Depressing News was the 12th episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 210th overall series episode. Written by Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford and directed by Alan Alda, it originally aired on February 9, 1981.
After an order for 5,000 tongue depressors turns into 500,000, Hawkeye decides to use most of them to erect a monument to Army inefficiency, while Klinger presses his luck when he starts a camp newspaper.
Full episode summaryEdit
The 4077th gets a new shipment of tongue depressors, but to Potter's disbelief, the order of five thousand has somehow been turned into an order of five hundred thousand. Hawkeye and B.J. initially think it's funny, but when B.J. quips that there are enough tongue depressors "to last five years", Hawkeye suddenly finds no humor in the snafu, saying "we wouldn't have this supply if [the Army] didn't think there'd be a demand".
After a talk in the Officers Club, Hawkeye compares the tongue depressors to his long gone friends and colleagues: Trapper (replaced by B.J.), Henry (replaced by Potter), and Frank Burns (replaced by Winchester). Calling the snafu "monumental stupidity", he decides to use the depressors to build a "monument to stupidity". Father Mulcahy temporarily helps out, writing on each depressor the name of a wounded soldier who passed through the 4077th.
Hawkeye becomes fixated on the task he has set for himself, working day and night over the next two days, even skipping meals. Potter brings him a dinner tray and asks what his project is supposed to mean; Hawkeye replies, "I don't know...maybe nothing."
Klinger, under the thrall of his new scheme of running a camp newspaper, tells Stars and Stripes about Hawkeye's tower. A Captain Allen (William Bogert) arrives with a photographer, and he tells Hawkeye his sculpture should be taken on tour, thinking it will be "great for enlistment", which takes Hawkeye by surprise; when Allen reveals he is not with Stars and Stripes, but with Army Information, Hawkeye realizes that Allen wants to use the monument as a propaganda tool, which Hawkeye inwardly will not allow. Allen wants a picture of Hawkeye next to the monument, but Hawkeye forestalls his request saying he needs some time to make some final preparations.
Later, Hawkeye tells them the tower's ready. We see that the tower now has an explosive called Primacord (taken from a patient who was sent home) wrapped around it, and he has Klinger blow it up just as the picture is snapped. Captain Allen is flabbergasted as to why Hawkeye would blow up the thing he spent two days building. Hawkeye puts his arm around him: "Senseless destruction, that's what it's all about. Get the picture?"
Potter rebukes Hawkeye and Klinger for using explosives to kill the story, but Klinger points out that Army regulations state that they're required to dispose of munitions taken off the wounded. Potter gets the point and applauds Hawkeye and Klinger's handiwork, and then orders them to refill the hole left from the explosion. At first Hawkeye wants to keep the hole there as it's all he has left to remember the tower by, but then Potter shows him and Klinger his latest painting: Hawkeye standing next to the tower.
Klinger tries to shame Winchester into writing the cooking column by telling him that Igor has offered to write it. In the previous season ("Morale Victory"), Igor pointed out that he only serves the food, but that he gets the abuse from everyone for its poor quality, even though he doesn't cook it. Why would Igor writing a cooking column be plausible if he's not a cook?
- "Daffy Doc Sticks Out Tongue Depressors At World"
- "Tongue Depressor Tower Makes MASH Folks Say 'Ah!'"
- "Newsboy Robbed By Desperado Doc"
- "Furious Physician Nixes Sticks Pics"
In the Officers Club, Hawkeye lays down four tongue depressors on a table representing the four surgeons in camp, replacing one for each surgeon who had left with another one for each new surgeon who arrived, but then snapping one in half representing Col. Blake, who was killed before he could make it back home.