Since today is Halloween, there was only one choice for this week’s Script Spotlight post: “Trick or Treatment” (11×02). This episode is from season 11, and is the only episode of M*A*S*H was a Halloween theme. We see several characters dressed up including Hawkeye as Superman, BJ as a clown, and Col. Potter as a cowboy. The copy of the script I have for this episode is fairly simple, but let’s take a look at the script and this episode of M*A*S*H!
As I mentioned in the introduction, this copy of the script doesn’t have any of the special features such as call sheets, shooting schedules, and wardrobe notes. It is just a copy of the script. On the cover, it is marked as a final draft as opposed to a revised final draft, so I assume that changes were made to the script as the filming went on. This script doesn’t have any revised pages either, and there were definitely some changes made between this draft of the script and the final episode. But we will get into those later.
We do have the title page, cast list, and set list. On the title page, we see that this episode was written by Dennis Koenig. He is credited with writing 15 episodes of M*A*S*H in its final seasons. The cast list includes a Marine named Private La Roche who appears early in the episode with a pool ball stuck in his mouth. He was played by George Wendt, who would go on to play Norm in Cheers. He is one of many guest stars to appear in M*A*S*H before they became famous for other roles.
The Final Episode
There are M*A*S*H fans who do not like the later episodes as much as the early episodes, but I find this episode to be very compelling. The Halloween theme, this is our only time seeing Halloween at the 4077th, makes the episode unique. As the doctors and nurses are working in the O.R., they tell each other ghost stories. Something Charles finds childish. Meanwhile, a soldier believed to be dead is brought in with the wounded, but we later find out that he is not dead as Father Mulachy is administering last rites. Hawkeye also works talks to a soldier who refused to eat after his friends were killed while he was getting more food and left them behind in a foxhole. We see the humanity that M*A*S*H is famous for while the characters are wearing Halloween costumes. It is a great illustration of how the war affected everything they did.
When comparing the script to the final episode, there were a number of changes. Again, I am sure that is because this is an earlier production draft of the script. In the episode, there is a small storyline running throughout where the generator is going the fritz, but that is not in this version of the script (page 11). There are also several scenes that are shorter including the one between Charles and Marine who got into a fist fight with an electric fan (page 23). Another change I noticed was the name of the soldier who refused to eat is different (Private Scala is what he is called in the episode, but he is listed as Private Espino in the script). Finally, near the end, Charles taunts the Marines in post-op, and that scene is pretty different as well (pages 27-28). One of the funnier changes I noticed was on page 8 when Hawkeye uses the term “trick or treatment” which is, of course, the title of the episode. That line does not appear in the episode!
Overall, the episode follows the script as written aside from little word changes here and there. Another note I made while watching this episode was that the acting by Richard Lineback, who played Private Scala, is compelling. The way he tells the story of what happened to his buddies is very moving. Not only the emotion he puts into it, but the timing he has as he delivers the lines. It is very well done. As is the whole episode in my opinion. I like the Halloween theme as it was something that M*A*S*H hadn’t done yet by season 11.
One thought on “Script Spotlight 13: “Trick or Treatment””
George Wendt is a notable guest star. But this was also one of Andrew Dice Clay’s earliest roles, billed as Andrew Clay. I’m surprised you didn’t mention. He was in the scene with George Wendt.