Monster M*A*S*H

Operation Friendship is the 10th episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 208th overall series episode. It was written by Dennis Koenig and directed by Rena Down, it originally aired on January 26, 1981.


A malfunction in the autoclave causes its door to blow open. Klinger pushes Winchester out of the way but B.J., who happens to walk by, is injured. Hawkeye does not welcome the specialist which Potter calls in to treat B.J. Meanwhile, Winchester is full of gratitude to Klinger for saving his life.

Full episode summary[]

While standing over Klinger telling him how to do his job, the camp's generator fizzles out for a moment. That causes the autoclave to malfunction, and it begins to emit a loud whistle. Klinger gets up and pushes Winchester out of the way, just at the exact moment B.J. walks in to see what all the noise is.

The autoclave then blows its hatch, shooting a geyser of steam, blowing B.J. across the room into the wall.

Potter runs in, and sees that B.J. is shaken up. He sends B.J., who insists he's fine, back to the Swamp to rest. He then tends to Klinger, who broke his nose on the sink while shoving Winchester out of the way.

Winchester is stunned and humbled at Klinger's act of bravery, and insists on taking care of Klinger with the utmost care. To that end, he offers to fill in for Klinger as Company Clerk while he's on the mend.

Back at the Swamp, Hawkeye is nervous about B.J., who still insists he's fine. They take an x-ray, and don't see anything wrong. But Hawkeye isn't reassured when B.J. drops a martini onto the floor of the Swamp, the glass smashing to bits.

Potter calls in a replacement surgeon, who arrives later that night - Captain Norman Traeger (Tim O'Connor). He asks to examine B.J., brusquely shoving Hawkeye out of the way, who is immediately offended. However, Traeger is a specialist in this kind of injury, and he doesn't have any time for Hawkeye's opinions. Or B.J.'s, for that matter. After initially not finding anything, Hawkeye and Traeger break out into an argument, which Potter has to put the kibosh on.

The next morning, wounded arrive, and B.J.'s arm is causing him serious pain, but he won't let on. Hawkeye snipes at Traeger, who he is convinced won't be able to handle the pressure. But Traeger is a superb surgeon, quick and able. When Hawkeye butts in on one of his patients, he's embarrassed when he sees that Traeger has handled everything perfectly.

Helping out in Pre-Op, B.J. bumps his wounded hand, and he doubles over in pain. He heads into OR, finally admitting he's got a real problem - his hand is white as a sheet, and he can barely move it. They determine that B.J. has a Compartment Hemorrhage, and that if it isn't operated on immediately he'll lose the use of his hand. Hawkeye swallows his pride, orders Traeger to work on B.J. (since he's the expert), and takes Traeger's current patient. Traeger makes a crack at Hawkeye's expense, which B.J. doesn't take too well to.

Later, B.J. is recuperating, and both he and Hawkeye congratulate Traeger on his fine work. Traeger, instead of being magnanimous, says, "What did you expect? I'm not an intern, you know", and walks out of the Swamp. Hawkeye and B.J. break into stunned laughter over Traeger's ego. B.J. says he should've "died, right there on the table", just to show Traeger up.

Through all this, Klinger has been taking full advantage of Winchester's offer of servitude, milking him for numerous favors, including having his meticulously prepared meals delivered to him in bed. He even has the Major read to him - "I, the Jury" by Mickey Spillane (a sordid tale for the time and especially for the likes of Winchester). Winchester quickly regrets his vow, and finally breaks it when Klinger summons him on the PA system in the middle of the night to read to him again. Winchester arrives in Klinger's office and delivers his book in "a plain brown wrapper" - only to reveal he has shredded the tome to bits in frustration.

Research notes/Fun facts[]

  • Actor Tim O'Connor played an angry Colonel in Season Four's "Of Moose and Men", who also had a real problem with Hawkeye.
  • The B-plot revolves around Klinger taking advantage of Winchester's attempts to make amends. He has Winchester read him Mickey Spillane's "I, The Jury" out loud, but the paperback they read from was not published until the late 1950s.
  • Kellye Nakahara and Gwen Farrell make uncredited appearances in this episode. Kellye, in a non-speaking role, assists Winchester in the O.R. while Gwen Farrell has one line assisting B.J. in Pre-Op. The IMDb article on this episode lists Gwen's character as Nurse Able, but she is not addressed by name, so there is no basis for this conclusion unless the script can confirm otherwise.

Guests/Recurring cast[]