This was the last episode produced in the season 1 production cycle, but the idea for it must have been hatched pretty early, because before the show even started, Hugh Wilson told an interviewer that Venus would turn out to be a deserter from the Army. What seems to have happened is that when CBS put the show in the 8:00 time slot, they were reluctant to approve that story idea, so it wasn't made as part of the initial order of 13. When they came back from hiatus in the post-M*A*S*H slot, Wilson was able (still with some struggles) to get CBS to approve it. He told Newsday that he "wouldn't have touched it in the earlier time period."
It's a pretty important episode in the series' development, mostly because of the way it established the Venus Flytrap character as someone whose whole jive-talking, over-dressing persona is basically fake, the creation of someone who literally wants to hide his identity. This would be incorporated into the character from that point on, making him the opposite of the stereotype he originally appeared to be.
The DVD/Hulu version is less butchered than most, largely because there is no licensed music in the long second act. But this version restores one song that was cut, plus the original voice-over for Les's news sign-off.
Act 1 and Tag
Act 2 and Tag