Episode: ‘Tea and Empathy’
Keith Wilkins surprised me a few years ago when he happened to mention a reference to the R’s in this popular American television series set in the Korean War in the early 50’s. Luckily, finding it wasn’t too difficult as the episodes are shown regularly on the Paramount Comedy Channel and the title was an easy give-away.
‘Tea and Empathy was originally broadcast in January 1978. Some wounded British soldiers from the Gloucester Regiment arrive at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. There are references to Shakespeare, Vivien Leigh and crumpets plus some real concern that some soldiers were given tea despite suffering with stomach wounds. To add to their problems, the medical store has been broken into and supplies have been stolen. One G.I. is hooked on morphine and the penicillin has run out.
Eventually a soldier reveals what is going on in a confession to Father Mulcahy. The priest and one of the Principal characters, Klinger or to give him his full name, Maxwell Q Klinger, eventually drive out to a disused school in the countryside and find the stash hidden under a bell. Their relief is short lived as they jump back into the jeep under a hail of bullets before heading back to the Field Hospital.
The British Major joins three of his wounded soldiers in one of the Wards and they begin to open their mail from home. “Hey lads, Arsenal defeated Manchester United two to nothing, they’re going to take the cup.” The response from the side of the bed is:” You’re barmy mate, its Queen’s Park Rangers all the way.”
The hugely popular series was adapted from the 1970 film and over 100 million viewers were estimated to have watched the final episode in February 1983. The series spanned 251 episodes and the title sequence once again featured an instrumental version of the song, ‘Suicide Is Painless’.