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M*A*S*H episode
“The Army-Navy Game”
Henry Blake on the Horn - Army-Navy Game episode
Col. Blake, with head bandaged, is busy on the horn trying to alert the U.S. Navy to an unexploded bomb on the compound which he, Hawkeye and Trapper believes may belong to them in "The Army-Navy Game".
Season 1, Episode # 20
Number (#20) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) William Christopher
Jamie Farr
John Orchard
Bobbie Mitchell
Sheila Lauritsen
John A. Zee
Alan Manson
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: J-322
Writer(s) McLean Stevenson & Sid Dorfman
Director Gene Reynolds
Original airdate February 25, 1973
IMDb logo IMDB The Army-Navy Game
Episode chronology
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"The Longjohn Flap" (J‑319) "Sticky Wicket" (J‑321)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Sticky Wicket" (J‑321) "Ceasefire" (J‑323)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 1 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

The Army-Navy Game was episode twenty of the first season of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 20th overall episode of the series. Written by Sid Dorfman & Larry Gelbart and directed by McLean Stevenson, it originally aired on February 25, 1973; its repeat on September 9, 1973.

SynopsisEdit

The camp tunes-in to the Army-Navy football game, only to get bombed and left with an unexploded shell in the compound. Hawkeye and Trapper must try to defuse the bomb before it is too late.

Full episode summaryEdit

Radar is collecting bets on the upcoming Army-Navy Game, and Hawkeye, Trapper, and some nurses are in Henry's office as he tunes in the game.

The celebration is halted by the sound of incoming artillery--bombs begin to fall, and some debris hits Henry, knocking him silly. Frank insists he is in charge, but when he proves useless, Hawkeye essentially takes over.

Things get worse when an unexploded bomb lands in the center of the camp. Hawkeye calls HQ, to ask them what to do. He gets a hold of Colonel Hersh who seems more interested in the game, but tells them to get all the markings off the bomb they can and report back, at halftime, if possible.

Frank still insists he's in charge, so Hawkeye tells him it is his responsibility to go out and check on the bomb, but Frank faints before he can take one step out the door. Hawkeye does the job, and, with his stethoscope, can hear that the bomb is ticking away!

Later, Henry has recovered from his blow to the head, and re-assumes command. The Army says the bomb doesn't sound like any of theirs, try the Navy!

The Navy isn't much help, and saying it isn't one of theirs, either. They promise to look into it.

In the meantime, the camp passes the time--Hawkeye, Trapper, and Ugly John pay cards, Radar makes time with a nurse Hardy, and Frank and Hot Lips have a romantic moment alone. Klinger, meanwhile, has changed from his usual women's wear to a fine zoot suit- stating that if something goes wrong and the bomb explodes, he does not want his mother to see him buried in a dress.

The Navy finally calls back, and tells the 4077th that the bomb belongs to...the C.I.A.!

Hawkeye and Trapper volunteer to go out and dismantle the bomb, with the help of the instructions they've gotten from the Navy. They follow the instructions, but when a poorly-sequenced part of the instructions causes them to snip a wire too soon. The bomb stops ticking and they run and duck for cover.

The bomb goes off, but all it shoots out are--paper? Yes, paper--leaflets telling the enemy to give up, they have no chance of winning, signed Douglas MacArthur. As Trapper explains, "It's a propaganda bomb!"

To make matters worse, Navy ends up beating Army, 42-36.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • This episode is one of three in Season 1 which features a different arrangement of the show's theme music, Suicide is Painless. Its more jazzy and upbeat, like something you would've heard by a big swing band. This music is also used in "Sticky Wicket" and "Major Fred C. Dobbs" but after that the series reverts to using the original arrangement.
  • This episode is directed by McLean Stevenson, the only actor other than Alda to work on the series on the other side of the camera during the first few years of the show.
  • When Klinger is with the Father showing off his suit, Mulcahey does not recognize him at first, because he had never "seen him not in a dress before." However, this cannot be correct; Mulcahey talks down a disturbed Klinger from blowing himself up with a grenade in the pilot. In that episode he is wearing his army fatigues.
  • Henry's wife is still named Mildred at this point (after he's been hit by debris, he's absently-mindedly calling her name). That would be changed shortly to Loraine, but the next 4077th colonel's wife would be named Mildred, too!
  • When we see Hot-Lips, we can see that her helmet is a plain M1 helmet. Later in the series when we see her helmet, it has a Major oak leaf welded onto it, much like Frank's.
  • In the episode the Army blows a 14-0 lead and Navy wins, 42-36. This does not match the score of any actual Army-Navy Game ever played, whether before, during, or after the war (although Navy did win the 1951 game 42-7). Had such a game actually been played, it would have been the highest-scoring Army-Navy game ever, with the two teams combining for 78 points.
  • The highest-scoring Army-Navy Game in real life thus far was Navy's 58-12 win in 2002, with a total of just 70 points. The only Army-Navy Game in which each team scored 30 or more points was the 1998 game, a 34-30 Army win.
  • Ironically both McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers had served in the US Navy during their tours of duty in real life.
  • The MeTV version has several parts of this episode not in synication (i.e. Klinger in a suit}; a part left out is where Blake reveals that Tank McNamara shoots out Blakes porchlight in revenge for Blake ruining the Ohio-Illinois football game years later!

Recurring cast/Guest starsEdit

Memorable quotesEdit

(The Navy is not being very precise about the details of the bomb)

  • HENRY: When it stops ticking, the navy thinks it detonates itself in two minutes.
  • HAWKEYE: The navy thinks? The navy doesn't know?
  • HENRY: The C.I.A. won't tell anyone its business.


(Henry has trouble tuning the radio)

  • Trapper: Henry's not very good with his hands.
  • Hawkeye: That's why he became a surgeon.


(Colonel Hersh instructs Hawkeye to find out more about the bomb)

  • Colonel Hersh: You have to determine if the bomb is still ticking. You got any stethoscopes around there?
  • Hawkeye: We're a medical unit!

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