“The General Flipped at Dawn” might confuse newcomers to MAS*H upon first viewing. The season three premiere lightly spoofed the 1970 Academy Award sweeping military drama Patton. It also introduced Harry Morgan to the 4077th — as an entirely different character.
Before you say, “Horse hockey,” remember that Morgan’s beloved character Col. Potter was not introduced until the following year, in the opening of season four. “The General Flipped at Dawn” featured Morgan as the visiting Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele, giving fans the rare chance of seeing Morgan and his predecessor McLean Stevenson (Henry Blake) together.
But this is not the only instance of double casting in “The General Flipped at Dawn.” There is a much more confusing case of quadruple casting here. Well, double-quadruple casting, really. Scratching your head? Let us explain.
This episode also co-stars Lynette Mettey as Nurse Baker. You can see her in a scene with Hawkeye above in the lower right. Mettey was the second of four actresses to play Lt. Baker (the others being, in order, Patricia Stevens, Bobbie Mitchell and Jan Jorden).
Additionally, Lt. Baker was just one of four nurses that Mettey portrayed in on MAS*H. That’s what we meant by the whole double-quadruple thing.
Eagle-eyed fans would have recognized her as Lt. Nancy Griffin from season one. That character popped up in three episodes, making her debut in “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet,” wherein she shares a martini and some cuddling with Hawkeye. A year later, Mettey turned up in “Carry On, Hawkeye,” playing Lt. Sheila Anderson. Knowing that viewers might be confused, the writers had the character announce her full name and rank, just to hammer home that this was not Lt. Griffin, despite being identical.
“You look new,” Hawkeye tells her. “Only one owner,” she says.
Finally, after she played Nurse Baker, Mettey made one final guest appearance as Nurse Able in “Some 38th Parallels.” Hawkeye, ever the ladies’ man, stuffs an Oreo in her mouth, as you can see up top.
Now, to make things extra confusing, MAS*H featured nine — yes, nine — different actresses as “Nurse Able” over the course of the series, most notably Judy Farrell, wife of Mike Farrell (B.J. Hunnicutt).
So you are excused if you’ve ever come down with a case of déjà vu or nurse confusion.