Season 1, Episode 19: The Long John Flap
Original Air Date: 2/18/73
Written by: Alan Alda
Directed by: William Wiard
The 4077th is going through a brutal cold snap, and everyone in camp is freezing to death.
Except Hawkeye, who is toasty because of a pair of long johns he got from home. He's busy lording it over Trapper, who is even more miserable because of a cold.
His whining becomes so pathetic that Hawkeye can't take it anymore, and gives the longjohns to Trapper.
Later, Trapper uses the longjohns as a bet in a poker game, positive that he can't lose...except that he does, when they learn Radar has four 10s. Hawkeye can't believe it.
News of the longjohns spread, and Radar manages to parlay his ownership of them into a date with a gorgeous nurse. But his stomach is bigger than his libido, and he trades the longjohns to the cook for a whole leg of lamb, complete with mint jelly.
The cook then trades them to Frank Burns, in exchange for not getting reprimanded by Burns for having a dirty kitchen. Burns, in turn, gives them to Hot Lips when he admits he has them and she flat out demands he give them up.
Later, they are stolen from Hot Lips by Klinger, who has to endure the cold outside while he's on sentry duty. But he feels so guilty about stealing them that he confesses to Father Mulcahy, and turns them over to him.
Mulcahy--after enjoying one solid night of toasty sleep--turns them into Henry, since its the proper thing to do. Henry promises to conduct an investigation to see who the proper owner is--but first, he's going to try them on himself.
Hawkeye and Trapper discover Henry as he's road-testing the longjohns, and demand their return. Just at that moment, Henry's appendicitis flares up, so bad he needs surgery. But even though he's in massive pain, he instructs the doctors to be careful to not cut the longjohns!
After the surgery, Hawkeye is toasty again in his longjohns. Both Trapper and Radar try to guilt Hawkeye into giving them up again, but he's having none of it.
Fun Facts: The first episode of the series written by Alda, who of course would go on to become one of the dominant creative forces on the show.
So its ironic that this episode A)is fairly silly, and features the kind of plot that Alda seemed the most determined not to be involved with, and B)it features one of the most out-of-character moments the show ever had.
When the cook sees Radar making time with the nurse, he asks "You're some guy, Radar--what's your secret?"
Radar responds: "I like to put 'em on a pedestal. Make them feel special...give them little gifts."
So not only does Radar--Radar--all of a sudden have a reputation as a ladies man, he actually has romantic advice for the cook! Any similarity to the Radar O'Reilly we came to know and love is purely coincidental.
Favorite Line: As they help Henry out of his office into surgery, he's hunched over in agony. Hawkeye feels compelled to add: "By the way, I loved you in Duck Soup."