Springtime was the fifth episode of Season 3 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 54th overall series episode. Written by Linda Bloodworth and Mary Kay Place, and directed by Don Weis, it first aired on October 15, 1974.
When spring arrives, Klinger gets word from home that his sweetheart back in Toledo wants to marry him. Father Mulcahy (with help from Radar) arranges to do this over short wave radio. Radar falls in love with a nurse, while a grateful patient won't leave Hawkeye alone.
Full episode summary
A genuine spring day is just the tonic to relieve the stress and fatigue of the O.R. Trapper wants to grab a couple nurses, a bottle of booze, and head into the hills, but Hawkeye would rather catch up on his sleep. Meanwhile, Radar is drawn to Lieutenant Louise Simmons (Mary Kay Place) who is taking advantage of the sunny spring day by sunbathing in front of her tent.
Frank & Margaret take to the countryside for a secluded picnic where Margaret is entertained by the flaring of Frank's nostrils. Lounging nearby reading poetry is Klinger, clad in his best Scarlett O’Hara frock. Radar delivers a letter to Klinger, informing him his girl back in Toledo, Laverne, has agreed to marry him.
Post-op contains a couple of characters. The first is a silent soldier who wandered in without dog tags and clutching a cat protectively. The second is a burly Marine (Alex Karras) named Lyle Wesson who was operated on by Hawkeye. Wesson, about 6′ 2″ and 250 pounds, pledges his gratitude to Hawkeye for saving his life and takes to following him around camp like a personal valet. Hawkeye and Trapper arrive at a packed mess tent for lunch, causing the hulking Wesson to “suggest” Goldman and Troy give up their seats and to “order” two trays of food from Igor for the captains to eat.
Radar has been getting nowhere with Lt. Simmons, so he turns to Hawkeye and Trapper for romance advice. Radar admits he is ignoring Simmons because she has been ignoring him, so Hawkeye makes the simple suggestion he ask her to the movie that night.
Henry, who earlier turned down Klinger's request to return to Toledo for the wedding, instead arranges for the corporal to marry Laverne over the radio by utilizing a ham radio operator in Iowa. After Henry explains the whole procedure to him, Klinger wonders if it wouldn't be easier for him to go home for the ceremony.
Radar approaches Simmons, who is hanging laundry outside her tent. He brings up tonight's movie (“Firstborn of Godzilla”) but she is not the movie type, preferring quiet evenings of listening to music and reading poetry.
The mute soldier with the cat is still occupying a bed in post-op. Frank threatens the soldier and gives him to the count of five to relinquish the cat, but Hawkeye steps in and attempts a more humane approach. Hawkeye talks the young man into giving him the cat, but then the soldier puts Hawkeye in a headlock. Fortunately, Wesson shows up and frees Hawkeye, who states they are now even, but Wesson won't hear of it.
Radar shows up at Simmons's tent armed with chocolate and Klinger's book of poetry. Simmons invites him in to read a poem, and as he starts reading, Simmons can't help but throw herself at him--literally.
In Henry's office, Father Mulcahy conducts the marriage ceremony for Klinger and Laverne over the radio and Klinger is decked out in a white wedding dress. Hawkeye and Trapper arrive for the festivities dressed to the nines and offer a wedding cake as a gift. As the radio communication is interrupted, Frank and Margaret barge in, demanding the marriage ceremony be ended or else they'll file a report. Wesson then enters, and when Frank insults Hawkeye, he twirls the Major over his head until he agrees to apologize and scrap the report. Radio reception is restored, Klinger and Laverne are married, and Radar trudges in, clothing askew and lipstick marks all over his face, claiming he was slaked. (Most syndicated airings cut this scene off at Laverne saying "I do.", then return from commercial at the part where the confetti is thrown and Radar walks in.)
In the rarely-viewed "epilogue" scene, it's pouring rain that night as the doctors enjoy a martini and the lull in fighting. Radar comes over asking if they have any poetry books, and the captains take to teasing Radar about his recent romantic encounter.
Research notes/Fun facts
- Radar is wearing his paratrooper scarf when he is "measuring out the camp grounds" and "accidentally" encounters Simmons hanging up her laundry.
- In The Complete Book of M*A*S*H, Jamie Farr talks about the scene where Klinger joyously runs across the field after reading that his girlfriend Laverne wants to marry him; Farr relates that despite his dress, he wore sneakers in the scene to make it easier to run through the field.
- The soldier with the cat is never named in the episode, but there is a credit for "Pasco," and that's him. Greg Mabrey also plays a wounded soldier in Season 5 "End Run". Compare his picture here with the one there. There is no other acting part in this episode that might conceivably be Pasco.
- Episode co-writer Mary Kay Place plays Lieutenant Louise Simmons. While many M*A*S*H regulars wrote episodes in which they appeared, Place is an unusual example of a M*A*S*H writer/actor who was not a series regular.
- Earlier that year (1974), guest star Alex Karras co-starred in the Mel Brooks comedy "Blazing Saddles" as the dim-witted thug Mongo. Karras's character Wesson channels Mongo at the end of this episode when, after twirling Frank and getting chastised by Hawkeye, he says, "Lyle bad person. Does bad things." To which Hawkeye good-naturedly replies, "No, no. Lyle good, Hawkeye bad."
- When Hawkeye is brought to the soldier with the cat, the nurse says that he won't let it go. Hawkeye says "My mother was the same way at my induction" (which would be when he was sworn into the Army). In future seasons, his mother had died when he was 10 years old.
- The first Godzilla movie did not come out until 1954, and then it was called "Gojira" and only released in Japan. The heavily-Americanized version - "Godzilla" - was released in the States in 1956.
- The thoroughly unromantic lines that Radar reads to Lt. Simmons (about retching and being sick on a ship) are from Rupert Brooke's poem "Channel Passage".
- After Klinger tells Col. Blake it would be easier for him to go home for his wedding, Blake makes a comment that if he let Klinger go home, the next time he sees him, he would be a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall. For some reason, that whole line appears to be dubbed - a viewer who can read lips would be able to discern what Col. Blake had originally said.
- This is the only time Klinger's wife Laverne (Esposito) Klinger is heard.
- This is the first time Jeff Maxwell as Igor Straminsky (billed here as "Server") is seen in his customary place serving food in the mess tent.
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Alex Karras as Lance Cpl. Lyle Wesson
- Jamie Farr as Klinger
- William Christopher as Father Mulcahy
- Mary Kay Place as Lieutenant Louise Simmons
- Greg Mabrey as Pasco
- Jeff Maxwell as Server (see Igor Straminsky)
- Roy Goldman as Corpsman (see Private Roy Goldman)
- Uncredited appearances by: