Monster M*A*S*H


The Price of Tomato Juice was the 88th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, and, also the 16th episode of the fourth season of the series. Written by Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, who also directed the episode, it first aired on December 16, 1975.


What seems to be a simple request to get tomato juice for Colonel Potter becomes a ridiculous, complicated ordeal when Major Burns asks for something in return.

Full episode summary[]

Radar sits down to lunch with a glass of tomato juice, which Col. Potter takes notice of, having not seen it in years. Radar offers him his glass, which Potter gratefully accepts, savoring every drop. After Potter leaves, Radar gets the idea of procuring tomato juice regularly. He asks Klinger how they can get more, but Klinger says there's no chance - the one can of it arrived by mistake, so it would have to be ordered specifically by the Requisitions Officer - Frank.

Radar enlists Hawkeye and B.J. in the cause, to see if they can help. They go to Frank, who will order the tomato juice in return for a favor - getting a pair of stockings, for...someone. They agree, and go to Klinger for the stockings, who says he'll give them up only if he gets a two-day pass for some R&R. They agree, and get Radar to sneak a pass by Col. Potter. Potter notices (he's no Henry Blake), and refuses to sign, but Radar lays it on thick, saying Klinger is really stressed and needs some relaxation.

Potter goes along, but needs to check with Gen. Barker, who has asked all commanders to not issue any R&R passes to Seoul for the next few days. He calls Barker and asks if he can send Klinger. Barker agrees, but asks if Potter wouldn't mind sending Margaret to Seoul, as well. Potter asks Margaret, and she's thrilled at the idea of going to cocktail parties on the arm of a General, but she tries to pretend it's a selfless act.

With Margaret packing to leave, Frank is angry and jealous, and refuses to order the tomato juice.

Radar, in a panic, turns to Hawkeye and B.J. for help, so they try something desperate - sending Margaret some flowers and a card proposing marriage from Frank.

Margaret is so floored by Frank's "proposal", she sends him a note in reply and cancels her plans to go to Seoul. Radar brings her note to Frank (who is getting drunk in the Officers Club) saying she wants to get together. While he's in a good mood, Radar gets him to sign the requisition for the tomato juice.

Frank and Margaret get together in her tent, and the whole thing falls apart--he thinks she's changed her mind just for him, she thinks he's breaking up with his wife for her. Meanwhile, a car from General Barker arrives, ready to pick up Major Houlihan. Hawkeye and B.J. offer up a dolled-up Klinger, looking like a 1940s movie starlet, ready for a night on the town.

The next morning, Radar delivers another can of tomato juice, complete with white towel over his arm and served on a tray. Potter refuses it. Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar are stunned - doesn't he love tomato juice? Potter does, but he forgot he's allergic to it.

In an epilogue scene usually cut from syndicated airings, Col. Potter thanks Radar for his kind gesture, but asks that next time, he check with the Col. first before doing something nice for him. Klinger returns from Seoul with the General's driver, who tells Col. Potter that the General thanks him for Klinger's presence at the party the night before. Klinger tells the surprised Col. and Radar that he and the General had "a million laughs," and that the General even saved him from "a Major who couldn't keep his hands off" him.

Fun facts[]

  • This episode is reminiscent of the Season 2 episode "For Want of a Boot", where one favor begets another, and then another, and then another...but one by one, each favor fails, and the ultimate result is the original favor backfiring (in the first episode, Hawkeye never got the boot he needed).
  • This episode may contain an unscripted blooper: When the handle on the bug spray atomizer breaks in the Swamp, Hawkeye looks surprised, then swats at the intruding fly with it. Gary Burghoff comes out with a very un-Radarlike, "What the hell was that?"
  • Father Mulcahy involuntary shivers at the coldness of the water as he showers, but moments later, B.J. shows no visible reaction when the supposedly icy water hits.
  • The general's driver, who has several lines and is in two scenes, in uncredited.  IMDb identifies him as actor James Jeter.
  • Jeff Maxwell's character is identified as "Maxwell" in dialogue (from context, it's presumably the character's last name.)  His first name had already been identified as "Igor" in previous episodes, but he would later be given the last name Straminsky.  Despite having lines, Maxwell is uncredited in this episode.

Guests stars/Recurring cast[]