Repost: Anatomy of a M*A*S*H Script

Two years ago I put this feature together for MASH4077TV.com and thought I would share it with my readers. I have been a fan of M*A*S*H since I was a kid, and I own some original scripts. I was asked to put this together for the creator of the M*A*S*H website, and I agreed. The following is what is published on MASH4077TV.com, although I have modified the text in some places.

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 often 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, we can explore the script of the costume director.

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 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 was not competed, the filming process would be off schedule.

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 Shooting Schedule

After the Call Sheets is the full Shooting Schedule for the episode. Most episodes were filmed in three days and the schedule breaks down which scenes will be filmed each day, the location of filming, and which cast members were required.

Cast List and Set List

Following the Title Page (not pictured), are the Cast List and Set List. These simply list the characters and sets 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.)

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 to illustrate how changes were given to the cast and crew. As lines changed, 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. Also note the production number at the bottom left corner of each page (Z-463). This number was the unique number assigned to this episode. The letter indicates the season and number indicates the number of the episode.

The Wardrobe Sheet

Since Albert was the Men’s Costume director, the final pages of the script list the costumes that were required for each male character of the cast (principles and extras). Each costume is numbered and it is indicated in which scenes it will be worn. In addition, each piece of the costume is listed, including the infamous dog tags and boots!

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