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Ping Pong (TV series episode)

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M*A*S*H episode
“Ping Pong”
MASH episode 112 - Ping Pong - Cho Lin
The camp's best ping pong player, Cho Lin in game in Season 5 episode "Ping Pong".
Season 5, Episode # 17
Number (#114) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Richard Narita
Frank Maxwell
Sachiko Penny Lee
Robert Phalen
Enid Kent
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: U817
Writer(s) Sid Dorfman
Director William Jurgensen
Original airdate January 18, 1977
IMDB Ping Pong
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"38 Across" (U821)  "End Run" (U816) 

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"End Run" (U816)  "The Most Unforgettable Characters" (U818)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 5 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

 Ping Pong is the 114th episode of M*A*S*H, the 17th in the fifth season of the show, which originally aired on CBS-TV on January 11, 1977. It was directed by William Jurgensen, and written by Sid Dorfman.

SynopsisEdit

AThe 4077th hosts a traditional Korean wedding, much to Frank's objections. And Colonel Potter runs into an old friend who has put his troops in jeopardy so that he could receive a promotion.

Full episode summaryEdit

The 4077th is watching with bated breath an inter-camp ping pong tournament, and their best player, Cho Lin (Richard Narita) is facing off against the player from the 8055th.

Cho ends up winning, and of course everyone is thrilled--except for Frank, who bet against his own unit. "I got 3 to 1 odds", he protests.

After the tournament wounded come in and one of them is an old friend of Colonel Potter, Lieutenant Colonel Harold Beckett. Potter is surprised to see him as Beckett normally worked at the Pentagon ordering food and commodities for the troops. Beckett explains that he had been given command of a field unit to advance his career. He needed to serve thirty days on the line to qualify for the Combat Infantryman Badge. This award would help him get a promotion so that he could retire as a colonel.

After surgery, Cho brings his fiancee, Soony (Sachiko Lee) by the Swamp, where he announces they're going to be married. Hawkeye and B.J. offer to hold the ceremony at the 4077th, and even pony up money so Cho can afford a wedding ring. Frank scoffs at Hawkeye and B.J.'s naivete, insisting its foolish to trust an "Oriental."

Cho left for Seoul to get the ring, and Soony becomes worried--and then inconsolable--when Cho doesn't come back on time. Soony begins to cry, saying she doesn't think Cho is coming back. Hawkeye tries to reassure her, and Frank thinks all of it is very funny.

Later on, wounded arrive, and one of those hurt is Cho! Turns out that when he was in Seoul, a South Korean Army truck came by, grabbed Cho, put a uniform on him, and sent him into battle.

After tending to his rather minor wounds, Frank demands to know why Hawkeye and B.J. haven't shipped Cho out. They try and bluff their way out of it, but Frank is adamant, even drawing up a formal list of charges against them for various infractions.

Col. Potter asks Hawkeye and B.J. why Cho hasn't been shipped out, and they tell him about the upcoming wedding. At first that doesn't mollify Potter, but he changes his mind when Hawkeye says Potter will be giving away the bride! Potter, beaming with pride, agrees to let the ceremony commence.

Later that evening Hawkeye and B.J. talk to one of the soldiers from that batch of wounded that came with Harold Beckett. The soldier tells them that Beckett was incompetent and had caused all the injuries to his soldiers. He had panicked when his unit was being shelled. When the order came for his unit to withdraw, he had frozen and did not react. The soldier then tells them that Beckett was only at the front because he needed to serve some time to qualify for the Combat Infantryman Badge. Hawkeye and B.J. are upset to hear this and determine to tell Potter about it.

The next morning Hawkeye and B.J. find Potter and tell him what the soldier had told them. Potter confronts Beckett, telling him that he is sending him home. Beckett begs Sherman to give him a break as he only needs five more days on the line. But Potter is adament. He doesn't care if he loses every friend he has by sending Beckett home. If one soldier is hurt by keeping Beckett on the line, the price is too high. 

The MASH personnel all turn out in their dress uniforms for the wedding. Being, a Buddhist ceremony, no words are spoken. The groom arrives on a white pony, share a drink of wine and are then declared man and wife. Everyone watching bursts into applause and steps forward to congratulate the couple. Frank, the only one who has not bothered to put on his dress uniform wandersover to the wedding cake, taking a taste of it while no one's looking.

Later, Radar and Col. Potter play ping-pong, and Radar can barely contain his laughter as he beats Potter so easily.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • The Combat Infantryman Badge was established in 1943 to recognize the contributions of infantrymen, who bore great risks in combat while receiving relatively little public recognition.
  • According to the eligibility criteria for the Combat Infantryman Badge, the serviceman must be of the rank of Colonel and below and serving in a unit of brigade size or smaller. To get the award: "A recipient must be personally present and under hostile fire while serving in an assigned infantry or special forces primary duty, in a unit actively engaged in ground combat with the enemy." There is no 30-day qualifying period in the original criteria. The 30-day rule was added during the Vietnam War and applied only to officers not from the infantry branch who are in command of an infantry unit.
  • Going by the criteria as they existed during the Korean War, Beckett, who was injured by enemy shell-fire, was certainly under "hostile fire" and "actively engaged in ground combat". As such he would have qualified.
  • This episode has one of the rare instances where Potter mentions his home as Nebraska. Most times it is Hannibal, Missouri.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

External linksEdit

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