This unique M*A*S*H episode is basically a Hawkeye one-man show

It’s the only episode that features just one main cast member.

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Hawkeye praises the complexities of the human thumb!
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Season four, episode 18 of M*A*S*H is unlike any other episode of the series. We don't see any main characters aside from Hawkeye and we never see the 4077th. The entire episode takes place in a small Korean farm house miles away from anything familiar. Who would be bold enough to pull off such a departure from the norm? One of the brilliant minds responsible for bringing the show into existence, Larry Gelbart, who directed and co-wrote the aptly titled “Hawkeye.”

The story starts with Alan Alda's Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce driving back to camp from an aid station. He swerves to avoid children playing in the road and crashes his Jeep. The children lead him to their parents’ house where he tries to communicate that he can't rest or go to sleep for fear that he suffered a concussion.

In order to keep himself awake, Hawkeye sings, remembers childhood in Maine and praises the magnificence of the human thumb. The entire episode is almost an extended monologue, a rambling one man show. Less capable actors might find the feat intimidating but Alda pulls it off with this trademark mix of sarcasm and sincerity.

M*A*S*H never shied away from serious topics or off-beat storylines and "Hawkeye" is one of the clearest examples of how the show eschewed convention. Not many other sitcoms would set aside its talented cast in favor of one character stranded by himself in the company of people unable to speak the same language.

The episode received two Emmy nominations for writing and cinematography. A writing nod is obvious but recognizing camerawork for something that takes place almost entirely in one house might seem odd. But it’s because of the limited location, and how the camera moves around in long, uninterrupted takes, that make it special. The episode didn’t ultimately win in either category but the nominations prove the thought that went into every aspect of the production, things that other shows might not care as much about.

What do you think of this unique episode? Let us know in the comments!

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Mewisemagick 17 months ago
Just a show case for Hawkeye/Alan Alda...lousy acting, and bad dialogue. But I still love M*A*S*H!
thezenteacher 18 months ago
This was a nearly flawless episode of skilled direction, inspired writing, and consummate acting. I remember seeing it when it aired initially when I was a kid. I was spellbound then, and I have seen it many times since then and it never disappoints.
AlanTipping 39 months ago
I think one of the critical successes, but not a fan favorite. Somewhere near the bottom for me.
DylanSelf 41 months ago
It was boring. MASH was an ensamble show and they didn't need to just have one man babbling like an idiot for 20 minutes.
LSUFAN44 42 months ago
Every show was a Hawkeye one man show
ToddLeBaron LSUFAN44 33 months ago
Does that include the episode where Col. Potter calls on Sidney Freedman because he fears he might be losing his touch? Does it also include the one where Charles returns from Tokyo, completely hung over and the woman he was supposedly married to showed up? Or how about the episode where Pierce and Hunnicutt are morale officers and Winchester shows his most compassionate side and finds sheet music for a pianist who's lost the use of one hand? Or when Radar goes home? Father Mulcahy contracts hepatitis? One-man shows? REALLY?
WordsmithWorks 44 months ago
Just a vanity episode for Alan Alda. Meh.
Wiseguy 44 months ago
Maude did a similar episode. The entire episode dealt with Maude visiting her psychiatrist in what was basically a half-hour monologue. The psychiatrist just responded with things like "hmmm" and "uh-uh." No other regulars or Maude's house were seen.
Don't know which was written or recorded first but the Maude episode ("The Analyst") was broadcast two months before the M*A*S*H episode. (Both series premiered in 1972 and were broadcast by CBS).
ll675i 44 months ago
this is one episode that when it comes on, I'll watch something else. This and the one with the Just Deserts, HAwkeye comes off as more pompus than Charles. Love Hawkeye and Alda, just not these two times.
Wiseguy ll675i 44 months ago
"Just Deserts"?
WordsmithWorks ll675i 44 months ago
Went through the entire MASH episode list on IMDB. No "Just Deserts." What is the story line? And while we are on the subject of least favorite episodes, "Dreams" tops the list for me.
ll675i Wiseguy 44 months ago
I can't remember the episode name, but Hawkeye raffles off a bottle of wine or something, and the prize is something like an evening with him and the wine, and Hot Lips and the rest of the nurses set him up.One of the later seasons.
Wiseguy ll675i 44 months ago
Sounds like "Taking the Fifth" from the ninth season.
lmahabhashyam ll675i 41 months ago
The episode was called Taking the Fifth it was episode 203 in the 8th year. As to Alan Alda having an entire episode. It was no a goose egg it showed that there was more to fear in a war then simply being shot by the enemy, and that as a doctor his fear of going to sleep with a concession was in his words medically speaking wasn’t rational but yet he was as the patient scared to fall asleep.
MaryPineda 44 months ago
My father loved MASH but did not like this episode, said Hawkeye laid a big goose egg. I liked the episode but don't think it was great.
DwWashburn 44 months ago
One of my top five favorite MASH episodes. Pre VHS I had an audio recording of this episode I used to play on my car's cassette deck.
Pacificsun 44 months ago
I just listened to this episode in the background.

Ahhh, no. A little of Alan Alda goes a long way. And this was way too intense. Sorry but he's an ensemble actor (which is not to diminish his talent). In fact it's actually more difficult because it's based more on dialogue (than setting). And there's a talent for exchanging with actors on a regular basis (because of the familiarity) in order to keep it fresh! Good timing and reactions. Many take improv to do it right!
Pacificsun 44 months ago
MeTV, I know you're good about posting these stories (usually) within a week of the network airing the episode. But it would be better if you could suggest the night of the week, so we could set a reminder. Thanks!
Pacificsun Pacificsun 44 months ago
It was on this Friday night. I guess they give us a week heads-up.
15inchBlackandWhite 44 months ago
It was the end of the season and they only had enough money left in the payroll budget for one actor? The cow doesn't get residuals.
Wasn't Gene Roddenberry one of the first to embrace this approach to saving money? Have only a handful of cast members on only one set for an entire episode. I think he referred to it as "A Starship in a Bottle" episodes. I prefer this approach to the "clips" episode other shows would use, including, I think, MASH. Shoot, ST:TNG had a clips episode that's considered as the worst episode of the entire series.
Kiyone57 AndreaZ 39 months ago
Just "Bottle" episode is the usual term. I've never seen where it came from.
Hogansucks1 44 months ago
It makes you think about the different ways an outsider/ indigenous people can, or how to cope- whether it’s during war or peace time. The gifting of items to show appreciation from Hawkeye, and a very poor family helping a stranger with their precious resources they did offer, among other things. I think this episode reflects on a lot of human traits most of us instill - to basically treat others the way you would like to be treated! Just basic Human kindness/ instincts- and our actions go along way !! (Just my take ) 🙂
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Hogansucks1 JHP 44 months ago
‘Ole Granny Hawkings’.
Hogansucks1 Hogansucks1 44 months ago
“PULL Emuel”. 🤣
Hogansucks1 Hogansucks1 44 months ago
“Shut up Ladge”. Love this stuff
JHP Hogansucks1 44 months ago
"are you going to pull your pistols or just whistle dixie?"
Rob 44 months ago
I love M*A*S*H and have seen every episode many times, but for some reason, I don’t like this one. Or “Inga”.
ToddLeBaron Rob 33 months ago
The episodes I tend to skip include "Dreams" and "Abyssinia Henry" (which I still had more of an appreciation for than I did for "Dreams"). Favorites would have to include "The Trial of Henry Blake", "Adam's Ribs", "Movie Tonight", "Dear Sis", "Mr. and Mrs. Who?", "Sons and Bowlers", "That Darn Kid", "Old Soldiers", "Morale Victory", and "Snap Judgment/Snappier Judgment".
PortelaJ 44 months ago
Definitely a favorite episode of mine. If I recall and please correct if I’m wrong, this may be the only episode that does not feature the operating room of the 4077 as was called for in Alan Alda’s contract. Superb acting.
AndrewHass PortelaJ 44 months ago
I also think the episode A Night At Rosie's didn't feature the operating room either.I like episodes where the characters interact outside of the operating room because it shows them differently besides been doctors or nurses or whatever.
Pacificsun PortelaJ 44 months ago
Well they just had another episode on this last week 11-16 to 11/20 where Radar, Potter, B.J., Hawkeye and Frank were stuck in the military transport van because it broke down on a road. (I won't spoil what the resolution was 😉). So there was no reason to show the Operating Room, because the doctors were on the road!
PortelaJ Pacificsun 44 months ago
Another favorite. Frank on walkie talkie: Any allied personnel, any allied personnel; I am directly beneath the brightest star.
BJ: that’s great Frank, they’re looking for us in Jerusalem. Frank just kills me. Happy Friday MeTV gang.
Pacificsun PortelaJ 44 months ago
And to you too. Glad you're contributing!!!
Wiseguy Pacificsun 44 months ago
It was a bus on the episode appropriately titled "The Bus."
DIGGER1 44 months ago
This was definitely one of my favorite episodes of the whole "M.A.S.H." series. IMHO, Alan Alda, as "Hawkeye", really outdid himself in this one: to be able to go on talking for hours with people who couldn't even understand a word that he was saying, or could couldn't even speak to him in English, just so that he wouldn't fall asleep because of his head injury? That was "pure talent", to say the least.

And also, if I do say so myself, it's a real pity that this episode didn't win those Emmys that it was nominated for, because Lord knows it deserved to win them, IMHO.
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