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|Episode no.||Season 1
Episode 1 (1st overall)
|Directed by||Gene Reynolds|
|Written by||Larry Gelbart|
|Original air date||September 17, 1972|
The eponymous pilot episode of M*A*S*H was filmed and completed in December, 1971. The episode's original airing took place on September 17, 1972, and it was repeated twice, on April 1 and August 5, 1973. It was written by Larry Gelbart and directed by Gene Reynolds, who received the Directors Guild of America Award for it. It was also nominated for Emmys in Directing and Writing.
Ho-Jon, the houseboy of Captains Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre, has been accepted to Hawkeye's college, but they must first raise a tuition for him. They hold a party while their commanding officer, Lt. Col Henry Blake, is away. There, they raffle off a weekend's R & R in Tokyo along with the company of a nurse, much to the chagrin of Majors Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan.
Returning to the Swamp after a long session in the OR, Hawkeye receives a letter announcing that Ho-Jon has been accepted into his alma mater, though he and Trapper still have the task of coming up with the $2,000 for travel and tuition. Hawkeye convinces Trapper that they can accomplish it by raffling off a weekend pass to Tokyo with the company of a gorgeous nurse. They go to Colonel Henry Blake's office to propose the idea to him, and he nervously gives them permission.
Later on, Hawkeye and Trapper get into an argument with Frank Burns, who, in a fit of rage, destroys their still. Furious with him, they put a bag over his head and throw him out of the tent. When Henry hears about it, he withdraws the passes and cancels the party they had planned to throw for fear that Frank will complain to General Hammond. He adds that he has to see Hammond in Seoul and was unhappy about the party taking place in his absence. However, as Henry is leaving, Radar reveals that he tricked him into signing two passes, so the party can take place. Unfortunately, Hawkeye's and Trapper's happiness is short lived as they discover that Frank was made temporary commander. To get rid of him so they can have their party, Hawkeye injects him with a sedative and wraps a bandage around his face, prescribing that Frank should be sedated every hour on the hour.
During the party, Margaret expresses her inability to find Frank. Suspicious of the activities of Hawkeye and Trapper, she calls General Hammond, a former lover, who is so excited to hear from her he leaves at once. Meanwhile, Hawkeye announces that they have raised $1800 and then has the nurse draw a name for the raffle. Knowing that the nurse in question, Lieutenant Dish, is engaged, he announces that Father Mulcahy is the winner, but unfortunately, he does so just as Hammond walks in.
While the infuriated general questions Hawkeye and Trapper, Margaret walks in with Frank, still sedated and with bandages around his head, and screams at the two of them. Hammond demands that they be arrested, but just in the nick of time, choppers arrive loaded with casualties. After the session, which Hammond participates in, he tells Henry that Hawkeye and Trapper are two of the best surgeons he has ever seen and, for that reason, he is dropping the charges.
- George Morgan played Father Mulcahy in this episode only; afterwards, William Christopher had the role.
- This episode's opening title sequence features many shots not found in any other. It is also the only one to announce the setting as "Korea, 1950 - a hundred years ago".
- This and "Germ Warfare" are the only two episodes in which Karen Philipp appeared as Lt. Dish.
- While counting the money they've earned, Hawkeye says aloud, "...ten dollars for the Painless Pole...", referring to Walter Waldowski, the camp dentist as seen in the 1970 film. No other reference was ever made to him in the series.
- Gary Burghoff, who played Radar in the film and television series, has a deformed left hand. Though it was usually hidden by the constant presence of a clipboard, bugle, or other object, the deformity is relatively clear in the opening titles as he announces the arrival of the choppers.
- This episode, like "Dear Dad", "Welcome to Korea", and a few others, ended with a list of the entire main cast of the show, calling them "personnel permanently assigned to the 4077". Strangely, G. Wood and Patrick Adiarte are both listed, despite the fact that neither General Hammond nor Ho-Jon are technically 4077 personnel.