That's Show Biz was an hour long story-arc written by David Pollock and Elias Davis and directed by Charles S. Dubin. Originally produced during Season 9, it was held over for broadcast as part of Season 10, first airing on October 26, 1981 as the Season 10 opener. Its initial network broadcast was an hour-long episode, but in syndication it was divided into two parts.
A traveling USO show brings an unexpected touch of vaudeville to the 4077th when the star showgirl requires an emergency operation.
Full episode summary
A USO troupe gets caught in the middle of an artillery barrage, and one of the performers, a young singer named Marina Ryan comes down with an inflamed appendix. She's taken by chopper to the 4077th, where Hawkeye literally sweeps her off her feet, carrying her to a jeep.
The rest of the troupe follows Marina to camp: a comedian named "Fast Freddie" Nichols, musicians Sarah Miller and Ellie Carlyle, and exotic dancer Brandy Doyle. They ask if they can stick around and do a show, though Freddie is anxious to stay on schedule. But, after some cajoling, Freddie finally relents, and they put on a show for the wounded in Post Op. After the show, the troupe prepares to leave, but word comes down that all the roads are closed off due to heavy artillery nearby, and so the troupe is "held over" at the 4077th. Everyone is happy at the news except for Hawkeye and B.J., who are driven out of the Swamp in the middle of the night, unable to sleep due to the hysterical cackling of Charles and Klinger at Fast Freddie's jokes.
During their extended stay, each member of the troupe makes a personal connection with a different member of the 4077th's staff:
- Fast Freddie is the host of the show, but while Hawkeye and B.J. are both quickly nauseated by Freddie's one-liners, Charles embarrassingly finds himself laughing hysterically, while Klinger bonds with Freddie as he is a big fan; he reveals that he once drove six hours to see Freddie perform, to which Freddie replies, "and your nose made it in five!"
- Marina falls head over heels in love with Hawkeye. She is not subtle about showing her affections, but Hawkeye continually tries to keep her at arm's length, even going so far as self-deprecation to make himself look bad, but Marina is not fooled.
- Brandy takes a shine to Potter, who is flattered, and then flustered, at the level of attention. She also bunks with Margaret, and the two swap stories over their lack of success with men. Brandy and Potter later share several drinks in his tent, but when she tries to make a pass at him he passes out.
- Sarah consults with Father Mulcahy, as she is searching for a pair of ballet shoes given to her brother by his ballerina fiancée. Sarah's brother was killed in combat and she hopes to recover the shoes, which, with Mulcahy's help, she eventually does.
- Ellie befriends Charles, who initially looks down his nose at her musicianship (during the Post Op show she dedicated "Lady of Spain" to him, playing the song on her accordion), but Charles is put in his place when Ellie proves herself every bit the virtuoso on the piano when she plays a classical piece in the Officers Club. When Charles asks why Ellie is wasting her time with "that overgrown concertina", she explains that it's easier for her to make a living with it; she adds that while at Julliard she learned everything about the piano- except how to use it to make a living.
The travel restrictions are finally lifted, and Hawkeye tells Marina that she's well enough to leave with them, but she protests, insisting that she can stay behind so she and Hawkeye can get closer. But Hawkeye gently declines, saying they're simply too different to have a relationship. Marina unhappily accepts this, and tearfully promises to send him a postcard on New Year's Eve. The troupe packs up and departs, singing and waving goodbyes as their truck makes its way down the road.
Later that evening, everyone is a little down now that the entertainers have left; Potter compares it to the feeling he gets right after the circus leaves town. Hawkeye and B.J. are relieved that they don't have to listen to any more of Fast Freddie's jokes, which is why they barred Klinger from entering the Swamp. But when he says he has given up comedy and promises no more jokes, Hawkeye reluctantly lets Klinger inside, and he promptly shows off his new passion: playing the accordion!
The Music in the episode
- Shrimp Boats by Paul Mason Howard and Paul Weston. Sung by the troupe on the truck at the beginning of the episode.
- Cuddle up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine by Karl Hoschna, lyrics by Otto Harbach. Brandy sings and dances to this song in post-op, accompanied by Ellie on the accordion.
- Sweet Molly Malone, traditional Irish folk song. Played on the guitar and sung by Sarah Miller in post-op.
- Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, op. 13 (Pathetique), 1st movement by Beethoven. Played by Ellie on the piano in the Officers Club.
- Beer Barrel Polka by Jaromir Vejvoda. Played by Ellie on the piano in the Officers Club. It would have been nice if she had played something by Brahms or Dvorak as she has just told Charles that those two eminent composers also wrote folk dances.
- Lady of Spain by Tolchard Evans, lyrics by Erell Reaves, accordion arrangement by Robert Hargreaves and Stanley J. Damerell. Played by Ellie on the accordion in post-op and dedicated to Winchester, "a swell guy with a head to match". Later on, at departure time, the troupe sings this tune with the words "People of MASH, we adore you...."
At the start of the second episode (or second half of the episode), Freddie complains to Potter that the troupe may not make it to a gig in Hoboken, NJ if they have to stay at the MASH longer than expected. He tells the Colonel that he hopes it would be a step closer to getting on Toast of the Town, which was the original name for The Ed Sullivan Show. Potter doesn't seem to know who Sullivan is, which is odd, considering his landmark variety show began in 1948, two years before the Korean War began.
Also in the second half, Father Mulcahy calls the chaplain of the 8063rd, trying to help Sarah find her brother's keepsake ballet slippers. He calls him by his first name, "Charlie". One can't help but notice the joke, intentional or not - Charlie, the chaplain (Charlie Chaplin).
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Gwen Verdon as Brandy Doyle
- Danny Dayton as "Fast Freddie" Nichols
- Gail Edwards as Marina Ryan
- Karen Landry as Sarah Miller
- Amanda McBroom as Ellie Carlyle
- Richard Molnar as Michael Nowicki
- Kellye Nakahara as Lieutenant Kellye Yamato
- Freddie Dawson as Patient
- Brian Byers as Patient
- Uncredited appearances: