Hey, all. We’re in week what of this thing?! Week 4? Stay strong, my friends. I thought a post about fun things to stream while sheltering-in-place was in order. Though TBH, I have not really been watching much TV. Just Andrew Cuomo’s daily press briefings.
They have actually put up a field hospital in Central Park to care for COViD patients. That got me thinking about TV’s most famous field hospital, the 4077th. God knows, there’s enough episodes of MASH to choose from (250+ to be exact). You can even play Spot the Star Before They Were Famous. John Ritter, Ron Howard, and Patrick Swayze were all patients at the 4077th before they hit it big. And Shelley Long (Cheers), Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom), and Marcia Strassman (Welcome Back, Kotter) all administered TLC as nurses.
My fave episodes are ‘Hot Lips and Empty Arms’ and ‘Sometimes You Hear the Bullet’. Much of MASH might seem dated today, despite stellar writing from the likes of Larry Gelbart. But one character who really came into her own, and evolved into a woman ahead of her time, was head nurse Major Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan.
In ‘Empty Arms’, Margaret grows frustrated with her life as an Army nurse. A letter from a friend describing domestic bliss with a guy Margaret turned down makes her question her choices. So she decides to reboot her life by requesting a transfer. Cue the wisecracks and hijinks. Pay special attention to Margaret’s toast to Hawkeye and Trapper. (You’ll think about Thanksgiving a little differently.)
Loretta Swit, who played Margaret, really shines here. So it’s interesting that two women, Linda Bloodworth and Mary Kay Place, wrote such strong material for her. (Amazon Prime scroll down to S2, Ep. 14)
‘Sometimes You Hear the Bullet’ has been cited as one of the best episodes of any TV show ever. Hawkeye gets a visit from an old friend that takes a tragic turn. The scene between McLean Stevenson’s Henry Blake and Alan Alda’s Hawkeye afterward is among TV’s most moving. And this episode features a post-Opie, pre-Richie Ron Howard as an underage soldier for whom Hawkeye decides not to bend the rules, for once. (Amazon Prime scroll down to S1, Ep. 17) (Or try Hulu.)
If movies are more your thing, there’s a lot of hidden gems. Here are three:
The late Burt Reynolds is hilarious in Striptease. As an oily Florida politician running for a higher office, he steals every scene he’s in. (Amazon Prime.)
Another Reynolds film worth watching is The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Unfortunately, he’s sorely miscast here. (It’s a musical, and he doesn’t sing.) But the music is great, and Dolly Parton has a blast as the madam of the titular Chicken Ranch. But the real treat is the late Charles Durning’s charming turn as the governor of Texas. (He won an Oscar nomination for his role.) And the end has a special surprise: the original, country version of “I Will Always Love You.” Yes, that “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard. Dolly Parton actually wrote the song back in the 70s. I think you’ll like her version, too. (Amazon Prime)
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Volunteers, starring the world’s most famous COViD patients, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. (Who thankfully have recovered.) They have been married over 30 years, and legend has it they met on Volunteers.
The film is set in 1962. I love the Kennedy/Camelot era, even though i wasn’t even born yet. So I’m a fan of the opening sequence, set to a doo-wop-style cover of ‘Blue Moon’ by The Marcels. (Amazon Prime)
Tell me. What are you watching? I want to see Making the Cut on Amazon Prime, World on Fire on PBS, and Mrs. America on Hulu, but I’m open to suggestions.
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