MASH Episode Review: The Novocaine Mutiny"

by StevenHelmer

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

Synopsis: Frank (Larry Linville) brings Hawkeye (Alan Alda) up on mutiny charges after Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) leaves the camp for a week and a breakdown in command results in an operating room confrontation. Of course, Burn's version of what happened during Potter's absence differs greatly from the actual event.


I couldn’t find a movie that looked interesting when I was home Saturday afternoon (it was raining outside, preventing me from doing my normal Saturday chores). So, instead, I ended up watching this episode on Netflix.

I’ve seen this episode before but, even though I remembered bits and pieces of it, couldn’t remember how it ended and, because of that, did find it interesting. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be as good as I remembered.

I think my biggest problem with this episode is it fails to build any real suspense. Hawkeye faces court martial and, if found guilty, hanging. Yet, at no point during the course of the episode, does it look like he is going to even reach a point where that is a real concern. Almost immediately, the colonel overseeing the hearing (Ned Wilson) seems to have doubts about Burns’ allegations and seems even more skeptical as the episode progresses. In other words, there was no doubt Hawkeye was going to be cleared immediately.

The part about the incident in the operating room was also a little bit of a disappointment. I liked the idea of having two separate sides to the same story. However, Burns’ version was so ridiculous; it was pretty obvious he was making things up. It would have been much better to have him tell a story that was at least somewhat believable so, once again, there would be some lingering doubt about what would ultimately happen when a decision was made.

I will say this; the story about Burns trying to find gambling winnings (which weren’t allowed since he outlawed gambling) was somewhat funny. I especially liked how even the adjudicating colonel figured out where the money was hidden before Burns did. Unfortunately, while that part was funny, it wasn’t funny enough to save what was otherwise a weak episode.

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Final Opinion

I think this episode had some potential. But, unfortunately, the writers got a bit carried away with Burns’ version of events and the lack of suspense made this episode very predictable and, because of that, not as good as I thought it would be.

My Grade: C

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Updated: 06/15/2015, StevenHelmer
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