CliqueClack TV
Twitter Facebook RSS

China Beach – CliqueClack Flashback

china_beach_cast_photoIt’s been so long since I’ve seen an episode of China Beach (thank you whomever is responsible for making TV series into DVDs for being so lame) that when I found the pilot on YouTube today, I was all verklempt. I have signed up at Amazon to be alerted if a DVD ever appears for sale; I think I signed up over ten years ago.

I remember when I caught my first glimpse of China Beach. I was in college at Brigham Young University. I was at the apartment of people I didn’t know well; I don’t remember why. The people watching the show were excited because Brian Wimmer, who played Boone, was Mormon. I didn’t start watching the show in earnest until later when I caught the episodes in great succession on Lifetime.

What I most remember about China Beach was liking Marg Helgenberger’s character K.C., the prostitute, better than I liked Dana Delany’s goody-two-shoes, self-righteous nurse Colleen McMurphy. Of course, the two formed an uneasy friendship over the course of the show, primarily due to having to rescue the same set of friends over and over again. Wimmer’s Boone was likable because of his innocent romance with Ricki Lake’s overweight character, Red Cross volunteer Holly Pelegrino.

Apart from covering the Vietnam War (or any war) primarily from a female point of view, the show was innovative because it showed what happened to the characters after they came home from the war. Boone was missing a leg. K.C. had given a child up for adoption and gotten her daughter out of Vietnam. McMurphy developed a drinking problem due to post-traumatic stress. The bleakness and tragic misery of Vietnam Vets’ experience was made vividly real by these characters in a way that had never before been explored.

Oh, let’s be real: The show was campy and about as soapy as it gets, too. That was part of what I loved about it: It was messy. Despite it’s camp, it was gritty. It was also real. It was a standout series from the 1980s and early 1990s. It’s a shame it’s not available on DVD. Now, Helgenberger is on CSI; Delany is on Desperate Housewives; and Ricki Lake is best remembered for slimming down and getting a talk show.

I will always remember listening to the opening song, “Reflections,” by Diana Ross and watching their youthful beginning on a beach in Vietnam.

Photo Credit: ABC TV China Beach Press Kit

Short URL:

Categories: | Clack | CliqueClack Flashback | Features | TV Shows |

5 Responses to “China Beach – CliqueClack Flashback”

April 9, 2009 at 1:07 PM

One of the biggest disappointments ever in the TV on DVD universe. It is my plan to find and watch it again, whatever the method. Every time I hear Reflections, I think of China Beach, and it even brings tears to my eyes. Remember the episode with Cherry? If you do, you know the one. Just WOW.

Its a damned shame that our young people have not been exposed to this fantastic program, but instead are force fed reruns of comedies on all the networks. I wish LifeTime or someone would at least fight for rebroadcast rights.

April 9, 2009 at 6:11 PM

China Beach is one of my all time favorite shows. In an odd coincidence, I just googled Brian Wimmer yesterday, wondering what he might be up to.

Modwild – Yes, I remember the episode with Cherry. In fact, I’ll never forget it. Which reminds me, I also wonder what Nan Woods and Jeff Kober are up to as well. And Chloe Webb. Hmmm… I enjoy seeing Nancy Giles on CBS Sunday Morning now and again…..

The theme song fit this show so perfectly – I’m glad you mentioned it. I really can’t believe they’ve never released this to DVD. I wonder if there are legal, monetary or clearance issues.

Anyway, thanks for posting about this show!

April 9, 2009 at 7:37 PM

Are you kidding? The music clearance would be HUGE. That’s probably the big reason it hasn’t happened, and I don’t think we’ll ever see it. If we do they will have done a “WKRP In Cincinnati” hack job on the soundtrack, and that would ruin it.

May 12, 2009 at 8:02 AM

China Beach was my all-time favorite show and I also am signed up with both Amazona and Netflix to be alerted if it ever becomes available in DVD. My old VHS recordings were lost years ago!

June 22, 2009 at 3:52 PM

China Beach can ONLY be found on DVD – The series is not available in any other form (unless someone was truly capable of taping and downloading to any of the free viewing sites) – I found the series released on blu-ray disc – PLEASE help get this show into free viewing! even their own network (ABC) does not carry this in their archive!