M*A*S*H episode
“Sons and Bowlers”
Season 10, Episode # 19
Number (#238) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Kellye Nakahara
Dick O'Neill
William Lucking
Roger Hampton
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: 1G16
Writer(s) Elias Davis and David Pollock
Director Hy Averback
Original airdate March 22, 1982
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Sons and Bowlers was the 19th episode of Season 10 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 238th overall series episode. Written by Elias Davis and David Pollock and directed by Hy Averback, it originally aired on March 22, 1982.


Colonel Potter and B.J. head a bowling team that plays in a grudge match against the Marines. Meanwhile, Hawkeye learns his father is having an operation back home and, feeling helpless, confides in Charles.

Full episode summaryEdit

The Marines are celebrating yet another victory over the 4077th, this time at softball, drinking heavily at the O Club, all on the 4077th's dime.

Col. Potter is sick of constantly losing to the Marines, and gets the idea to try another sport, one he thinks they can win at--bowling. He quickly assembles a team of himself, Klinger, and B.J., and starts a search for a fourth player. Margaret persistently offers to join the team, but Potter keeps ignoring her. While Klinger is on the phone searching for the proper equipment to build a bowling lane, he hands a recently-arrived letter to Hawkeye. Hawkeye reads it then and there, and looks concerned. After Klinger leaves, Hawkeye picks up the phone and tries to place a call to his father back in Maine.

Getting a call through is a huge, complicated, frustrating process, so Hawkeye has to practically scream at the top of his lungs to be heard. Winchester, next door in Post Op, comes in and asks him to quiet down. Hawkeye brushes him off, and resumes his call within earshot of Winchester, who then turns on his heel and stays with Hawkeye, talking with him about what's going on--Hawkeye's father is going in for surgery, and even though his father doesn't say what it is, Hawkeye fears it's serious.

Hawkeye eventually learns that, during a test (an IVP),  the doctors found a mass pushing against his father's kidney (a pheochromocytoma), but by the time he gets a second call through, his father has already gone in for surgery.

Hawkeye and Winchester, having nothing to do but wait, sit and talk about their fathers. Hawkeye expects the worst, and can't stand the idea of his father dying without him having one last chance to tell him how much he loves him.

Winchester tells Hawkeye that he should feel lucky that it's only geographic distance keeping them apart--he and his father "have been 12,000 miles apart in the same room." He compares their respective relationships and says that, while he knows his father is fundamentally a good man and only ever wanted the best for him, while Charles has a father, Hawkeye has a Dad.

Meanwhile, the Marines have brought in a ringer, Sgt. Marty Urbancic, to help them win the bowling match against the MASH, so Potter asks Margaret to "work her feminine wiles" on him to weaken his game. Margaret is furious at the suggestion and stomps away, but when she overhears the Marines mocking the 4077th in the O Club, she changes her mind and introduces herself to Urbancic.

Wounded arrive, and Potter enlists the help of the Marines in getting them to OR. After surgery, Winchester and B.J. comment on how tired they are (in front of Urbancic) and offer each other some "pep pills" to help them get through the rest of the game. Urbancic asks for some as well, and they "grudgingly" oblige. When Urbancic leaves, Klinger asks the docs what's up with helping the competition, but they chuckle and say the pills they gave him weren't for pep, but actually methylene blue--one of the side effects of which is turning one's urine blue.

Later, Urbancic runs up to B.J. and Winchester in a panic, having just come from the latrine, telling them he's "turning blue inside." They tell him he shouldn't bend over, which means he can't bowl anymore, as it will make things worse, and he winds up inadvertently throwing the game.

Hawkeye tries to take his mind off his worries and volunteers to play on the bowling team. But after only a few frames (in which he bowls well), another call from home comes in and he has to beg off. Potter is furious at not having a fourth player again, and feels he has no other choice than to let Margaret play. Despite the Marines' mocking, she bowls a strike, winning the game for the 4077th.

Hawkeye finally gets the chance to talk to his Dad, and learns the surgery went perfectly. Hawkeye is overjoyed, gently scolding his Dad for not telling him about all this earlier, but then tells him just to get some rest, and telling him repeatedly that he loves him. Hawkeye hangs up, his eyes tearing up from happiness.

Later, in the O Club, the 4077th is celebrating their first win against the Marines (on the Marines' dime this time), and Hawkeye buys Winchester their first round. They share a toast to "our fathers...and their sons."

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

Research notes/Fun Facts Edit

As a gag, the doctors give Urbancic methylene blue pills, so that his urine will turn blue and he'll quit the game. This was a poor medical decision on their part:

  • Besides being a dye, one of the uses of methylene blue is to lower levels of iron in the blood, which could cause anemia.
  • Common side effects could include headache, vomiting, confusion, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, serotonin syndrome, red blood cell breakdown, and other allergic reactions.
  • Without knowing Urbancic's physiology, they could have done some significant damage.
  • Perhaps the biggest gaffe of all regarding metheylene blue is that it is administered as an intravenous injection, not in pill form.