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Recap / M*A*S*H S3 E21: Big Mac

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The Big Mac is coming! Yes, the Big Cheese . . . No, not the McDonald's item

  • The Ace:
    • MASH 4077 on a whole. The reason MacArthur is visiting the camp is because the work of the staff has achieved the recognition of the unit being named the most impressive medical station in Korea.
      Henry: That's north, south, east or west. We're the MASH that is the best.
    • When Henry asks for quiet from the camp, it's an Epic Fail. When Radar does it, the effect is instantaneous. Hawkeye and Trapper lampshade the ability.
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  • Berserk Button: Given the historical allusion for it, which for the time MASH is set in would only be recent memory, it's no wonder Hawkeye is furious with Frank's decision to start burning books that only the major would deem as filthy material.
    Hawkeye: Frank. You burn one more book, I'm gonna give you a dancing lesson in the minefield. Now, knock it off, gnat brain!
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Well, what would you do if you had Frank Burns giving orders loudly through a megaphone extremely close to your head?
  • Black Comedy: Hawkeye and Margaret both suggest inviting the general to view the OR in action as a way of demonstrating the unit's efficiency. The difference is that Margaret is being genuine.
    Whiteman: The general's visit is a tribute to your unit's efficiency. A demonstration of your function would be most apropos.
    Hawkeye: We could do an operation for him.
    Henry: Pierce.
    Margaret: We operate every day. Perhaps the general would like to observe our surgeons at work.
    Trapper: Yeah, with a stitch-by-stitch commentary.
    Hawkeye: After a big finish, a post-op infection.
    Henry: Well, that's just what I was thinking. It'd be a real eye-popper.
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  • Book Burning: Hawkeye and Trapper find Frank doing this, with the major explaining he's doing it because he doesn't want MacArthur to know about any filthy material the camp is reading. After making a dark Historical In-Joke to insult him, they examine the books he is about to destroy.
    Trapper: Frank, what are you doing?
    Frank: Burning books.
    Hawkeye: Oh. Any special reason, Dr Hitler?
    Frank: One of the greatest living Americans is coming and I am not going to let him see the trash that's read around here.
    Trapper: Plato's Republic? The Life of Red Grange?
    Hawkeye: Revolutionaries.
    Frank: Right.
    Trapper: Robinson Crusoe ?
    Hawkeye: Everybody runs around half-naked.
    Trapper: Norman Mailer.
    Frank: It's got that word in it.
  • Brick Joke: The "Welcome General MacArthur" sign is falling down.
  • Buffy Speak: Henry telling the MASHers the camp is in bad condition and in quick need of clearing up in preparation for MacArthur's arrival.
    Henry: We've got very little time before the bestowment of this honour and this place is a shambles. So we've got to, as quickly as possible, uh, uh, "deshambilise".
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  • Captain Obvious: Henry gets the word that the special visit will be happening on the 19th of the month. The colonel stammers, pointing out that would be between the 18th and the 20th.
    Henry: If I'm any judge of the 19ths.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Klinger makes his own addition to the rehearsal of MacArthur's visit, a move that Hawkeye and Trapper find very funny as do some of the nurses.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Colonel Whiteman exclaims the word "Lunch", majority of the main characters take it to mean he's calling for a break. He is instead continuing the iteration the general's schedule.
    • Klinger fails to realise the reason for Henry Blake calling him to the office is because he wants him to forgo his prove-he's-crazy scheme and get into a military uniform for the duration of MacArthur's visit.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: After Hawkeye has already given him a strong death threat for his Book Burning, Frank pushes his button further by ordering him and Trapper to clean up the Swamp, otherwise he'll do it himself. Hawkeye angrily retaliates with this gem.
    Hawkeye: You touch one dirty sock, you remove one layer of crud, you kill one cockroach, Frank, and I will personally grind you into a fine powder and sprinkle you on MacArthur's oatmeal.
    Trapper: What he said.
  • Flat Joy: Hawkeye and Trapper's reaction when the official announcement of MacArthur's visit is made.
  • Foreshadowing: Colonel Whiteman strongly advises Henry not to have the same man on sentry duty when the General arrives. Upon being told by Radar that the current man on duty is Klinger, Henry promises that Klinger won't be seen.
  • Genius Bonus: Margaret tells Frank that her father fought with MacArthur against "the Huks...a rebellious native tribe." The Hukbalahap Rebellion was staged by a guerrilla army that had originally fought against the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in WWII. After the war ended, they decided they were tired of being exploited by wealthy landowners and took up armed resistance. The Philippine government brutally put down the rebellion with assistance from the CIA, who were always happy to assist quashing any movement that looked remotely like socialism.
  • Historical Domain Character: Douglas MacArthur does in fact appear onscreen.
  • I Am What I Am: Hawkeye intends for MacArthur to see the people at MASH 4077 for who they truly are, as civilian doctors, nurses and other medical staff.
    • Averted with Frank. He wants the unit to be seen by the general as being 100% military.
  • Insult Backfire: Frank gets this in a spectacular Funny fashion.
  • Jaw Drop: Radar when he gets the important message on the phone.
  • Kick the Dog: While Henry finds Spaulding's first song catchy, Frank tells the guitar player he's not in the least bit clever.
  • No Name Given: Before this episode, Margaret's dad was always referred to as "Margaret's dad" or "the colonel". Here, he is given the name Howitzer Al Houlihan, a name that actually stays with the character for the rest of the series.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Henry believes MacArthur's visit will bring glory and respect to everyone at the 4077th, including himself.
    Henry: And the Daily Bloomington Pantagraph. Oh boy, I can just see it. "Supreme Commander Inspects Local Doctor", in type about yea big.
    Radar: You'll be famous, sir.
    Henry: Yeah. Yeah, and let me tell you something, little friend. My price for a tonsillectomy just went from fifty to seventy-five bucks a tonse.
  • Notable Original Music: Spaulding writes two songs to celebrate MacArthur's visit and presents a demo performance of the first one to Henry and Frank.
  • Oh, Crap!: Henry and Radar are left stunned by the revelation of General MacArthur paying the 4077 a visit.
    Henry: He's coming here. Him. Here. General Douglas MacArthur.
    Radar: Ohhh!
    Henry: The head man. The chief cheese is coming here.
    Radar: Him?! HERE?!
    Henry: Here. Himself. The big monk. The biggest, highest, monkiest of them all.
    Radar: Wow.
    Henry: They don't come any monkier.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Frank is surprised to see Hawkeye reading a textbook while operating. Margaret points out that it's because he's handling an orthopaedic case. Frank ignores this so he can utilize Kick the Dog.
    Frank: Dummkopf.
  • Pet the Dog: Frank praises Radar's work in setting up the VIP tent for MacArthur's stay.
    Frank: Super-duper! That little twerp did a really good job.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Margaret swears to Colonel Whiteman that the disrespectful attitude Hawkeye and Trapper are displaying is in no way shared by her or Frank. This sets her up for a verbal jab from Trapper.
  • The Reveal: About three and a half minutes into the episode, it is unveiled what the important telephone call was about. The 4077th is going to be paid a visit by none other than General Douglas MacArthur.
  • Running Gag: Klinger is in a different dress every time he appears.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: At the end of the episode, MacArthur just passes on straight through the camp and continues on down the road instead of making the scheduled stop, which renders all of the camp's preparations meaningless.
  • Shout-Out: Hawkeye and Trapper introduce themselves to the fake General MacArthur at the rehearsal as Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • Silent Whisper: Henry gets the news Radar has received over the phone. Henry responds with an Eye Take.
  • Skewed Priorities: Lampshaded by Hawkeye when he learns all the hospital orderlies are outside manicuring the rocks instead of working in surgery and post-op.
    Hawkeye: Are we running a hospital or a motel for visiting demigods?!
    Trapper: It's Frank, the all-purpose idiot. He's been acting like a crazed weasel ever since this thing started.
    Hawkeye: Why don't we have his legs ironed for the inspection?
  • Troll: Hawkeye and Trapper go into this mode when Frank and Margaret turn up the sycophancy for Colonel Whiteman.
    Frank: I think the colonel might like to know that Major Houlihan's father was under General MacArthur in the cavalry.
    Hawkeye: Her father was a horse. Did you know that?
    Trapper: Our engagement is off.
  • Twisting the Words: When Frank claims Hawkeye and Margaret's suggestion of showing a medical demonstration to MacArthur as his own and volunteers to handle it, Hawkeye gets back at him through this.
    Frank: As adjutant and Assistant Chief Surgeon, I'd like to volunteer for that operation.
    Margaret: How splendid, Major.
    Trapper: Lovely.
    Hawkeye: Then it's agreed. We'll do a hysterectomy on Major Burns.
  • Wham Line: The MASHers are in the middle of rehearsing for General MacArthur's arrival when the PA Announcer comes on, delivering the following message in an urgent, panicked voice.
    Attention! All personnel! General MacArthur has just passed Checkpoint Able. He'll be here in seconds. This is not a rehearsal. This is a REAL emergency.
  • Wham Shot: One for Colonel Whiteman. When he arrives at the 4077th, he is astonished to see that the sentry guard (Klinger) is wearing a dress.
    Whiteman: Must be... therapy for the mental cases.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Margaret gives Hawkeye and Trapper this for drinking alcohol so close to the general's arrival.
  • You Keep Using That Word: In the opening scene, Radar repeatedly addresses the man on the phone as "sir".
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