M*A*S*H

Season 3 Episode 24

Abyssinia, Henry

4
Aired Unknown Mar 18, 1975 on CBS
9.5
out of 10
User Rating
119 votes
10

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Abyssinia, Henry
AIRED:

Henry finally gets his discharge. While he is tying things up, Burns prepares for his new command. Henry bids a tearful adieu, but not before Klinger turns up in an outrageous tropical outfit, and gets Henry to zip him up, and he gets to kiss Margaret. He gives Radar a hug and his last order, and departs by helicopter. In the traumatic and shocking last scene, a devastated Radar announces that Henry has been killed when his plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Too bad no spinoff

    1.0
    After the news of Colonel Blake's death shocked the world, the very next night on The Carol Burnett Show, the opening shot was of McLean Stevenson in a smoking raft, waving his arms, hollering, "I'm OK! I'm OK!" {Regreffully they never had a post MASH spinoff epsiode-in which Blake as surviving being shot got drunk and accidently opened the plane door but after being sucked out into space he hapeens to have grabbed a parachute and life raft and is shown to have driffted to a uncharted island in the Pacific occupied by silly "natives" who make Blake their "King" in which Blake chases after women and booze while taking no responibilty for anything beyond his own pleasure. They could have called it "The comic misadventures of the Late Col Henry Blake". The only thing he evers worries about is that he will be rescuded and have to got back to his wife!}moreless
  • In truth THE comedy ep of a decade, quite possibly the century!

    10
    Abyssinia Henry, the comedy ep fom a sweet, jesterly and insightful series that shook a world of fonzie and lucy is trully just as gut wrenching as ascribed. Ive allways been a lover of the beautiful hatemocking that M.A.S.H delivered, while basically all other series based comedy on the mocking of individuall traits, M.A.S.H developed a mocking of evil and unthoughtfulness. A series that would have been great from the start anyhow turned into an essential classic the second radar told a cheerful crowd that Henry, the lovable funloving goof of an officer died in a planecrash.

    Abyssinia Henry marked the turning point in where a more subtle, serious mode of black comedy entered TV opening up for such beauties as northern exposure, scrubs or earl.moreless
  • This is what transformed M*A*S*H from a simple comedy show into a dramatic piece of television history.

    9.5
    "There are certain rules in a war- Rule Number One is that young men die. Rule Number Two is that doctors can't change rule number one." ~ Henry Blake.



    If Henry only knew how prophetic that quote would be.



    This episode taught us that even the 4077th is not immune to the horrors of war. For some time now, we've been seeing them try hard to deal with the war as more of an inconvenience than anything else. This time, more than ever, the war became a reality-and a harsh one at that.



    A lot of people were upset at this ending. They found it a cruel way to remove one of the most beloved characters. But the decision is quite appropriate- the writers didn't want the fictional Henry Blake to come home because a lot of REAL people didn't come home in the same way. It wouldn't be fair for people to watch the televised happy ending that had been so unfairly denied to their sons or brothers or fathers.



    Truly one of the most influential moments in television history.moreless
  • If you only watch a single episode of this series, watch this one.

    10
    This is one of the most poignant, moving episodes of the series. McLean Stevenson was the first of the original TV cast to strike out on his own and leave the camp. (Wayne Rogers also split after this episode, but his departure was not so planned.)

    In season 1, ep 24 ("Showtime"), Henry's wife has a son - one he never gets to see, since he never makes it home. While the writers never mentioned the little boy again, that fact alone would make me cry. But Henry's plans to go dancing with his wife and a teary Radar watching the helicopter leave for the last time are some of the most heart-wrenching parts of this show - I cry because I know how it ends, and I cry for the family that waited for a loved one and instead got a messenger. This particular twist was a VERY risky move for the show's producers and writers, and the last scene of this episode was kept under wraps as much as possible.

    Watching the show, it is just impossible not to smile when Henry gets his orders, and when he talks to his wife on the phone, even though we all know what is up ahead. Walter Burghoff did an exceptional bit of acting in this episode, but everyone did well in this farewell to their lovable CO. While Harry Morgan was exceptional actor, and Sherman Potter became as close to the group as Henry did, the was no replacement to Henry Blake. Abyssinia, Henry.moreless
  • Maybe the best episode of the entire series!

    10
    This episode is perhaps the one episode that will always stand out in my mind whenever I think of this series. Henry Blake finally gets the news that every member of the 4077 wants to hear: he's going back to the US for good. The reactions from everyone in the camp of his imminent departure sums up a lot of what everyone thinks of their beloved camp commander in this episode.



    However, the scene at the end of this installment is maybe the most famous, and contrversial, of anything shown in this entire series. The fact that only a select few knew how the scene, involving Radar coming into the operating room with news about Henry Blake, heightens the genuine impact of how things play out.



    This is a landmark episode for the series as it marks the departure of actors McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers. For some fans of the show, their departures are ably filled by Harry Morgan and Mike Farrell in the following season. For others, this marked the end of a comedic run that was never approached for the rest of the series.



    Regardless of what you think about the episodes that follow this one, if you're a fan of MASH, you would do yourself a great disservice if you fail to watch this episode at least once. Simply put, it is one of the most memorable episodes ever to be produced for TV bar none!moreless
Alan Alda

Alan Alda

Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce

Gary Burghoff

Gary Burghoff

Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly (Season 1-8)

Jamie Farr

Jamie Farr

Corporal/Sergeant Maxwell Q. Klinger

Larry Linville

Larry Linville

Major Franklin Delano Marion Burns (Season 1-5)

Loretta Swit

Loretta Swit

Major Margaret J. "Hot Lips" Houlihan

McLean Stevenson

McLean Stevenson

Lt. Colonel Henry Braymore Blake (Season 1-3)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Goof: "Henry say that Korea is 1 day and 14 hours ahead of USA. Radar correct him by saying that its USA that is 1 day and 14 hours ahead." Because of the time zones North America can never be ahead of Asia.

    • When Henry swept Margaret into an embrace, she put her right hand behind her head (holding her hat) and her left hand on Henry's shoulder. When the camera angle switched to a back view, we see her hands reversed. When the camera switched back, her hands were in the original position.

    • The term 'Abyssinia' is a slang term meaning 'I'll be seeing you', so the title literally means "I'll be seeing you, Henry."

    • There was indeed a point system in Korea. Rotation points were earned by both enlisted men and officers. In September of 1951, an officer would need 55 points to be rotated stateside. Since Henry Blake was an officer serving in a frontline unit, (as opposed to rear echelon) he would have earned 4 points a month. It would have taken him 1 year, and 1 month to be rotated home. The goof here may just be the dodgy timeline.

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Henry: Trap, thanks for the outfit. It's really dressy.
      Trapper: Henry, that, uh, that suit is really you.
      Hawkeye: If you're Adolphe Menjou.

    • Henry: (after hanging up on his wife) Sweet Lo-rraine!
      Radar: (whispering to Hawkeye) She has a fantastic body!

    • Trapper (to Henry): Remember the time that Father Mulcahy caught you in your tent with that lady war correspondent?
      (Trapper, Henry, Radar and Hawkeye laugh hysterically)
      Hawkeye (to Henry): You said you were giving an interview on the importance of clean underwear!

    • Hawkeye: Stand up straight.
      Trapper: I'm standing straight. The country's crooked.

    • Henry: (to Radar) You behave yourself or I'm gonna come back and kick your butt!

    • Henry: Klinger, that outfit might just get you that Section 8!
      Klinger: I made it just for this occasion, sir. I was in such a big hurry, didn't get the back zipped.
      Henry: I'll do it. (Klinger turns around)
      Klinger: Up, sir.
      Henry: There you go, soldier.

    • Radar: (devastated) I have a message. Lt Col. Henry Blake's plane...was shot down...over the Sea of Japan. It spun in...there were no survivors...

    • (Henry's chopper has a patient on it)
      Henry: This kid's a little shocky!
      Hawkeye: We'll take care of him, Henry, you're fired!

  • NOTES (12)

    • In 2008, The Emmys Academy chose the most memorable comedy TV moments. The announcement of Henry Blake's death was in the top 5.

    • For the first time, Frank actually shows that he has a human side. He cried when he heard Henry had been killed despite all the arguments and hostilities they had.

    • The night after this episode aired, on Carol Burnett's show, McLean Stevenson made a guest appearance; he was on a row boat, in the middle of the "ocean", claiming that he was alive and survived the crash.

    • M*A*S*H received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 1975 Emmy Awards. In addition, Alan Alda received an Emmys nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Also Gary Burghoff and McLean Stevenson received a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and Loretta Swit received a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

    • The ending to this episode was parodied on Family Guy.

    • In the scene where Radar announces Blake's death, during the silence, a piece of medical equipment is heard being dropped. This was unintentional, but it worked so well that it was kept.

    • Tragically, McLean Stevenson succumbed to a heart attack at age 66 on February 15, 1996---ironically, one day before the death of actor Roger Bowen, who played the role of Col. Henry Blake in the 1970 MASH movie (and of the same cause, too!)! Henry Braymore Blake, we hardly knew ye...

    • From the following season on, Jamie Farr, as Max Klinger, was listed as a regular cast member, and so no longer appears as a recurring character. This was the last of his 30 appearances as a recurring character.

    • Obviously the episode is best remembered for the departure on McLean Stevenson as Lt. Col. Henry Braymore Blake, but it is also the final episode to feature Wayne Rogers as Capt. "Trapper" John Francis Xavier MacIntyre, who, due to a contract dispute, had also decided not to return for the fourth season. His role would be superceded by Pernell Roberts in 1979 for the spin-off Trapper John M.D. (CBS, 1979-86), which found Trap as the Chief of Surgery at San Francisco Memorial Hospital, a good many years after Korea.

    • The final O.R scene where Radar announces Henry's death was not included in the script distributed to the actors, who, apart from Alan Alda knew nothing of the shock ending, so that when they read the script minutes before shooting the scene, they would show some real shock...and it worked! The filming was organized so that the O.R scenes would be the last to be shot. First they shot the opening scene where Henry was told he is going home. The crew assumed this was the end of the filming but then Gelbart handed out the final page of the script. The scene was shot without a rehearsal but because of a technical problem it had to be done a second time.

    • After numerous arguments with the studio and a desire to do a show of his own McLean Stevenson made the decision that season three would be his last. Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbart decided that instead of doing a standard episode about a character leaving the show they would take the opportunity to make a statement about the senselessness of war.

    • This episode generated a great deal of mail, both positive and negative.

  • ALLUSIONS (1)

    • Hawkeye compares Henry to Adolphe Menjou, who was an American actor. His career is notable for his appearance first in silent films and later crossing over into talkies. He received an Academy Award nomination for his appearance in The Front Page in 1931. Adolphe Menjou was born February 18, 1890 and died October 29, 1963.

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