M*A*S*H Episode Review: "The Longjohn Flap"

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 1 television episode that first aired in February 1973.

Synopsis: Hawkeye (Alan Alda) receives a pair of thermal underwear just in time for Korea's freezing winter. However, with winter gear in short supply, his newly-arrived undergarment quickly becomes the most sought-after item and, through a series of events, passes through several hands around camp.


My wife and oldest daughter were at skating practice yesterday evening and, since my youngest daughter was watching one of her shows on the computer, I decided to watch an episode of M*A*S*H while cooking dinner. Fortunately for me, the one that was on TV was one of my favorites.

As I've mentioned in the past, I'm not a huge fan of the show's first season and there are a lot of episodes I will purposely avoid taking the time to watch if I see them come on TV. However, this episode is easily one of the exceptions to that because the premise, along with some good writing, really make it entertaining.

I think the thing I like most about this episode is the way the long underwear gets passed around so quickly. Hawkeye barely has them before Trapper (Wayne Rogers) makes him feel guilty to the point he lends them out. And, once Radar (Gary Burghoff) wins them in a card game, the ownership changes happen quickly as the garment is passed around, like currency, to pay for everything from a date with a nurse to a bribe for a major.

The twist at the end of this episode, with Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) ending up with them only to need his appendix removed a short while later, was one of the more memorable moments from this episode. I loved how Henry, finally warm, was so unwilling to give up the long underwear, even if it meant his life while the rest of the camp waited nervously to find out if the thermal underwear survived the surgery. It was ridiculous enough to be funny without being dragged out to the point it lost that edge.

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Final Opinion

As I said, I'm not a huge fan of the first season of this series. But, there are some episodes that do still stand out. This is one of those episodes and is one I enjoy every time I take the time to watch it.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 08/25/2016, StevenHelmer
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