For Want of a Boot was the 17th episode of Season 2 of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 41st overall episode of the series. Written by Sheldon Keller and directed by Don Weis, It originally aired on CBS-TV on January 12, 1974.
Unable to obtain a replacement boot by any other means, Hawkeye devises a complex plan to get a new one, by filling the requests of various people around camp. Eventually, the deal falls through, much to Hawkeye's chagrin.
Full episode summary
For 3 months, Hawkeye has been waiting for a new pair of boots to arrive, for one of his boots has a silver dollar-size hole in the sole. He tries plugging it with one of Frank's birthday cards, but Frank is not amused and demands it back (gross – I think I'd let him keep it after that...)
Hawkeye and trusty sidekick Trapper John (for that's about all he is now) seek out the supply sergeant, Zale (Johnny Haymer in his M*A*S*H debut), but he offers nothing except a complaint about the hole in one of his teeth. The doctors tell him they can't remove the tooth, but can take out his inflamed tonsils. Zale turns them down, citing he needs them to eat (!)
Zale is offered a deal: if the captains can arrange a dental visit for Zale, he gets Hawkeye the boots. The captains visit the camp dentist, Futterman, but he won't do Zale's tooth because it's considered cosmetic work and he has plenty of sick teeth to attend to. However, Futterman is extremely fond of Japan and agrees to help Zale if Hawkeye can get him a 3-day pass to Tokyo.
The captains move on to Henry, but he's in a bad mood after reading a leaked memo written by Margaret to General Mitchell about Henry's incompetence. Henry listens to Hawkeye's predicament and makes his own offer: get Margaret off my back and Futterman can have his pass.
Margaret is spitting nails over the perceived incompetence of Colonel Blake and tells the captains she is filing her report with the general. However, she can be persuaded and makes her own offer: throw Frank a surprise birthday party with presents and at least 20 guests and she'll reconsider filing the report. Trapper readily agrees, but Hawkeye just can't stomach the notion of debasing himself enough to throw a party for Ferret Face. A hasty exit from Margaret's tent puts his vented right boot in a large puddle which suddenly makes the idea of a party not so bad.
Radar is approached for his trading skills to obtain a birthday cake for Frank. An agitated Radar agrees to help but wants the company of the beautiful blonde Nurse Murphy to ease his loneliness.
Nurse Murphy (Susanne Zenor) is cornered by Trapper and Hawkeye after surgery. Murphy agrees to a blind date with a “Gary Cooper-ish” admirer, but only if this admirer shows up for their date with a salon-style hair dryer. Who has a hair dryer? Klinger! He turns down an offer of $100 and a free nose job from Hawkeye (they will deny being able to do this next episode), but will part with his hair dryer if Hawkeye and Trapper sign the Section Eight discharge papers, which need the signatures of four officers.
The plan goes into motion and starts well. Frank, who loves his party and his cake, is in a giddy mood, so Trapper thrusts the Section Eight papers into Frank's hands for a signature. He refuses to sign, protesting he won't let a “pervert” out of the army and then Margaret proceeds to rip up Klinger's papers.
Everything starts to unravel...Klinger takes his hair dryer away from Murphy, who throws Radar out of her tent when he arrives for the date. Spurned, Radar wheels the birthday cake away, which leads Margaret to announce she is filing her report, which angers a drunken Henry, who rescinds Futterman's pass, and the dentist now refuses to work on Zale's tooth.
With no new boots expected, Hawkeye resorts to wearing a golf bag over his right leg.
- Radar is wearing his paratrooper scarf when he shows up for his date with Murphy. This is the scarf he mentions in Season 2 "The Chosen People", and he continues to wear it whenever he is seeking out a nurse romantically.
- This is the third occurrence of Radar asking Henry to initial to indicate it will be in lieu of signing, and vice-versa.
- Debut episode for Johnny Haymer as Sergeant Zale.
- Hawkeye mentions sending his worn-out boot to his shoe repairman in Vermont. Vermont had previously been established as Hawkeye's home state; only later in the series would it be retconned to Maine.
- Anachronism: Henry mentions the film "The Blob", which was released in 1958.
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Michael Lerner as Captain Futterman
- Johnny Haymer as Sergeant Zale
- Jamie Farr as Klinger
- Patricia Stevens as Nurse Mitchell
- Sheila Lauritsen as Sheila (probably Lieutenant Sheila Sturner)
- Susanne Zenor as Nurse Murphy