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Recap / M*A*S*H S4 E7: Dear Mildred

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In preparation for his twenty-seventh anniversary, Colonel Potter writes his wife a Voiceover Letter describing how much he misses and how he is fitting in at the 4077. Learning about it, Margaret and Frank arrange for a local carver to make them a gift for the colonel. As this goes on, Radar enlists Hawkeye and B.J.'s help in rescuing a wounded horse and bringing it back to the unit.

This is the first episode to feature an episode-long voiceover letter written by a character other than Hawkeye.

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Attention, all personnel. Come celebrate Colonel Potter's anniversary by reading the following tropes:

  • The Ace: After B.J. and Hawkeye both fail spectacularly at bringing the horse to a truck, Radar goes in with a softer and gentle approach. The two doctors respond with stunned incredulity as the horse answers docilely.
    Hawkeye: If only I could do that with nurses.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: An annoyed Frank takes Radar's entrance into the Swamp as an intrusion and asks if the corporal knows how to knock. Radar takes it as this trope.
    Radar: Sure, sir. [knocks on side of a bed]
  • Bait-and-Switch: When Radar hears an incoming chopper while talking to Hawkeye and B.J. about Colonel Potter, the three assume it's wounded and jump up to go to work. The PA Announcer then comes on, stating it's just a mail delivery.
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  • Berserk Button: Frank once again offhandedly mentions his wife in Margaret's presence.
    Margaret: Frank, you mention that person's name in this tent once more and you'll never spit on my boots again.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": When Radar suggests a different camera setting to him than what Margaret did, Frank Burns snaps at him.
    Frank: Keep your exposure to yourself!
  • Blatant Lies: Frank and Margaret state they want to take photographs of Colonel Potter for the unit yearbook. Their different answers to Potter's questions is what keeps it from being a Seamless Spontaneous Lie.
  • The Casanova: Hawkeye is introduced in the episode romancing a nurse and trying to set up a date with her.
  • Coat Full of Contraband: Cho Man Chin doubles as this in addition to his legitimate business.
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Korean carver often misconstrues what Frank and Margaret tell him about their order.
    Cho Man Chin: Two views.
    Frank: Check.
    Cho Man Chin: No cheque. Strictly cash.
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  • Continuity Nod: Radar being able to sense when someone is writing about him in a letter to a loved one. Also, him being able to know what his commanding officer is thinking.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Colonel Potter lets his wife know through his letter to her his opinion of the mess tent coffee.
      Colonel Potter: Can't say much for the coffee here, but if I run out of ink, I'm covered. Ha-ha.
    • When Custer's Last Stand goes on the fritz, Klinger is asked if another film is available.
      Klinger: Just one. A training film. Fungus of the Foot.
      Hawkeye: Starring Fred Astaire.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Radar: I done and did everything you told me to done and, uh, do.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In this episode only, the horse is constantly referred to as being male. Starting in its second appearance, it is female and is named Sophie.
  • Epic Fail: Frank's attempt at price haggling with the Korean carver.
    Frank: Five dollars.
    Cho Man Chin: Seven fifty.
    Frank: Sold.
    Margaret: [frowns] Umb-day.
  • Flashback: Colonel Potter tells his wife about the time Father Mulcahy covered for a camera malfunction at Movie Night by putting on a singing performance featuring him and Lieutenant O'Connor.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Radar persistently sticks up for the horse, especially when a helicopter pilot intends to shoot it to put it out of its misery and also in pleading with Hawkeye and B.J. to treat it.
    Hawkeye: You get the feeling we're in a Lassie movie.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: As Potter proudly examines the horse from the rear, he steps into something just below offscreen and slips.
    Radar: Sorry about that, sir.
    Frank: That's disgusting!
    Colonel Potter: Son, to me, that's a tiptoe through the tulips.
  • Happily Married: Colonel Potter remarks the wonderful years he shared with his wife Mildred thus far.
  • Historical In-Joke: Coming into Movie Night in the flashback scene, Hawkeye views the battle depicted on the screen and takes B.J. aside for a bet.
    Hawkeye: 3 to 1. I'll take the Indians.
    B.J.: It's a bet. Five bucks. What's the name of this picture?
    Hawkeye: Custer's Last Stand.
  • Hypocritical Humor: As Colonel Potter notes in his letter that what anyone at the 4077 does in their offtime is no concern of his, he quietly pulls back a curtain and looks out at the camp.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Frank verbally lashes out at Hawkeye for giving enlisted men, specifically Radar, free run of the Swamp. Hawkeye defends himself and Radar, informing Frank he told the corporal to meet him at the tent. Frank then goes "Who do you think you are?"
    Hawkeye: Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce, US Army, involuntary.
  • Kick the Dog: Believing their cover story about taking pictures for a yearbook, Radar asks Majors Burns and Houlihan if they could take a picture of him for it as well. Frank turns him down.
    Frank: Neither a borrower or a lender be.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A Running Gag occurs throughout the episode whenever the scene switches back to Colonel Potter and he writes in his letter an apology to his wife for the temporary break in time that the plot diverts to either Frank and Margaret or Radar, Hawkeye and B.J..
  • Moment Killer: Frank, jealous that Radar's present for Colonel Potter is getting more attention than his and Margaret's, demands a refund from Cho Man Chin. Margaret elbows him in the stomach to get him to shut up.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Father Mulcahy has been suffering from dysentery and, during a talk with Colonel Potter, realises he has to make a run for the latrine.
    • Hawkeye and B.J., when they learn it's Potter's anniversary close to the end of the episode and lament they could have gotten him something had they had any idea.
  • Parental Substitute: Hawkeye and Radar himself viewed the late Henry Blake as a father figure for the young corporal.
    Radar: Yeah. Taught me about life and everything. Even women.
  • Plot Threads:
    • Potter writing to his wife
    • Frank and Margaret arranging an anniversary present for the colonel
    • Radar, Hawkeye and B.J. taking in and treating a wounded horse
  • Refuge in Audacity: Colonel Potter claims to his wife that whatever Frank and Margaret get up to is none of his business, yet he notes several things that would make one suspect a romantic relationship between the two.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Hawkeye and B.J. attempt this when the horse gets a little wild under their supervision, with Hawkeye informing Radar he's on his own. Radar turns upon Puppy-Dog Eyes to convince them to stay and help.
  • Shoot the Dog: The helicopter pilot delivering a shipment of mail to the 4077 asks if the unit has a sharpshooter, intending to put a wounded horse out of its misery.
  • Skewed Priorities: Colonel Potter, after being told Radar's not married yet, advises the young corporal to find a nice girl when he goes back home. Radar answers he wants to get a '46 Chevy first. Potter turns to describing his own wonderful 27-year marriage to his wife.
    Colonel Potter: Can't get that kind of mileage out of a Chevy.
  • Standard Snippet: "All Dressed Up and No Place To Go"
  • Trash the Set: The horse kicks at the door of the Supply Shed, splintering the planks from the frame.
  • Voiceover Letter: Colonel Potter writes one to his wife Mildred in commemoration of their twenty-seventh anniversary.
  • War Is Hell: Potter quotes this as being said by Mildred's cousin Natalie.
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