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Studio: Time Life
Year: 2013
Cast: Dana Delany, Marge Helgenberger, Robert Picardo Nan woods, Michael Boatman, Tim Rylan Concetta Tomei, Ricki Lake
Director: Various
Release Date: April 15, 2013
Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes)
Run Time: 59h:13m:00s
Genre(s): television, war

"Sex is a bad word, but it feels good. Love is a good word, but it hurts." - Colleen McMurphy (Dana Delany)


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China Beach is an outstanding television show with great production, writing and acting. It is dramas like this that make the DVD format worthwhile. There is a delicious opportunity for those who didn't see it, hardly remember it or loved it to experience the show all over again. Highly recommended.

Movie Grade: A+

DVD Grade: A+

China Beach

Colleen McMurphy: Sex is a bad word, but it feels good. Love is a good word, but it hurts.

China Beach aired on the ABC Network for four seasons from 1988 to 1991 and was created by William Broyles and John Sacret Young. Based on actual history, the series took its name from the nickname for My Khe beach in Da Nang, Vietnam where American soldiers spen time in relaxation and recreation during the Vietnam War. The beach remains a tourist spot to this day.

China Beach, the series starred Dana Delany as Lietenant Colleen McMurphy as a midwestern girl working as a nurse in an Evac Hospital. She would win two Emmy awards in the role and would go onto appear in several film roles, as well as TV series such as Desperate Housewives and the currently running Body of Proof. Maj Helgenberger potrayed K.C Koloski, a volunteer civilian and occasional prostitute with a world-weary cynicism that garnered an Emmy in 1990 for Outstanding Suppport Actress in a Drama. Other characters includes Red Cross volunteer Cherry White (Nan Woods), Army Spec4 Sam Beckett (Michael Boatman), Captain Dick Richard (Robert Picardo), Captain Natch Austen (Tim Ryan) and Major Lila Garreau (Concetta Tomei). TV host Ricki Lake had a thirteen episode run as Red Cross volunteer Holly Pellegrino in the third season.

The constantly changing cast included Army doctors and nurses, officers, soldiers, Red Cross volunteer, and various civilian personnel of various nationalities. The show did not shy away from the horror of war and employed unique story-telling techniques. Overall, a very compelling mix of soap opera, medical drama and war drama, shows through in the humor, search for redemption and coming to grips with life and its struggles. The show was a critical hit but not well attended by the audience, even though the network stuck with the low-rated series for four seasons. The show won a Golden Globe as Best TV Series drama in 1990 and was nominated again in 1991. Helgenberger was nominated as Best Performance in a Supporting Role 1991 and Delany was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in both years. Overall, China Beach had 28 Emmy nominations in such categories as Outstanding Costuming, Editing, Directing, Sound Mixing, and Writing. Penny Fuller, Ruby Dee, and Chloe Webb all received Emmy nominations for Guest appearances. The 1990 episode, Vets, won a Peabody Award.

Guest actors over the run of the series include such luminaries as Tom Sizemore, Wings Hauser, Dorian Harewood, Adam Arkin, Haing S. Ngor, Gail O'Grady, Vivica A. Fox, Charles Noland, Kim Wayans, Robert LaSardo and John Laughlin.

China Beach was one of the most sought television series for DVD and Star Vista/Time Life has made an effort to create a memorable collection with 62 episodes over 21 DVDs in deluxe edition packaging featuring metallic artwork and removable dog tags, along with a 36-page collector's book, Tales From the Five & Dime and liner notes penned by Dana Delany, Robert Picardo and series creators John Sacret Young and William Broyles, Jr. There are more than ten hours of specially-created bonus material, including interviews, audio commentaries, and featurettes including reunion footage and featurettes from the recent December 2012 China Beach Reunion held in Los Angeles. Featurettes include: Inspired By War: How It All Began, Voices Of War: The Real China Beach, Memories Of War: The Lasting Impact Of China Beach, Reflections: Creators and cast reunite and reminisce about the China Beach journey. New, in-depth interviews with stars Dana Delany, Marg Helgenberger, Robert Picardo, Brian Wimmer, Jeff Kober, Nancy Giles, Troy Evans, Michael Boatman, Chloe Webb and Concetta Tomei, along with writer/producer John Wells and series creators John Sacret Young and William Broyles, Jr. Five audio commentaries by a combination of Dana Delany, Robert Picardo, series co-creator and executive producer John Sacret Young, Executive Script Consultant Lydia Woodward, Executive Story Editor Carol Flint and producer/director Rob Holcomb on the episodes: Pilot Episode, Vets, Souvenirs, F.N.G. and "Hello/Goodbye". Behind-the-Scenes footage shot by series co-creator and executive producer John Sacret Young and Robert Picardo from the final China Beach episode. And, of course, the inevitable gag real to go along with some deleted scenes.

One of the most important aspects of China Beach was the remarkable soundtrack that included so many of the classic hits from the '60s and '70s featuring such acts as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, The Mamas and the Papas, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops, Nancy Sinatra, Procol Harum, Jefferson Airplane, Patsy Cline, Cream, Manfred Mann, Donovan, Percy Sledge and many more. The songs referenced for the series -- "Nowhere to Run," "Sunshine of Your Love," "Green, Green Grass of Home," "Piece of My Heart," "White Rabbit" and "All Along the Watchtower", as well as, the theme song "Reflections" by Diana Ross and the Supremes. -- are same ones that are part of tapestry that is the China Beach soundtrack. The set includes over 300 original versions as they appeared in the series. No small hill to climb obtaining all those rights for DVD distribution.

Posted by: Joseph Burke - April 27, 2013, 8:19 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: television, drama, war, medical

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