M*A*S*H episode
“Depressing News”
SSN09 206depressing
Hawkeye reminisces about Col. Blake while talking to B.J. at the O' Club in a scene from "Depressing News" in Season 9.
Season 9, Episode # 12
Number (#210) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) William Bogert
David Dozer
Rodney Saulsberry
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: Z-411
Writer(s) Dan Wilcox & Thad Mumford
Director Alan Alda
Original airdate February 9, 1981
IMDb logo IMDB Depressing News
Episode chronology
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"No Sweat" (Z‑402) "No Laughing Matter" (Z‑413)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Tell It to the Marines" (Z‑410) "Operation Friendship" (Z‑412)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 9 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

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 placing an order for 5,000 tongue depressors, the 4077th receives 500,000. Hawkeye decides to use most of them to erect a monument to Army inefficiency, and dedicate it to all the brave men and women who have passed through, 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 for 5,000 has somehow been turned into an order of 500,000. Hawkeye and B.J. initially think it's funny, but when B.J. mentions 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 they (the Army) didn't think there'd be a demand".

After a talk in the Officers Club, where Hawkeye compares the tongue depressors to his long gone friends and fellow doctors Trapper (replaced by B.J.), Henry (replaced by Potter), and Frank Burns (replaced by Winchester), he decides to use them to build a memorial to every wounded soldier who has passed through the 4077th. Father Mulcahy temporarily helps out, writing the name of a different wounded soldier on each depressor.

Hawkeye grows obsessed with his task he set for himself, working all day and night, even skipping meals. Col. Potter brings him some dinner, asking him what this all supposed to mean. Hawkeye answers, "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 Capt. 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. 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. Capt. 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?

Klinger's "headlines":

  • "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 surgeon who arrived, but then snapping one in half representing Col. Blake, who was killed before he could make it back home.

Guests stars/Recurring castEdit

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