Officer of the Day was the third episode of Season 3 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 51st overall series episode. Written by Laurence Marks, and directed by Hy Averback, it first aired on September 24, 1974.
While Henry is away in Seoul, Burns and Houlihan are in charge, and Hawkeye is the officer of the day. His refusal to release a wounded Korean wanted by US Intelligence leads to a confrontation with Col. Flagg.
Full episode summary
With Colonel Blake away in Tokyo, Frank (and Margaret) are in charge of the camp. During formations, Radar almost gets his hand blown off by an errant cannon shot and Klinger incurs Frank's wrath for wearing nail polish, earrings and high heels. Frank names Hawkeye the Officer of the Day and gives him his armband and sidearm holster and gun which leads to Hawkeye naming all the things he will carry besides a gun. Frank scoffs, but Hawkeye stands firm, proudly sporting "the emptiest holster in the west."
Hawkeye uses OD duty to catch up on sleep ("I'm not sleeping, I'm just inspecting the inside of my eyelids") in Henry's office, but Radar wakes him to tend to a local indigenous person (LIP) named Kim Luck who requires medical attention.
A flurry of horn honking announces the arrival of Colonel Flagg, who has a wounded North Korean “guerrilla” in need of surgery so he can be taken to Seoul. Hawkeye rounds up Trapper for the surgery, but he's being fitted for a suit by local tailor, Mr. Yu. As Hawkeye stops Yu's boys from robbing Frank's stuff, Trapper selects a pinstripe material for a suit, though Hawkeye thinks the fabric is akin to Kleenex.
Klinger tries to sneak off to Seoul dressed as a nun, but an M.P. caught him and presented him to Hawkeye. Hawkeye warns Klinger of deserting while he is in charge and tells him to “slip into something secular and stay put.”
As Hawkeye returns to the office, he finds the Yu boys trying to pilfer the phone (“Someone said we could have this,”) and shoos them away. Radar brings another LIP requesting medical attention (Richard Lee-Sung in his debut) who also has an ID card reading Kim Luck.
Flagg insists on scrubbing so he can watch Trapper operate on his prisoner. He lets it be known he wants the North Korean patched up quickly so he can execute him in Seoul. Radar has an issue getting undressed in front of Hawkeye (see outtakes of this scene + others here) but his embarrassment is compounded when a female LIP slips in silently and sees him undressing. It's the 4077th's Kim Lucky day as another local uses the same ID card to get treatment.
The North Korean prisoner is recuperating in Post-Op, so Flagg wants to take him to Seoul immediately. Hawkeye and Trapper stall for time by telling Flagg the patient is unconscious and cannot be moved. Flagg demands to speak to the C.O. and a meeting is held in the mess tent with the captains, majors, and Flagg. Trapper states the patient is too sick to move. Flagg implores Frank to “lean” on the captains, but Frank, of course, fails, so an enraged Flagg brandishes his gun and demands the captains sign the release form. Reluctantly, they do.
Now evening, Flagg backs up an ambulance to have his prisoner loaded and warns the doctors "not to screw around with Intelligence." Under the cover of darkness, corpsmen load a certain hairy crossdressing corporal on the ambulance instead. “I promised him a trip to Seoul,” Hawkeye explains to a grinning Trapper.
Later, Hawkeye dictates a memo to Radar stating the report of the Officer of the Day, including the North Korean prisoner, who will "be turned over to Military Intelligence, as soon as someone can be found with military intelligence." Trapper enters to model his new suit. It's dashing and debonair, except the pinstripes run horizontally instead of vertically. What do you expect for $12?
Research notes/Fun facts
- Though credited, McLean Stevenson does not appear in this episode at all. It's explained that Henry is away at a medical conference.
- This is the first credited appearance of Jeff Maxwell, who had been appearing as an extra and bit part player since season 2. His character's name of Igor is given in the credits, but not in dialogue.
- Frequent extra/bit player Dennis Troy gets his largest showcase to date as Carter. Another frequent M*A*S*H extra Roy Goldman plays his (silent and uncredited) partner Willis.
- There are a large number of uncredited roles in this episode: the M.P. driver, the injured North Korean soldier, and Sang Yu's two kids are all prominent extras, but are uncredited as they have no lines. The third "Kim Luc" does have lines, but is also uncredited.
- Flagg is shown wearing the branch of service insignia of the US Army Military Intelligence Corps comprising a dagger through a heraldic sun surmounted by a heraldic rose. This is anachronistic, as the rose insignia was only adopted in 1962. Before that, the Military Intelligence Branch of the US Army used an insignia comprising a sphinx inside a shield.
- In a scene not shown in most syndicated airings, Radar is getting ready for bed while Hawkeye is sitting in Henry's office, and Radar is nervous about getting changed in front of Hawkeye. Radar mentions that he received his famed teddy bear from a brother that wasn't enlisted because he was 4-F and was working in a grocery store. This is the first and only time Radar mentions a brother that made it to adulthood (in another episode, he mentions a brother who died in childhood).
- Hawkeye becomes Officer of the Day again in Season 7, Episode 1 "Commander Pierce."
- Jamie Farr listed this episode, along with Big Mac, as his favorite episode.
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Edward Winter as Colonel Sam Flagg
- Jamie Farr as Klinger
- Jerry Fujikawa as Sang Yu
- Tad Horino as 1st Korean named "Kim Luck"
- Richard Lee-Sung as 2nd Korean named "Kim Luck"
- Jeff Maxwell as Igor Straminsky
- Dennis Troy as Carter
- Uncredited appearances by: