MASH4077TV.com

All About M*A*S*H Since 1999

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.

Introduction

“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.

The Cover

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 Cover
The Cover
The Call Sheet

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.

The Call Sheet
The Call Sheet
The Production Requirements

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!

The Production Requirements
The Production Requirements
The Shooting Schedule

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.

The Shooting Schedule
The Shooting Schedule
Cast List and Set List

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 Cast List
The Cast List
The Set List
The Set List
Script Pages

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.

Script Page
Script Page
Script Page
Script Page
Script Page
Script Page
The Wardrobe Sheet

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!

The Wardrobe Sheet
The Wardrobe Sheet

Published August 2nd, 2010
Last updated November 3rd, 2013

11 Comments

  • PinkPagoda says:

    I find it very interesting to the point of exciting that the name of the episode was originally “Death Takes the Holiday” – and was changed later (I suppose by M*A*S*H and not by the television station) to “Death Takes A Holiday” – the two titles mean exactly opposites – the first that Death took over the Holiday, and the second that Death took a Holiday, and was absent.

    I wonder what prompted the change?

  • PinkPagoda says:

    On the subject of the “Anatomy of a Script” – thank you for sharing this information. The changes in paper, the marks on the script, the defining of the wardrobes, all make it much more real – you can almost SEE what is going on. Great job, Eric!!

  • Eric says:

    I was happy to do it! I had never noticed the episode title changed. I just assumed it has always been Death Take A Holiday!

    I have another script that was used for the episode “Checkup” in season three. The script belonged to Don Weiss who directed the episode. He has all kinds of notes in the margins from how long each scene should last, camera angles, and even seating arrangements for the cast at Mess Tent tables! I agree, the script brings the episode to life!

  • RJ says:

    I also have to admit to not noticing that the title on the script is slightly different than the title as broadcast. When you think a sentence or phrase is supposed to be one way I guess you’ll see it that way no matter what.

  • Eric says:

    I have had these scripts for 2 1/2 years, but I had not noticed! Kind of embarrassing!

  • PinkPagoda says:

    Well, I was looking at it for the very first time – and I know as a typist that it is hard to see your own typos because you know what it is supposed to say. This is probably a lot like that.

    Would love to see the other script sometime, when you have the time or the inclination. THANKS

  • I just received the Script as a donation (Death takes the holiday) signed on the cover by Mike Farrel. It is interesting to note that on the first page after you open the script that there is a “revised 11/04/80” at the top of the page vs the “final November 3, 1980” typed at the bottom of the page. Does anyone know what the revision was? Thank you!

    • Eric says:

      Scripts go through a number of changes throughout preproduction and during the production process. It is hard to tell what the changes might have been. Often the replaced pages were just thrown away by the actors and crew, so the original lines/scenes have been lost.

    • qwertyuiop says:

      part of it could be the “bronx salute” on page 7 of the above scans. It is not in the final episode as it is not appropriate for television in the 80s.

  • Dave says:

    I find it fascinating that Margaret is referred to as Hot Lips in the script.

  • Rusty says:

    Very informative stuff! I’m just curious about one small thing. The production number on the call sheet, production requirements and call sheet matches the one at the end credits of the episode: Z-408. The code at the bottom of the rest of the script does not: Z-463. Any idea why?

Leave a Comment