Private Charles Lamb was the 14th episode of Season 3 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 62nd overall series episode. Written by Sid Dorfman, and directed by Hy Averback, it first aired on December 31, 1974.
Greek Colonel Andropolis provides the 4077th with food and drink for an Easter celebration, but soft-hearted Radar rescues the main course - a live lamb - from the spit. Radar tricks Henry into giving it a medical discharge and sends it home to Ottumwa. Thus, Hawkeye and Trapper invent the famed Spam Lamb! Meanwhile, enlisted man Chapman shoots himself in the foot to get out of the Army, mistakes Frank for Father Mulcahy, and confesses - enraging Frank.
Full episode summaryEdit
The 4077th spends the better part of a day working on a bunch of wounded Greek soldiers. Henry gets a visit from a Colonel Andropolis, who tells Henry how grateful he is for the treatment his men received. Andropolis says their Greek Easter is this Sunday and he's arranged for certain Greek delicacies to be airlifted from Greece to the 4077th. He graciously invites the Americans to join them in a feast including grape leaves, moussaka, lamb and "a bathtub full" of ouzo.
Hawkeye has a patient, Private Chapman, who shot himself in the leg to get out of combat. In a round-about way, Hawkeye lets Chapman know he knows what he did and tells him not to let the guy who shot him shoot him again. Chapman, who can't be more than 18, gets the message and tells Hawkeye he won't be back.
The Greek shipment arrives, including breads, olives, pickled vegetables – and a live lamb. The animal-loving Radar asks why there is a live lamb being delivered, so Hawkeye and Trapper regale him about the virtues of barbecued lamb, sending the Corporal into a panic.
While Frank complains to Henry about the “debauchery” of this Greek celebration, Radar steals the lamb and gives it a sedative to make it sleep. Frank intends on filing a complaint with Father Mulcahy. Not finding the Father in his tent, Frank writes him a note. A guilty Chapman shows up, and assuming Frank is the chaplain, confesses he shot himself to get sent back. Enraged, Frank demands Chapman's name and serial number as the Private realizes his error.
Radar gets Henry to sign an emergency leave for a “Private Charles Lamb.” When Henry questions who this is, Radar replies Lamb is short and has curly hair – and Henry buys it.
Frank arrives at Henry's office to bring charges against Chapman, but finds only Hawkeye and Trapper. Frank tells them how Chapman thought he was the camp priest and confessed to shooting himself. Hawkeye says the sentence should be 10 to 20 years – for Frank, for impersonating a priest.
Henry arrives, upset the lamb is missing and Greek command holding him responsible. Radar steps forward and admits the lamb is gone, for he [Henry] gave it a medical discharge earlier that day. Henry is angry for being tricked – and giving a discharge to a lamb who is now flying to Iowa to be Radar's “little brother.” Hawkeye and Trapper tell Henry to relax, and that they will supply a lamb.
The Greek festivities start, the ouzo is flowing, and most everyone is dancing, including Frank. Trapper brings Chapman in to check out what "a real celebration of life is like." Hawkeye provides the replacement for the missing entree: a spam lamb. While dancing, he spies Chapman smiling and smiles back, and also notices Frank dancing obliviously holding a bottle of ouzo, and address him as "Father."
In a closing scene not shown in most syndicated airings, the party is shown winding down as dawn approaches. Henry is snoggered with a bottle of ouzo and the remains of the spam lamb; Radar is dancing slowly by himself; Hawkeye and Frank are dancing arm in arm with two Greek soldiers (or rather, they're swaying side to side) until Frank passes out, all while Trapper whistles and strums on his ukelele. The scene ends with Henry falls face-first into the spam lamb, out like a light.
Research notes/Fun factsEdit
- Timeline Facts: The Greek Easter was on April 9 in 1950, April 29 in 1951, and April 20 in 1952.
- Tribute to Korean War Allies: This episode pays tribute to Greece, which sent an infantry battalion and a flight of 7 C-47 transport aircraft to fight in the Korean War. The Greek government originally intended to send a brigade, but following the UN successes in late 1950, the force was downgraded to a battalion. Called the "Sparta" battalion, the force initially comprised 849 men and was later expanded to 1063 men in 1951.
- This is one of the few times we see Trapper playing his ukelele (or other stringed instrument). It seemed they were trying to hold on to the guitar-playing doctor motif established in the original movie by Captain Bandini (played by Corey Fischer, who returned to the series just once to play the guitar-playing dentist, Captain Phil Cardozo, in Season 2 ("5 O'Clock Charlie"), then carried over into the series by Captain Calvin Spalding, who appeared in only 3 episodes in Season 3. This motif was dropped after this season.
- Though she receives billing in the opening credits, Loretta Swit does not appear in this episode. Her character of Major Houlihan is said to be in Tokyo.
- A major plot point is that Chapman mistakes Frank Burns for the camp priest, because Frank visits Father Mulcahy's tent and is there when Chapman enters. Father Mulcahy does not appear in this episode, and no explanation is offered for his absence.
- As happens frequently in season 3, Mr. Kwang is on hand in the O.R. to assist with the operations. Trapper and Hawkeye both give an impomptu lecture on medical history to Kwang while operating. Kwang is played by an uncredited extra with no lines, and mostly keeps his back to the camera and is never clearly seen.
Guest stars/Recurring castEdit
- Titos Vandis as Colonel Andropolis
- Ted Eccles as Private Chapman