Monster M*A*S*H
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Life With Father was the eighth episode of Season 3 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 56th overall series episode. Written by Everett Greenbaum and Jim Fritzell, and directed by Hy Averback, it first aired on October 29, 1974.

Synopsis[]

Mail from home worries Henry that Lorraine may be seeing other men. Father Mulcahy presides over a Jewish circumcision ceremony for the Korean-born son of a US GI.

Full episode summary[]

Mail call brings a little bit of something for everone: Father Mulcahy gets a letter from his sister, Trapper gets a letter in crayon from his daughter, and Hawkeye accepts a generic letter addressed to “Occupant – MASH 4077.” It turns out to be a visual puzzle where you can win a pony if you can find the faces of ten U.S. presidents in the picture. Hawkeye and Trapper quickly get to work on it.

Henry gets another delivery from the Tabasco Film Co: Yvonne, Renée, and Loretta in "What the Parrot Saw" and Renée, Loretta, and the parrot in "What Yvonne Saw." The films are set to be screened at midnight in the generator shed.

A young Korean woman toting a small infant wanders the camp looking for a rabbi, but nobody understands what she is saying. She first encounters Frank and Margaret, but they barely give her the time of day. Hawkeye and Trapper fare no better, but once the woman produces a letter from her G.I. husband, it becomes clear she is looking for a rabbi to perform a bris for her newborn son. The baby's father is a Corporal Walter Jacobson, who is busy at the front and wants his child to be circumcised in accordance with Jewish tradition.

Henry is elated over a letter from his wife, Lorraine, supposedly giving him permission to fool around with other women. But the more he thinks about it, the more anxious he becomes.

Trapper and Hawkeye continue to work on their presidential puzzle and encounter Frank and Margaret locking lips in the x-ray room. The majors tell the captains they heard about the circumcision and will file a report if they perform this “elective surgery.” Henry is unraveling and assumes Lorraine has been unfaithful, so taking Hawkeye's advice, he goes to visit Father Mulcahy, who also is struggling with the contents of his letter. His sister is a nun and she wants her brother's blessing to leave the convent and start a family of her own.

In a well-directed scene, Father Mulcahy and Henry alternate sharing their feelings about their letters without listening to a word the other says. Henry then proceeds to call Lorraine about the letter and his worst fears come true: she (supposedly) had an affair with an orthodontist named Al Franklin.

Radar tracks down a rabbi on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Essex offshore near Incheon. The rabbi will communicate bris instructions with Radar by morse code, which will be relayed to Father Mulcahy in the O.R. by radio. As Trapper and Hawkeye perform the surgery, Frank and Margaret take photographs for proof of guilt. The signal from the Essex fades before Mulcahy can finish, but the Korean mother finishes the ceremony – in Hebrew, no less.

Frank cackles about having the photographic proof to bust the captains, but foolishly hands the film to Trapper, who yanks it out of the canister to “inspect” (ruin) the pictures, thus defeating the antagonists again.

(The following scene is usually cut from syndicated airings.) At a party for the circumcised infant, Father Mulcahy realizes he's never seen a happier person than the Korean woman holding her baby, so he decides to give Kathy his blessing. A version of the traditional Israeli folk song "Hava Nagila" starts playing, and everyone gets up to dance. Then, in one of the most truly bizarre endings for an episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye shows up on a white horse, and he and Trapper gallop around the camp to practice for their impending pony.

Research notes/Fun facts[]

  • Henry Blake gets upset because his wife is unfaithful. But, of course, he has been equally unfaithful. He had affairs with Leslie Scorch, and later with some other nurses, and then with Nancy Sue Parker. In "A Smattering of Intelligence," Flagg reminds him of two more extramarital affairs before the Korean War - once with an underage girl and again with a "Rent a Girl" during an AMA convention. This could, however, be how men in the 1950s felt about their place. Husbands could sleep around, but it was wrong for wives to do so. This is later used in "Of Moose and Men," where Sgt. Zale also learns from a letter that his wife cheated, but we later find out that he, too, is cheating. His excuse was that he is a man and it was different for men.
  • It's entirely possible that Henry's wife Lorraine did not, in fact, cheat on him (to the extent that he had cheated on her), in that she referenced the 1945 film Brief Encounter. The plot of that film centers on two married people who become attracted to each other, start spending more time together, but never actually sleep together before deciding to part ways. Lorraine was most likely feeling guilty for just considering an affair.
  • In trying to determine who the baby's father might be, Trapper remembers a former colleague: "Captain Forrest", a brain surgeon who "fell down a lot." Hawkeye dismisses the idea, pointing out that "he left two years ago." This could be a reference to Captain Duke Forrest, a major character in both the book and film versions of M*A*S*H, but who was never seen in the TV series.
  • The footage of the aircraft carrier does look like one of the Essex class before they received their angled flight deck modernizations, which would put it in the correct time period. In the first sequence, the number 10 is visible on the superstructure, which would make it CV-10, the USS Yorktown, and not USS Essex (CV-9). The Yorktown was recommissioned for the Korean War but arrived two months after the armistice had been signed. The aircraft landing on the flight deck appears to be a Grumman F-9 Panther, which would be appropriate to the era. There's a tandem rotor helicopter in the second sequence. This would be about right time-wise if it is a Piasecki HUP Retriever, but if it is a CH-46 Sea Knight, then it would be anachronistic, as this type entered service in 1960. It is hard to tell the type given the poor quality of the footage.
  • Lots of familiar faces at the bris party: Kellye Nakahara, Gwen Farrell, Roy Goldman, and Jeff Maxwell.
  • It seems unlikely that a Jewish ceremony would begin with a blessing recited in King James English (from the King James version of the Christian Bible). The ceremony shown here is extremely abbreviated from a traditional bris, and no version involved placing a drop of wine in the baby's mouth.
  • Father Mulcahy mentions going through army indoctrination with a rabbi who was also a water skier and a paratrooper. In a previous episode, Hawkeye tells Trapper about a rabbi paratrooper who wouldn't jump on Saturdays ("5 O'Clock Charlie").

Guest stars/Recurring cast[]

Gallery[]

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