Season 1 Episode 1

M*A*S*H - The Pilot

Aired Unknown Sep 17, 1972 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
132 votes

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Episode Summary

M*A*S*H - The Pilot

At the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H) unit in Korea, two army doctors by the names of Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre receive some exciting news in the mail. Their Korean house boy, Ho-Jon got accepted into Hawkeye's old college. Hawkeye and Trapper decide to hold a party filled with music, dancing, and alcohol to raise money for Ho-John's plane trip to the U.S. They achieve this by raffling off a weekend pass with a nurse, Lieutenant Dish for R&R in Tokyo.


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  • The first episode of this long running, beloved series sees Hawkeye raffle off the gorgeous nurse Dish to raise college tuition money for his house-boy Ho-Jon.

    The year is 1972 and CBS gambles that the popularity of the MASH movie will transfer to TV. For most of us in the audience, that means we get more of the hideously anachronistic haircuts and left wing, anti-war, liberal posturing that made the movie so popular. But nevermind. The series would go on to become such a landmark in television history that these minor concerns just wouldn't seem all that important in years to come.

    Wisely, CBS produces a pilot that is very close in both attitude and spirit to the movie, for all those that might have missed it. As such, were treated to the irreverence and the subversiveness that made the movie so popular without any of the heavy handed drama that would eventually make the series so popular.

    In my opinion, this is just fine. For me, a comedy means jokes, hopefully followed by me laughing at them. And this pilot does just that. We get more of the wackiness of the movie, which, at times, seems a little like "Meatballs" set in the Korean War. I've always been partial to the first three seasons of MASH for this reason. I truly enjoyed some of the drama that crept into the show in later years, and I certainly think this had a lot to do with the show's longevity. But, at the ene of the day, I watch MASH for laughs, and I feel the pilot delivers nicely here, while at the same time introducing/reintrodicing the audience to the MASH phenomenon started by the movie.moreless
  • As pilots go, pretty good.

    So it's 1972. You've decided to release a comedy set in a hospital during the Korean War, which is right up there with Porridge and Hogan's Heroes for 'Comedies set in really bizarre places'. You're hoping that it lasts a long time and is very popular (let me spoil the end: it does). So what do you do for the pilot? Confuse people.

    Seriously. The plot's all about raising enough cash to send Ho-Jon to America for an education, but he's still there next episode. Dish is introduced as a main character and then promptly goes into cameos. It begins with the words 'Korea 1950, a hundred years ago', bizarrely. The whole thing just seems weird.

    The pilot gives off the distinct feeling of throwing many characters and ideas into the fray and accepting whichever seem most popular. There's a brief scene in America (the only one in the series), there's a reference to a character from the novel (who never appears) and Spearchucker just seems out of place.

    The plot is pretty simple; to send a Korean they know to university, Hawkeye and Trapper intend to hold a raffle to raise money, while Frank Burns and Hot-Lips raise every argument known to man trying to stop them. It also jars a little that Hawkeye and Trapper (and everybody bar Frank) have absolutely no issue with essentially pimping out a nurse; this is the nearest that the TV series gets to the original book.

    Characters are pretty much the same as they always are first season; Hawkeye gets the brilliant lines, Trapper gets the moderate lines and Frank Burns – well, if you've ever seen Red Dwarf, you're gonna get serious Rimmer vibes from Frank. By and large, the episode is pretty good. I snark a lot, but that's just hyperbole; this is a good episode, with only a few bad things going for it; the disappearance of many characters, if not by season's end then by the end of the episode and the ending (so did Hawkeye change the name at the last minute to avoid incriminating himself? Did he just want to give Mulcahy a treat? Does he hate the man?). But, yeah. It's a great pilot, and a great sign of things to come.moreless
  • This is the first episode of the series of MASH which was a movie that was based on the novel also titled MASH. This episode introduces the first set of major characters and also gave you the main point and goal for the series.moreless

    I personally really like this episode because it really shows the comedy talents of Alan Alda and all the main characters. This episode is a classic episode and a must for all real MASH fans. I really liked the part where they do the drawing and Father Mulcahy wins the drawing just when General Hamilton walks in. That is sucha a funny scene. I also love the part where Trapper, Hawkeye, and Radar put Frank Burns to sleep. Actually, this whole episode was so hilarious that it made me want to continue to watch the whole series and later buy the whole series on DVD.moreless
  • Hawkeye gets a letter from his old college saying that the Korean boy Ho-Jon has been excepted. Trapper and Hawkeye come up with the idea to have a party to raise the money, but after beating up Frank...Colonel Blake calls it off...or so he thinksmoreless

    This is a great start to a great series. Everytime I watch it though I notice the characters don't look the same in the next episode. For example...Hawkeye has longer hair in the first episode...Trapper's hair is more straight in the back rather than being curley and "Hot Lips" also looks different. I'm not sure how long it was from the pilot episode to the next one they shot...but it looks like a while. Maybe the only reason I notice it is because I have seen the episode a 100 times. Has anyone else noiced or just me? Great Episode!moreless
  • A great way to start of the series! If it had been one of the more dramatic or sad episodes the series probably wouldn't have been such a hit!

    One of the funnier episodes! Interestingly there is no blood in surgery unlike later episodes. Afraid it might make people squeamish I guess... To pay for their Korean friend to go to college in America, Hawkeye and Trapper, surgeons at the M*A*S*H (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) 4077th. Hold a raffle for 2 weekend passes to Tokyo with a nurse. Henry says no but leaves for a meeting and Frank Burns is the only person left to stop them. So in typical M*A*S*H fashion Hawkeye and Trapper drug him and wrap him in bandages. Then while they are having their party Major "Hotlips" Houlihan goes to give a patient his shot. Upon pulling down his pants and seeing his behind she says "FRANK!!!" This part is outrageously funny and sure to get laughs from almost anybody who sees it. So of course it all comes together. The Priest of the outfit wins the raffle just as Henry and a General come back. And Margaret leads Frank wrapped in bandages. Of course Hawkeye and Trapper are going to be court-marshalled. However Radar the company clerk hears the choppers coming. More choppers means more wounded. And many people would die if two of the best surgeons couldn't operate. So it all turns out well. In my opinion it's one of the better pilots I've seen for shows. Just as interesting as some in the 5th or 9th season. The show is good from the start!moreless
Gary Burghoff

Gary Burghoff

Corporal Walter Eugene "Radar" O'Reilly

Larry Linville

Larry Linville

Major Franklin Delano Marion Burns

Loretta Swit

Loretta Swit

Major Margaret J. "Hot Lips" Houlihan

McLean Stevenson

McLean Stevenson

Lt. Colonel Henry Braymore Blake

Alan Alda

Alan Alda

Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce

Wayne Rogers

Wayne Rogers

Captain John Francis Xavier "Trapper" McIntyre

Karen Philipp

Karen Philipp

Lieutenant Maria 'Dish' Schneider

Guest Star

Linda Meiklejohn

Linda Meiklejohn

Nurse Leslie Scorch

Guest Star

Laura Miller

Laura Miller


Guest Star

Timothy Brown

Timothy Brown

Spearchucker Jones

Recurring Role

Odessa Cleveland

Odessa Cleveland


Recurring Role

Patrick Adiarte

Patrick Adiarte


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (5)

    • When Hawkeye and Trapper are arrested by Hammond at the party there is a large crowd of people behind the General and Henry. When we cut to the shot of Margaret and Frank approaching, there is no-one in sight.

    • When it comes time for the raffle, Hawkeye tells everyone to take out their tickets. Instead of calling out a number that would match one of the tickets he calls out a name, so the ticket holders didn't need to have their tickets out to see if they won.

    • Goof: Hawkeye dances closely with Lt. Dish and has a wreath of flowers over his shoulder. In the next scene, the wreath is hanging between the two.

    • In the later episodes of M*A*S*H the surgeons wear their masks with the straps tied at their neck and near the top of the head, while the nurses wear their masks with the straps criss crossed. Here the surgeons wear their masks in the same fashion as the nurses. However, the doctors and nurses may wear their masks tied differently so you can tell from the style who's whom. Alternatively, they could have chosen to change the style to keep the mask more secure.

    • Goof: Hawkeye says Ho-Jon can stay with his parents while going to school. However, Hawkeye's Mother is dead and has been for some time.

  • QUOTES (23)

    • (Hawkeye narrating his letter to his father at the beginning of the episode)
      Hawkeye: Dear Dad, Hawkeye here. You said that I sounded a bit callous in my last letter, Dad. Let me see if I can put things in a better way. At this particular Mobile Army Hospital, we are not concerned with the ultimate reconstruction of the patient. We care only about getting the kid out of here alive enough for someone else to put on the fine touches. We work fast and we're not dainty...We try to play par surgery on this course. Par is a live patient.

    • Henry: This is Brigadier General Hamilton, Chief Medical Officer of the Seoul Sector!
      Hawkeye: Oh, hi.
      Gen. Hammond: Which one here's McIntyre?
      Trapper: Yo!
      Gen. Hammond: You and Pierce are both under arrest.
      Trapper: I'd like to get a second opinion on that.

    • (Father Mulcahy just won the raffle)
      Henry: Ten-hut!
      Gen. Hammond: Do I understand that the priest of this outfit has just won a weekend with a nurse in Tokyo?
      Hawkeye: It's a prayer come true.

    • Margaret: Captain Pierce!
      Hawkeye: Oh, I'm sorry, honey. My dance card's all full.
      Margaret: Where is he?
      Hawkeye: Who?
      Margaret: You know very well who. Major Burns! He's been missing for hours!
      Hawkeye: Oh, I thought you'd heard.
      Margaret: Heard what?
      Hawkeye: Frank's gone over to the enemy. They offered him one hundred dollars more a week and a royalty on bedpans.

    • (Radar hands Hawkeye an envelope)
      Hawkeye: What's this?
      Radar: It's the weekend passes for the raffle.
      Hawkeye: When did he sign these?
      Radar: When he thought he was ordering a ton of ice cream. Fudge ripple.

    • Radar: Yes, sir?
      Henry: Radar! Radar, don't do that.
      Radar: Yes, sir. You wanted to see me, sir?
      Henry: Yes, but let me say I want to see you before I see you.

    • Hawkeye: What does everybody want here? What do all these people want more than anything else?
      Trapper: To go home or, uh, Tokyo, whichever comes first.
      Hawkeye: What do they really want?
      Trapper: Sex.
      Hawkeye: Ahh.
      Trapper: 'Cept for those baseball perverts.

    • Radar: You guys got mail. That's Hawkeye. Trapper.
      Trapper: I don't feel like mail.
      Hawkeye: Go ahead, open it. They can't draft you again.
      (Trapper opens his letter)
      Trapper: Bad news from my wife. She still loves me. Would you believe this? She still thinks I got sent to Korea as part of some secret plot to cheat on her.
      Hawkeye: Well, didn't you?
      Trapper: Yeah, but how did she figure it out?

    • Trapper: Some nurse this guy had.
      Hawkeye: Oh, yeah. Was that the one with the...
      Trapper: Yeah, right. The one I was tellin' you about. Hi, Ho-Jon. She came to me once with a sore throat. She didn't mind me examining her tonsils, but she didn't understand why she had to take off her clothes.
      Hawkeye: That's a woman all over.
      Trapper: Best place for 'em to be.

    • Hawkeye: Aw, come on, Frank! We've all had twelve straight hours of meatball surgery in there! My brain is sending me urgent rest telegrams. You must be tired, too, after all that malpractice you put in.
      Margaret: You're dismissed!
      Hawkeye: Thanks, Mother.

    • Frank: I don't want a Kelly clamp, Lieutenant!
      Ginger: But that's what you asked for.
      Frank: Give me what I want, not what I asked for!
      Hawkeye: Hey, Ginger, put a clamp on his mouth. You can show us all your diploma later, Frank.
      Frank: That's enough, Captain!
      Hawkeye: Oh, clever.

    • (in the operating room)
      Margaret: Everything under control?
      Hawkeye: Uh, yeah, fine. But if you don't move, I'm gonna have to cut around your 'B' cups.

    • Trapper: (after he hits his golf ball into the mine field and it explodes) Fore!

    • Gen. Hammond: Who are you?
      Hawkeye: Uh, Capt. Benjamin Franklin Pierce. Who are you, Sarge?
      Gen. Hammond: (pointing to his shoulder) What do you think this star means?
      Hawkeye: You're Tinker Bell?

    • Hawkeye: (to Margaret) Look, Hot Lips...(Margaret stamps her foot) Why don't you stop worrying about Elmer Gantry? Grab yourself a partner and give him a dancing physical.

    • Hawkeye: Hey, Ho-Jon, come here. Sit down. I got a letter from Dean Lodge.
      Trapper: Is that a good place to stay?

    • Hawkeye: Ya know we gotta do it someday. Throw away all the guns and invite all the jokers from the north and the south to a cocktail party. Last man standing on his feet at the end wins the war.

    • Hawkeye: Sorry, baby.
      Margaret: That's Major to you!
      Hawkeye: Sorry, Major baby.

    • Frank: What are you doing up there?!
      Hawkeye: I just wanted to borrow your Bible, Frank.
      Frank: Since when are you two interested in the Bible?!
      Trapper: I peeked at the end Frank; the Devil did it.

    • Trapper: We did it again-screwed up in reverse.

    • Hawkeye: (seeing Frank, wrapped in gauze, enter the mess tent) The mummy strikes!

    • Margaret: Those two, they're ruining this war, for all of us!

    • Burns: Your conduct in there was not only unbecoming an officer, it was equally reprehensible as a medical man!
      Hawkeye: Frank, I happen to be an officer only because I foolishly opened an invitation from President Truman to come to this costume party. And as for my ability as a doctor, if you seriously question that, I'm just gonna have to challenge you to a duel!

  • NOTES (7)

    • George Morgan plays Father Mulcahy in just this episode. He would be replaced two episodes later by William Christopher.

    • The flashback scene where General Hammond recalls the romantic interlude with Margaret takes place at Ft. Benning near Columbus, Georgia. This is only scene in the entire series that takes place in The United States.

    • Gary Burghoff is the only actor appearing as a regular character in the series to reprise his role from the movie. However, two other actors in supporting roles appeared in both the movie and the series - G. Wood reprises his role as Gen. Hammond from the movie in 3 episodes (including the pilot) during the first season of the series. Timothy Brown appeared in both the movie and the series, but in different roles - he played Cpl. Judson in the movie, and Spearchucker Jones in several episodes of the first season (Fred Williamson played Spearchucker in the movie).

    • The producers were concerned about the backlash that might occur if they depicted the horrors of war too graphically. During the OR scenes in this episode, the doctors and nurses don't even have blood on their surgical gloves. This would change later in the series.

    • The 4077 staff treat Canadian soldiers in this episode. 516 Canadians were killed in the Korean War.

    • Larry Gelbart received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.

    • Gene Reynolds received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series.


    • Elmer Gantry:
      Mentioned by Hawkeye as a description for Frank, Elmer Gantry is a book written by Sinclair Lewis about a con man who works with a female evangelist to bring religion to small-town America. The book was made into a movie that won three Academy Awards in 1960 and nominated for three more.

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