StoryM*A*S*H's fifth tour of duty finds the 4077th operating at peak efficiency. Harry Morgan, as Colonel Sherman Potter, and Mike Farrell as BJ Hunnicutt, pumped new blood into series, and in this, their sophomore year, became integral parts of the ensemble. Gary Burghoff joined the Emmy elite for his role as company clerk Radar O'Reilly. William Christopher was also promoted, finally earning his opening-credit stripes for his role as Father Mulcahy. This season was also pivotal for Loretta Switt's Major Margaret Houlihan. "The Nurses," one of Switt's finest half-hours, humanized her rigid, by-the-book character. Margaret's engagement provided the season with its dramatic arc, and set the stage for the departure of Larry Linville's Major Burns, who by this time had wrung all the music he could from his one-note character. In addition to "The Nurses," another episode that looms large in the show's legend is the Emmy-winning "Dear Sigmund," in which weary and depressed psychiatrist Sidney Friedman sought refuge at the 4077th. This episode further fleshed out BJ, and established him as the camp's practical joker. The episode "Hanky Panky," in which a compassionate BJ consoles a nurse whose marriage has fallen apart, ranks as one of his best.
Alan Alda's Hawkeye suffers physical and psychological crises in two of his most effective episodes, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," in which he is temporarily blinded, and "Hawk's Nightmare," in which the war haunts his dreams. We also see the first warning signs of sanctimony that would infect the show in later seasons. Tell us, Hawkeye--and he does, in "The General's Practitioner"--why war is worse than hell. Whereas Hawkeye and Trapper in earlier seasons were partners in crime, Hawkeye and BJ become tireless (and sometimes tiresome) crusaders to right all wrongs in their "little corner" of the world, as witness their shutdown of a heartless junk dealer in "Souvenirs." One cure is "Movie Tonight," an ensemble episode in which camp members bond during a much-interrupted screening of My Darling Clementine. --Donald Liebenson[i][/i]