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Recap / M*A*S*H S1 E20: The Army-Navy Game

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The members of the 4077 are eagerly awaiting to hear an Army vs Navy football game over the radio when, suddenly, the compound is fired upon with artillery shells. Henry's office is wrecked, the colonel himself is wounded, and a single bomb lands without detonating right in the middle of the camp. That's right, an unexploded bomb!

dah dah DAAAAAAAH!!!

Attention, all hands! Col. Blake will provide disarming instructions by reading the following tropes:


  • Accidental Misnaming: Commander Sturner misnames Henry Blake as Henry Drake.
  • Answer Cut: Doubles as The Reveal. Commander Sturner tracks down who the bomb belongs to.
    Henry: It's who's?
    Hawkeye: The CIA's?!
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: The poker chips are worth $5,000, $10,000, and $25,000...unless the bomb doesn't go off, in which case they're 25 cents, 50 cents, and a dollar.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: With Henry temporarily out of commission, Frank tries to take charge. Hawkeye asks him what to do. Frank is suddenly unsure of what to say.
    Frank: Give me a minute.
    Hawkeye: I'm not sure we've got one! They're shelling our ears off from both sides!
  • Artistic License – History: The final score of the game is Navy 42, Army 36 - a score that does not correspond to any of the games played during the Korean War (or, as of 2017, ever, for that matter). Likely a deliberate choice on the part of the writers to avoid setting the episode in a specific year.
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  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Once he learns of the unexploded bomb at the 4077, Colonel Hersh (the army official) starts giving Hawkeye instructions and asks one very silly thing.
    Hersh: You got any stethoscopes around there?
    Hawkeye: WE'RE A MEDICAL UNIT!
  • Bait-and-Switch: Radar got lucky with one nurse during the crisis. When everything is settled, he tries to the same tactic on a second nurse and approaches her from behind. He doesn't realise that it's Klinger.
  • Bomb Disposal: The climax is this, accompanied by suspenseful music and rising tension.
  • Bring My Brown Pants:
    Frank: (talking about the unexploded bomb) We've got to evacuate immediately!
    Hawkeye: I think I just did.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • The army, as usual in the show, contacts the 4077 that they're about to come under enemy attack... right after the attack had commenced.
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    • Yes, Frank, we know from the fact it didn't detonate that there's an unexploded bomb out there.
  • Casual Danger Dialog:
    • Radar stops talking about the current crisis to inform Henry and Hawkeye of an update on the game.
      Hawkeye: Terrific. For a moment, I thought we were in trouble.
    • Hawkeye gently applies the stethoscope to the bomb's surface to listen for the timer. Henry stands in the background, waiting.
      Henry: Well?
      Hawkeye: The ticker's very faint. Not the bomb's - mine. The bomb is ticking away loud and clear.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Father Mulcahy believes that the Notre Dame football team is one of the sides playing at the game.
    • While Hawkeye is investigating the bomb, a still out-of-it Henry comes suddenly out of the pre-op ward and questions loudly what he's doing. Luckily though, he comes back to his senses.
    • When Radar says he wants to make a confession to a nurse, Father Mulcahy mistakenly assumes he meant a Confessional.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The United States Army vs. The United States Navy, in a football game.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Klinger tells Radar he wants to get out of the army.
      Radar: Keep wearing those dresses.
      Klinger: They're not getting me out. They're only getting me whistles.
      Radar: Uh-huh.
    • Hawkeye and Trapper try to get Henry to find the right radio frequency to hear the football game.
      Trapper: Henry, tune in the game, will ya?
      Henry: Easy, will ya? I'm trying!
      Trapper: Henry's not very good with his hands.
      Hawkeye: That's why he became a surgeon.
      Henry: Very funny.
    • Trapper comes into the clerk's office to find out what's being done about the bomb.
      Trapper: What's the scam?
      Hawkeye: We're just about to draw straws to see who goes out and defuses the bomb.
      Trapper: Boy, do I know when to come into a room.
      Hawkeye: Short match goes out and gives the bomb a physical.
      Frank: [to Trapper] Well, I'm a married man, you know.
      Trapper: So am I.
      Frank and Trapper glance at Hawkeye
      Hawkeye: I'm not.
    • Henry asks Colonel Hersh why the navy would drop a bomb on the 4077.
      Hersh: Because we're beating 'em fourteen to nothing.
  • Distinction Without a Difference: Henry asks Hawkeye during the attack if he's getting scared.
    Hawkeye: Don't be silly. I'm too frightened to be scared.
  • Drawing Straws: Happens twice! First, it's how Hawkeye, Frank and Trapper decide who goes out to check the bomb. Frank draws the short straw, and then faints moments later, so Hawkeye and Trapper play odds or evens to pick who gets to go.
  • Fainting: Frank Burns does the Girly Man version.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: As everybody else in Henry's office gathers around the radio for the start of the game, Radar is distracted when he senses something is about to happen.
    Radar: Uh-oh.
    Henry: Quiet, Radar.
    Radar: Uh sir, I think you better forget about the game.
    Henry: What?
    shell explodes nearby
    Henry: [stunned] Wow! That's close!
    Hawkeye: That guy can really kick a ball.
    • Radar senses a wave of shells coming in a split-second later.
      Radar: More on the way!
      Everybody dives for cover; four shells land
  • The Good Guys Always Win:
    • The Navy was of more help to the 4077, and so they win the football game. (Also a case of Truth in Television, even if the score is fictional; Navy won every Army-Navy Game played during the Korean War.)
    • Father Mulcahy also won the betting pool. Hawkeye notes the father always seems to win.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Trapper asks Hawkeye if he wants a drink before they go out and defuse the bomb.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Radar asks if the Bible is where Father Mulcahy keeps his money.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Everyone else outside of the 4077 is too obsessed by the Army-Navy Football game to care about some silly little unexploded bomb.
  • MacGuffin: The unexploded bomb.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Justified in giving two skilled surgeons the task of disarming the bomb due to having masterful control of their hands. Possibly also played straight when you consider the camp does have a demolitions expert (though he's not mentioned until season 3).
  • Noodle Incident: Henry recounts to Radar a football match where he was the manager of a team and about one of its players, Tank Washington.
  • Now You Tell Me: The instructions for disarming the bomb are written like this with one task mentioned, followed by a "But first-" clause.
  • Oh, Crap!: Henry is brought out of his momentary loopiness when he finally recognises the danger the camp is in.
    Hawkeye: I'm working on a bomb.
    Henry: What kind of a bomb?
    Hawkeye: An unexploded bomb.
    Henry: [coming to] Oooh! That kind of bomb!
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Addressed and subverted by Klinger. He's not wearing a dress during the bomb crisis, but a man's business suit and hat. He has his reasons.
  • Reality Ensues: There is nothing hilarious or lighthearted about an unexploded bomb that could go off at any minute from right in the middle of the compound.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: It is Commander Sturner of Naval Operations who has the bomb identified.
  • Reflexive Response: When the unexploded bomb lands, Hawkeye tells everyone to stay down. Trapper answers back.
    Trapper: Stay down? Either something that was supposed to happen didn't, or something that didn't is gonna. And if it does, down is gonna be up.
  • Serious Business: The titular game. Then again, The Army-Navy game was at the time one of the biggest football rivalries in America.
  • Skewed Priorities: The army and navy officials Hawkeye and Henry call are initially too busy listening to the game to properly help the 4077.
  • Standard Snippet: The classic dah dah DAAH is mixed in with the series music when Hawkeye has finished examining the bomb.
  • Take That!: In M*A*S*H, this trope being attributed to the army is very common in-universe. What makes this one different? This one came from the navy.
    Sturner: My advice is to hoist anchor and shove off.
    Henry: But the army's ordered us to stay.
    Sturner: The army? What do they know? They just fumbled on their own one-yard line.
  • Tap on the Head: Played to comedic effect. A shell hits close enough to Henry Blake's office to send fragments through the window and wound him in the head. He acts loopy for a long while afterwards.
  • The Reveal: The CIA have their own bombs.
  • Trash the Set: Henry's office has seen better days.


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