M*A*S*H episode
“No Laughing Matter”
No laughing matter
Winchester has just refused to back up Baldwin's allegations against Margaret in this scene from "No Laughing Matter". Margaret is grateful but Winchester has just blown his chances of a transfer to Tokyo.
Season 9, Episode # 13
Number (#211) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Robert Symonds
Jeff Maxwell
Nathan Jung
Mae Hi
Eileen Saki
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: Z-413
Writer(s) Elias Davis & David Pollock
Director Burt Metcalfe
Original airdate February 16, 1981
IMDb logo IMDB No Laughing Matter
Episode chronology
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"Depressing News" (Z‑411) "Oh, How We Danced" (Z‑414)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

Operation Friendship (Z‑412) "Oh, How We Danced" (Z‑414)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 9 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

No Laughing Matter was the 13th episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 211th overall series episode, . Written by Elias Davis and David Pollock and directed by Burt Metcalfe, it originally aired on February 16, 1981.


Hawkeye's challenge to go through a day without telling a joke is complicated by Winchester's amusingly desperate attempt to curry the favor of a hated visiting officer.

Full episode summaryEdit

During some drinks in the O Club, B.J. has Hawkeye take a Reader's Digest quiz about how "secure" he is. When B.J. asks him the third question about feeling a need to make jokes, Hawkeye answers no. B.J. finds that ridiculous, insisting that Hawkeye jokes constantly.

Hawkeye says that he likes to make jokes, but he doesn't need to. He makes a bet with B.J. that he can go 24 hours without making a single joke.

That bet becomes a lot harder when Klinger brings news that they are about to get a visit from Col. Horace Baldwin, the same man who banished Winchester to the 4077th. Col. Potter tries to break the news to Winchester gently, and orders him to stay away from Baldwin. Despite this, Winchester promises, "upon all that is holy", he will have his revenge.

Klinger tries to convince Winchester that the right tack to take is to kiss up to Baldwin, who still has the power to transfer Winchester back to Tokyo, instead of trying to murder him. Winchester storms off.

Later that night, Baldwin arrives, and Hawkeye, B.J., and Potter are shocked to see that Winchester is indeed buttering Baldwin up, treating him with the utmost deference. Baldwin can barely remember who Winchester is, but he's receptive to all the flattery. Potter is deeply suspicious.

Winchester offers to play cribbage with Baldwin, throwing game after game so Baldwin wins back all the money he lost to Winchester back in Tokyo. He plies him with fine cognac, which Baldwin refers to as "First-class hooch."

Winchester keeps trying to steer the conversation back to Tokyo, and how much he misses it. Baldwin at first seems oblivious, but then he hints that he's...lonely, and if Winchester can procure him some female companionship, he "won't forget it."

Winchester, disgusted, nevertheless heads to the O Club to find a call girl to send to Baldwin's tent. Unbeknownst to him, Margaret heads over to Baldwin's tent to drop off some medical reports.

When Margaret enters, Baldwin thinks she's there to spend the night, and appears in some sort of fetish outfit (which, thankfully, we never see). Margaret is disgusted and shocked, and, from what we hear, kicks Baldwin repeatedly before bolting out of the tent.

Winchester hires a call girl, who arrives at Baldwin's tent to find him laying on the ground in pain. She finds Winchester at the O Club, demanding her money despite what happened, causing a scene. At first he refuses, but when the call girl's enforcer (a hulking brute) threatens to break Winchester's legs, he coughs up the money.

Margaret also storms in, accusing Winchester of arranging such a disgusting display. She storms out to get Col. Potter.

Then Col. Baldwin comes in, and says that he's planning on accusing Margaret of coming on to him...and if Winchester will go along with his story, he'll arrange to transfer Winchester to Tokyo.

Col. Potter, with Margaret in tow, asks Winchester what's going on. Winchester, whimpering, admits that "Col. Baldwin is lying through this teeth." He then levels with Baldwin, admitting he's been sucking up to Baldwin all this time, but he won't destroy a friend's career.

Baldwin, with his tail between his legs, leaves immediately, just in time to hear Hawkeye broadcast a string of jokes about the day's events. Since its after midnight, he has won the bet, and now he's free to say what's been on his mind.

Afterwards Margaret approaches Winchester in the O Club and thanks him for refusing to let Baldwin get away with his false accusations, saying that he should be proud for standing up for his principles. Chuckling, Winchester says he wouldn't let that happen again.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • The V.I.P. tent has an attached kennel (apparently also made of canvas) with a sign "Do not feed me."
  • Despite the fact Baldwin nearly raped Houlihan he is allowed to drive away. In contrast Major Frank Burns whose flirtation with a visiting female Colonel was falsely reported as as rape House Arrest (TV series episode) is put under arrest...

Guests/Recurring castEdit