Mail call is hazardous duty for Radar. They don't exactly shoot the messenger but they do take him for everything he's got.
| Season 2, Episode # 23 |
Number (#47) in series (256 episodes)
|Guest star(s)||William Christopher|
|Writer(s)||Laurence Marks & Larry Gelbart|
|Original airdate||February 23, 1974|
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| "A Smattering of Intelligence"|
"A Smattering of Intelligence" (K424)
Mail Call was the 23rd episode of Season 2 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 47th overall series episode. Written by Laurence Marks and Larry Gelbart, and directed by Alan Alda, it first aired on February 23, 1974.
The arrival of a new batch of mail makes Trapper depressed and he wants to desert, despite Hawkeye's efforts otherwise. Meanwhile, Hawkeye learns he has successfully tricked Frank into buying stocks in the fictitious company, Pioneer Aviation.
Full episode summaryEdit
It’s mail call at the 4077th, and Radar is the most popular man in camp, fighting off hordes of personnel looking for their letters from home. Trapper gets a new photo of his two daughters plus a batch of cookies they baked with no help (“I wish someone had,” snorts Hawkeye.) Hawkeye receives an oversize sweater from his (still-existing) sister.
Henry receives a postcard for a Tokyo massage parlor and a package from Lorraine: check stubs, bank checks, and cancelled checks. Henry was hoping it was a chocolate and sour cream cake, but Lorraine did tell him seven episodes ago (“Henry in Love”) she was going to mail her checking information so he could balance the checkbook. Frank gets a letter from his stockbroker, informing him his investments appreciated $2,000 in the last month and have doubled since the war started.
Klinger presents a “letter” to Colonel Blake stating Klinger’s father is in a coma, could soon die, and he should come home to Toledo for the funeral. Blake immediately reaches for the “Klinger” folder and reads a laundry list of previous “letters” from home, culminating in the epic “half the family dying, other half pregnant” letter.
Hawkeye thinks it crude for Frank to profit from the war, so to teach him a humility lesson, he plants a fake letter on his bunk he knows Frank will read. The letter is addressed to his father, name-drops a certain Senator Magrid, and is about a stock tip for a company called Pioneer Aviation, a small company with a new government contract that could turn a small investment into millions. Frank takes the bait and has Radar send an urgent cable to his stockbroker to sell off his entire portfolio and purchase all the stock in Pioneer Aviation possible.
Radar tells Hawkeye about a pen pal named Mary Jo Carpenter in Montana he’s traded photos and letters with, but it turns out Radar has told her he is a 6’2″ Captain with smooth black hair and is a surgeon fighting in the Korean War. Hawkeye isn’t impressed and urges Radar to come clean and be himself in answering Mary Jo’s request for his feelings.
Klinger tries a new ploy on the Colonel: now he admits to being a Communist, but Blake throws him out, remarking he’s never hit a woman before.
Frank and Margaret are giddy about Frank’s impending stock windfall. She tells Frank he will now be able to afford a wife and an ex-wife and urges Frank to call Louise and ask for a divorce. Frank isn’t quite ready; instead, he lays out his plan to make Margaret his "kept woman" in an apartment near his office so he can make lunchtime visits. After hearing Frank’s paltry offer of $100/month allowance (she makes $400/month as a Major), she throws him out of her tent, screaming the Pioneer Aviation name, something that Frank wanted kept secret.
Hawkeye reads Radar’s truthful response to Mary Jo where he delicately reveals his true identity and personality, but then has to contend with a drunken Trapper who is packed and ready to go AWOL to see his girls. Hawkeye tries to talk sense to him, but gets bum rushed by a duffel bag for his trouble.
Frank shows up and Trapper lets him know they are aware of Pioneer Aviation, which alarms Frank. Hawkeye bursts Frank’s million-dollar bubble by telling him Pioneer Aviation is a fake company and forged the letter to make Frank look foolish. Frank exclaims he needs no help in looking foolish as Trapper collapses in laughter on Frank’s bunk and Hawkeye quietly hides Trapper’s duffel bag in his foot locker.
Fun Facts Edit
- Trapper receives a letter from home, which contains a photo of his two daughters. He identifies them as Kathy and Becky.
- Hawkeye receives a sweater made by his sister. This is the second time in the series he mentions her; she's mentioned a few times in Season 3, but fades out of canon soon after. The sweater does reappear in a future episode.