realizes why he never got a Section Eight.

Full episode summary[]

During a cease fire, Klinger is writing a letter home to his Uncle Abdul, telling him about recent events at the 4077th when another batch of wounded arrive; a patrol of American soldiers run into a North Korean patrol and the two groups exchange gunfire. During surgery, Potter observes that the Korean war is different from the others in which he served, in that the reasons they are there aren't as clear. Father Mulcahy adds that there's no unity, no rallying slogans or songs, and after Hawkeye and B.J. come up with some humorous ideas for Korean War songs, Mulcahy becomes inspired to write one of his own.

Later while reading their mail, Hawkeye tells B.J. an old "clean" joke his father told him, but is put off when B.J. doesn't think it's very funny. Hawkeye becomes annoyed when he later finds out that B.J. is going around camp telling the exact same joke, getting all the laughs and the credit. The two are debating over who tells the joke better when a young soldier named Eddie (Richard Lineback) wanders into camp looking for his buddy Hank who was wounded and now recovering in Post Op. Another member of Eddie's unit mentions that he is what they call "a little slow" - not mentally retarded, but simply "not all that bright." Hawkeye and B.J. are shocked and disgusted that someone like that has been put in combat. But there's an even bigger problem: Eddie's buddy, Corporal Hank Fleming, is going to be shipped home in a couple of days leaving Eddie behind. Things get patched up when Hank reassures Eddie that he's tough and a good soldier. Their mutual friend Dave (Kelly Ward) steps up and becomes Eddie's new buddy now that Hank is leaving.

Klinger tries resuming his letter to Uncle Abdul when Potter calls him away for an assignment: sitting on Sophie wearing his Class A uniform while he paints his own portrait. Later, he is accosted by Margaret demanding to know where her new foot locker is when Charles comes in wearing hunting gear. Klinger, in a pre-arranged deal, goes out quail hunting in the brush as a bird dog for Charles, but their excursion abruptly ends when Charles' quarry sets off a landmine after being shot down. On their sheepish way back, Margaret again confronts Klinger about her broken foot locker. Klinger again reminds her that I-Corps won't replace it unless it is damaged in combat. Margaret then quietly takes Charles' shotgun and two bullets, goes back into her tent and shoots up her foot locker. Claiming she used it as a shield against an enemy sniper at near point-blank range, Margaret orders Klinger to get her a new one.

In the Officers Club, Hawkeye and B.J.'s debate about who's funnier resumes. Still at an impasse, they press a disinterested Klinger for his opinion; Klinger regales them with his observations of all the other goings-on in camp. He also quips that Hawkeye and B.J.'s joke-telling battle doesn't come close, and they wordlessly get up and walk away. Klinger finally wraps up his letter to Abdul saying, "See, Unc? It's no wonder I never got a Section Eight; There's nothing special about me. Everybody here is crazy!"

Hawkeye then turns to Father Mulcahy to ask how his Korean war song is coming along, and Mulcahy sings and plays what he has written: a slow and somber elegy, different from what he had penned before:

  • "There's no one singing war songs now like people used to do; no 'over there', no 'praise the Lord', no 'glory hallelu'.. Perhaps as last we've asked ourselves what we should have asked before: With the pain and death this madness brings, what were we ever singing for?"

Hawkeye quietly responds with "amen".

Memorable Quotes[]

  • Klinger (after Charles shoots down a quail that hits a landmine): Holy Toledo! Either that bird hit a landmine, or you just shot down a kamikaze pigeon!

Guest stars/Recurring cast[]

Production notes[]

  • In this episode, the inside of the Officers Club is arranged differently. In many other episodes, the bar is seen from behind; to wit, the viewer sees mainly what the bartender sees, but in this episode the bar is turned around and moved to the other side of the club where it is situated along the far wall.
  • Here is Father Mulcahy's first attempt at a Korean war song, which was more of a brighter ditty:
    • "Oh, my dear, I can't wait to see ya, but I'm here in South Korea; the picture you sent was quite an eyeful; I've taped it to my trusty rifle..."