M*A*S*H episode
“War of Nerves”
MASH episode 6x5 - War of Nerves - Mulcahy and Sidney
Father Mulcahy and Sidney Freedman observe construction of a Colonel Potter authorized camp "bonfire" that was being used to boost extremely low camp morale in the episode "War of Nerves".
Season 6, Episode # 5
Number (#127) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Allan Arbus
Michael O'Keefe
Peter Riegert
Johnny Haymer
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: Y-106
Writer(s) Alan Alda
Director Alan Alda
Original airdate October 11, 1977
IMDb logo IMDB War of Nerves
Episode chronology
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Season 6 episodes
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War of Nerves was the 127th episode of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H. The episode, which was the fifth episode of Season 6, was written and directed by Alan Alda. It originally aired on October 11, 1977.


Sidney Freedman arrives at the 4077th as a casualty along with an angry wounded soldier he authorized to return to the front who is bitter and unforgiving towards him for doing so, around the same time most (if not all) of the command goes crazy. Thus, in order to boost the camp morale, which is at an extreme low after a long stretch of casualties, Potter authorizes a camp bonfire, the burning of unneeded materials.

Full episode summaryEdit

Wounded arrive, and one of them is...Sidney Freedman. Turns out Sidney was doing therapy in a foxhole with a patient when a battle started. Sidney's wound needs to be attended to, but it's not serious. He even feels well enough to help out in O.R.

Later in the Mess Tent, Sidney sees that tensions are starting to flare at the 4077th: Margaret and Winchester are in a heated debate about whether or not he touched his nose during surgery, Hawkeye and B.J.'s personal habits are getting on each other's nerves, and Radar and Klinger are mad at each other because Klinger insists on using Radar's teddy bear as part of yet another nutty scheme to get a Section 8.

The arguments kick off even more squabbles that get so out of control even Col. Potter can't calm them down. He walks out of the tent with Sidney, and he asks if Sidney will agree to see "some of the loonier ones" on a one-on-one basis. Sidney agrees. As Sgt. Zale and Igor (played by Peter Riegert, for some reason) prepare a fire to burn some lice-infested uniforms outside, Margaret comes to visit Sidney. She ends up talking about Winchester the whole time, insisting that she's not at all interested him, in any way.

Winchester is next, and says the same thing about Margaret. They both end up saying so much Sidney barely has room to say anything but sit and listen. The patient Sidney was treating, Tom, is bright and cheery with Hawkeye and B.J., but when he talks to Sidney, he is nasty and angry. Sidney is saddened at this response and goes back to his tent.

Klinger arrives to talk, saying he's really worried he's going crazy - that this whole "I'm crazy" bit isn't an act anymore. Sidney assures him that, deep down, he's okay.

Zale and Igor's bonfire has grown exponentially, to where it's become a giant pile of random objects. Potter disapproves, and tells them to pull all that stuff off the pile, but then Sidney councils him that this fire might just be the pressure valve they need and that Potter was looking for. Potter reverses his order, and commissions one "regulation, Grade A bon-type fire!". The camp cheers in response.

Radar then turns to Sidney for his advice, worried about his reliance on his teddy bear. As with Klinger, Sidney assures Radar that he's fine, and that once he's home, away from all this "mud, blood, and death," he probably won't need it anymore.

Before Sidney's patient Tom is about to be shipped out, Hawkeye and B.J. ask him to talk to Sidney one more time. He agrees, but once again his cheery, jokey disposition changes abruptly when Sidney arrives, and he refuses to give Sidney any sort of comfort.

Sidney, a bit despondent, is then visited by Father Mulcahy, who is the one to dispense counseling. He talks Sidney into coming outside and participate in the bonfire, which he does, adding his trousers to the effort. The fire is lit, and the 4077th stays up, late into the night, singing songs together as they watch it burn.

The next morning, Colonel Potter directs Radar to dig his bugle out of the smoldering embers of the bonfire so they can start the new day. As Radar blows his version of "Reveille", Potter notes that the bugle actually sounds better (than before it was burned).


Recurring cast/Guest starsEdit

External linksEdit