Smilin' Jack was the 94th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, and, also the 22nd episode of the fourth season of the series. Written by Larry Gelbart and Simon Muntner, and directed by Charles S. Dubin, it first aired on February 3, 1976.
A chopper pilot with diabetes, dead set on bringing in the most wounded from the front to be the 'Chopper Pilot of the Year', continues flying against the docs' orders.
Full episode summaryEdit
The 4077th gets a visit from Smilin' Jack (Robert Hogan), a hot-shot chopper pilot, who is working on attaining the record of Chopper Pilot of the Year, by bringing in the most wounded.
Jack visits Hawkeye in O.R., and then asks out a nurse. He then visits his old friend Col. Potter.
Potter and Jack talk about old times, and work out a trade for some supplies. Before Jack leaves, though, Potter notices an old scratch on Jack's hand that he says he patched up months ago. Jack dismisses it, and leaves.
Later that night, Jack is having drinks in the O Club with Hawkeye and B.J., and he's hustling them for drinks by pulling off a trick involving a hypodermic needle. The jovial mood is broken when Potter arrives, officially grounding Jack upon completion of a physical. Hawkeye and B.J. do the work up, and Jack seems in good shape, except he's unwilling to give them a urine sample. He's so hostile, the doctors bluntly ask him what Potter suspects. Jack fesses up - he's got diabetes.
Hawkeye and B.J. try and press upon Jack the risk he's taking being up in the air while having diabetes. Jack insists no one is grounding him - no one.
Later, Jack jumps in his chopper and heads to battalion aid, in an attempt to pick up four wounded soldiers at one time, therefore beating the record in what he knows will be his last chance.
Col. Potter tries to get him to land, but Jack won't listen. He does manage to bring four wounded back to the 4077th, setting the record. Jack is thrilled to have set the record, and willingly hands his pilot's wings and insulin syringes to B.J., symbolically ending his flying career.
In a side plot, Radar befriends Corporal Owens, one of the soldiers brought in by Jack. Owens is afraid of returning to the front, having been wounded twice, but he feels better after Radar gives him his lucky four leaf clover. Radar tells him, "It's a bit squished. I had it in my pocket when a Jeep ran over me. But mostly it works, though."
Days later, Jack and Owens prepare to leave the 4077th for Seoul. Just as they leave, chopper pilot "Dangerous Dan" comes in with another load of wounded, thus taking back his record. Jack ruefully accepts his fate.
Research notes/Fun factsEdit
- This is the first episode directed Charles S. Dubin, who would helm 44 episodes of the series.
- Another installment of The Young Sherman Potter Adventures: he mentions another pilot he knew, Duncan McShane, who used to throw grenades from his WWI biplane at targets.
- This is one of the few times either Hawkeye or B.J. follow Army Regulations and pull rank.
- During the final triage scene, Hawkeye calls "Roy, Dennis!" when he needs two corpsmen to carry a litter - only the backs of the corpsmen are seen, but they are probably Roy Goldman and Dennis Troy.
- When the chopper is first landing, the PA operator is heard calling "all medical personnel to their stations." Certainly they wouldn't need the entire medical staff when it's only one casualty and Radar is very obviously aware of that. Also, driving an ambulance up to the pad would be overkill, so to speak. A litter jeep or 2 litter-bearers would've been more appropriate for a single casualty, especially one who didn't seem too badly wounded.
- Tribute to Korean War allies. The mention of the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment is historically accurate although the date may be wrong. From 22–25 April 1951, at the Battle of the Imjin River, the British 29th Brigade was attacked by three Chinese divisions. One of its units, the 1st Bn Gloucester Regiment was surrounded and outnumbered ten to one but were told to hold on for as long as possible. After three days, they were almost completely wiped out, having lost 620 men killed, wounded or missing. But their delaying action blunted the Chinese attack, allowing other UN forces to regroup and finally halt the Chinese offensive. Hill 235, where the Gloucesters made their stand is today called Gloster Hill, in honor of the action.
- Timeline fix. The reference to the Battle of the Imjin River fixes the date at April 1951. That's a bit strange, though. Why would they tally up the scores for chopper pilot of the year in April? Surely it would be done at year end in December? Then again, it is clearly not winter in this episode. Likewise, Mitchell remarks that the front line is at the Yalu River and MacArthur's Headquarters - yet the Yalu campaign was winter in November/December 1950. Likewise, MacArthur was relieved from command April 1951.
- Another example of MASH fantasy in which the crazy Chopper pilot overloads his chopper with 4 wounded-yet somehow makes it safety; in fact Bell_H-13_Sioux capacity was three [including the pilot]; trying to take off with anything over that limit say 4 or 5...would have seriously overstrained the capacity of the chopper to move
Guest stars/Recurring cast/Edit
- Robert Hogan as Lieutenant Smilin' Jack Mitchell
- Dennis Kort as Corporal Howard Owens
- Alba Francesca as Lieutenant Cathy King (uncredited)
Great lines/Quotes Edit
(Hawkeye and Potter talk in the O.R.)
- Hawkeye: Of the three wars, Colonel, which would you say was the worst?
- [Radar On P.A.]: Attention all personnel. By the close of today's fighting the 1st Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment has lost an estimated 500 men of its 600-man complement.
- Potter: Each and every one, Hawkeye. Each and every one.