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Hot Lips and Empty Arms (TV series episode)

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M*A*S*H episode
“Hot Lips and Empty Arms”
Hot Lips Empty Arms
Margeret asserting her independence from Frank Burns in "Hot Lips & Empty Arms".
Season 2, Episode # 14
Number (#38) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Odessa Cleveland
Sheila Lauritsen
Kellye Nakahara
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: K-414
Writer(s) Linda Bloodworth & Mary Kay Place
Director Gene Reynolds
Original airdate December 15, 1973
IMDB Hot Lips and Empty Arms
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"Deal Me Out"

(broadcast order)
"Deal Me Out" (K413)
(production order)

"Officers Only"

(broadcast order)
"Officers Only" (K415)
(production order)

Season 2 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Hot Lips and Empty Arms was the 14th episode of Season 2 of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 36th overall episode of the series. Written by Linda Bloodworth and Mary Kay Place and directed by Jackie Cooper, It originally aired on CBS-TV on December 15, 1973.

SynopsisEdit

In her asserting independence from her adulterous beau Frank Burns, Margaret applies for a transfer. During her going-away party, she becomes very drunk and tells some of her comrades what she really thinks of them deep down.

Full summaryEdit

It’s mail call at the 4077th: Hawkeye gets medical journals from his father, Henry gets three letters from his wife and a film from the Tabasco Film Company of Havana, Cuba, and Margaret gets an upsetting letter. Her anger spills into the next O.R. sessions where she takes it out on her nurses.

Frank pays her a visit in her tent to find out what’s wrong. It turns out the letter is from Trisha Spalding, a friend with whom Margaret went through training. Trisha married a doctor Margaret turned down and now she has two kids and a beautiful $45,000 home (better than Frank’s!) with a swimming pool. Margaret laments that could have been her life and all she has now is the army, no husband and a rotten social life.

Frank proposes they go to Tokyo for the weekend, but Margaret breaks it off with him, declaring she wants “a lifetime” instead of “a weekend.” Independent Margaret is born: she tells Frank she can do better than him and she is now the #1 person in her life.

Margaret stalks off to Henry’s office where she is appalled to find him watching stag films with Hawkeye and Trapper. She requests a transfer, naming the captains as her top reason for leaving, claiming they destroyed her authority with the nursing staff. Henry gives her transfer papers to complete and says they’ll keep quiet about it – just as Radar announces her imminent departure over the P.A. Margaret is packing in her tent when Hawkeye and Trapper stop by with a farewell bottle of “champagne” from the still. They give her some mean-spirited toasts goodbye and Margaret counters with her own toast to their debauchery, immaturity, and the special report she’s preparing for General Mitchell.

Tipsy from the “champagne”, Margaret pays Frank a visit and returns his gifts, letters, and a stuffed dog named Bimbo (!) Margaret helps herself to the still and announces she’s celebrating a brand new life and should be a Colonel in 6 months. “I know a lot of generals, you know, Frank.” she gurgles. She surmises Frank refers to her as a man in his letters home to his wife (turns out she’s right) and exits the Swamp with a final insult: “Ferret Face!”

As Henry orders more stag films (in Radar’s name), a clearly inebriated Margaret arrives for a farewell drink, gets bombed on scotch and rye, and admits Henry (or is it Pete?) looks like her dead father. Maybe it’s the booze, but father is alive and well and comes visiting in a later season.

Wounded are due to arrive within an hour, so Henry has Hawkeye and Trapper try to sober up Margaret so no bad reports make it on her record. The captains hold Margaret under a shower, ply her with coffee and give her a shot of B1. During O.R., Margaret admits to Hawkeye and Trapper she’s grateful for what they’ve done. Next day, a heavily hung-over Margaret decides not to transfer and the majors and captains resume their sibling-like warring!

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • This is the first of five episodes written by Linda Bloodworth and the first of three co-written with Mary Kay Place. She went on to produce many popular TV shows with her husband Harry Thomason, including Designing Women and Evening Shade.
  • Mary Kay Place, this episode’s co-writer, is an actress, singer and writer. She won the Best Supporting Actress Emmy in 1977 for her role as Loretta on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. She also appeared as Lieutenant Louise Simmons in Season 3 "Springtime", which she co-wrote with Bloodworth.
  • Bloodworth and Place were nominated for a writing Emmy in 1974 for this episode, as was McLean Stevenson for writing "The Trial of Henry Blake”. They both lost.
  • Radar sends away for samples to ensure he gets mail.
  • The Tabasco Film Company of Havana, Cuba. You’ll hear this name again – Henry will order more films in the future. It’s a fictitious company. Wouldn’t Henry’s film have come in Radar’s name since Henry told Radar to use his name “again” for the next order?
  • The P.A. announcer reports “Allied incoming casualties” are arriving. As opposed to Communist casualties, I suppose?
  • At this point they still haven't settled on the final characterisation of Radar. This episode features one of the few rare times which Radar is seen smoking and drinking again much like he did in "Chief Surgeon Who?" He is still being portrayed as a streetwise fixer who can hold his smoking and liquor, much like the Radar in the 1970 MASH film. Later his usual drink of choice, when he is at either Rosie's Bar or the Officers' Club is usually a Grape Nehi and he doesn't know how to smoke.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

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