Temporary Duty was the 22nd episode of Season 6 of the M*A*S*H TV series, also the 144th overall series episode. The episode, which was written by Larry Balmagia, was directed by Burt Metcalfe and was originally aired on CBS-TV on February 13, 1978.
In a temporary personnel exchange, Hawkeye and Nurse Bigelow are sent to the 8063rd. B.J. and Charles have to put up with Hawkeye's replacement while the temporary nurse reconnects with Margaret, who is an old friend.
A temporary staff exchange sends Hawkeye and Nurse Bigelow to the 8063rd for a week, while another surgeon and nurse from their camp come to the 4077th.
Winchester is initially overjoyed at Hawkeye's being away for a week, and is in such a good mood that he even tolerates Radar's homespun homilies. But then the two temporary replacements arrive in camp, Captain Roy DuPree, a surgeon, and Captain Lorraine Anderson, a nurse. Lorraine asks about Margaret, who is an old friend whom she hasn't seen in three years. Margaret lets Lorraine stay with her in her tent while DuPree bunks in the Swamp with B.J. and Charles, who both quickly get a closer look at the kind of guy DuPree is.
DuPree is a 1944 graduate from the University of Arkansas, and he is also a full-fledged Southern "good ol' boy". Charles chides DuPree's mawkish sense of humor and boorish personality, but DuPree overlooks it saying he still likes Charles, though he incorrectly guesses that Charles went to Yale, which he aggressively corrects. DuPree is looking forward to all the fun the three of them are going to have together, but wounded are incoming, and it's time to go to work.
In the OR, Potter is having difficulty with a patient, and DuPree, in between his own patients, assists a grateful Potter, who becomes impressed with DuPree's handiwork. Meanwhile, Charles invites Lorraine over to observe him working on another patient. But Margaret raises an eyebrow when Charles and Lorraine start flirting with one another during surgery and admonishes Lorraine to keep the dialogue professional in OR. After surgery, Margaret rebukes Lorraine some more, and as Lorraine walks away she comments on how Margaret has changed.
Later in the Mess Tent, Lorraine is regaling Charles, B.J. and Father Mulcahy with a funny story from their nursing school days, and Margaret leaves in disgust. DuPree arrives and joins them just as Charles and Lorraine are getting up to leave. After remarking on how good the food is compared to the 8063rd, DuPree talks to B.J. about plans to add some decorations to the Swamp. When B.J. reminds him his stay is only temporary, DuPree tells B.J. that he intends to make a permanent change to the 4077th, which B.J. is inwardly not looking forward to. DuPree then brags about how much of a party animal he is, while B.J. remarks on how the camp also likes their peace and quiet. DuPree, despite B.J.'s protesting, turns to Mulcahy saying he should ease up on the soldiers, mentioning that he believes in "a little religion", but also believes in "a lot of good, clean, dirty fun". His words don't sit very well with Mulcahy, but he forgives him anyway and excuses himself from the table. When Potter enters the Mess Tent, DuPree catches up to him and makes his request to be reassigned to the 4077th. To B.J.'s dismay, Potter, who has taken a liking to DuPree, says he'll put it through as soon as he can.
Later, after being with Charles, Lorraine returns to Margaret's tent only to find her belongings packed, with Margaret coldly mentioning that she thought Lorraine would prefer bunking with the other nurses. Before she leaves, Lorraine again remarks about how Margaret has changed, and then hits a nerve when she says that Margaret sounds like "one of those rigid, sour old nurses we used to make fun of". Margaret finally opens up to Lorraine about what was on her mind: She resents that Lorraine is still as free and as open as they both were in the past while Margaret is not. When asked why she changed, Margaret explains that one night she was partying it up, and the very next day she found herself in Korea in charge of ten nurses; she felt that if she didn't toughen up her nurses would go soft. Lorraine suggests that Margaret should let her hair down with her friends once in a while and let them know what she's always known, what a warm and caring person she really is. Realizing Lorraine is right, Margaret gives her a hug.
In the Swamp, B.J. and Charles are lamenting about the probability of DuPree's permanent residence with them, with Charles remarking "It'll be like living in a prairie purgatory". Just moments later, DuPree returns, drunk as a skunk from Rosie's Bar. When B.J. picks up DuPree and is clumsily carrying him piggyback style to his cot, DuPree mentions he used to ride his dad's ponies like that back home. Charles, doing some quick thinking, asks B.J. who's turn it was to take Sophie for a walk. Quickly picking up on Charles' train of thought, B.J. plays along and says it's his turn. When they mention Sophie is a horse, the "camp mascot", DuPree begs them to let him take her for a ride, and they cautiously agree, telling him Sophie's stable is right behind the motor pool. DuPree eagerly takes off, and B.J. delights in Charles' sneakiness and asks where he learned to be so underhanded; he replies he learned it from watching him and Hawkeye, and they both happily venture out from the Swamp to watch DuPree make a fool of himself.
Sure enough, while DuPree is drunkenly riding Sophie bareback around the compound, Potter, disturbed by the noise, comes out of his tent, and when he sees DuPree on his horse, angrily orders him to dismount (he promptly falls off). Potter then growls that he doesn't want to see DuPree in his camp again, adding, "In fact, this war ain't big enough for the two of us!"
The next morning, Lorraine and DuPree are ready to head back to the 8063rd. Lorraine gives Margaret another embrace, and Charles was hoping to drink a toast with Lorraine before she left, but she declines as she has to drive back. Meanwhile, DuPree is badly hungover, lamenting about last night how he had no way of knowing Sophie belonged to Potter. After they leave, Margaret asks B.J. and Winchester to join her in a cup of coffee in the Mess Tent. At first surprised, they agree, looking at each other in slight amazement as to the change.
That evening, Hawkeye and Bigelow return. Hawkeye says that the surgeons and staff at the 8063rd hated him, thought that he was dull, and that "the 4077th had gotten the better end of the deal." After a few moments of feigning with B.J. as if they were sorry he was back, Charles says to him, "Pierce, I never thought the day would come when I would admit this... but God, I missed you!" He and B.J. give a big bear hug to a very surprised Hawkeye.
(Dupree downs the "Swamp hooch" in one gulp)
- DUPREE: Whyn't you boys put some whiskey in this punch?
- B.J.: You were a fire eater before you became a doctor.
- DUPREE: Shoot, down home my mama'd sprinkle this stuff on her ironing board.
- George Lindsey was known to TV fans for his portrayal of Goober Pyle (Gomer's cousin) on The Andy Griffith Show and its sequel series Mayberry R.F.D. After both shows left the airwaves, Lindsey (again as Goober) joined the cast of the syndicated country music show Hee Haw; he remained a member of the Hee Haw cast for 20 years (1972-92).
- Dupree graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1944; at least after his graduation he would have been subject to the draft for World War II 1944-1946; with at least 8 years service 1944-1952 his rank would have been a 1st Lt...Not a captain
- In a brief shot of the background where Dupree comes into the "Swamp" totally drunk a brief glimpse of the cupboard which was used by Frank Burns to hold a picture of his mother now has a picture of US President Harry S Truman-despite the fact that after December 1952 The Late Captain Pierce (TV series episode) the US President is Dwight D Eisenhower.
- In the full, unedited episode, Winchester is shown nailing a Boston directional sign to the top of the iconic fingerpost sign that stands right outside of the Swamp.