Monster M*A*S*H
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"Welcome to Korea" was the 73rd and 74th episodes of the M*A*S*H television series, and, as part of a two episode arc, the first episodes of the fourth season of the series. First aired on September 12, 1975, the series' first 60-minute episode (double the normal time) was most notable for its off-screen departure of the character of "Trapper John" McIntyre, and his replacement by the freshly drafted Captain B.J. Hunnicutt. It was repeated March 2, 1976. By the time it entered syndication it was divided into two half-hour parts.


"Welcome to Korea" features the first depiction of the 4077th M*A*S*H following the discharge and subsequent off-screen death of commander Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, and with Major Burns taking command. Another change of command is previewed at episode's end, in the form of a brief appearance by Colonel Sherman T. Potter; he would be fully introduced in the following episode, "Change of Command".

The episode, which was written by Everett Greenbaum, Jim Fritzell, and series creator Larry Gelbart and directed by Gene Reynolds, won two Emmy awards in 1976: "Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series" for Reynolds, and "Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing for Entertainment Programming in a Comedy Series" for Stan Tischler and Fred W. Berger. After the joint departures of Stevenson and Rogers at the end of the third season, there was a great deal of uncertainty about the direction and future for the series; "Welcome to Korea" was notable for beginning a generalized move for the series away from a dark comedy to a "dramedy".

Synopsis[]

After Henry and Trapper's departure, the camp adapts to Frank's command, and Radar, with Hawkeye in tow, runs to Kimpo to pick up Trapper's replacement.

Full episode summary[]

Part 1[]

"I will go to Korea"

(~General Dwight D. Eisenhower)

"A terrible place"

(~General Raymond W. Bliss)

Frank, now commanding the 4077th, enters the orderly room to find Radar still asleep; Frank angrily wakes him and rebukes him for his failure to wake him for morning roll call. Radar quickly gets into uniform and the two walk to Margaret's tent to wake her up. They proceed to the compound and Radar blows assembly on his bugle. Frank yells at them for their slowness to assemble, and then chews out Klinger for wearing a flowered hat in rank, which Margaret soon confiscates.

During morning announcements, Hawkeye, riding a rickshaw, returns from a week's R&R in Tokyo. He mockingly checks in with Frank and then trudges towards the shower ignoring Frank's order to stop. Hawkeye steps into one of the shower stalls and, fully clothed, turns on the water. Frank dismisses the company, and Radar follows Hawkeye into the shower to inform him that Trapper got his discharge orders and is on his way back stateside. Radar tried futilely to contact Hawkeye in Tokyo, and Trapper waited as long as he could, but he left camp for the last time just hours before Hawkeye returned.

Meanwhile, Frank and Margaret are looking forward to the arrival of Trapper's replacement: a Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, and even more eager to train him in their image. Hawkeye, still wet from his shower, enters the office demanding to leave camp to say goodbye to Trapper at Kimpo; Frank denies this request, but then gives Radar permission to pick up Hunnicutt at Kimpo, where Trapper is departing from. Hawkeye sarcastically excuses himself from the office and catches up with Radar just as he is preparing to leave for Kimpo; Hawkeye demands to drive, which Radar reluctantly agrees to, and the two are on their way.

At Kimpo, while Radar goes to look for Hunnicutt, Hawkeye goes to the MATS office to find Trapper. The sergeant is busy on the phone attempting to straighten out an order of odd foods and items for a general. Hawkeye eventually asks for and gets the stateside flight manifests, only to find that Trapper's flight back home left ten minutes before Hawkeye arrived. Angered and disappointed, he leaves the office and reunites with Radar, who has found Hunnicutt, who introduces himself to Hawkeye. With nothing else to do, Hawkeye decides they need to head back to camp, but their jeep has been stolen. Radar panics, but Hawkeye assuages him and takes them to the Officers Club for a drink and think things over, but when Radar points out the club is only for officers, Hawkeye quickly devises a solution, taking one of Hunnicutt's set of captain's bars and pinning it on Radar's cap; Hawkeye declares that Radar is now a "Corporal Captain".

While in the O Club, B.J. opens up about himself: he lives in the San Francisco suburb of Mill Valley, California, he got his doctorate from Stanford University Medical School (becoming a fourth generation doctor in his family), and was drafted during his residency in Sausalito while his wife Peg was eight months pregnant. During his five-week training period at Fort Sam Houston, Peg gave birth to their daughter Erin, and while they were out on a date (her first one since giving birth), B.J. gets a call to ship out in two days. Hawkeye and B.J. wrap up their conversation, pay for their drinks, and decide to leave and try to find a way back to camp.

Right before they go outside, a General parks in front of the Officers Club and goes inside with his aide. Seeing the jeep when they go out, Hawkeye decides their jeep has been returned and, tossing the General's flag away, gets in, but Radar insists on driving since Hawkeye and B.J. have been drinking. Hawkeye agrees to ride shot gun while B.J. gets in the back seat, and the three are on their way back to the 4077th.

(This is where Part 1 of the syndicated version of this episode ends. In Part 2, a recap is shown of part 1, narrated by the PA announcer, before the episode continues)

Part 2[]

Back at the 4077th, Frank is talking to Father Mulcahy about giving an obedience lecture during his sermon because he claims that the camp has no respect for him. Margaret interrupts the conversation and asks Frank if he gave permission for Hawkeye to leave camp, which he did not. Margaret claims she cannot find Hawkeye anywhere, and when Mulcahy insists that he's sure it can all be explained, Frank snaps at him to mind his own business, which earns a rebuke from Margaret, and Frank hastily apologizes saying, "Sorry, Father." and then "Sorry, Mother," to Margaret, which gets a raised eyebrow from Mulcahy.

Radar is driving Hawkeye and B.J. back to camp, but B.J. is not used to the rough roads, and even loses his peak hat on the way. They drive by a local farm, and Hawkeye makes Radar stop when he sees two young Korean girls dangerously checking a nearby field for mines. He attempts to get the father (who speaks no English) to make them stop, but one of them finds a mine and accidentally sets it off. Heedless of the danger, Radar runs in to help the wounded girl out of the field, over Hawkeye and B.J.'s urgent entreaties. He successfully carries the girl out of the field, and they put her on the Jeep to take her to a nearby Korean hospital for medical attention.

Again on their way to camp, a tire blows on the Jeep and they stop to fix it. While they're busy changing the tire a small group of Korean locals trudge by, but before they realize it, the locals have all hidden in the woods. Now believing that they're enemy guerillas, they casually continue to replace the tire, but when the guerillas start firing on them they frantically pick up the pace, they switch the tires and quickly drive off.

Further still down the road, the three run into an American patrol in the wake of battle, just as they're about to get hit by another round of mortars. Hawkeye and B.J. stick around to help tend to the casualties. As B.J. goes to help one soldier, he slips and falls in a muddy ditch, ruining his dress uniform. Moments later, he starts towards another casualty Hawkeye had already found to be dead. Insisting on trying, B.J. turns the man's body upright, but in horror, stumbles away, and vomits. Hawkeye goes to help B.J., giving him a hand to help him up.

Almost at the end of their journey, they stop at Rosie's Bar just outside camp. Radar warns Hawkeye that they should bring B.J. to camp first, but Hawkeye insists "We have to start him on his ulcer first", so he takes B.J. inside and buys him sake (rice wine) with beer while Radar has his usual Grape Nehi. Hawkeye describes the camp to B.J., the conditions and the people B.J. will be working with, summarizing the whole situation with, "So pitch in, muddle through, pip-pip and the whole schmeer."

A while later, a drunken Hawkeye and B.J. stumble out of the bar. Once again, Hawkeye tries to insist on driving but Radar refuses. They finally arrive in camp and unevenly scramble out of the jeep, and Hawkeye introduces B.J. to Frank and Margaret. To their horror, B.J. tosses off a lazy drunken salute before bursting out with "What say, Ferret Face?" before collapsing to his knees, clasping himself to Margaret's legs while Hawkeye collapses in hysterical laughter.

Epilogue[]

Burns is later arrested by MPs (including a lieutenant who earlier stopped Hawkeye and Radar at a checkpoint while on their way to Kimpo) for possession of the General's jeep that Hawkeye had "borrowed".

At the end of the episode, the PA announces the regular cast as being "permanently assigned to M*A*S*H 4077", with one addition: On September 19, 1952, Radar is sitting outside sunning himself with a metal sheet. An older officer drives up in a Jeep and honks the horn loudly several times to announce his arrival. Radar, not looking at the man, snorts, "Stick that horn in your ear." The older gentleman announces himself as Colonel Potter, the new commander of the 4077th. Radar scrambles to recover as we fade to closing credits.

Research notes/Fun facts[]

  • Debut episode for Mike Farrell (who gets second billing), and Harry Morgan (who gets third billing). Also beginning with this episode, Jamie Farr becomes a regular member of the cast, billed seventh.
  • Though they have lines and are the focus of an important scene, the entire Korean family is uncredited.
  • During the formation at the beginning of the episode, Frank reprimands Klinger for wearing his floral hat. Klinger replies "It's Spring, sir!" It is actually close to the autumnal equinox, as Colonel Potter will shortly take command of the camp and the date will be given as September 19, 1952.
  • Eisenhower's quote of Going to Korea was made after his November 1952 election; he visited Korea in December 1952, as referenced in "The Late Captain Pierce".
  • Airs at a special time: Friday at 8:00 PM; it moves to a regular timeslot, 8:30 PM Friday, the following week, albeit for a short time.
  • At the episode's conclusion, Todd Sussman announces the cast that are "permanently assigned" to the 4077th. In order, he lists "Alan Alda as Hawkeye, Mike Farrell as B.J. Hunnicutt, Loretta Swit as Hot Lips Houlihan, Larry Linville as Frank Burns, Gary Burghoff as Radar, William Christopher as Father Mulcahy, Jamie Farr as Corporal Klinger" before announcing new arrival "Harry Morgan as Colonel Sherman Potter, Regular Army. God help us all."
  • For a time in the 1980s, the syndicated version did not split this episode into two parts, but rather ended the final act with the theft of the General's Jeep, and used B.J. calling Frank "Ferret Face" as the tag...skipping everything between.
  • When B.J. arrives in Korea he is wearing a summer dress uniform; the correct attire for entering a combat zone is either a utility or camouflage uniform.
  • When Hawkeye is racing to the airport to try to catch Trapper before he leaves, he and Radar have to go through an MP checkpoint. He has Radar play a sick patient in the back of the jeep and tells the MP he has a serious case of neuropraxia, worst case he's ever seen, and that it's highly contagious. Hawkeye is clearly having some fun with both the MP and Radar -- while neuropraxia is a legitimate medical condition, it is the mildest form of nerve injury and not contagious at all.
  • While welcoming B.J. at the Officers Club at the airport, Hawkeye mentions (while discussing the origin of his nickname) that his father was crazy about Indians, and that his grandfather (Hawkeye's great-grandfather) served them whiskey and hors d'oeuvres. He made a mention of this to Trapper in a previous episode ("Mail Call").

Guest stars/Recurring cast[]

Uncredited appearances by:

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