Friday, November 30, 2012

MASH TV Review of Season 6 Episode 15 "The Smell of Music"

 M*A*S*H, which stands for “Mobil Army Surgical Hospital,” TV series is about a group of Army doctors and nurses working in a MASH unit in Korea during the Vietnam War. They all work together to save the lives of as many wounded soldiers and refugees as they can. Of course, the main characters have their own special trait and there is the “good” side of the group and a “bad” side to the group. It is your own interpretation of which side to root for but to me the good guys in this particular episode are Col. Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan), Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell), Walter “Radar” O’Reilly (Gary Burghoff), Father Mulcahy, Klinger (Jamie Farr) and Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit). The antagonist is Dr. Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers). Winchester replace Frank Burns (Larry Linville) as doctor when Frank was discharged with a section 8. Stuart Millar directed this particular episode and Johnny Mandel wrote the music/theme. 

During this episode the doctor's have all just gotten out of a 72-hour work day. All B.J. and Hawkeye want to do is take a shower and go to sleep but they can't because Winchester is playing his French horn constantly, loudly, and not particularly well. When they enter the tent Winchester complains that it's about time they took a bath and that they smell horrible and he can't stand it. B.J. and Hawkeye come up with the same idea. They're going on a dirtiness strike. They say they won't bathe until Winchester stops playing his French horn. He takes the challenge saying that nothing will stop him from playing his musical instrument.

Hawkeye, BJ. and Winchester
A couple of days later and the whole camp can smell the nasty odor and nurses turn down Hawkeye's invitations for dates because of the smell. Meanwhile a patient that was treated during that 72 hour work load has been trying to commit suicide. His rifle had blown up in his face when it backfire and totally destroyed the right side of his face and he doesn't believe his fiancee back home will accept him anymore.  Col. Potter talks to the young man who gets mad at him for letting him live. Sometimes the things B.J. and Hawkeye are doing distract the nurses and this time they are banging a stick on and old oil drum and B.J. is playing the kazoo trying to drown out the noise of Winchester's French horn. This time when the nurses turn their backs the young man runs to the surgical room where he starts inhaling something through a mask. Potter comes in to try and stop him but then when that doesn't work he uses reverse psychology and says  he'll help kill him and starts forcing him to breathe the gas soon the man is trying to fight for his life. That's when Potter stops and tells him that the part of him that wants to live is stronger than the part that wants to end it all. Then he helps the young man back into the hospital bedroom. 
The stinkers finally get a bath

Meanwhile Margaret has had a team of nurses hose B.J. and Hawkeye with a fire truck like hose with extreme force behind it. Then she has more nurses attack the men and start pouring soapy water on them and then scrubbing them with sponges. Winchester sheers while they do this thinking that he has won. But then Margaret takes the horn from him, lays it in the middle of the road and has a jeep run over it and flatten it. 
Winchester's flattened French horn

Jump ahead a few day where B.J. and Hawkeye and Winchester are sitting in their tent, clean and soundless, a Korean man walks in with a package for Winchester. Winchester tells the guys that the man has rebuilt his horn. B.J. and Hawkeye groan and remark that they'd just taken a bath. But when Winchester takes the horn out it is made of a jumble of different instruments and has no mouthpiece. Hawkeye and B.J. start laughing and the picture freezes on Winchesters perplexed face. Then he show is over.

The actors definitely met my expectations for this episode. I really like David Ogden Stiers as Winchester better than Larry Linville who played Frank. I like the way Stiers plays the antagonist more so than Linville. Margaret has come over to the good side and everyone has better developed relationships.

Some of the film techniques used were constantly cutting back and forth between the stinkers and the horn player at times. I like the way they froze the scene at the end of the episode rather than blacking it out. The music was the same theme good but there wasn't very much more music despite the title of the episode but that's probably because of Winchester constantly playing the French horn.

Definitely watch this episode, it is hilarious. But be prepared because, while you can't smell the stinkers, you can still hear the horn and it will make you sympathize with the rest of the camp. Go and watch it!

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