Former WWII War Correspondent Clete Roberts makes an appearance as himself in the episode of M*A*S*H titled "The Interview", the first of three appearances on the series.
|Season 4, Episode # 25 |
Number (#97) in series (256 episodes)
|Guest star(s)||Clete Roberts|
|Original airdate||February 24, 1976|
|← Previous||Next →|
|"Deluge" (G-516)||"Bug Out" (U‑801/U‑802) |
(Season 5 premiere)
|"The More I See You" (G-524)||"Bug Out" (U‑801/U‑802) |
(Season 5 premiere)
The Interview was the 97th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, and, also the 25th and final episode of the fourth season of the series. It was written and directed by series co-creator Larry Gelbart, and first aired on February 17, 1976.
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
War Correspondent Clete Roberts interviews the members of the 4077 in a format similar to what Ed Murrow had done.
Full episode summary[edit | edit source]
A war correspondent, Clete Roberts, has brought a camera crew to the 4077th to interview the staff of the unit, and to record their thoughts and experiences.
Hawkeye is his anti-establishment best, mocking the Army and its discipline, even cursing at one point, right on film.
Klinger talks about the delights of home, his wife Laverne, and his favorite hangouts, including Tony Packo's Hungarian hot dogs. B.J. talks of missing his family. Col. Potter talks about what it's like being in command, and being so much older than everyone else in camp.
Radar talks about his hobbies, Father Mulcahy talks about how much being here has changed him, and Frank is his usual hard-line, pro-war, uber-patriotic self. (When asked if the war has changed him in any way, he answers, "Certainly not," amazed at the question.)
Col. Potter talks about his career in the military, but admits that whatever medical advances are made in the war, it's not worth all the destruction, the loss of life, the waste. When asked if anything of value will come from this war, Potter bluntly answers, "Not a damn thing."
Hawkeye, B.J., and Col. Potter make an extra effort to praise the nurses and how hard they work. (Klinger says, "They give back life. Can you do better?" In contrast, Frank describes them as "Competent...competent.")
When asked about heroes, Hawkeye says he doesn't have any. Col. Potter offers up Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman.
To conclude, Roberts gives each interview subject an opportunity to say hello to a loved one who may be watching. Klinger enthusiastically embraces it, saying hi to Laverne, his family, and all his friends in Toledo. Radar says hello to his mother and Uncle Ed. B.J. says hi to his wife and infant daughter. Hawkeye sarcastically says hello to Harry and Bess Truman. Father Mulcahy simply says 'hello' to no one in particular. Frank declines, stating he knows how everyone (?) feels about him. Col. Potter also declines, as he doesn't consider talking on television to an unseen person to be dignified.
In the end, Hawkeye is at a loss for words as to how to describe what it's like being here, what they have to do, and the war itself - "it's crazy."
Research notes/Fun facts[edit | edit source]
- This episode is typically regarded by most fans as one of the best M*A*S*H episodes ever -- or as simply the best episode, period.
- This is the last episode of the fourth season, arguably the show's finest season. It is also writer (and in this case, director) Larry Gelbart's final episode before leaving.
- This is the last episode before William Christopher is billed as a main character starting with the Season 5 opener, "Bug Out".
- At the beginning of the episode, The Interviewer indicates that the war is a year old, placing this episode sometime in 1951.
- When The Interviewer says the achievement rate of 97%, this also happens to be the 97th episode of the series.
- Klinger says in Season 7 "The Party" that he has been tricking his mother into thinking that he has been in Fort Dix, New Jersey, and not in Korea. But he takes the opportunity to send greetings to his family during this interview and this would surely have given the game away, even if his mother couldn't speak English (especially since he addresses her directly). Of course, at the end of that Season 7 episode, Klinger's mother reveals that she had always known that her son was in Korea.
- Col. Potter mentions silent film star Francis X. Bushman during one of his interview segments. In real life, Harry Morgan was married to Barbara Bushman, his granddaughter, from 1986 until his death in December 2011.
- Loretta Swit receives billing, but does not appear in this episode. This was not a deliberate decision on the part of Gelbart, who wrote and directed the episode. He tells the authors of TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book that Loretta had been given permission to go to New York to appear in a Broadway play and so she could not be included. The play was "Same Time, Next Year", a romantic comedy at the Brooks Atkinson Theater. She appeared opposite Ted Bissell as the character "Doris" from 1 Dec 1975. This was her Broadway debut. On a side note, Swit's M*A*S*H co-star Alan Alda starred in the 1978 movie version of "Same Time, Next Year," with Ellen Burstyn in the role Swit played on stage.
- This is also the 17th and final episode of the series where Loretta Swit does not appear, as she would appear in every subsequent episode after this.
- Although the interview subjects devote some time to talking about and praising the nursing staff, not a single nurse is interviewed.
- According to Gelbart, some portions of the script were written while others were deliberately left to be improvised by the cast. Apparently Clete Roberts sprang the questions on the cast, and they made up the lines either during rehearsal or even during actual filming. This was the only time this approach was taken during the series.
- Some 30 years later, Gelbart wrote some interview sequences, imagining what Henry Blake, Trapper John, Igor, Col. Flagg, and most of all Margaret, would have said had they been interviewed.
- We get a glimpse that Klinger is perhaps a devoted soldier after all, as he doesn't use the interview as an opportunity to prove he's a Section 8 case on national television. (On the other hand, the interview producers may have simply cut out any parts where Klinger showed up wearing a dress!)
- Walter "Radar" O’Reilly speaks about a time he got to visit Tokyo because he won a contest. This happened in Soldier of the Month.
- "The Interview" is in black and white -- except for the intro and closing credits, which are in color. The closing credits actually feature color stills from the interview segments that had just been shown in black and white. After the opening credits, it is announced that the episode is in black-and-white, so as not to have viewers think there was something wrong with their television set. A full color version surfaced on Hulu in 2017 when the series was remastered in widescreen and high definition. However, the color version was withdrawn and replaced by a newly remastered black and white version in 2019.
Guest stars/Recurring cast[edit | edit source]
Memorable quotes[edit | edit source]
(On being asked if he brought any "creature comforts" over with him)
- HAWKEYE: The Dictionary - I figure it's got all the other books in it.
- RADAR: Can you say latrine on TV?
(About what they think of the nurses)
- KLINGER: They give back life. Can you do better?
- FATHER MULCAHY: When the doctors cut into a patient, and it's cold, the way it is now today...steam rises from the body...and the doctor will warm his hands over the open wound. How could anybody look upon that and not feel changed?
- FRANK BURNS: I'm one of those that feels that marriage is the headstone of American society.
References[edit | edit source]
- Ed Solomonson & Mark O'Neil, TV's M*A*S*H: The Ultimate Guide Book (Albany, GA.: BearManor Media, 2009), 310.
- Ibid., 310-311.
- Ibid., 313-319.
[edit | edit source]
- Article about this episode at the Archive of American Television. Includes many interviews with the people involved. URL.