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China Beach

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Country of origin
United States

First episode date
27 April 1988

Theme song

Theme music composer

Original language(s)

Final episode date
22 July 1991

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Created by
William Broyles, Jr.John Sacret Young

Dana DelanyNan WoodsMichael BoatmanMarg HelgenbergerRobert PicardoTim RyanConcetta TomeiBrian WimmerJeff KoberChloe WebbMegan GallagherNancy GilesNed VaughnTroy EvansRicki Lake

Opening theme
"Reflections"Performed by The Supremes


China beach 1988 1991 opening and closing theme

China Beach is an American dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War. The title refers to My Khe beach in the city of Đà Nẵng, Vietnam, nicknamed "China Beach" in English by American and Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War. The ABC TV drama aired for four seasons, from 1988 to 1991.


China Beach Needcoffeecom China Beach The Complete Series on DVD from TimeLife

china beach tv intro


China Beach China Beach TV Series 19881991 IMDb

Created by William Broyles, Jr. and John Sacret Young, the series looks at the Vietnam War from unique perspectives: those of the women, military personnel, and civilians, who were present during the conflict. John Wells took over most of the series beginning with the second season, and many of the show's cast members appeared later on the Wells-produced series, ER.

China Beach China Beach DVD Complete Series StarVista Entertainment Time Life

Set in a Vietnam locale nicknamed "Bac My An Beach," at the 510th Evacuation Hospital and R&R (the "Five-and-Dime" Rest & Recreation) facility, the series' cast of characters includes US Army doctors and nurses, officers, soldiers, Red Cross volunteers, and civilian personnel (American, French, and Vietnamese). The series also features the experiences of the characters when they return to the U.S., either on leave or at the end of their tours of duty. The show does not shy away from showing the brutality of war; it provides a very gritty view of the experience there.

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The show is based on the book Home Before Morning (1983) written by former U.S. Army Nurse Lynda Van Devanter. The show's character Nurse Colleen McMurphy roughly follows Van Devanter's experiences as a nurse in Vietnam. The book takes the reader from Van Devanter's wish to serve her country, through the adventure she thought her deployment to Vietnam would be, her culture shock upon returning to "the States," and her struggles with PTSD. The TV show was cancelled before it could fully address McMurphy's PTSD issues. Van Devanter died in 2002.


China Beach China Beach DVD Complete Series StarVista Entertainment Time Life

  • First Lieutenant (later Captain) Colleen McMurphy, USA – a Catholic girl from Lawrence, Kansas and nurse with the 510th Evac Hospital in Vietnam during the late 1960s, she has five brothers, including Brian, Brendan, Conor, and Daniel. Daniel was the youngest and a hippie who lived in a commune in 1967. A composite of various real-life Vietnam War nurses, the character illustrates their courage, kindness, and sacrifices during the war, as well as the severe emotional scarring of noncombatant personnel during and following military service; several episodes feature the veterans in their own words, intercut with the storyline. She was portrayed by Dana Delany, who won two Emmy awards for the role.
  • Cherry White (seasons 1–2) – a naive Red Cross volunteer ("doughnut dolly") from Iowa, she comes to China Beach to search for her brother Rick, a Marine Infantryman, who was reported MIA after the battle of Khe Sanh. She dies midway through the second season during the Tet offensive. She was portrayed by Nan Woods.
  • SP4 Samuel Beckett, USA – a draftee and a "preacher's son" from North Carolina, he works in the Graves Registration unit at China Beach. His job makes him unpopular with most of the other servicemen. He was portrayed by Michael Boatman.
  • Karen Charlene "K.C." Koloski – a cynical part-time prostitute and civilian volunteer, she comes to China Beach seeking to make her own wealth and fortune. She was portrayed by Marg Helgenberger.
  • Captain Dick Richard, USA – a head surgeon and womanizer dealing with being drafted into Army and away from his family, he worked as an OB-GYN when he was a civilian. He was portrayed by Robert Picardo.
  • Captain Bartholomew "Natch" Austen, USAF (regular in season 1; recurring in season 2) – a jet fighter pilot and McMurphy's love interest. He was portrayed by Tim Ryan.
  • Major Lila Garreau, USA – a World War II veteran, she is the career-Army commanding officer of China Beach. She was portrayed by Concetta Tomei.
  • Corporal Boonwell "Boonie" Lanier, USMC – the friendly China Beach lifeguard and manager of the Jet Set Club. He was portrayed by Brian Wimmer. Wimmer's character was originally named Lanier Boonwell and was referred to as such during the first season, although he was ultimately called "Boonie" throughout the entire run of the show.
  • Staff Sergeant Evan "Dodger" Winslow, USMC – a moody Force Reconnaissance Marine, he serves and fights in the jungle mainly to keep other servicemen in his platoon alive. Nicknamed for his ability to dodge injury and death, he is also known as a "quiet sort" who generally keeps to himself. He constantly displays the "thousand yard stare", a dull blank facial expression common among shell-shocked soldiers who have seen too much death and destruction in battle. He is a friend of Boonie, McMurphy, and Cherry. He was portrayed by Jeff Kober.
  • Laurette Barber (season 1) – a USO singer from Paoli, Pennsylvania, she is determined to make it big. She was portrayed by Chloe Webb.
  • Airman Wayloo Marie Holmes, USAF (season 2) – a reporter for the Armed Services Network, she is seeking a career as a world-famous reporter. She was portrayed by Megan Gallagher.
  • Private Franklin "Frankie" Bunsen, USA (seasons 2–4) – a female private, she was assigned to the China Beach motor pool. She was portrayed by Nancy Giles.
  • Corporal Jeff Hyers, USA (season 3; guest appearances in seasons 2 and 4) – a good-natured combat medic from Georgia, he is killed in action midway through the third season during a routine patrol. He was portrayed by Ned Vaughn.
  • Master Sergeant Bob Pepper, USA (seasons 3–4) – a World War II veteran, he is a driver, mechanic, and non-commissioned officer in charge of the motor pool. He becomes romantically involved with Lila Garreau, whom he later marries. He was portrayed by Troy Evans.
  • Holly Pelegrino (season 3) – she is a sharp-witted Red Cross volunteer. She was portrayed by Ricki Lake.
  • Note: Nancy Sinatra made a guest appearance in the first season finale, re-creating concerts she performed for U.S. troops in 1966 and 1967.
  • Episode list

    Over four seasons from 1988 to 1991, the series aired 62 episodes.


    China Beach China Beach Wikipedia

    China Beach was a critically lauded, but poorly rated series. ABC stuck with the show for four seasons, but the final season was put on hiatus in fall 1990 and did not air its finale until July 22, 1991. As a result of the scheduling, Dana Delany was eligible for (and ultimately won) a Best Actress Emmy Award in the fall of 1992, a year after the series broadcast its final episode and over a year and a half after many of the scenes were filmed. The title sequence theme song was "Reflections" by Diana Ross & the Supremes (although several episodes instead used "We Gotta Get out of This Place" by Eric Burdon with Katrina & The Waves).

    Tie-in novel

    John Sacret Young stated at the Paley Center prior to the show's October 2013 release on DVD that he had written a follow-up novel titled Reflections where Colleen, now in her sixties and recently widowed, returns to Vietnam and reconnects with a retired Dr. Dick and venture capitalist K.C. Koloski. Young also hoped to adapt it into a TV movie.


    China Beach debuted in rerun Syndication on the women-focused Lifetime on November 4, 1991.

    Home media release

    In December 2012 it was announced that the series, among the most-requested television shows not available through either VHS or DVD following its broadcast run, would be issued on DVD in a box set (including new interviews with cast members and various bonus features) and released on April 15, 2013 through StarVista Entertainment (affiliated with TimeLife). The collection includes 302 songs heard during the series. To mark the show's 25th anniversary, a 21-disc collector's set was released October 1, 2013.

    Music rights long delayed the release on DVD. More than 250 songs were licensed; seventeen could not be, and were either deleted or replaced.


    China Beach Wikipedia

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