China Beach

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For other uses, see China Beach (disambiguation).
China Beach
ChinaBeach Complete Collection DVD.jpg
Series Complete Collection Set cover
Created by William Broyles, Jr.
John Sacret Young
Starring Dana Delany
Nan Woods
Michael Boatman
Marg Helgenberger
Robert Picardo
Tim Ryan
Concetta Tomei
Brian Wimmer
Jeff Kober
Chloe Webb
Megan Gallagher
Nancy Giles
Ned Vaughn
Troy Evans
Ricki Lake
Theme music composer Holland-Dozier-Holland
Opening theme "Reflections"
Performed by Diana Ross & the Supremes
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 62 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) John Sacret Young
Producer(s) Geno Escarrega
Mimi Leder
John Wells
Fred Gerber
Carol Flint
John Lugar
Lydia Woodward
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) Sacret, Inc.
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run April 27, 1988 – July 22, 1991

China Beach is an American dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War. The title refers to My Khe[1] beach in the city of Đà Nẵng, Vietnam, which was nicknamed "China Beach" in English by American and Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War.[2][3][4][5] The ABC TV drama aired for four seasons, from 1988 to 1991.

Overview[edit]

Created by William Broyles, Jr. and John Sacret Young, the series looks at the Vietnam War from unique perspectives: those of the women, military personnel, and civilians, who were present during the conflict. John Wells took over most of the series beginning with the second season—many of the show's cast members would appear later on the Wells-produced series, ER.

Set in a Vietnam locale nicknamed "Bac My An Beach" at the 510th Evacuation Hospital and R&R (the "Five-and-Dime" Rest & Recreation) facility, the series' cast of characters includes US Army doctors and nurses, officers, soldiers, Red Cross volunteers, and civilian personnel (American, French, and Vietnamese). The series also features the experiences of the characters when they return to the U.S., either on leave or at the end of their tours of duty. The show does not shy away from showing the gruesomeness of war; it provides a very gritty view of the experience there.

The show is based on the book Home Before Morning (1983) written by former U.S. Army Nurse Lynda Van Devanter.[6] The show's character Nurse Colleen McMurphy roughly follows Van Devanter's experiences as a nurse in Vietnam. The book takes the reader from Van Devanter's wish to serve her country, through the adventure she thought her deployment to Vietnam would be, her culture shock upon returning to "the States", and her struggles with PTSD. The TV show was cancelled before it could fully address McMurphy's PTSD issues. Van Devanter died in 2002.[7]

Cast[edit]

Season 3 China Beach cast (left to right): Ned Vaughn (Jeff Hyers), Ricki Lake (Holly Pelegrino), Michael Boatman (Sam Beckett), Dana Delany (Nurse Colleen McMurphy), Brian Wimmer (Boonie Lanier), Marg Helgenberger (K.C.), Jeff Kober (Dodger), Nancy Giles (Frankie Bunsen), Concetta Tomei (Lila Garreau), Robert Picardo (Dr. Richard)
  • First Lieutenant (later Captain) Colleen McMurphy, USA; Catholic girl from Lawrence, Kansas and nurse with the 510th Evac Hospital in Vietnam during the late 1960s. She has five brothers, including Brian, Brendan, Conor and Daniel. Daniel was the youngest and a hippie who lived in a commune in 1967. A composite of various real-life Vietnam War nurses, the character illustrates their courage, kindness, and sacrifices during the war, as well as the severe emotional scarring of non-combatant personnel during and following military service; several episodes feature the veterans in their own words, intercut with the storyline. Portrayed by Dana Delany, who won two Emmy awards for the role.
  • Cherry White (Seasons 1–2); Naive Red Cross volunteer ("doughnut dolly") from Iowa who comes to China Beach to search for her brother Rick who was reported MIA. Dies midway through the second season during the Tet Offensive. Portrayed by Nan Woods.
  • SP4 Samuel Beckett, USA; Draftee and a "preacher's son" from North Carolina who works in the Graves Registration Unit at China Beach. His job makes him unpopular with most of the other servicemen. Portrayed by Michael Boatman.
  • Karen Charlene "K.C." Koloski; Cynical part-time prostitute and civilian volunteer who comes to China Beach seeking to make her own wealth and fortune. Nicknamed from the hometown where she grew up; Kansas City, Kansas. Portrayed by Marg Helgenberger.
  • Captain Dick Richard, USA; Head surgeon and womanizer dealing with being drafted into Army and away from his family. Worked as an OB-GYN when he was a civilian. Portrayed by Robert Picardo.
  • Captain Bartholomew "Natch" Austen, USAF; (Regular in Season 1; recurring in Season 2) Jet fighter pilot and McMurphy's love interest. Portrayed by Tim Ryan.
  • Major Lila Garreau, USA; World War II veteran and career-Army commanding officer of China Beach. Portrayed by Concetta Tomei.
  • Corporal Boonwell "Boonie" Lanier, USMC; Friendly China Beach lifeguard and manager of the Jet Set Club. Portrayed by Brian Wimmer. Wimmer's character was originally named Lanier Boonwell and was referred to as such during the first season although he was ultimately called "Boonie" throughout the entire run of the show.
  • Staff Sergeant Evan "Dodger" Winslow, USMC; Moody Marine who serves and fights in the jungle mainly to keep other servicemen in his platoon alive. Nicknamed for his ability to dodge injury and death. Known as a "quiet sort"; generally keeps to himself. Constantly displays the "thousand yard stare"; a dull blank facial expression common among shell-shocked soldiers who have seen too much death and destruction in battle. Friend of Boonie, McMurphy and Cherry. Portrayed by Jeff Kober.
  • Laurette Barber (Season 1); USO singer from Paoli, Pennsylvania determined to make it big. Portrayed by Chloe Webb.
  • Airman Wayloo Marie Holmes, USAF (Season 2); Reporter for the Armed Services Network seeking a career as a world-famous reporter. Portrayed by Megan Gallagher.
  • Private Franklin "Frankie" Bunsen, USA (Seasons 2–4); Female private assigned to the China Beach motor pool. Portrayed by Nancy Giles.
  • Corporal Jeff Hyers, USA (Season 3; guest appearances in Seasons 2 and 4); Good-natured combat medic from Georgia. He is KIA midway through the third season during a routine patrol. Portrayed by Ned Vaughn.
  • Master Sergeant Bob Pepper, USA (Seasons 3–4); World War II veteran, driver, mechanic and NCO-in-charge of the motor pool. Becomes romantically-involved with Lila Garreau whom he later marries. Portrayed by Troy Evans.
  • Holly Pelegrino (Season 3); Sharp-witted Red Cross volunteer. Portrayed by Ricki Lake.

Nancy Sinatra made a guest appearance in the first season finale, recreating concerts she performed for U.S. troops in 1966 and 1967.

Episode list[edit]

Over four seasons from 1988 to 1991, the series aired 62 episodes.

Reception[edit]

China Beach was a critically lauded but poorly rated series. ABC stuck with the show for four seasons, but the final season was put on hiatus in fall 1990 and did not air its finale until July 22, 1991. As a result of the scheduling, Dana Delany was eligible for (and ultimately won) a Best Actress Emmy Award in the fall of 1992, a year after the series broadcast its final episode and over a year and a half after many of the scenes were filmed. The title sequence theme song was "Reflections" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (although several episodes instead used "We Gotta Get out of This Place" by Eric Burdon with Katrina & The Waves).[8]

Tie-in novel[edit]

John Sacret Young stated at the Paley Center prior to the show's October 2013 release on DVD that he'd written a follow-up novel titled Reflections where Colleen, now in her sixties and recently widowed, returns to Vietnam and reconnects with a retired Dr. Dick and venture capitalist K.C. Koloski. Young also hopes to adapt it into a TV movie.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations for China Beach
Year Award Category Recipient Result
1989 Casting Society of America's Artios Award Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Episodic Phyllis Huffman and John Frank Levey Nominated
1990 John Frank Levey Nominated
1991 Nominated
1989 Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials Rod Holcomb (For the pilot episode) Nominated
1990 Golden Globe Award Best Television Series – Drama Won
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Dana Delany Nominated
1991 Best Television Series – Drama Nominated
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Dana Delany Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Marg Helgenberger Nominated
1989 Humanitas Prize 60 Minute Category Patricia Green Won
John Sacret Young and William Broyles Jr. (For episode "Lost and Found") Nominated
1990 John Wells (For episode "Dear China Beach") Nominated
Georgia Jeffries (For episode "How to Stay Alive in Vietnam: Part I") Nominated
1991 John Wells (For episode "One Small Step") Nominated
1992 90 Minute Category John Wells, John Sacret Young, Carol Flint and Lydia Woodward Nominated
1988 Motion Picture Sound Editors' Golden Reel Award Best Sound Editing Television Pilots and Specials Greg Stacy and Sync-Pop Won
1990 Peabody Award ABC Television and Sacret Inc., in association with Warner Bros. Television (For episode "Vets") Won
1989 People's Choice Award Favorite New TV Dramatic Program Won
1988 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series John Sacret Young (For the pilot episode) Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Rod Holcomb (For the pilot episode) Nominated
Outstanding Editing for a Series - Single Camera Production Erwin Dumbrille and Christopher Nelson (For the pilot episode) Nominated
Outstanding Costuming for a Series Paula Lynn Kaatz and Darryl Levine (For the pilot episode) Won
1989 Outstanding Drama Series John Sacret Young, John Wells, Patricia Green, Geno Escarrega, Christopher Nelson and Fred Gerber Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Dana Delany Won
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Chloe Webb Nominated
Outstanding Editing for a Series - Single Camera Production Randy Jon Morgan (For episode "Vets") Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Costuming for a Series Paula Lynn Kaatz and Darryl Levine (For episode "The World: Part II") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series Tim Cooney, Don Cahn, Artie Torgersen and James G. Williams (For episode "Vets") Nominated
1990 Outstanding Drama Series John Sacret Young, John Wells, Georgia Jeffries, Mimi Leder, Fred Gerber and Geno Escarrega Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Dana Delany Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Marg Helgenberger Won
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Ruby Dee Nominated
Outstanding Editing for a Series - Single Camera Production Susan B. Browdy (For episode "The Unquiet Earth") Nominated
Outstanding Costuming for a Series Paula Lynn Kaatz and Le Dawson (For episode "Magic") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series Lowell Harris, Don Cahn, Artie Torgersen and Jim Cook (For episode "F.N.G.") Won
1991 Outstanding Drama Series John Sacret Young, John Wells, Mimi Leder, Lydia Woodward, Carol Flint and Geno Escarrega Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Dana Delany Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Marg Helgenberger Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Mimi Leder (For episode "You, Babe") Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Penny Fuller Nominated
Outstanding Costuming for a Series Paula Lynn Kaatz and Le Dawson (For episode "Juice") Nominated
1992 Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Dana Delany Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Marg Helgenberger Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series John Wells, John Sacret Young, Carol Flint and Lydia Woodward (For episode "Hello Goodbye") Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Mimi Leder (For episode "Rewind") Nominated
Outstanding Costuming for a Series Paula Lynn Kaatz and Thomas S. Dawson (For episode "Hello Goodbye") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series Lowell Harris, Don Cahn, Artie Torgersen and Jim Cook (For episode "Hello Goodbye") Nominated
1989 Television Critics Association Award Outstanding Achievement in Drama Nominated
1989 Viewers for Quality Television Award Best Quality Drama Series Won
Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series Dana Delany Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series Marg Helgenberger Won
Best Writing in a Quality Drama Series Won
1990 Best Quality Drama Series Won
Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series Dana Delany Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Quality Drama Series Robert Picardo Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series Marg Helgenberger Won
Best Writing in a Quality Drama Series Won
Best Directing in a Quality Drama Series Won
1991 Best Quality Drama Series Won
Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series Dana Delany Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series Marg Helgenberger Won
Best Writing in a Quality Drama Series Won
Founder's Award Robert Picardo Won
1989 Writers Guild of America Award Episodic Drama William Broyles Jr. (For episode "Home") Nominated
1990 Alan Brennert (For episode "Where the Boys Are") Nominated
John Wells (For episode "X-Mas Chnbch VN '67") Nominated
1991 John Sacret Young (For episode "Souvenirs") Won
Martin M. Goldstein, Neal Baer and Dottie Dartland (For episode "Warriors") Nominated
1992 Paris Qualles, John Sacret Young, John Wells, Carol Flint and Lydia Woodward (For episode "Escape") Nominated
John Wells, John Sacret Young, Carol Flint and Lydia Woodward (For episode "Hello Goodbye") Nominated

Home media release[edit]

In December 2012 it was announced that the series, among the most-requested television shows not available through either VHS or DVD following its broadcast run, would be issued on DVD in a box set (including new interviews with cast members and various bonus features) and released on April 15, 2013 through StarVista Entertainment (affiliated with TimeLife). The collection includes 302 songs heard during the series.[8] To mark the show's 25th anniversary, a 21-disc collector's set was released October 1, 2013.[10]

Music rights long delayed the release on DVD. More than 250 songs were licensed; seventeen could not be, and were either deleted or replaced.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnson, Kay. (March 23, 2003) (March 23, 2003). "Detour: China Beach, Vietnam". Time.com. Retrieved August 7, 2010. 
  2. ^ Ha, Thu. "Da nang beach is introduced as "China Beach" | Da nang beach is introduced as "China Beach"". VietNamNet. July 23, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2012. The VNAT’s vice chief, Mr. Nguyen Manh Cuong, said that it is unacceptable and harmful for the image of Da nang’s tourism when some Vietnamese travel firms introduce the beach of Da nang as “China Beach.” 
  3. ^ "Sailors, Commander Tell of Race Fights (AP)". The Milwaukee Journal. October 24, 1968. Retrieved July 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ Ives, Mike (October 30, 2011). "Vietnam's Da Nang a Surf City in Asia". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 25, 2012. We started our days at Non Nuoc Beach, which U.S. and Australian military personnel called China Beach during the Vietnam War. 
  5. ^ Bragg, Rebecca. "China Beach now secure with beer and sandwiches". Toronto Star (Đà Nẵng, Vietnam). 
  6. ^ Lynda Van Devanter (1983). Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam. ISBN 9781558492981. 
  7. ^ "In Memoriam: Lynda Van Devanter". Illyria.com. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b Lambert, David (February 26, 2012). "China Beach - New 'Complete Collection' Press Release has Music List, Finalized Box!". TV Shows on DVD. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ Keck, William (September 23, 2013). "Keck's Exclusives: Back To China Beach". TV Guide. 
  10. ^ Elavksy, Cindy (September 15, 2013). "Celebrity Extra". Downriver Sunday Times (King Features). Retrieved December 5, 2013. 
  11. ^ Heldenfels, Rich (February 6, 2013). "More About "China Beach" DVD". Akron Beacon Journal Online (The HeldenFiles Online). Retrieved January 27, 2014. 

External links[edit]