War of Nerves (M*A*S*H)

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"War of Nerves"
M*A*S*H episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 5 (127th overall)
Directed by Alan Alda
Written by Alan Alda
Production code 604
Original air date October 11, 1977
Guest appearance(s)

Allan Arbus (Maj. Sidney Freedman)
Johnny Haymer (SSgt. Zelmo Zale)
Peter Riegert (Pvt. Igor Straminsky)
Michael O'Keefe (Tom)

Episode chronology
← Previous
"Last Laugh"
Next →
"The Winchester Tapes"
M*A*S*H (season 6)
List of M*A*S*H episodes

"War of Nerves" is an episode from the TV series M*A*S*H, the fifth episode of its sixth season.[1] Originally airing on October 11, 1977, with a rebroadcast on June 5, 1978 (which saw CBS move the show to Mondays at 9 p.m.), it was written and directed by Alan Alda.[2]


Tensions are building at the 4077th, and morale is at an all-time low. Dr. Sidney Freedman is visiting to follow up on Tom, a soldier he sent back into battle. Uniforms are asked to be burned due to diseases.

Meanwhile, the 4077 is at each other's throats. Margaret is convinced that Charles touched his nose in surgery and Charles states that he didn't. B.J. starts to get annoyed at Hawkeye's sarcastic humor in the mess tent. Klinger and Radar are in an argument over Radar's teddy bear. With all this arguing happening, Colonel Potter suggests that Sidney should take some time to speak with the members of the 4077.

Klinger stops by his office concerned that he is going insane. Sidney jokes thinking that this is nothing but an attempt to get a section 8, but Klinger states that he is serious ("I wake up in the morning and I look in the mirror and see this man standing in a dress and I ask myself, 'Would a sane man dress like this?'").

When Radar expresses concerns over what his attachment to his teddy bear means in terms of his sanity, Freedman assures him that he isn't crazy. Freedman predicts that Radar won't need the teddy bear anymore when he leaves. In "Good-Bye Radar," he leaves it behind.

The staff itself finds its own way of letting off steam. The people in charge of burning the Chinese uniforms begin to suggest burning other parts of the camp (crates, benches, etc.). Potter sees this as dangerous. However, Sidney tells him that a big bonfire may be what it takes to let people vent their frustrations and get back to work ("They don't want to burn the whole camp, just selected bits of it").

Eventually Sidney meets with his patient. But Tom is rather harsh towards Sidney and, bitter and angry, vows never to forget or forgive Freedman for sending him back to the front lines. Sidney begins to feel a little depressed, and Father Mulcahy stops in to comfort him. Eventually, the whole 4077th, Sidney included, partake in the bonfire. In the end, the staff joins together in song and the episode ends with Radar trying to find his bugle to start a new day, which was part of the bonfire. After Radar plays it Potter says that it actually sounds better.


Guest cast is Allan Arbus as Major Sidney Freedman, Johnny Haymer as Staff Sergeant Zelmo Zale, Peter Riegert as Private Igor Straminsky, and Michael O'Keefe as Tom.

In "Mad Dogs and Servicemen", Michael O'Keefe played a soldier who suffered from hysterical paralysis. While the name of the soldier was Corporal Richard Travis, his middle name/nickname might have been "Tom".

One of two episodes where Private Igor Straminsky was played by Peter Riegert, instead of Jeff Maxwell, who portrayed Igor in 59 episodes over the run of the show.


  1. ^ "M*A*S*H" War of Nerves (TV Episode 1977), retrieved 2017-09-09
  2. ^ "M*A*S*H" War of Nerves (TV Episode 1977), retrieved 2017-09-09

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