Tour of Duty (TV series)

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Tour of Duty
Tour of duty tv series.jpg
Title card (seasons 2–3)
GenreMilitary drama
Created by
  • Steve Duncan
  • L. Travis Clark
Music byJoseph Conlan
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes58
Executive producersSteve Duncan
L. Travis Clark
Ronald L. Schwary
ProducerZev Braun
Running time47–49 minutes
Production companies
Original networkCBS
Picture formatNTSC
Audio formatMono
Original releaseSeptember 24, 1987 (1987-09-24) –
April 28, 1990 (1990-04-28)

Tour of Duty is an American military drama television series based on events in the Vietnam War, broadcast on CBS. The series ran for three seasons, from September 24, 1987, to April 28, 1990, for a total of 58 one-hour episodes. The show was created by Steve Duncan and L. Travis Clark and produced by Zev Braun.

The show follows an American infantry platoon on a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. It was the first television series to regularly show Americans in combat in South Vietnam and was one of several similarly themed series to be produced in the wake of the acclaimed Oliver Stone film Platoon (1986).

The series won an Emmy Award in 1988 for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series, and it was nominated again in 1989 and 1990.[1]


Tour of Duty examined the issues of politics, faith, teamwork, racism, suicide, fragging, terrorism, civilian deaths, sexuality, drug abuse, and how the lives of soldiers and civilians were permanently affected by the Vietnam War.

The first season began in 1967 and followed Bravo company's second platoon located at Camp Ladybird. Second platoon was standard light infantry platoon conducting "search and destroy" missions in Vietnam, under the command of 2nd Lieutenant (1st Lieutenant from the start of season 2) Myron Goldman (Stephen Caffrey) and Staff Sergeant (later Sergeant First Class) Zeke Anderson (Terence Knox). It was filmed on location in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks.[1][2]

For the second and third seasons, the series was filmed around Los Angeles, California, to reduce the budget. The same locations, notably a small river with grass on one bank and woods on the other, were reused in a number of episodes. The old set of war comedy-drama television series M*A*S*H was also used for filming.[1]

The change of location also led to a change in the show's direction. Beginning in the second season, the platoon was relocated to a base near Saigon, Tan Son Nhut. Production staff interviewed in Vietnam Magazine said this change in premise doomed the series because it shifted from being a realistic chronicle about the life of an average combat infantryman to an action/romantic/drama show.[1] CBS wanted female characters because ABC had premiered China Beach, a Vietnam Army nurses drama, which was aimed directly at attracting more female viewers.

In Tour of Duty's third season, the remaining female character was killed off, and the platoon was transferred to a SOG unit at Camp Barnett, under the command of Colonel Brewster (played by Carl Weathers). The unit conducted covert operations in Vietnam and Cambodia which included a fictional version of the raid on Son Tay Prison. The show was cancelled at the end of this season due to falling ratings.

Guest stars included Lee Majors, James Hong, Mako, Kelly Hu, Angela Bassett, Ving Rhames, Melora Hardin, Everett McGill, Olivia d'Abo, David Alan Grier, Richard Brooks, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, William Sadler, and Michael Madsen.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
121September 24, 1987 (1987-09-24)April 30, 1988 (1988-04-30)
216January 3, 1989 (1989-01-03)May 16, 1989 (1989-05-16)
321September 23, 1989 (1989-09-23)April 28, 1990 (1990-04-28)


Character Actor Rank(s)/Job Seasons
1 2 3
Main cast
Clayton Ezekiel "Zeke" Anderson Terence Knox Staff Sgt. (SSG)/Sgt. 1st Class (SFC) Main
Myron Goldman Stephen Caffrey 2nd Lt./1st Lt. Main
Daniel "Danny" Percell Tony Becker PFC/Cpl./SP4 Main
Alberto Ruiz Ramón Franco Pvt./PFC/SP4 Main
Marcus Taylor Miguel A. Núñez Jr. Pvt./PFC/SP4/Sgt. Main
Marvin Johnson Stan Foster SP4/Sgt. Main Main[a]
Scott Baker Eric Bruskotter Pvt./SP4 Main Does not appear Guest
Roger Horn Joshua D. Maurer Pvt./PFC/SP4 Main Does not appear
Randy "Doc" Matsuda Steve Akahoshi SP4 Main[a] Does not appear
Rusty Wallace Kevin Conroy Captain Main[a] Does not appear
Johnny McKay Dan Gauthier 1st Lt. Does not appear Main
Alex Devlin Kim Delaney Reporter Does not appear Main Main[a]
Francis "Doc Hock" Hockenbury John Dye PFC/SP4 Does not appear Main
Supporting cast
Nikki Raines Pamela Gidley 2nd Lt. Recurring Does not appear
Dalby Bruce Gray Lt. Col. Recurring Does not appear
Darling Richard Brestoff Major Does not appear Also starring Does not appear
Dr. Jennifer Seymour Betsy Brantley Civilian Contracted Psychiatrist / then Major U.S. Army Medical Corps Does not appear Recurring
Marion Hannegan/Putman Charles Hyman Master Sergeant (as Hannegan), SFC (as Putnam) Does not appear Recurring
Mike Duncan Michael B. Christy Major Does not appear Also starring
Sister Bernardette Maria Mayenzet Civilian Nun Does not appear Also starring
Stringer Alan Scarfe Colonel Does not appear Also starring
Jack Elliot Peter Vogt General Does not appear Also starring
Edward Higgins Michael Fairman Major General Does not appear Also starring
William Griner Kyle Chandler Pvt. Does not appear Recurring
Duke Fontaine Patrick Kilpatrick CIA Agent Does not appear Recurring
Joseph "Skip" Beller Greg Germann 1st Lt. Does not appear Recurring
Carl Brewster Carl Weathers Colonel Does not appear Special Guest Star
Thomas "Pop" Scarlett Lee Majors Private Does not appear Special Guest Star
  1. ^ a b c d Not main cast for the whole season.


The opening theme song was an abbreviated version of The Rolling Stones hit "Paint It Black" that had featured in the end titles of the 1987 Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket; this was removed for the US DVD release. The closing consisted of an instrumental, synthesized tune with a distinctive Asian sound mixed in with acoustic guitar; it was performed by Joseph Conlan, and was never released for public consumption other than in the series. That music was used as background music for most of the series. On the US DVD release, most of the Vietnam War–era popular songs were replaced by instrumental bits to cover the blank spots of music.

All three seasons that have been released in the United Kingdom feature the complete original soundtrack, including "Paint It Black".

The show was known for its classic American rock soundtrack including Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane. One first-season episode, "USO Down", used "live" versions of "Wooly Bully", and "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" as performed by a USO band, the latter song being used also for ironic comment. The songs in this episode were retained in the DVD soundtracks. But for copyright reasons, the VHS and DVD soundtracks of the majority of episodes were replaced with soundalikes, a move which was widely protested by buyers and resulted in a significantly lower sales volume for the third-season DVD set than for the first two.

In the Netherlands, amongst other European nations, a total number of seven albums were released, containing most of the songs featured on the show. As a result, "Paint It Black" was re-released as a single, again hitting the number 1 position in the Dutch top 40 pop charts in May 1990.[citation needed]

The original soundtrack albums[edit]

The Tour of Duty television series soundtrack was released by CBS on Columbia Records as four different compilation albums during 1988 and 1989. The original albums are now out of print. Their track listings are as follows:

Tour of Duty Soundtrack, Volume 1 (1988)
  1. "Baby Love" – Diana Ross and The Supremes
  2. "Here Comes the Night" – Them
  3. "We Gotta Get Out of This Place" – The Animals
  4. "A Whiter Shade of Pale" – Procol Harum
  5. "Itchycoo Park" – Small Faces
  6. "All Along the Watchtower" – Jimi Hendrix
  7. "Hurdy Gurdy Man" – Donovan
  8. "Time of the Season" – The Zombies
  9. "And When I Die" – Blood, Sweat & Tears
  10. "War" – Edwin Starr
  11. "Ball of Confusion" – Temptations
  12. "What's Going On" – Marvin Gaye
  13. "Time Has Come Today" – Chambers Brothers
  14. "I Want to Take You Higher" – Sly & The Family Stone
  15. "Groovin' Is Easy" – The Electric Flag
  16. "Oye Como Va" – Santana
  17. "Ball and Chain" – Janis Joplin
  18. "Ballad of Easy Rider" – The Byrds
Tour of Duty Soundtrack, Volume 2 (1988)
  1. "Paint It Black" – Chris Farlowe
  2. "Tin Soldier" – Small Faces
  3. "Stone Free" – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  4. "Sunshine of Your Love" – Cream
  5. "Born to Be Wild" – Steppenwolf
  6. "Reach Out I'll Be There" – The Four Tops
  7. "People Get Ready" – The Impressions
  8. "Jennifer Juniper" – Donovan
  9. "Your Precious Love" – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
  10. "Groovin'" – The Rascals
  11. "Eight Miles High" – The Byrds
  12. "Cloud Nine" – The Temptations
  13. "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" – Gladys Knight & The Pips
  14. "Piece of My Heart" – Janis Joplin
  15. "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" – Al Kooper & Stephen Stills
  16. "Ring of Fire" – Eric Burdon & The Animals
  17. "Spinning Wheel" – Blood, Sweat & Tears
  18. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" – Aretha Franklin
Tour of Duty Soundtrack, Volume 3 (1989)
  1. "White Room" – Cream
  2. "Highway Chile" – Jimi Hendrix
  3. "Lazy Sunday" – Small Faces
  4. "Gloria" – Them
  5. "Sky Pilot" – Eric Burdon & The Animals
  6. "Natural Born Bugie" – Humble Pie
  7. "White Rabbit" – Grace Slick & The Great Society
  8. "The Weight" – The Band
  9. "Go Now" – The Moody Blues
  10. "San Francisco" – Scott McKenzie
  11. "Draft Morning" – The Byrds
  12. "Evil Ways" – Santana
  13. "Dance to the Music" – Sly & The Family Stone
  14. "Tell Her No" – The Zombies
  15. "Barabajagal" – Donovan
  16. "Killing Floor" – The Electric Flag
  17. "Black Night" – Deep Purple
  18. "Paranoid" – Black Sabbath
Tour of Duty Soundtrack, Volume 4 (1989)
  1. "This Wheel's on Fire" – Julie Driscoll
  2. "Rag Mama Rag" – The Band
  3. "On the Road Again" – Canned Heat
  4. "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" – Chicago
  5. "American Woman" – Guess Who
  6. "Race with the Devil" – The Gun
  7. "Down the Dustpipe" – Status Quo
  8. "Living in the Past" – Jethro Tull
  9. "Bird on the Wire" – Leonard Cohen
  10. "Tears of Rage" – Bob Dylan
  11. "Save the Country" – Laura Nyro
  12. "To Love Somebody" – The Bee Gees
  13. "There Won't Be Many Coming Home" – Roy Orbison
  14. "Melting Pot" – Blue Mink
  15. "Hi De Ho" – Blood, Sweat & Tears
  16. "Chestnut Mare" – The Byrds
  17. "Sweet Baby James" – James Taylor
  18. "Listen to the Music" – The Doobie Brothers


Date Title Chart Peak
May 1988 Volume One Australia (Kent Music Report)[3] 3
August 1988 Volume Two Australia (ARIA Charts)[4] 5
April 1989 Volume Three Australia (ARIA Charts)[4] 15
April 1989 Volume Three Australia (ARIA Charts)[4] 15
  • Note: The official Australian chart was the Kent Music Report until June 1988, and which time it changed to ARIA.

Compilation soundtrack CDs[edit]

In 1992, Sony Music released a compilation CD titled The Best of 'Tour of Duty'. It contains only twenty of the songs featured in the four original Tour of Duty Soundtrack albums.

The Best of Tour of Duty (1992)
  1. "Born To Be Wild" – Steppenwolf
  2. "Tin Soldier" – Small Faces
  3. "This Wheel's On Fire" – Julie Driscoll
  4. "Barabajagal" – Donovan
  5. "Time Of The Season" – The Zombies
  6. "The Weight" – The Band
  7. "Get Together" – The Youngbloods
  8. "Chimes Of Freedom" – The Byrds
  9. "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" – Procol Harum
  10. "Piece Of My Heart" – Janis Joplin
  11. "Evil Ways" – Santana
  12. "25 Or 6 To 4" – Chicago
  13. "Killing Floor" – The Electric Flag
  14. "Dance To The Music" – Sly & The Family Stone
  15. "And When I Die" – Blood, Sweat & Tears
  16. "On The Road Again" – Canned Heat
  17. "American Woman" – The Guess Who
  18. "Race With The Devil" – The Gun
  19. "Shapes Of Things" – The YardBirds
  20. "Sky Pilot" – Eric Burdon & The Animals
Tour of Duty Top 100 (2008)
  • Disc 1
  1. "I Can Hear Music" – The Beach Boys
  2. "White Room" – Cream
  3. "Are You Ready" – Pacific Gas & Electric
  4. "Eight Miles High" – The Byrds
  5. "Hush" – Deep Purple
  6. "Have You Ever Seen the Rain?" – CCR
  7. "Question" – The Moody Blues
  8. "Reflections – Diana Ross & The Supremes
  9. "Here Comes the Night" – Them
  10. "Son of a Preacher Man" – Dusty Springfield
  11. "Lady Willpower" – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
  12. "Black Magic Woman" – Santana
  13. "Death of a Clown" – Dave Davies
  14. "It's the Same Old Song" – The Four Tops
  15. "You Wear It Well" – Rod Stewart
  16. "Mannish Boy" – Muddy Waters
  17. "I'd Rather Go Blind – Chicken Shack
  18. "All Right Now" – Free
  19. "Roll Over Beethoven" – The Electric Light Orchestra
  20. "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (Parts 1 & 2)" – James Brown
  • Disc 2

Home media[edit]

In 2004–2005, Sony Pictures released all three seasons for the first time in the US, both as individual season sets and a complete series set. Due to licensing issues, all original music was replaced with sound-alike versions, much to the dismay of fans. These releases, which have also been criticized for having substandard sound and picture quality, have since been discontinued.

In 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment acquired the US rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Tour of Duty.[5] In 2014–2015, they re-released all three seasons on DVD, again as individual season sets and a complete series set.[6] These releases have the same poor A/V and replacement music of the Sony issues.

Between 2011 and 2013, Fabulous Films released identical DVDs in the UK and Australia, both as individual season sets and a complete series set. They have improved audio and video quality over the US issues, and retain the complete original soundtrack, including "Paint It, Black". They also contain extras including cast and crew biographies, hundreds of publicity photos and a feature-length, three-part documentary. The latter includes interviews filmed in Los Angeles in July 2011 with key cast members Terence Knox, Joshua D. Maurer, Steve Akahoshi, Tony Becker, Eric Bruskotter, Kevin Conroy, Miguel A. Núñez Jr. and Dan Gauthier, and key production crew members Zev Braun (producer) Bill L. Norton (writer/director), Steve Smith (writer/producer), Steve Duncan (creator) and Paul Sinor (military advisor).

The complete series was also released on DVD in Germany by Koch Media between 2012 and 2014, both as individual season sets and complete series sets. These releases replicate the poor quality, music-replacement and extras-free US DVDs but they do reinstate the original version of "Paint It, Black" in the opening credits.


Television ratings[edit]

Viewership and ratings per season of Tour of Duty
Season Episodes First aired Last aired TV season
Date HH
Date HH
1 21 September 24, 1987 10.6[7] April 30, 1988 8.3[8] 1987–88
2 16 January 3, 1989 11.3[9] 18.0[9] May 16, 1989 8.5[10] 12.2[10] 1988–89
3 21 September 23, 1989 10.2[11] 16.4[11] April 28, 1990 8.1[12] 12.7[12] 1989–90


The series won an Emmy Award in 1988 for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series (for "Under Siege"), and it was nominated again in 1989 and 1990.[1]

Emmy Award nominations:

  • 1989: Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series (for "I Wish it Could Rain")
  • 1990: Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series (for "And Make Death Proud to Take Us")

Eddie Award nominations

  • 1988: Best Edited Episode from a Television Series (for the pilot episode)

See also[edit]

  • China Beach, a similar series set in South Vietnam during the war
  • Combat!, a similar series set in France during World War II that ran for five seasons (152 episodes) from 1962 to 1967


  1. ^ a b c d e "TOUR OF DUTY – 10 Facts About the 1980s Vietnam War Drama". Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  2. ^ "Hawaii Film Office | Television Series and Specials Shot in Hawaii". Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  3. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W., Australia: Australian Chart Book. p. 325. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  4. ^ a b c Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  5. ^ "Mill Creek Licenses 52 TV Shows from Sony for Low-Cost DVD Release". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  6. ^ "Tour of Duty DVD news: Re-Release for Tour of Duty - The Complete Series". Archived from the original on 16 September 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. September 30, 1987. p. 3D. ProQuest 305922933.
  8. ^ "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. May 4, 1988. p. 3D. ProQuest 306041364.
  9. ^ a b "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. January 11, 1989. p. 3D. ProQuest 306165080.
  10. ^ a b "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. May 24, 1989. p. 3D. ProQuest 306198690.
  11. ^ a b "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. September 27, 1989. p. 3D. ProQuest 306219214.
  12. ^ a b "Nielsen ratings". Life. USA Today. May 2, 1990. p. 3D. ProQuest 306337166.

External links[edit]