China Beach (1988–1991)
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I watched this show when I was in middle school and high school. I would love to be able to watch it again as an adult, and as a history teacher. I know that much of it is not realistic, but there is no denying the emotion. There were so many scenes that just pulled at your heart.
I hope soon we will be able to enjoy the entire series on DVD.
I have introduced the show to my 15 year old nephew and hope he too will see some of things in the show I did. I hope he is inspired.
Dana Delany was completely awesome in her role. Even in the less-critically acclaimed seasons (the ones that talked about the characters once they left Vietnam), she was into her role and made the viewers feel her emotions.
And goodness, the cameos! It seems like damn-near everyone from "Full Metal Jacket" made a cameo in this series! R. Lee Ermey and Dorian Harewood (GySgt Hartman and Eightball) come to mind. Vivica Fox, Judge Reinhold, Tim Ryan, Kim Wayans, and Kathy Bates also come to mind...
This show ruled! Still does! **** out of ****
During the third season word got out that the show was to be cancelled. Letters poured into ABC to save the show. Thousands of fans wrote in (including me), but all it did was guarantee a final season. For reasons never disclosed or understood the show was cancelled.
There has been a campaign to get the show onto DVD, but to no avail. China Beach was an incredible look at a horrendous place, at a horrendous time. It helped heal vets and helped families torn apart by an atrocity understand (a little) about what the bloody hell happened over there. No show has ever been that honest.
It astonishes me that an idiotic show like "The Simpsons" manages to stay on TV forever (18 seasons - enough already!) and a powerfully moving show like China Beach is on for only 4 seasons.
True to war, the characters are all casualties, emotionally/physically, coming to grips with violence. I cried when Cherry's character spoke out at the sumptuous banquet about how a few hours earlier, the soldiers she visited at a fire camp dined on C rations and had to dig a hole because there were no latrines.
A decade after Saigon was evacuated, this show honored the men and women who lost their innocence 10 thousand miles from home. War is inherently evil, but these teen-aged warriors who were drafted to fight deserve to be honored for their sacrifices. China Beach does that without become preachy.
For a network series to broach subjects such as drug addiction, PTSD &C. at the time this show first aired was remarkable. With the glut of "reality" programming on TV these days, shows like this make me nostalgic for China Beach, Homicide and other programs where character/plot development made for must-see TV. Buy this series on DVD!
Unlike so many of the Vietnam shows and films of the time it wasn't ( for the most part) about rescuing a few guys that were abandoned out in the bush. It covered both the complexities of life in Vietnam and life in general. Watching it could alternately make you feel homesick for the voices of your family, even when they were just upstairs, or angry at the unfairness of life, despite the fact that you weren't getting half the bad deal that some of the characters got.
One of the great classic dramas of the eighties!
WHY IS THIS SERIES NOT ON DVD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? I find this a serieous omission. If anyone hears about it coming to DVD, please let me know by email! Thanks!
It is not MASH updated for Vietnam. It is a very powerful drama which gives perspectives on the different people caught up in the war, not only U.S. personnel but also North and South Vietnamese, fighters and civilians. It doesn't adhere to any "party line" left or right. There were moments which brought me close to tears, but others which provoked laughter.
I was particularly impressed by Jeff Kober's powerful performance of the difficulties a soldier faces in returning to "normal" life. If this had been a film he would have been nominated for an Oscar for sure.
Another standout is Nancy Giles who plays Frankie Bunsen, an African-American woman who somehow copes with the disgraceful racism and sexism she encounters.
I can't recommend this series enough for anyone who wants to know more about this part of our history.
I would really like to know how actual Vietnam veterans view this series. Is it an accurate portrait of their war?
Much, much, worse was the portrayal of Combat Infantrymen, who apparently head straight from the helicopter pad to the USO, still filthy and armed to the teeth. This would have been impossible in real life, as the first thing you did when returning from the field was clean and store your weapons/field gear. Not to mention that no Infantryman would want to go anywhere, let alone a place where they are certain to encounter "round eye women", without a bath and a change into clean fatigues. There was more of the same (directed at Nurses/ USO workers)but why belabor the point? If the pilot episode was any guide, this series bore as much resemblance to reality as the movie "Starship Troopers" did to the RAH book of the same name. Thumbs down from someone who was actually there.