Monster M*A*S*H

The Red/White Blues was the 17th episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 214th overall series episode. Written by Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford and directed by Gabrielle Beaumont, it originally aired on March 9, 1981.


Col. Potter's blood pressure is too high and he has two weeks to get it back down, causing everyone to mollycoddle him, much to his dismay. Meanwhile, the malaria medicine they are sent makes Klinger sick.

Full episode summary[]

Col. Potter undergoes a routine physical - the last one he'll have to undergo while on active duty - and the results aren't good. His blood pressure is way above the norm, and he runs the risk of being pulled from command and stuck behind a desk.

Potter begs Hawkeye to fudge the numbers, but he refuses. Potter is adamant, and asks Hawkeye for two weeks to get his numbers down before the report has to be sent in to HQ. Hawkeye agrees, but reminds him he's going to have to cut down on his drinking, his salt, his coffee, his cigars, and his penchant for getting angry due to the pressures of being in command.

Hawkeye promises to keep Potter's condition a secret. But Klinger is excitedly packing for several days of R&R in Tokyo when Colonel Potter comes in and tells Klinger that I Corps has several outdated reports from the 4077th, because the paper forms changed some time ago and Klinger didn't notice. Potter cancels Klinger's leave as punishment for not keeping up with the daily reports. Klinger decides he is going to grump about it, causing Hawkeye to break his promise to keep him from doing so - and almost immediately he spills the news to everyone else, who start treating Potter with kid gloves, which of course drives him nuts.

Back in his office, Potter flies off the handle when he thinks Klinger ordered the wrong medicine needed to preemptively deal with the Malaria problem - they're stuck with primaquine instead of chloroquine. After blowing his stack, Hawkeye finds a letter enclosed that HQ was out of chloroquine, so they sent the other, less effective drug, instead. Thus, Klinger is not at fault for the chloroquine. Primaquine is just a suppressant, not the, it also has negative side effects for "Negroes." But it will have to do. Potter, chastened, apologizes to Klinger.

Later, Hawkeye is back in Klinger's office, and he's shocked to see the mountain of paperwork that covers the office. He can't understand why Klinger isn't getting the work done, but Klinger insists it's not out of laziness, it's because he feels so worn out and tired. Hawkeye isn't hearing any of it, and issues a direct order to Klinger to get all the work done before Potter comes back and sees the mess.

The doctors try to stall Potter in the Officers' club, but without having any booze. When Winchester is challenged over ordering a cognac, he references the temperance movement and Carrie Nation. They all settle for lemonade. While the gang occupies the Colonel, Margaret checks up on Klinger. The office is in even worse shape, and Klinger claims that he feels exhausted, along with severe back pain. Margaret is furious, and when choppers arrive, she orders him to get up and help out.

While in Pre-Op, Margaret sees that Pvt. Goldman is resting on a bench. He complains of feeling tired with a bad back, and Margaret promises to have one of the doctors check him out. Klinger, seeing this, gets mad, accusing Margaret of believing Goldman but not him, even though they have the same symptoms, but Klinger had them first. Margaret apologizes and tells him to rest, too.

After OR, Hawkeye and B.J. run blood tests, and whatever is dogging Klinger and Goldman, they know it's the same thing - they just don't know what it is. B.J. points out that the only potential new factor is the primaquine medicine, suggesting that both men might have been rendered anemic by the drug.

While finishing up Klinger's paperwork, they come up with a plan to take Klinger and Goldman off the pills entirely. Potter, tired of being prevented from going to his office, sees the damage and explodes - but, after the outburst, he feels better. The removal of primaquine has the desired effect as well, and Klinger returns to his normal self.

A few days later, the colonel gets another examination, and this time Potter passes with 2 points to spare. Overjoyed, he takes a drink and lights a cigar in celebration. Some time after that, Klinger returns from R & R - having had a miserable time due to several accidents in Tokyo. Then Goldman shows up from R & R, appearing to have also had several accidents.

On-screen text just before the end credits reveal that by the late 1950's, primaquine was later found to also cause negative reactions, the Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, in Caucasian people of Mediterranean heritage (like Klinger and Goldman).

Guests/Recurring cast[]