Synopsis: When Father Mulcahy’s (William Christopher) lack of experience on the front lines causes a wounded private (Brian Byers) to refuse to talk to him, the priest takes matters into his own hands and accompanies Radar (Gary Burghoff) to retrieve a wounded soldier. Things grow complicated when the soldier stops breathing and Mulcahy has to perform emergency surgery while under fire from the enemy.
MASH Episode Review: “Mulcahy’s War”
A review of the season 5 television episode that first aired in November 1976.
I couldn’t find a decent movie to watch when I was home for lunch today so, instead, I ended up watching this episode on Netflix. It wasn’t the first time I have seen this particular episode. However, I did find it interesting.
I think the thing I thought was most entertaining about this episode had to be the eye dropper. This, eventually, comes into play later in the episode when Mulcahy is trying to save that soldier’s life. However, instead of just introducing it then, the writers were clever about it and made sure the eye dropper was visible throughout the episode. And, the fact it also managed to be part of a couple jokes (typically with Radar mistakenly thinking the person using the dropper was praying), was a nice bonus.
I also did like the idea of making Mulcahy perform surgery (something that, as a priest, you wouldn’t normally expect him to do) while facing enemy artillery. If all he did was ride with Radar to the front line and back, I don’t think this story would have had as much of an impact. The fact he had to do something outside his comfort level while his life was on the line definitely had much more of a punch to it.
The part about the wounded dog, Corporal Cupcake, also managed to be somewhat interesting. However, that part of this episode did lose a little something because of the limited amount of time dedicated to it. I think it would have been a much better story if Houlihan’s (Loretta Swit) initial objection to having an animal in the operating room would have at least led to some sort of debate over whether it was the proper procedure and whether the dog was considered a soldier or a pet. In other words, instead of being used as a break in the action, it would have been better as its own episode subject.
As I said, I wish they would have spent more time on Corporal Cupcake. But, overall, I thought this was a decent episode that was well-written. I would recommend watching it if you haven’t seen it.
My Grade: A