Ron Howard’s face wasn’t a regular presence among the “Arrested Development” players, with the famed actor, producer, and director appearing in just a handful of episodes. Howard’s voice, however, was a singular presence on the series, with his snarky narration playing as vital a role on the show as any of its key cast members. Howard earned some of the biggest laughs on “Arrested Development” through that narration, but he played a dramatically different role in his one and only “M*A*S*H” appearance.
In the first season of “M*A*S*H,” Howard portrays PFC Wendell Peterson (aka Walter Peterson), a young Marine who ends up at the 4077th with a nasty case of appendicitis. While Wendell is under the care of Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce, it comes out that he isn’t of legal fighting age. The 15-year-old apparently lied about his birth date to enlist for combat. That twist presents Hawkeye with one of his more intriguing moral quandaries: He struggles between letting the patriotic kid continue to fight and reporting him and sending him home to safety. With the deft work of a young Howard, this complicated narrative helps make for arguably one of the finest half-hours “M*A*S*H” ever delivered.