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Recap / M*A*S*H S1 E4: Chief Surgeon Who?

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Disgruntled with everyone in the operating room asking Hawkeye for his medical opinion and with Hawkeye's unmilitary behaviour, Frank tries to put him up on charges, all of which he presents to Henry Blake. Henry realises, in the matters of the O.R., that the time has come for him to appoint a Chief Surgeon. A jubilant Frank is delighted to take the post, only to learn that Hawkeye is going to be given it instead. As the camp bands together to celebrate Hawkeye's new promotion, Frank rails against it, first by bringing his problems to Major Houlihan who later decides it's time to involve the by-the-book General Barker.


Attention MASH 4077! These tropes were used to celebrate the appointment of our unit's new chief surgeon:

  • The Ace: Pierce is said to be certified in both chest and general (abdominal) surgery.
  • Always Someone Better: Hawkeye to Frank.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Henry is considering promoting one of the doctors to the additional rank of Chief Surgeon and verbally lists all of the responsibilities associated with it, Frank is of the belief that the colonel is about to hand the role to him. Henry instead gives it to the only other person in the room: Hawkeye.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Hawkeye might be insubordinate, unmilitary, and a bit daffy, but he proves explicitly why they keep him around when General Barker shows up, deliberately putting off an operation so the patient can be better stabilized and realizing there's an additional injury by spotting some bubbles he can't account for.
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  • Butt-Monkey: General Barker
  • Comically Missing the Point: Henry's answer to the general bringing how everyone the 4077 seems to be crazy, most notably Klinger.
    Gen. Barker: This place is a madhouse, Henry! A nut farm!
    Henry: Gee whiz, that's a bit strong, sir.
    Gen. Barker: Do you realize you've a man on guard duty who's wearing a skirt?
    Henry: Luckily he's got the legs for it.
  • Hypocritical Humor: As can be expected from the show, Frank Burns. This time he wants to press charges against Hawkeye, one of which is that Hawkeye constantly calls Frank by his first name. When Colonel Blake reiterates this charge, Frank extends him the same courtesy.
    Henry: Lack of military courtesy. Captain Pierce constantly calls me by my first name.
    Frank: Not allowed, Henry. Page eighty five, the Army Officers Guide.
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  • I Need a Freaking Drink: General Barker becomes so disgusted with what he's seen at the 4077, he ends up downing the drink Radar had poured for himself.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Mixed with Cutaway Gag. When General Barker arrives to survey Hawkeye in his new position as chief surgeon, he asks Frank and Margaret where he is. We get this moment.
    Frank: Well, sir, you wouldn't believe this.
    cuts to Hawkeye looking serious
    Hawkeye: I don't like this. No sir.
    camera pans out to reveal he's playing a poker game
  • It's All About Me: Frank, once again, is the cause of the episode's conflict because he thinks he's the best doctor in the unit and refuses to accept any evidence to the contrary, eventually running off to General Barker to tattle on Henry.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Frank correctly points out that a position like Chief Surgeon would normally go to the higher ranking person.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When General Barker finds Radar in Henry's office (drinking his booze and smoking his cigars, no less):
    Gen. Barker: What exactly are you doing?
    Radar: Doing, sir?
    Gen. Barker: D-O-I-N-G; what are you doing?!?
    Radar: Listening to you spell "doing", sir.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Klinger pulls this to prove he's crazy to the shock of Colonel Blake, to the disgust of Hawkeye and Trapper, and to the apoplectic rage of General Barker.
    Hawkeye: Aw, c'mon, Klinger, put on a dress or something.
    Trapper: At least a slip!
  • Playing Doctor: Discussed; Hawkeye tells everyone he always wanted to be a doctor, even when he was little; "Just ask any little girl in town".
  • Running Gag: Margaret and her past history with higher-up officers - General Barker indicates he might want to have a word with her about the situation "in private".

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