The heart of this superlative series was Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda), an insubordinate surgeon whose tongue was as sharp as his scalpel.
While his surgical tools were used to put young soldiers’ bodies back together, his rapier wit was usually employed to skewer military pretension and hypocrisy.
Hawkeye puts both his cutting instruments to optimal use in “The Interview,” in which a television correspondent visits the 4077th to shoot a documentary.
The episode, filmed in black and white, records staff members giving their alternately amusing, moving, and painful takes on everything from the madness of war to what they miss most about home.
The “film” ends with the inevitable arrival of a new batch of casualties and the unit mobilizing to do the work it does best, but which it would rather not be doing at all, in a place it would rather not be.
“We had a roundtable where everyone contributed suggestions,” says Gary Burghoff, who played Radar. “Very few television shows have been created with that kind of mutual respect. It was Camelot.”
Original airdate: February 24, 1976