M*A*S*H Episode Review: "Twas the Day After Christmas"

by StevenHelmer

A review of the season 10 episode that first aired in December 1981.

Synopsis: In an effort to boost morale following the Christmas holiday, Col. Potter (Harry Morgan) decides to adopt a British tradition and, in honor of Boxing Day, have the officers trade places with the enlisted personnel for a day. This has mixed results as everyone who participates learns a bit more about the people they are replacing.

Review

Netflix recently added other seasons of the show MASH and, because of that, I have had an opportunity to catch up on some of my favorite episodes and, as was the case with this particular episode, watch some I had not seen before. After seeing this episode for the first time, I have to admit it was better than I was expecting it to be.

When the Boxing Day premise was first presented in this episode, I was concerned the story would end up being very predictable and, along with that, not as entertaining as I hoped it would be. However, as it turns out, the episode managed to have quite a few surprises.

I think the thing that really impressed me about this episode was the way it didn't just try to make fun of the officers doing menial labor. Yes, there was some of that, especially with Major Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) taking over kitchen duties. But, the episode managed to do it in a much more tasteful way than I was expecting.

In fact, what really stood out for me was the way it managed to show some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on in a mobile surgical hospital. The kitchen scenes, for example, while potentially exaggerated, were interesting to watch because, when you see all the work that is involved with feeding the camp, it is easy to gain some respect for the secondary character, Sgt. Pernelli (Val Bisoglio) since he indicated he usually did all of that, every day, by himself.

I also liked how at least some of the enlisted personnel found they were in over their heads, especially Klinger (Jamie Farr), who talked his way into being the camp commander for a day. Of course, to be fair, that part did end up being somewhat predictable, mostly because it's the type of thing you always seen whenever a show does some sort of "swap places" episode.

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Final Opinion

I wouldn't rank this episode among my favorite from the series (which just wasn't as good after the first few seasons). However, it did exceed my expectations and is one I would recommend watching if you haven't seen it before.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 08/18/2016, StevenHelmer
 
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