M*A*S*H episode
“Lend a Hand”
MASH episode - Lend A Hand
Dr. Borelli returns, and he and Hawkeye constantly clash on the way to visit a battalion aid station in "Lend A Hand" in Season 8.
Season 8, Episode # 20
Number (#193) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Robert Alda
Antony Alda
Daren Kelly
Shari Saba
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: S-619
Writer(s) Alan Alda
Director Alan Alda
Original airdate February 4, 1980
IMDb logo IMDB Lend a Hand
Episode chronology
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List of all M*A*S*H episodes

"Lend A Hand" is the 20th episode in the eighth season of the CBS television series M*A*S*H, also the 193rd overall series episode. It originally aired on February 4, 1980. [1] and was both written and directed by Alan Alda. Two generations of acting Aldas appear in this episode, with Alan (as Hawkeye), Robert (as Borelli), and Antony Alda (as Corporal Jarvis) all present. [2]

Plot synopsisEdit

The somewhat arrogant, but well-meaning and talented civilian surgeon consultant Dr. Anthony Borelli (Robert Alda) returns to visit the 4077th, full of unsolicited, often irritating, advice. Meanwhile, Hawkeye is annoyed to learn that the 4077th is planning a surprise birthday party for him, when it isn't even his birthday.

Full episode summaryEdit

There is a lull in the fighting, and the 4077th MASH crew are huddled in the mess tent feeling cold and bored. Hawkeye starts getting strange questions. One nurse wants to know what his favorite color is. Father Mulcahy wants to test his shoe size. He confronts B.J. about why he seems to be the target of some conspiracy. B.J. explains that he has "borrowed" Hawkeye's birthday. Even though it is not really his birthday, planning a surprise birthday party for Hawkeye is just the thing to cheer the people up.

Dr. Borelli arrives and Potter and the officers bring him to the Officers' Club for drinks. He has come to lecture about a new surgical graft technique to treat nerve injuries. They all agree to hear his lecture the next afternoon, but in the meantime, he starts irritating Hawkeye in the bar with a constant stream of unwanted advice: where he should sit, how he should button his coat and how he should drink his scotch--it should be on the rocks and not with soda, he says.

The next day, the doctors and Margaret gather for the lecture, but before that can get going, Potter receives an urgent call from a battalion aid station. The battalion surgeon has hit a landmine with his jeep. The aidman with him says he is too shocky to move and urgently needs a doctor to come up to treat him. Hawkeye seizes this opportunity to avoid Dr. Borelli and the impending party, but Margaret comes up with all sorts of reasons why B.J. or Winchester should go instead. Hawkeye refuses to give way, letting slip that it's B.J.'s anniversary (which it really isn't), and dashes to the door. But to his horror, Dr. Borelli wants to come along.

Margaret rushes to the kitchen to tell Klinger to change the icing on the cake he has been preparing for Hawkeye's supposed birthday party. They should now be doing the party for B.J.'s anniversary instead.

Meanwhile, on the drive up to the battalion aid station, there is no let up on Dr. Borelli's advice. First he comments on the route Hawkeye is taking, then on the cheese he is eating, finally insisting that he tries cheese with French mustard.

Things are no better when they arrive at their destination. Dr. Borelli continues to pile on the advice--how the patient should be treated, how Hawkeye should scrub, and so on. Dr. Borelli has noticed that Captain Kramer, the patient, appears to have some nerve damage to the left side of his face, making him a suitable subject for his nerve repair technique, but he and Hawkeye disagree about how to deal with it. Things are almost reaching boiling point when the aidman, Corporal Jarvis (Antony Alda) interrupts. He tells them that medics like him get very attached to the people they save on the field. Captain Kramer has been his colleague for eight months. To Borelli and Hawkeye, he may be just a patient, but to Jarvis he is very special. He reprimands the two doctors for their bickering: "Hey, what the hell kind of doctors are you, anyway? Do me a favor, will ya? First save Captain Kramer's life. Then you can kill each other."

Dr. Borelli and Hawkeye proceed to operate on Kramer even as the aid station comes under enemy mortar fire. They get nervous but Jarvis tells them to keep going. Suddenly, a near miss throws all of them to the ground. When they get up, Hawkeye discovers that he has injured his left wrist while Dr. Borelli has injured his right. The two surgeons are now forced to cooperate on the operation, each with their good hand. The surgery is a success and the surgeons jubilantly congratulate each other as "Dr. Right" and "Dr. Left".

Meanwhile, at the MASH camp, the crew successfully surprise B.J. with his "anniversary" party. Klinger brings in Sergeant Herbert and his squad, who are near frozen, having walked for hours since their truck broke down. The MASH crew are delighted to have "visitors". B.J. is even more delighted as he converts the party into Herbert's birthday party. They break out into "Happy Birthday" and ply the bewildered sergeant with presents.

A few days later, back at the MASH, Potter successfully performs a nerve repair on Captain Kramer under the advice of Dr. Borelli. The MASH crew applauds while Dr. Borelli and Hawkeye share a clap.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Dr. Borelli previously appeared in the Season 3 episode "The Consultant". This appearance is his second and last. Robert Alda is Alan Alda's father in real life.
  • Anthony Alda is Alan Alda's half-brother. This is his only M*A*S*H episode and the only episode where all three Aldas appear together.
  • Margaret calls out to Gwen and Kellye to fetch blankets, thus giving names to these two regular background players. By this time, the casting had settled very much into a pattern of using the actual first names of background players for their characters.
  • Lots of crowd scenes suitable for identifying background players in this episode.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit


  1. "M*A*S*H Season 8, Disc 3"
  2. "M*A*S*H Season 8, Disc 3"

External linksEdit

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