M*A*S*H 4077 Season 1 and the Pandemic

Fools Gold for Major Frank Burns

The big word in the pandemic is “fatigue.” Fatigue from wearing a mask, fatigue from not seeing others, fatigue from hearing both sides of the “truth” of EVERYTHING. Early on, everything was being postponed and then eventually canceled. Ben and I had St. Louis Blue’s tickets that had to be reimbursed. Our Lauren Daigle concert tickets first moved to April and now to August. 

Early in the pandemic, the first thing that we noticed was scarcity; no toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and Clorox wipes. There was a panic from misinformation or the slowdown of the international supply chains. In the second episode of season one on M.A.S.H. 4077 — Hawkeye and Trapper get into black marketing for medical supplies and offer Henry’s antique oak desk as payment after the supplies are hijacked. The last scene of the episode was Henry’s desk being airlifted out of camp being delivered for medical supplies. 

Another side effect early on in the pandemic was that everyone wanted quick cures to the virus. Through this thought, there was a hope that the pandemic was fast to be over. We were told “maybe if we drank or injected Lysol into our bodies” we could kill this virus. Another was pushing hope down to the next seasonal change saying, “wait for winter to kill the virus.” In episode 6, season one- Hawkeye declares a filmmaker’s documentary about the 4077th to be propaganda and decides to make his own, with characters based on Groucho Marx and Chico Marx. Sometimes a comedy takes the edge off the “non-sense” that goes on during something serious. 

One way to deal with the fatigue of war or a pandemic is with humor. Coping with the pandemic this way is probably why I started watching M.A.S.H. 4077 in the first place. As a child, I remember the crazy antics that Hawkeye and Trapper did to relieve their fatigue. Now Major “Hotlips” Houlihan and Major Frank Burns took the brunt of most of it. One of my favorite episodes in the first season was when Frank had enough and put in for a transfer. Hawkeye and Trapper knowing that Frank would do anything to build a wealthy portfolio, devised a plan to keep Frank to stay with the 4077. Hawkeye and Trapper shared about finding gold just outside of Camp so loudly that Frank, pretending to sleep, decides to retract his transfer in the hopes of gold and riches.

Humor helps us through fatigue. It allows us to see through the stupid things said and done during this pandemic. It also helps us blow off those who take things a little too seriously and those who think we should act the way they are acting. We read, watch tv, and research everything we need to know about this virus. The problem is that we were misinformed depending on what source we were paying attention to. Google has made us all experts. They allow us to disregard the real experts, whose life’s work and study have made them the experts. In this age of information, we have been inundated with everyone’s opinion. So take it from me, we need humor, and in the immortal words of M.A.S.H.’s Major Sidney Freedman, “sometimes you have to pull down your pants and slide on the ice.” Folks, go with it.


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