The M*A*S*H Olympics was the 133rd episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H. The episode, which was the 11th episode of Season 6, was written by Ken Levine and David Issacs and directed by Don Weis. It originally aired on November 22, 1977 and was re-telecast on May 8, 1978 (at 9:30 PM).
Feeling that the entire camp is lazy and out of shape, Colonel Potter holds an inaugural M*A*S*H Olympics: Hawkeye and B.J. are named team captains, and each team will compete against each other for three days of R&R for each member.
Full episode summary
Hawkeye and B.J. agree to help out a Sergeant named Ames (Michael McManus) who is so overweight the Army is going to discharge him. They put him on a strict diet and an exercise regimen so he'll lose just enough weight at his next weigh-in not to be kicked out. Klinger overhears this and literally tries to eat his way to a discharge. Later that day, an ambulance overturns, so Col. Potter has a bunch of the staff get together to flip it back over on its wheels.
When the group lacks the strength to do it, Potter accuses his people of being terribly out of shape. Hawkeye, B.J., etc., protest, but when four MPs come by and do what the 4077th could not, Potter says starting tomorrow, there will be morning calisthenics, to the audible protests of everyone.
The next morning, the 4077th is grumbling all through the exercises, and eventually they all start wandering off. Potter, watching all this, summons them all to the Mess Tent.
Understanding that morning exercise is boring and unmotivating, he comes up with the 4077th Olympics, where two teams will compete in events. Whichever team wins will get three days of R&R, an incentive which gets everyone excited. (In a portion of this scene usually cut from syndicated airings, Potter declares Hawkeye and B.J. as team captains, and the two of them make a wager; the loser pushes the winner around camp in a wheelchair for a week.)
Interspersed with real footage of the 1952 Olympics, we see the two teams (B.J.'s Pink Elephants and Hawkeye's Yellow Blackbirds) compete. There's a race on crutches, which Hawkeye's team wins.
When they get to a race where one of the men carries a nurse on his shoulders, Klinger (who has been eating non-stop sticks of salami so he'll get too fat to serve) is too sick to carry Margaret. B.J. asks the visiting Donald Penobscott (Mike Henry) to fill in. Hawkeye objects, but Penobscott manages to goad Hawkeye into relenting.
As expected, Penobscott dominates, bringing the 4077 Olympics to a tie at 5-5. Potter devises a tie-breaking obstacle course. The names are drawn from a hat, and the people picked are Penobscott and...the hefty Sgt. Ames.
The race starts, and Penobscott takes an early lead. But he starts goofing off, playing to the crowd, even though they scream at him to stop showing off and get to the finish line. Ames begins to catch up, and Penobscott, not paying attention to where he's going, gets caught in some of the netting that hangs all over the compound. While the Lt. Colonel is temporarily tangled, Ames crosses the finish line, winning the race for Hawkeye's Yellow Blackbirds.
Later, Penobscott and Margaret leave for a vacation in Manila. She's mad that they've lost the three extra days of R&R they could've had, had her husband not been goofing off. (In a scene usually cut from syndicated airings, we see the staff in the OR, presumably the next day, operating as best they can as they suffer from assorted aching body parts.)
Later, Ames finds B.J. pushing Hawkeye in the wheelchair across the compound, per their agreement. Ames is delighted to tell the doctors that he beat the weigh-in by three whole ounces, and he's off to celebrate--in the Mess Tent, of course. They congratulate him by pushing him there in the wheelchair--not without a measure of difficulty.
- Col. Potter and B.J. first came to the 4077th in September 1952; the 1952 Olympics happened from July 19 to August 3, 1952.
- Col. Potter states that if the unit ever had to bug out, they "wouldn't even be able to lift a tent pole." The 4077th has bugged out several times in the past with no problem, at least 3 times under Potter's command ("Bug Out", "The Party", "C*A*V*E"). They did move the camp in "The Novocaine Mutiny," but it wasn't an officially ordered bug out. Potter was on leave, and as temporary commanding officer, Frank thought it would be a good idea to move the camp across the road and back again.
Guest stars/Recurring cast
- Mike Henry as Lt. Colonel Donald Penobscott
- Michael McManus as Sergeant Ames
- Leslie Hoffman as Nurse