M*A*S*H episode
“The Smell of Music”
MASH episode 6x16 - The Smell of Music - Hawkeye BJ at odds with Charles
Tired of Charles's annoying french horn practicing, Hawkeye and BJ refuse to shower until he stops it in the episode "The Smell of Music" in Season 6.
Season 6, Episode # 16
Number (#138) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Jordan Clarke
Nancy Steen
Lois Foraker
Richard Lee-Sung
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: Y-115
Writer(s) Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum
Director Stuart Millar
Original airdate January 3, 1978
IMDb logo IMDB The Smell of Music
Episode chronology
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"Comrades in Arms, Part 2" (Y‑117) "Patent 4077" (Y‑114)

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(broadcast order)

"Patent 4077" (Y‑114) "Comrades in Arms, Part 1" (Y‑116)

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Season 6 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

The Smell of Music was the 138th overall episode of the CBS-TV serie M*A*S*H, also the 16th episode of Season 6 of the series. Written by Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum, and directed by Stuart Millar, it originally aired on January 3, 1978.

Plot synopsisEdit

Hawkeye and B.J. have grown tired of and annoyed by Charles's terrible french-horn playing, so until he gives it up, they decide to give up showering. 

Full episode summaryEdit

After a long, grueling session in O.R., tension is running high.

Back at the Swamp, Hawkeye and B.J. are driven nuts by Winchester's insistence on practicing on his French Horn, loudly. They ask him to stop, but he refuses. As revenge, they decide not to shower, hoping their stink will drive Winchester to capitulate.

But he refuses, and the whole thing escalates. Hawkeye and B.J. start to offend everyone in camp (ruining what was a rare, tasty breakfast in the Mess Tent), and Margaret, Col. Potter, et al, begin to try and talk reason into the three of them.

But Col. Potter has other things to worry about--one of his patients, a young man named Saunders (Jordan Clarke), caught the blast of a defective rifle in the face, causing horrible scarring. Potter tries to comfort the young man in Post Op, but Saunders is convinced his life is worthless, now that he looks like a "freak." He's also sure his beautiful girlfriend back home will dump him once she gets a look at him.

Later, Saunder attempts suicide by taking a huge dose of sleeping pills, but they get to him in time. He wakes up unapologetic, promising he's going to kill himself, no matter what. The battle between the three doctors goes overboard, leading to Hawkeye and B.J. playing a bunch of hand-crafted instruments in an attempt to drown out Winchester's horn-playing.

While the Post-Op staff is distracted by the commotion outside, Saunders takes that moment to sneak off. Potter finds him trying to overdose on ether. Potter has had enough, and tries a bit of reverse psychology. Instead of stopping him, he grabs the mask, turns the tank up to full blast, and shoves it onto Saunder's face.

After Saunders gets the sense Potter is serious, he pushes it off, stand up, and threatens to belt Potter if he continues. Potter observes that Saunders is now "fighting to live instead of fighting to die", which finally calms the young man down. Sobbing on Potter's shoulder, he carries him back into Post Op, saying "I'm too old for this kinda crap."

Margaret and the rest of the camp, having had enough of the loud and smelly war, take it upon themselves to end it--they drown Hawkeye and B.J. in soap and water, and then grab Winchester's horn and flatten it under a jeep.

Potter comes out, observes what has happened, and tells everyone they are "Confined to the Officer's Club, for the duration of the whiskey." Everyone cheers, and he then sweetens it, adding, "Pierce, Hunnicutt, and Winchester are buying."

A few days later, Winchester thinks he's getting his revenge--he's had a local Koren craftsman fix his horn! But the craftsman had to hobble together the new horn from different parts, creating a huge, awkward, Frankenstein-esque instrument...without a mouthpiece.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit


  • The title is a spoof of the musical The Sound of Music.
  • This episode would have been much funnier with Major Frank Burns as the out of tone musician. It also reflects badly on Potters Command style, as Hawkeyes and BJ refusal to wash could very well have contaimiated wounds on weakened bodies they would be operating on...Indeed in one episode a patient of Burns had to have emergency surgery as Burns did not take the time to clean the outside of a wound...
  • Just 2 episodes later in Morale Victory (TV series episode) Winchester shows his true humility when he helps a crippled concert pianist regain his shattered musical hopes while remarking while he can play classical music he doesn't have the "gift" of natural talent.


Hawkeye and B.J. enter the Swamp as Winchester is playing his French horn, out of tune

  • Hawkeye: From the fashionable Swamp Room high above midtown Ouijongbou come the sadistic sounds of Doc Winchester and his All-Moose Orchestra, who asks the musical question: "Why us!?"
  • B.J.: CUT!!
  • Hawkeye: Take five, Pops!

External linksEdit