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Trick or Treatment

trick or treatment

We're having a party
A Halloween party.
It might be amusing
to watch a ghost boozing
And see if it can
can-can


Tonight I'd like to present Trick or Treatment. It's the 242nd episode of MASH from Nov. 1, 1982 and one of my favorite Halloween themed tv episodes.

MASH has a special place in my heart. Back when the Mrs. and I were first married, we didn't have a whole lot of discretionary income. I don't know how it started but the local Fred Meyer had a sale on some MASH seasons and, before we knew it, we were hooked. The end result is that our entire movie collection consists of 11 seasons of MASH and little else.

I realize that MASH is a polarizing show, but bear with me and just maybe this one will make your list of must watch Halloween episodes.

mash trick or treatment

The episode begins in the swamp (the tent shared by the three surgeons BJ, Hawkeye, and Charles). BJ and Hawkeye are getting dressed up to head over to a costume party. Charles insists that Halloween is for children and wants none of it. Their exchange is then interrupted by Klinger who reports that the marines have crashed the party and there's already a casualty: a man with a pool ball stuck in his mouth.

george wendt mash

The marine is played by George Wendt whose claim to fame was playing Norm on Cheers.

Charles and the marine partake in an old fashioned comedy bit here while the others meet up to head over to the party:

mash halloween

But of course, this is war, so all hopes of a party are dashed by the arrival of wounded:

trick or treatment
But wait, there's more...

trick or treatment


The aid station had to evacuate so they had no choice but to send a corpse along with the wounded. Well, there's no time to worry about him now, so he'll have to wait for the graves registration to come retrieve him:

trick or treatment


Wave after wave of wounded keep coming and the whole hospital staff is working double time in the operating room. This is one of the things that really made MASH stand out- so much of the show takes place during surgery.

trick or treatment

trick or treatment


The show humanizes a couple of the wounded that come through the hospital, per usual, but the highlight is when the staff begin telling ghost stories, much to Charles' ire.

The stories are what make this episode:

Col. Potter tells a tale of how his wife had a dream that her brother, Calvin, came and sat on the foot of her bed. In the morning, she learned he had passed away the night before. Only when she called her sister to break the news, her sister said it must be bad news because she'd dreamed that Calvin came and sat at the foot of her bed.

Hawkeye tells another classic about his uncle who got lost in the fog while out fishing at sea. A boat called the luck of the irish came and led him back to the harbor before the ensuing storm hit. Only as they pulled into the harbor, the luck of the irish turned and sailed back out to sea. When his uncle told the coast guard about the incident, they responded that the luck of the irish was lost at sea some 20 years earlier.

And we later cut to Margaret finishing a story about a friend who has her dead husband appear in a photo she took after his death, and he's wearing the suit she had bought to bury him in.

I don't do these stories justice, but I love hearing them because they remind me so much of the stories I remember hearing when I was a kid. Of course, there was always someone to swear that the events had happened to a family member and not something they had heard on television.

trick or treatment

Near the end of the show, Graves Registration comes and loads the body. After grabbing a cup of coffee, they begin to head out- just as Father Mulcahy arrives back from the orphanage. Mulcahy learns that the dead man was a catholic, so he stops the truck and begins to give the man last rites.

trick or treatment
Just a little holy water...

trick or treatment
Is the dead man crying...or could it be?


The man that everyone presumed to be dead was in fact still a little bit alive. And thanks to the good priest, he gets to stay that way:

trick or treatment

trick or treatment
And they have time to give Charles a little scare...



There's more to the episode than what I'm including here, but the entire thing clocks in at about 24 minutes, so if you can find it, I recommend giving it a go. After all, there's nothing like a good old fashioned ghost story as we head into the Halloween season.

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