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|Episode no.||Season 5|
Episode 7 (104th overall)
|Directed by||Alan Alda|
|Written by||Alan Alda|
|Original air date||September 18, 1976(US)|
"Dear Sigmund" is the 7th episode of the fifth season of the television series M*A*S*H. It first aired on CBS on September 18, 1976. The episode was conceived, written and directed by cast member Alan Alda, who played Hawkeye Pierce on the show.
Psychiatrist Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus) is having trouble working after one of his patients, whom he thought he had helped, commits suicide. He believes "there's something special" about the 4077th, so he goes to a poker game there one night and decides to remain for several weeks, to work through his feelings.
During his time there, he writes a letter addressed to the deceased Sigmund Freud. In the letter, he describes the members of the 4077th and recalls stories about them; for instance, Klinger pretends to have been hit in the head by a helicopter blade and speaks only Arabic, and Radar processes the accidental death of an ambulance driver, including writing a letter to the dead man's parents. The main 'action' during the camp's downtime is when people are victimized by an unknown practical joker. B.J. Hunnicutt turns out to be the joker; at one point, he fills Frank Burns's air raid bunker with water and enlists Sidney's help by having him shout "Air raid!" to lure Frank into the trap.
Revitalized, Sidney ultimately departs the 4077th, realizing that happiness is "like springtime at MASH. If you can't see it or find it, you just go ahead and make it", and he's "coaxing a little bud to grow" inside himself. As he drives off, he finds himself the latest target of B.J.'s jokes.
Alda had long wanted to write for Arbus because he was very impressed with his acting skills, finding him so plausible as a psychiatrist that Alda would sometimes instinctively turn to Arbus for psychiatric advice on set, despite Arbus's lack of psychiatric training. When Alda first told producer Gene Reynolds about his idea for the episode, Reynolds balked, saying that "if you ask an actor to play depressed, it'll be depressing for the audience". As a result, when Alda wrote the script he made sure that Freedman was cheerful on the outside and that his depression remained beneath the surface. Alda has described "Dear Sigmund" as "one of [his] favorites".
Alan Alda won two awards for the episode: the Directors Guild of America's Award for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series in 1976 and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series in 1977. Alda was also nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 1977; William Jurgensen was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography. Samuel E. Beetley and Stanford Tischler were nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Film Editing in a Comedy Series and for an American Cinema Editors' "Eddie Award" in Editing.
- Alan Alda on writing the M*A*S*H episode "Dear Sigmund" and the performance of Allan Arbus as M... YouTube. August 26, 2009. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
- Wittebols, James H. (June 2003). Watching M*A*S*H, Watching America: A Social History of the 1972–1983 Television Series. McFarland & Company. p. 194. ISBN 0-7864-1701-3.
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