M*A*S*H Episode Review: "Your Retention Please"

Synopsis: When an Army retention officer (Barry Corbin) visits the 4077th in an effort to get people to re-enlist, he is predictably given the cold shoulder by the majority of the camp. However, a drunk Klinger (Jamie Farr), distraught over a letter he received from his ex-wife, is persuaded to re-up and seems determined to follow through despite Hawkeye's (Alan Alda) objections.

Review: I ended up watching this re-run from 1981 a couple days ago, while taking a break after mowing the lawn. It's an episode I had seen a couple times before but didn't remember much about it. After seeing it again, I ended up having some mixed feelings about it.

The premise of the episode is actually a good one. Of all the main characters on the show, Klinger would be the last one you would expect to want to re-enlist so the fact the retention officer was able to take advantage of his depressed state of mind was an interesting twist. This is doubly true when Klinger sobers up and reveals he doesn't regret his decision.

I also thought the part about Hawkeye and Potter (Harry Morgan) being at odds over the re-enlistment was interesting too. In most episodes, the fact Potter has made the Army his career doesn't really come into play too much. In this episode, it does create some unusual tension between him and his top doctor and, at least for the majority of the episode, it does look like Potter is willing to follow through with swearing in Klinger despite knowing the latter will likely end up regretting his decision later.

My biggest complaint about this episode is the focus on the people who don't want to re-enlist and not enough on the people who might want to make the Army their career. After all, lots of people (my dad included) made that decision and I would like to think they weren't conned into doing it. While I understand this show was primarily an anti-war satire, it would have still been nice to see the episode at least try to give some balance.

The secondary story in this episode, about the male nurse (Sam Weisman) suffering reverse discrimination because of his gender was also somewhat intriguing, especially since many episodes from this series often touch on some of the discrimination the female nurses receive. However, as is often the case with this series (and the 30-minute episodes), I don't know if it really got the full attention it deserved. I would have much rather seen it as the main subject of a different episode than having it share time with Klinger and his dilemma.

Final Opinion: I'm not a fan of the lack of balance and that does hurt my overall opinion of this episode. However, the decision to have Klinger willingly re-enlist with no apparent way out of his decision does make the episode worth watching.

My Grade: B


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