Sunday, December 02, 2007

POV (MASH) -- script and scene

I thought this would be fun. This is the first scene from our MASH episode "Point of View" followed by a YouTube video of the scene so you can compare it with the script.

Next post: the story behind POV.





PRIVATE BOBBY RICH is on patrol with his platoon. There are several Soldiers spread out in front of him. They are all walking very cautiously, on the lookout for trouble. Rich LOOKS FROM SIDE TO SIDE as he walks. (END TITLES). Up ahead, a SERGEANT turns to the Men.

Spread out. Spread out. Ferguson, Rich – don’t sit on top of each other.


If we were all in a phone booth he’d still tell us to spread out.

(o.s.) Take a couple of giant steps, Fergy.

Ferguson moves further ahead of Rich. The patrol continues until the shrill SOUND of incoming mortars is HEARD.

Incoming! Hit the dirt!

An EXPLOSION up ahead. The line starts to scatter, people hitting the ground. Before Rich can find cover there’s another EXPLOSION to his left. Suddenly the ground is yanked out from under him, and he’s LYING ON his side, dazed and wounded. Another EXPLOSION goes off up ahead. (Intermittent EXPLOSIONS continue throughout course of SCENE.) SCREAMING and CONFUSION is HEARD as other Soldiers scramble for better cover. Rich is lying helpless when another SOLDIER crawls up to him and looks him over.

Rick, Rich, you okay?

The Soldier TURNS Rich OVER ON his back to face him. He looks at Rich’s wound which is in the vicinity of his throat.

(grimacing at Rich’s wound) Oh, God! (calling out) Medic! Medic!

Rich tries to say something. All he can manage is a low wheezing. The Soldier squeezes Rich’s hand.

Don’t talk, Rich. You’re hit there. (calling out) Medic! Dammit, Medic! Easy, Rich, easy.

An EXPLOSION goes off nearby. The Soldier covers Rich with his body. MEDIC NUMBER ONE runs up to them.

Where you been?

What’ve we got?

He took some stuff in his neck. He’s bleeding.

(to Soldier) Okay, take it easy. (calling out) Litter! (to Rich) You’re gonna be all right, fella. We’ll get you out.

Medic Number One opens Rich’s first-aid pack, removes the pressure bandage, and starts to apply it to Rich’s throat. Rich TURNS his head AWAY.

Don’t fight me. I’m here to help you.

Rich TURNS his head BACK and SEES Medic Number One apply the pressure bandage to his throat. LITTER BEARER arrives. The litter is placed alongside him on the ground.

Let’s get him on. I’ll hold his head…okay move.

Rich feels himself being lifted, and put on the litter.

(to Rich) Things’ll bounce a bit so hold on…Good luck, fella. (to Soldier and Litter Bearer) Go!

Rich is LIFTED and carried off. The litter BOUNCES ALONG. As the sights and sounds of the battle pass by, Rich BLACKS OUT.


Anonymous said...

Whole episode in POV? Man, that's ballsy. I can't think of a recent primetime hit show being able to do that nowadays (though I'm sure someone's in the comments below is gonna point out one that did).

Was that you and your writing partner's idea or did it come down from the showrunners?

Anonymous said...

Oh my god. This is my favorite episode of MASH ever! It was so original. I echo John's question, how did the idea come to you guys?

Devon said...

That was pretty cool might I say. I liked reading then watching, kinda adds another level then "watch this cool ep. we wrote.!"

Thanks for sharing it.

Mary Stella said...


Anonymous said...

Ken -
Wow. I had not seen this episode. It was really interesting to see how the actors performed to the camera versus each other. You really got to see more of the humanity in Radar, Hawkeye, BJ and the nurses than in some other episodes.

karigee said...

I knew it! You guys are brilliant. What a beautiful episode.

The Minstrel Boy said...

as someone who was once evacuated by helicopter to a field hospital, i thought that this episode was brilliant. even without the physical things that took place the emotional cues were all there.

you guys nailed that one dude.


Anonymous said...

This was an amazing episode. I remember watching it. There was no Tivo or DVR to allow for instant replay. When it started, it took a bit to realize what was happening. I was mesmerized. At the time I was working in multicamera sitcoms, so this use of the camera for a comedy was like a class in innovative television. you, David...and the incomparable Charlie Dubin.

Michael said...

@John: I think "ER" did an episode a year or so ago as seen from the POV of Cynthia Nixon ("Sex and the City") when she was stricken by a stroke. I can't think of another show, though.

Anonymous said...

Off topic, but wanted to mention this today.

Has anyone else noticed that if you didn't know Sweeny Todd was a Broadway musical, you wouldn't have clue from the movie trailers? It seems like they are doing everything they can to hide it. Has anyone heard Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter sing ONE NOTE? Either they really suck or the studio has lost faith in the whole concept. That can't be good sign.

Anonymous said...

What is an "Executive Script Consultant?"

By Ken Levine said...

It's a fancy title for Head Writer. At least it was back then before guys getting coffee were given producer credits.

Tomorrow the full story behind POV. Give me a day to make something up.

Michael said...

Speaking of producer credits, why does a typical movie or TV show have seemingly more producers (of various flavors - executive, associate, etc.) than actors?

Anonymous said...

This MASH episode was one of my absolute favorites. Great job.

To the responder who asked about Johnny Depp's and Helena Bonham's voices, I saw the movie yesteray and they are excellent, especially Depp. His voice will surprise you. And the movie's great.

Tim W. said...

I remember this episode very well. Great one.

Ken, on another note, why did the show turn more serious as the years went on? Each of the actors who left were replaced by characters that were more serious. By the end, there were no characters like Frank and Hotlips (at the beginning). Even Charles was quite sympathetic by the end of the series.

Anonymous said...

tim w. maybe this can shed some light.

Anonymous said...

I meant THIS might help

Captain Obvious said...

Good stuff, Ken! Always great to see the behind-the-scenes magic that brings us amazing productions!

Cap'n Bob said...

I agree, it was another fine episode. Lest anyone thing the objective camera hasn't been used before, however, I direct their attention to THE LADY IN THE LAKE, with Robert Montgomery (1946), who both starred and directed. Based on the Raymond Chandler novel, it is an interesting idea that didn't work in the opinion of many people. Perhaps the shorter format is kinder to this idea.

By Ken Levine said...

LADY IN THE LAKE figures in the making of this episode. Stay tuned. New post later tonight.

Anonymous said...

Ken, this is an amazing piece of television, one of those episodes that even if you saw it once, you still remember it 30 years later.

I've always had a question about MASH that no one has ever been able to answer. What character made the "Incoming wounded" announcements over the PA? And where was that person? Most people say that was Radar, but the voice was a different character and Radar was often in the scenes when you heard the announcement. Solve the mystery, please?

By Ken Levine said...

The guy who did the announcements was Sal Visculo.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this opportunity, Ken. Sure, now you’re the picture of health, after all that recent cardio, but had you, David or Mr. Dubin ever had a personal stretcher POV experience as a point of reference? I thought you got it. (For awhile my bumper sticker was “My other car’s a gurney.”)

One unnatural POV that sticks is just having to look straight up, seemingly forever, as they wheel you along – the one place of least interest. Hospital corridor ceiling light after ceiling light works pretty well to convey rushing, helplessness and urgency. I can see why uninterrupted sky (or uninterrupted smoke) would not make the best television and where lying on his side was inspired - especially if it took a moment to figure that out.

The typical POV shot is just faces looking straight down hovering over you. Was there a lot of thinking in not going with that, because, then, what would we see when nobody was there hovering?

I wonder if viewers can still perceive that kind of disorientation and movement out of one’s own control without all the hurky jurky handheld mishigas that is frequently used for that? Have they seen so many unorthodox music video angles for angle's sake, that they would not as quickly pick up on the tilt as showing anything purposeful, like how he lands?

Rob said...

When I had to be taken by amublance out of my house recently (bad back), this episode came to mind, especially the disorientation when you can't control your body and you only can look around from one point of view.

This is the first time I've actually watched an episode and paid attention to your credits. I got a cold chill realizing that the blogsphere has enabled me to communicate with a person who wrote for probably my favorite show of all time (and several others I loved.)

Thank you for doing this blog.

As a future story idea, can you provide any stories about being censored in your scripts or got away with something you didn't think you would?

Anonymous said...

cool idea - but (director's fault) Rich has more mobility (major neck wound or not) than a contortionist.

Richard Cooper said...

I wonder when it will be psychologically okay to do a show based on our long military endeavors in Afghanistan and Iraq? I believe MASH helped this country toward a healing process regarding Vietnam, which cost about 60,000 lives. And even if we've lost far fewer in the current war, it seems more damaging and wasteful to us because of the 24 hour news coverage. The humor and humanity of MASH is needed more than ever now. I truly miss it.

Rob said...


The current GWOT, in my opinion, seems less immediate and raw than Vietnam because so many of us are relatively untouched by it, and the military has done such an effective job of limiting coverage of casualties.

Reinstitute a draft,and you might as well bring back M*A*S*H. Call it AfterAfterM*A*S*H.

Unknown said...

Sorry for criticizing but man those actors were not comfortable talking to the camera.

Reading the scene I put myself into the feel of movies like "Full Metal Jacket" but what I got was Highschool Kids performing Annie. I guess it's ok for a Sitcom but the script read so much cooler than the final product :-/


This episode was the FINEST of the MASH series.

If you never met the cast, you would know them by the end of this episode.

I think "House" copied the concept, but THERE IS ONLY ONE PRIVATE RICH.

Brilliant Fabulous Wonderful Creative Artsy Unforgettable

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Please post my comment from yesterday. I first saw this episode 30 years ago while in the hospital in Private Rich's same condition.

I still cry today every time I watch POV. I wasn't expected to live, and each day MASH came on TV, I knew I was still alive. It is my favorite TV episode in my lifetime.