Anatomy of a M*A*S*H Script
M*A*S*H fan and script collector Eric White was kind enough to scan select pages of one of his production scripts and write brief comments describing the pages. Text and scans © 2010 Eric White.
“Death Takes A Holiday”
Season 9 – Episode 5
Written by Mike Farrell
Directed by Mike Farrell
Not all episode scripts are created equal. Each script is unique. The script of an actor, director and those used by Albert H. Frankel, the men’s costume director, are all different. The script of an actor contains only the title page, cast list, set list and the text of the episode. In addition, many actors highlighted or underlined their lines. The director’s copy is much more interesting, not complete, but interesting. This script contains math equations on the back of pages determining the length of the episode and seating arraignments for the cast members (Mess Tent tables). There area also camera angles noted throughout. The script of an actor and director tell two different stories, but not the whole story.
For the whole story, I was surprised it came from the script of the costume director, but his copies of the scripts are the most complete. I have decided to use a copy of “Death Takes a Holiday” to explore the anatomy of a M*A*S*H script.
Behind the bright cover of the script lies more then just the lines from a great episode, but the directions required to ensure a successful production in just three short days.
The first pages are the call sheets for each day of filming. Each call sheet displays the day of shooting, the date, the scenes being filmed and their location, the actors on call, and other information. This single sheet is the key to filming for the day. If everything on the sheet is not competed, the filming process will be off schedule.
On the reverse side of the Call Sheet are the Production Requirements. This includes everything needed for the day from cameramen to donuts and coffee!
After the Call Sheets is the full Shooting Schedule for the full episode. Most episodes were filmed in three days and the schedule breaks down which scenes will be filmed each day and which cast members will be required.
Following the Title Page (not pictured), are the Cast List and Set List. These simply list the characters and set which will be featured in the episode. (Note: The Cast List has a check mark next to male cast members because Albert was responsible for providing their costumes.)
The pages of the script are great to read! Most of the time they follow the final episode exactly, but from time to time, the actor has modified the line. There are three different pictures of pages because as lines would change, they would print new pages and give them to cast and crew. These revisions would be printed on different colored paper. The original pages were the standard creme color, but, in the case of this episode, revisions made on 11/11/1980 were printed on green paper and revisions made on 11/12 were printed on yellow. Scripts will have these multicolored pages (this is a good way to confirm authenticity!). Sadly, the pages replaced by the colored pages were not saved so we have no idea what lines were changed.
Since Albert was the Mens’ Costume director, the final pages of the script list what costumes are required for each male character of the cast (principles and extras). Each costume is numbered and it is indicated which scenes it will be worn. In addition, each piece of the costume is listed, right down to the infamous dog tags and boots!
Published August 2nd, 2010
Last updated November 3rd, 2013