Reflections of China Beach
October 26, 2012 1:00 PM   Subscribe

On April 26th, 1988 ABC aired a made for tv movie as a backdoor pilot called China Beach. It went on to be a critically loved, audience deprived show that lasted four seasons from 1988 - 1991.

It remains a show applauded and admired for it's unique narrative style that often combined the fictional and factual accounts of Vietnam and blurred the lines between the show and reality with moments such as the cast visiting war memorials out of character, and interviews with veterans, putting these clips in the middle of the show instead of placing them outside the fictional narrative.

Unavailable on DVD officially still due to music licensing issues as is the case with many of these nostalgia, rich shows. As always though, the internet finds a way.
posted by mediocre (32 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
This show (at least for a while) used the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" as the opener, and I'd never heard it before up to then. It remains one of my favorite songs.

Edit: My mistake. It was a different show about the Vietnam war, Tour of Duty, that used the song.
posted by mrbill at 1:08 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


This show (at least for a while) used the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" as the opener, and I'd never heard it before up to then. It remains one of my favorite songs.

You're thinking of Tour of Duty. China Beach, to my knowledge, always used "Reflections", or whatever it's called.
posted by LionIndex at 1:10 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


*nod* Your correction and my edit crossed paths.
posted by mrbill at 1:12 PM on October 26, 2012


But "Reflections" is so perfect. Loved that show.

I occasionally volunteer alongside a woman who was a nurse in Vietnam, and I respect her a lot. She's one of those good women that volunteer for everything and run most of it --she's bombproof and unflappable, largely, I suspect, because after what she saw during the war, everything else is small potatoes. Thank God for those nurses, and for a show that drew attention to how hard their work was.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


There were 5 billion Vietnam movies/shows around at that time - it's easy to get them crossed up.
posted by LionIndex at 1:14 PM on October 26, 2012


[Reminder: please don't do the "edited to add" thing (the reason is demonstrated above.) The edit tool is for typos! ]
posted by restless_nomad at 1:20 PM on October 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


I loved Ricki Lake's character on that show...I think she was only on for one season, and I vastly preferred Lake-the-actress to Lake-the-talk-show-host.
posted by xingcat at 1:26 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Reflections", or whatever it's called

Reflections by Diana Ross and the Supremes
posted by nanojath at 1:28 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Dana Delany" - Yakko
posted by whuppy at 1:37 PM on October 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


I loved the opening credits. It's hard for me to believe that in 2012 we are now farther away from the airing of "China Beach," than the airing of the show was from 1968 and the Vietnam War.
posted by wuwei at 1:38 PM on October 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Cast list.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:40 PM on October 26, 2012


This was the best show. I was looking for it for about ten years in, um, the usual places before I found somones labour of archival love. Re-watching is a rather odd activity since so many famous actors and actresses have these tiny little parts really early in their careers. Marge HelgenbergerTom Sizemore, Ned Vaugn, Viveca A. Fox, Stephan Baldwin as well as a million Hey, it's that guy!'s like Robert LaSardo and Jeff Kober.

It was immeasurably popular among my peer-group of teenage baby-dykes, and we all just about lost our minds when Dana Delaney did a guest spot on The L Word a couple of years back.
posted by Iteki at 1:49 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


That AV Club article describes Elmyra Duff as a "fan favorite" and I have no words to convey how wrong this is.
posted by ckape at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2012


I definitely remember this show and I feel like it was right after or right before 30 Something in the line-up, yeah? I remember liking it after getting pretty bored with 30 Something.
posted by spicynuts at 1:59 PM on October 26, 2012


swoon

Major crush on Dana Delany back in the day.
posted by chillmost at 2:14 PM on October 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dana Delaney to me will always be the first half of "Exit to Eden", ignoring the second half and the forced cop-comedy subplot. Yes ma'am.
posted by mrbill at 2:17 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I still have to remind myself she's in her 50s. Doesn't look a day over 35.
posted by Talez at 2:19 PM on October 26, 2012


I loved the fact that the last season was about what happened to everyone in the years after Vietnam. I have noticed that while I have seen the show re-broadcast once or twice, they have always excluded the last season.
posted by pbrim at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2012


I always felt guilty watching it because I was really just getting my weekly Dana fix. You say the show was about Vietnam? Huh...
posted by Thorzdad at 3:00 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah I loved that show. The first scene in the pilot where Dana Delaney's character is walking back from a break on the beach, and she walks into a dark room, slips a pair of scrubs over her swimsuit, and stands there calmly for a moment, steeling herself. Then the doors of the room blow open as the medevac choppers land a few feet away, and she walks forward a few paces and begins triaging the wounded. It's one of my personal great memorable scenes in all of television. I always wished I could have watched the whole series. I'll have to track it down now...
posted by seasparrow at 3:45 PM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


This show gave me such a crush on Robert Picardo, and clarified for me that I have a distinct thing for men with faces with sockpuppetty features. Loved the show, though I'd be curious to see how well it holds up.
posted by sonascope at 4:03 PM on October 26, 2012


I definitely had a crush on Dana Delaney back then.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:37 PM on October 26, 2012


> There were 5 billion Vietnam movies/shows around at that time - it's easy to get them crossed up.

A bunch of movies, sure, but China Beach and Tour of Duty were the only two TV shows at the time. It was quite controversial to be once again bringing the Vietnam War into people's living rooms, but as entertainment. My dad was not the only vet who was freaked out by this.

I was such a big fan of China Beach. Also, huuuuge crush on Dana Delany, I think she was my first girl-crush.
posted by desuetude at 4:42 PM on October 26, 2012


I had crushes on both Dana Delany and Jeff Kober. That war is still being fought, with no end in sight.
posted by orme at 5:20 PM on October 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hah, I was going to mention how badly my teenaged self crushed on Dana Delany thanks to that show, and I see I'm not the only one. When Northern Exposure started a little while later I first tuned in because I didn't see the promos clearly and thought - swoon! - that Delany was going to be on another show! She wasn't, but that was cool, because Janine Turner.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:56 PM on October 26, 2012


When I was six I went to a Halloween party in costume as Dana Delany from this show.

...that was weird, six-year-old me.
posted by whitneyarner at 6:31 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


My dad and I didn't agree on many tv shows when I was a bratty teenager, but we always enjoyed this one together. Thanks for reminding me of the happy memory.
posted by slmorri at 6:46 PM on October 26, 2012


I was all ready to come into this thread and mention how my dad, a Vietnam vet, loved China Beach. But the very first comments about Paint it Black made me realize I was thinking about Tour of Duty. I do not know how my dad feels about China Beach.
posted by Ruki at 7:57 PM on October 26, 2012


I loved Every bit of China Beach. I had a lot of them taped to VHS. I wonder if my folks still have them!

What I liked especially was the follow up they did with the characters after the war, into the 1980s, if I remember correctly.
posted by vitabellosi at 8:16 PM on October 26, 2012


Interestingly, the name China Beach has been rather controversial this year in Vietnam, though that is probably more due to the escalating tensions with China over Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracel and Spratly Islands) than the name's links to the American War (as it is known here).

Haven't seen the show myself, must check it out.
posted by loominpapa at 8:25 PM on October 26, 2012


The show was excellent!
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:10 PM on October 27, 2012


Jesus, people! Chloe Webb!
posted by dirtdirt at 11:44 AM on October 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


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