Ho-Jon, the houseboy of Captains Hawkeye Pierce and Trapper John McIntyre has been accepted to Hawkeye’s college, but they need to raise a tuition for him, so they hold a party while their commanding officer, Lt. Col Henry Blake, is away. There, they raffle off a weekend pass along with a nurse’s company, much to the chagrin of Majors Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan.
Returning to the Swamp after a long session in the OR, Hawkeye receives a letter announcing that Ho-Jon has been accepted into his alma mater, though he and Trapper still have the task of coming up with the $2,000 for travel and tuition. Hawkeye convinces Trapper that they can accomplish it by raffling off a weekend pass to Tokyo with the company of a gorgeous nurse. They go to Col. Blake’s office to propose the idea to him, and he nervously gives them permission.
Later on, Hawkeye and Trapper get into an argument with Frank Burns, who, in a fit of rage, destroys their still. Furious with him, they put a bag over his head and throw him out of the tent. When Blake hears about it, he withdraws the passes and cancels the party they had planned to throw for fear that Burns will complain to General Hammond. He adds that he has to see Hammond in Seoul and was unhappy about the party taking place in his absence. However, as Blake is leaving, Radar reveals that he tricked him into signing two passes, so the party can take place. Unfortunately, Hawkeye’s and Trapper’s happiness is short lived as they discover that Frank Burns was made temporary commander. To get rid of him so they can have their party, Hawkeye injects him with a sedative and wraps a bandage around his face, prescribing that Frank should be sedated every hour on the hour.
During the party, Margaret expresses her inability to find Frank. Suspicious of the activities of Hawkeye and Trapper, she calls General Hammond, who is so excited to hear from her he leaves at once. Meanwhile, Hawkeye announces that they have raised $1800 and then has the nurse draw a name for the raffle. Knowing that the nurse in question, Lt. Dish, is engaged, he announces that Father Mulcahy is the winner, but unfortunately, he does so just as General Hammond walks in.
While the infuriated general questions Hawkeye and Trapper, Margaret walks in with Burns, still sedated and with bandages around his head, and screams at the two of them. Hammond demands that they be arrested, but just in the nick of time, choppers arrive loaded with casualties. After the session, which Hammond participates in, he tells Blake that Pierce and McIntyre are two of the best surgeons he has ever seen and, for that reason, he is dropping the charges
The pilot episode of M*A*S*H was originally shown on September 17, 1972.
Was written by Larry Gelbart
Directed by Gene Reynolds
The opening title sequence is longer than any other, and it is the only one to announce the setting as “Korea, 1950 – a hundred years ago”.
Gary Burghoff, who played Radar in the film and television series, has a deformed left hand. Though he usually covered it up by constantly holding a clipboard or bugle, or constantly placing something over that hand, the deformity is relatively clear in the opening titles as he announces the arrival of the choppers.
George Morgan played Father Mulcahy in this episode only; afterwards, William Christopher had the role.