Dana Delaney stars in China Beach with a different look at the war in Vietnam from the perspective of women fighting behind the front lines.
Film making 5/5
Bonus Features 4/5
Recommendation 4/5 Stars
Dana Delany stars as nurse Colleen McMurphy in the Vietnam War series China Beach where the show looks at the war and all its drama from the view of women behind the scenes. The show focuses on women at an EVAC hospital and R&R facility with a take on the war much like M*A*S*H* but with a twist.
China Beach is named after the beach the site was located near and one of the recurring stars is actually a life guard on the beach. The Rest and Relaxation part of the facility allows troops a few days to recuperate from the rigors of combat and catch a few acts from the USO.
The USO contingent is headed by a World War II veteran played by Concetta Tomei who runs the bar and is in charge of entertaining the troops. She hosts various USO shows and is responsible for hiring acts at the bar where singer Laurette Barber is hoping to catch a break.
Laurette Barber is played by Chloe Webb and is trying to make it big in entertainment but has taken an odd route in her singing career. Laurette may not be that great a singer but she does alright and is heart felt in her attempt to entertain the troops.
Marg Helgenberger plays Karen Charlene “KC” Koloski who is a prostitute and entrepreneur trying to make it rich on the war. She tries several schemes to make money and adds a bit of spice to the plot as well as the scenery of the series and may be familiar to CSI fans.
Cherry White is played by Nan Woods and is a Red Cross volunteer who went to Vietnam to find her missing brother but stays after she does find him. Her brother Rick is missing in action and she locates him during one episode where she asks a soldier nicknamed Dodger for help.
Dodger is portrayed by Jeff Kober and is worth mentioning due to his character portrayal in the show and how he helps Cherry find her brother. Staff Sergeant Evan “Dodger” Winslow is the typical quiet and mysterious soldier who frequents the R&R facility for no reason other than to perpetuate the stereotype he plays.
China Beach has several other characters that come and go in episodes but mainly the women are the stars of the show and highlight the theme. The series is an interesting look at war from a new standpoint but once again is made on its character development and not the scenery.
China Beach is a great drama even if I was disappointed at the short first season but I can’t wait to catch season 2 when it is released. The full series has been released along with the first season with the usual delay in each season to come.
China Beach was shot in standard 4:3 aspect and standard quality for the 1980’s so the video and audio quality are pretty good but not great. Video is not clean and has a problem here and there with color and black levels but overall it is enjoyable.
Audio quality is better and well worth the listen but it is also worth mentioning that due to rights fighting the original soundtrack has been altered. Some songs were cut from the original show and replaced but done so well that I had not noticed until I read about the rights fighting that ensued before release.
Video and audio quality may not be up to Blu-ray standards but it is enjoyable with better audio quality then video while bonus content is great. Bonus features include a small booklet about the show, an audio commentary, a couple of behind the scenes extras and a peek at the 25th Anniversary Reunion in Los Angeles.
The extras are about what you want for bonus content and probably more than you should be expecting from a show filmed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. There is enough that is entertaining and the reunion is a great way to see the stars and where they are now and what they thought of the show.
China Beach is an iconic series that has gone down as different in its take on war and its characters are what set it apart from run of the mill television shows. The series has a great start and I can’t wait for the opportunity to continue to review the rest of the show but I could not find a release date for season 2.
I highly recommend China Beach: Season 1 on DVD as a great start to a fun yet surprisingly good show that will entertain. While Dodger may typify the Vietnam soldier as portrayed in TV and movies the series China Beach is not your typical Vietnam War show.
China Beach @ Star Vista
China Beach: Season 1 DVD @ Amazon