Good Bye, Radar
“Good-Bye, Radar” is a two-part episode of the television series M*A*S*H that served as the fourth and fifth episodes of the show’s eighth season and the 173rd and 174th episodes of the series. Part 1 aired on October 8, 1979, with Part 2 airing one week later. The two episodes aired as a one-hour special during off-season reruns on May 12, 1980. As the title of the episode implies, these were the final two episodes to feature Gary Burghoff in his role as Corporal Radar O'Reilly.
These episodes were originally intended to be aired as season seven's finale, but CBS and the producers convinced Burghoff to return for the beginning of season eight. To make up for his imminent departure, Burghoff received a special credit in the show's opening immediately following William Christopher's, which read "also starring Gary Burghoff as Radar". For the first three episodes of season eight, Burghoff’s absence was explained by Radar’s having been sent to Tokyo for some R&R. In two of the three episodes, Burghoff made cameo appearances.
In addition to Burghoff’s departure, these episodes marked the final appearance of Johnny Haymer in his role as Staff Sergeant Zelmo Zale. With the departure of Radar, Hawkeye Pierce, Margaret Houlihan, and Father Mulcahy were the only three characters left on the series who had any connection to the novel and film from which M*A*S*H was derived (with Henry Blake being killed off at the end of season three, Trapper John McIntyre discharged between seasons three and four, and Frank Burns being transferred and promoted, at the start of season six).
It is another typical night surgery session in the 4077th as the doctors and nurses work to save another new crop of soldiers injured in the field. However, events slowly unfold that turn the night toward the not-so-typical. As Hawkeye asks Margaret for a rib spreader, the power immediately goes out in the operating room. In the confusion caused by the power outage Margaret accidentally catches one of Hawkeye's fingers in the rib spreader as neither one can see what they are doing. Hawkeye's finger is severely mangled and sprained in the incident.
Acting company clerk Klinger is dispatched to the generator to find out what happened. When he sees his old rival Zale watching over the generator, he instantly assumes that Zale is to blame for the problem and cannot fix it, and he goes to try to crank up the camp's auxiliary generator only to find that it has disappeared somehow. A frustrated Klinger gets into another in a long list of arguments with Zale. While the two are arguing the primary generator breaks down, rendering it useless and the 4077th in the dark with no means of electrical power.
Three concerns become immediate for the 4077th: the procurement of a new generator, a patient of B.J. Hunnicutt's with a stomach problem that needs round-the-clock treatment, and the camp's food supply, which is in danger of spoiling because there is no longer any refrigeration. Colonel Potter is able to take care of two of the three concerns immediately. First, to help B.J.'s patient, he jury rigs a Wangensteen suction device from two old pickle jars and a suction tube to relieve the patient's distress. He then organizes a smorgasbord for the entire camp and all the Korean civilians living in the area to get rid of the food. Although the unit succeeds in consuming the food and B.J.'s patient stays safe, Klinger is having problems finding a replacement generator, and the patient will need treatment with an electrical suction machine if he is to survive longer.
Meanwhile, Radar is set to return to the 4077th when he is bumped from his scheduled flight by a cardboard cutout commissioned by a general to sit with him on planes. While Radar is waiting for another flight in the passenger air terminal at Tachikawa AB (Tokyo), he meets an attractive nurse named Patty Haven (Marilyn Jones), who is going home to Lancaster, Missouri. Radar is excited by this, considering that his hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa is close to Lancaster, and the two hit it off. However, before they can get anywhere, Radar is placed on another flight. Despite his arguing with the airman in charge of booking, Radar has to leave because otherwise he will be bumping a footlocker from the flight. After a promise to Patty to try to find her when he gets home (and a quick kiss), Radar leaves and begins his trek back to the 4077th.
Radar's trip home is not an easy one, as he is bumped from his jeep by some stranded GIs, who throw him and his duffel bag out onto a road. He ends up riding home in a bicycle-driven cart, which gives him a stiff neck in addition to his being tired and hungry. Radar is not able to rest, however, as most of the 4077th staff greet him with problems upon his return. The most happy person to see Radar is his substitute, as Klinger had been having all sorts of trouble with the job and left the office largely disorganized.
Although Radar wants to rest, take a shower, and eat, he is cajoled by Col. Potter into helping Klinger acquire a generator, as it is believed that Radar, who over the years has become a master finagler, will be able to get one. Unfortunately, Radar quickly finds the same bad luck as Klinger, and dejectedly breaks the news to him of his inability to find a generator while in the officers' club drowning his sorrows in his trusty Nehi Grape Soda, which he complains is warm.
To further worsen Radar's day, his mother has wired the 4077th with news of a tragedy that has befallen the family. Col. Potter goes into the Swamp and somberly asks Hawkeye and B.J. if they have seen Radar. After being told that Radar is in the officers' club, Potter breaks the news to his captains: Radar's Uncle Ed, who helped to raise Radar and run the family's farm after Radar's father died, has himself passed on. Stunned, all anyone can say is "oy".
Part One ends with Radar, who has been informed of what happened, trying his best to do his work and coping with the tragedy that has befallen his family back home while conversing with B.J., Hawkeye, Col. Potter, and Father Mulcahy. While talking about how a neighbor is going to help his mother with the farm, Col. Potter decides that Radar's best place for him now is home with his family helping them. He tells his company clerk to fill out a DA-7 Hardship Discharge form for himself, which he says will be given top priority and will ensure Radar is home "in time for Sunday dinner." Everybody congratulates Radar on his imminent discharge, but a confused Radar is not sure whether he should be happy.
The next day begins with Radar packing for home and finding various mementos of his service, including his Purple Heart, a photograph of his Uncle Ed, and a rectal thermometer Lt. Col. Blake gave him after his own discharge. Meanwhile, the office is still in disarray, as Klinger has organized nothing and still has had no luck finding a generator. Despite pleas by Klinger to assist him, Radar refuses. He tells Klinger that he is going to have to learn how to do the clerk's job on his own, and that no one had helped him when he first came to the 4077th. Ultimately, Radar is guilted into helping Klinger by Major Winchester, who chides Radar as being selfish for wanting to leave for home while the 4077th is still without power.
While Radar is helping Klinger try to trade with a supply clerk for a generator (who, for some reason, wants a frozen custard machine in exchange), he hears choppers flying toward the compound with wounded. Radar improvises by ordering all available vehicles the man has for the 4077th. The vehicles arrive just in time for a rare outdoor surgical session, with the headlights from the vehicles used to light the area in front of the OR. The session is a success, and Hawkeye operates despite his injured finger. After the session Col. Potter and Radar share a drink in his office as sort of a farewell toast. Radar, however, tells his commanding officer that due to what he had put together and Klinger's inability to do the job, he is going to fight his discharge and remain at the 4077th. Potter is disappointed, telling him that he is not making sense, and Radar is berated by Hawkeye for wanting to stay when he is lucky to be going home. Radar, however, refuses to listen.
In a last-ditch effort to procure a generator, Klinger receives a call from a supply sergeant at I-Corps, who has such a generator and will give it to Klinger for a case of Scotch. Shortly after Klinger arrives at I-Corps, a major from a service-and-supply unit pulls up and demands the generator, saying that two others his unit had were stolen and that they were down to a backup generator, which they stole from a MASH unit (presumably the 4077th). While the major and supply sergeant go to fill out a requisition, Klinger goes to the supply central issue station, poses as the major's driver, and blackmails the dispatcher into giving him the generator. Returning to the 4077th with it, Klinger is met with a heroes' welcome. With that, Radar becomes convinced that the camp will survive without him and decides to go home.
Radar's day of departure finally comes and Hawkeye stops by his tent to take him to his farewell party in the mess tent. However, incoming wounded cancels the party just as it is set to begin and Radar's good-byes are rushed as the unit begins to move the wounded into the hospital. Colonel Potter embraces him, Margaret blows him a goodbye kiss as she rushes by, Father Mulcahy blesses him, Winchester wishes him "the best in his bucolic endeavors," and Klinger assures Radar he will make him proud as his replacement. As Radar will be stopping in B.J.'s hometown of San Francisco along the trek home, B.J. gives him a package (and two kisses on the cheeks) to give to his wife Peg and daughter Erin (who will be meeting him at the airport). He looks around for Hawkeye, but by now everybody has gone. Radar goes inside the empty, silent mess tent (decorated with signs saying "WE LOVE YOU RADAR" and "GOOD LUCK RADAR"). Looking at the giant cake made in his honor, he licks the icing and grimaces at the taste.
After saying goodbye to his beloved pets, Radar heads to the main OR tent, but does not go in. He watches the surgical session in progress until he is noticed by Hawkeye, who fires off a farewell salute to him (the second time he has done so). After saluting back, Radar boards a jeep and leaves the 4077th for the final time.
After the OR session, Hawkeye, B.J. and Colonel Potter enter the Swamp to find something on Hawkeye's cot: Radar's teddy bear, which he had brought from home and kept in his office as a comfort. Hawkeye picks the bear up and while looking at it says sadly: "Good-bye, Radar."
In the following episode, "Period of Adjustment," Radar's departure is revisited in events surrounding B.J. and Klinger. Klinger is still unable to perform the way Radar had and is catching hell from Col. Potter for it, and B.J. has gone into a depression over the fact that his daughter Erin, who was meeting Radar in San Francisco with B.J.'s wife Peg, mistakenly called Radar "Daddy." Realizing that he's been missing out too much on his daughter's childhood, B.J. decides to drink his way out of the army and when told by Hawkeye that won't work, he destroys their still and decides to desert, punching out Hawkeye on his way. He eventually meets up with Klinger, who is having just as hard a time dealing with his own issues, and the two go on a drunken spree that ends with both of them trashing Col. Potter's office. Eventually Potter is convinced to ease off Klinger after having a discussion with Father Mulcahy, who reminds him that Radar had the same struggles when he began as company clerk. B.J. ends up breaking down in Hawkeye's arms, upset over the fact that Radar was the first person his daughter called "Daddy" and being unable to get that moment back, as well as missing out on too much of her childhood being in Korea.
- The first cast member to be hired for the M*A*S*H TV series, Gary Burghoff became the last to leave, following the departures of McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers in 1975 and Larry Linville in 1977. He would later reprise his role as Radar twice; one was in a 2-part episode of AfterMASH, and the other was in an unsold TV pilot W*A*L*T*E*R, which featured Radar as a rookie police officer in St. Louis.
- In this episode, Hawkeye tells Radar that he would leave the 4077th in a beat given the chance, but Radar insists that Hawkeye would feel too needed and stay. Judging from "The Late Captain Pierce," an episode from the fourth season, it would seem Radar is correct (although Hawkeye was mistakenly ruled dead and could've been arrested for desertion had he left, so the situation is not entirely similar).
- In the episode "War of Nerves," Sidney Freedman predicted that Radar would leave his teddy bear in Korea when he went home.
- Prior to this season, Mike Farrell tried to convince Burghoff not to leave the show, citing the lackluster television careers of Larry Linville and McLean Stevenson after their departures.
- See IMDB.