M*A*S*H: Season 9, Episode 20

The Life You Save (4 May 1981)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama, War
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Winchester goes on a spiritual journey after a near-death experience. Hawkeye experiences the problems of being the officer in charge of food services when Potter rotates the duty roster.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
The Cook
Dying Soldier
Jim Knaub ...
Pvt. Markham
Arthur Taxier ...
Jim Boeke ...
Sgt. Chiaverini
Jack Kearney ...
Paul Ventura ...


Winchester goes on a spiritual journey after a near-death experience. Hawkeye experiences the problems of being the officer in charge of food services when Potter rotates the duty roster.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

directed by star | See All (1) »


Comedy | Drama | War





Release Date:

4 May 1981 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone Sound Recording)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The original broadcast of Episode #9.20, "The Life You Save", was delayed by several weeks. It featured a subplot about Maj. Winchester becoming obsessed with death after almost being shot. It was scheduled to on the same day that U.S. President Ronald Reagan was wounded in an assassination attempt. The network felt the audience was not in the mood to see the episode at that time. See more »


As Charles realizes that a sniper's bullet narrowly missed hitting him in the head, he sits down in the scrub room and tilts his head back against the wall as he realizes how close he came to death. As Col. Potter enters in the next cut, Charles has his head leaning forward with his chin almost touching his chest. See more »


Maj. Winchester: [Charles is temporarily in charge of the motor pool] Fine job of work, Rizzo. Every valve. Every disc must be removed from the Jeep and placed on the sheet in its assigned order.
Sgt. Luther Rizzo: Major, I don't understand, why am I taking this Jeep apart? It was working just FINE!
[Slams down gasket]
Maj. Winchester: On the sheet, Rizzo. On the sheet. On the sheet. Don't you understand the power you have here? You can take a Jeep apart and reduce it to an inert pile of junk and whenever you want--at a whim-- you can fit it ...
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Referenced in Veronica Mars: Mars, Bars (2007) See more »


Give Me the Simple Life
Music by Rube Bloom
Plays in the Officers' Club
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User Reviews

Charles and the Great Beyond
25 April 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

During triage when a load of casualties shows up, a sniper begins to fire on the doctors and their patients. No one is badly hurt, but when Charles puts his cap on a hook, he realizes that a bullet entered and exited it, meaning the bullet could just as easily have entered his head. He becomes obsessed with trying to figure out what happens at the time of death. He is trying to figure out why we are what we are; more than the sum of our parts. He even has Rizzo take apart a jeep as a kind of metaphor for this. He begins to hover over a patient that was seemingly dead and then was brought back. He can get no satisfaction, so he goes to a battalion aid station where death is a daily occurrence. This is one of the gut wrenching of all the MASH episodes. There is also a secondary plot line which shows the whole camp, including doctors, taking over mundane duties: the mess tent, the garbage, morale. Hawkeye is met with the craziness that is the Army bureaucracy.

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