M*A*S*H episode
“Commander Pierce”
MASH episode 7x1 - Commander Pierce
Upset that B.J. left camp to tend to a wounded soldier shortly before the OR was swamped with wounded without consulting him, Hawkeye angrily confronts BJ in the Season 7 premiere episode "Commander Pierce".
Season 7, Episode # 1
Number (#148) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) James Carroll
Andrew Masset
Enid Kent
Peter Zapp
Jan Jorden
Kellye Nakahara
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: T-404
Writer(s) Ronny Graham (teleplay/story) and Don Segall (story)
Director Burt Metcalfe
Original airdate September 18, 1978
IMDb logo IMDB Commander Pierce
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"Major Topper" (Y‑123)
(Season 6 finale)
"Peace on Us" (T‑401)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Baby, It’s Cold Outside" (T‑403) "The Billfold Syndrome" (T‑405)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 7 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Commander Pierce was the Season 7 premiere episode of the M*A*S*H TV series, also the 148th overall series episode. The episode, which was written by Ronny Graham (teleplay/story) and Don Segall (story), was directed by Burt Metcalfe. The episode originally aired on CBS-TV on September 18, 1978.


When Pierce is temporarily put in charge of the 4077th, the weight of the responsibility takes its toll. He changes, becoming up-tight and authoritarian.

Full episode summaryEdit

Col. Potter has to head to Seoul for a pow-wow with the other MASH commanders, so he turns to Winchester to take over. But Winchester is very sick with a cold, and is unwilling to take the job. Potter then turns to Hawkeye, who absolutely refuses. Potter tells him that Radar will see him at 5am sharp.

Hawkeye refuses to take any part of being in command seriously--he shows up to Potter's office in his robe, unshaven, and pretty much just wants to get some sleep atop Potter's desk, much to Radar's horror at all the paperwork not getting done.

Klinger figures this is his best shot at a Section 8, and begins a procession of attempts to get Hawkeye to ship him out. Father Mulcahy turns to Hawkeye for blankets, since the 4077th is running low and its getting colder outside.

Hawkeye runs into a wall trying to get the blankets from I-Corps, when he learns that they won't send the 4077th anything without the proper forms. It's then that he realizes the mile high pile of paperwork must be attended to, and he sits down, grumbling, to get it all done.

In O.R., Hawkeye wants all the noise to stop, acting an awful lot like the Regular Army clowns he despises. He's short-tempered with everyone, even Radar, and when B.J. makes a crack at Hawkeye's expense, Hawkeye admonishes B.J. to "Stay in the back seat where you belong!"

Later, more wounded arrive, and one soldier mentions that a buddy of his--who's hurt worse--got left behind at Battalion Aid. B.J., not bothering to check with Hawkeye, takes off in a jeep to go get him.

When Hawkeye learns of this, he's furious, knowing there's even more wounded arriving and now he's down two surgeons.

They manage to get through it, and he scolds B.J. for doing so when he gets back. B.J. is having none of it, saying he did the same thing Captain Pierce would've done, not wanting to know what Commander Pierce would've done.

Col. Potter returns, and Hawkeye goes on a rant, delivering a list of complaints about the difficulty of running the 4077th. Potter refuses to take the bait, and grabs a bottle of liquor which he's taking to the Swamp.

He shares drinks with Hawkeye and B.J., who immediately start squabbling. Potter watches all this, and then steps in, admonishing Hawkeye for overreacting, but also reminding B.J. that if he had done his disappearing act while Potter was in charge, he would've been in a lot of trouble.

He manages to get Hawkeye and B.J. to make up, but then an errant comment by B.J. starts it all over again. As they fight, Potter looks at his near empty bottle: "All that perfectly good whiskey, shot to hell." He leaves the Swamp as Hawkeye and B.J. continue to argue.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

You can see how different the show looks starting with this season, now being shot on video tape instead of film. The colors are more vibrant, the image is sharper, but I think it made the show look less realistic, less gritty. Not to mention Mike Farrell's mustache!

Was the Army in 1952(ish) still so anti-women that they couldn't put Margaret in charge? I mean, she was a Maj or, after all...

Potter big mistake putting a malcontent like Pierce in command..The only one with experience and senority is Major Houlihan

Memorable QuotesEdit

(Hawkeye has just had to do a tough round of surgery more or less by himself. He is complaining that B.J. is technically AWOL.)

*Hawkeye {Screams}: Potter's not here. BJ's not here; Winchester has never been here. So I'm left holding the bag!

  • Margaret:  I don't believe what I'm hearing!  Since when did you join the Army?
  • Hawkeye:  Since it was left to me!
  • Margaret:  If only Frank Burns could see you now.  It isn't so easy to be the clown when you have to RUN the circus, is it?
  • Hawkeye:  Are you finished?
  • Margaret:  Just one more thing...permission to say, 'serves you right, sir!'
  • Hawkeye:  Permission denied!  Dismissed!

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit


External linksEdit