MASH Episode Review: “Deluge”

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 4 television episode that first aired in February 1976.

Synopsis: The 4077th is overrun with unexpected casualties, forcing a marathon of surgery even as the hospital begins to run out of necessary supplies, such as rubber gloves. To make matters worse, the hospital staff’s hopes of the war coming to a quick end are shot down by China’s decision to send fresh troops into the fray, causing rumors the nurses may be forced to evacuate if the Chinese military is able to advance too far.


I wasn’t able to find a decent movie on TV yesterday (I found some, but they were almost over with) and, because of that, decided to watch this MASH rerun instead. This was the first time I had a chance to see this particular episode and I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it. However, I do think it was worth my time.

I think the one thing I really liked about this episode was how it (like many other episodes from this series) managed to really put the war into some perspective with everyone, including Frank Burns (Larry Linville) fully expecting things to wind down enough for them to go home only to have the war unexpectedly get kicked into overdrive. The way each of the cast regulars handled the bad news, ranging from anger to a new sense of patriotism (Burns, again, of course) was definitely interesting.

The shortage of supplies coupled with the constant flow of wounded was also somewhat interesting, especially when they had to use highly flammable alcohol (something that comes into play later in the episode) to sterilize their hands because they don’t have gloves. It made me wonder if they were going to run into some significant shortages elsewhere too.

The one thing I wasn’t a big fan of was the various breaks to show non-Korean news footage, which was shown in between the main scenes as a way to break things up.

While I understand the reasoning behind this (I suspect the show’s writers were trying to give us a glimpse of life back home so we had something to compare the 4077th’s conditions to), I do honestly think this episode would have been better without it because it would have allowed some of the various camp stories to be expanded on a bit, such as whether Major Houlihan (Loretta Swit) regretted asking Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) to let her nurses stay or giving us a little more detail about why that soldier (Anthony Palmer) was so insistent about checking up on his friend. I think I would much rather have seen that.

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Final Opinion

As I said, this episode could have done without the extra newsreel footage. However, overall, I think it was worth watching and is an episode I would recommend.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 06/16/2015, StevenHelmer
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