Promotion Commotion was the 18th episode of Season 10 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 236th overall series episode. Written by Dennis Koenig and directed by Charles S. Dubin, it originally aired on March 1, 1982.
When Winchester, Hawkeye, and Hunnicutt are assigned to determine promotion recommendations, they are intensively wooed by the enlisted staff, while one bully physically threatens Winchester.
Full episode summaryEdit
It's promotion time again, and Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester are put in charge of the review process, selecting candidates to be recommended for promotion. Many of the enlisted men try and curry favor by being extra helpful and polite, some with outright bribery (Igor prepares Hawkeye and B.J.'s favorite food for lunch, for example).
But one of them tries a more direct route: Cpl. Hitalksi (John Matuszak), who is a mountain of a man, finds Winchester and asks to be recommended. When Winchester points out Hitalski's record of brawling has already disqualified him, he threatens Winchester with, as Winchester puts it, "a fist the approximate size of Ohio."
The three doctors put together a quiz on Army protocol, and all the candidates fail miserably - except for Klinger, who follows the regulations to appear in his dress uniform and aces every question. Hawkeye, B.J., and Winchester are so impressed they break into a round of applause.
Winchester tries to turn to Hawkeye and B.J. for help with Hitalski, but they point out that even if they went along and recommended Hitalski, Potter would bounce it. And even if he didn't, I-Corps would. That leaves Winchester with not a lot of good options.
A few days later, the promotion list is released, and Klinger has been promoted to Sergeant. He, Hawkeye, and B.J. are overjoyed, but it's not good news for everyone - Winchester's cot is already empty. Hitalski, after tearing up the Officers' Club, nevertheless finds Winchester (hiding in Post Op) and is about to punch his lights out when Hawkeye, B.J., and Klinger bust in. They tell Hitalski a supplemental list came out, with him on it. They also tell him that Hitalksi is being transferred back to the States, and they rush him into a jeep and out of camp.
Charles is stunned at the turn of events, then watches Klinger call the MPs, and inform them that there's a Cpl. Hitalski, who just wrecked an Officers' Club, threatened to the same to an officer and is carrying forged travel papers, on the way down the road. The MPs promise to arrest Hitalski, much to the relief of everyone.
Later at the Mess Tent, Hawkeye wonders how other applicants fared with the promotion list. He and B.J. get their answer when they are subjected to petty retaliation by Igor and Rizzo for being passed over.
Fun facts Edit
- Corporal Hitalski is played by Oakland Raiders defensive lineman John Matuszak, making "The Tooz" the second Raider to appear in some form of M*A*S*H during his playing career (defensive lineman Ben Davidson portrayed a football player in the original film - he's the one who spits water on Radar during halftime and is later thrown out of the game).
- Once Hitalski had physically threatened Winchester, he could have reported Hitalski to Colonel Potter immediately and had the MPs arrest him. Given Hitalski's prior record of violence, Winchester's testimony would have been enough for disciplinary action and possibly military prison. There was no need to wait until the Corporal was literally going to punch him.
- This enlisted promotion board would not stand up under an investigation for the following reasons:
- Rizzo is the motor pool sergeant, meaning he would have to hold a 63-series MOS. 63 is part of the Quartermaster Corps, so a quartermaster officer would need to be present at his promotion board.
- Igor is wearing E2 private rank, meaning he does not even need to appear before a board. Promotion from E2 to E3 only requires a clean record and recommendation from a CO.
- Klinger appears before his board in full-dress uniform, which is per regulations. However, he is also a medic. His board does consist of three medical officers, but they didn't ask him any questions pertaining to a medic MOS, although presumably, they were presented at some point.