M*A*S*H Episode Review: “38 Across”

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 5 television episode that first aired in January, 1977.

Synopsis: In an effort to kill boredom, Hawkeye (Alan Alda) tries to complete a crossword puzzle and, before too long, has almost the entire camp involved. When he gets stumped on the final clue, he calls up a friend of his (Oliver Clark) in the Navy for help. However, there is a miscommunication and his friend, believing Hawkeye needs him to provide his help in person, makes an emergency trip to the 4077th with an admiral (Dick O’Neill) in tow.


I never have enough time at lunch to start watching a movie so, once again, I ended up killing the hour watching this show on Netflix instead. And, after some consideration, I ended up picking this particular episode because I had never seen it before. Overall, I thought it was pretty decent.

I think the thing that I found most interesting about this episode was the way something as simple as a crossword puzzle would end up being so consuming and I loved the emphasis on that simply because it showed how combating boredom could be such an important thing. And, when combined with Frank Burns (Larry Linville) trying to complete that marble puzzle he received, the entire episode probably could have centered around that subject without anything major being added.

The part with Hawkeye’s friend, Tippy, showing up with the admiral did, however, prove to be an entertaining choice, especially when they tried to find a fake emergency for the admiral to help with, only to have Klinger (Jamie Farr) nearly mess things up worse.  I, personally, loved the way this story was given a little more drama by having Tippy explain the headaches they went through to get to the camp in the shortest amount of time ever. Had it been an easy journey, I’m not sure if it would have been as entertaining.

Of course, the episode did end up being a little predictable toward the end (when they conveniently had to head to the operating room). But, at least up until that point, it was pretty funny. And, I had to admit, I liked the admiral’s reaction when he learned why they were called in the first place.

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Final Opinion

The ending probably could have used a little more work, mostly because it was similar to several other episodes of this show. However, overall, I thought this was a funny episode that was entertaining to watch and did not regret my lunch-time choice today.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 08/18/2016, StevenHelmer
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