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.
On a rainy 4th of July, McMurphy is soaked by a Jeep driven by Sergeant Vinnie Ventresca (guest star Tom Sizemore), a dog handler who harbours a huge crush for her. After her shift, she is approached by Dr. Bernard, who invites her to dinner at his home. However, she worries they are incompatible because of his disdain for American culture. She seeks out K.C. for a dress to wear to the dinner and chooses a more modest second option, but is drenched by Ventresca a second time, causing her to punch him in the face and switch back to a more revealing dress. McMurphy is surprised to find Bernard is the father of two children by two different women. The two share a kiss when they are interrupted by word that Bernard’s former wife is in distress. They find her suicidal and holding a shard of glass; McMurphy is able to talk her down with a speech meant for her own mother. Later, Bernard shares that she was unable to handle the death of their child together and asks McMurphy to tell him about her home in Kansas. Beckett is furious with K.C. when she sets up a voter registration drive in the morgue. He trashes her decorations and discovers she registered dead men as voters. K.C. compares her poor existence in Missouri with Beckett’s upbringing under Jim Crow in North Carolina, arguing that she is taking advantage of the opportunity in a capitalist system, but he tells her he believes in a more idealistic way forward. Lila asks Sarge Pepper to light his cache of fireworks for a July 4th celebration; after refusing initially, the two spend most of the holiday in bed discussing their future together. As morale dips around China Beach from the rainy weather, Holly seeks to raise spirits by reciting the Declaration of Independence. While practicing, she is shocked to learn from Hang, a Vietnamese woman who works around the base, that much of Ho Chi Minh’s speech about Vietnam’s independence came from the American declaration. She and Boonie organise an impromptu game of softball in the rain, ending with Sarge Pepper’s cascade of fireworks.
China Beach Series
You can find a full index and overview of China Beach here.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 25 October 1989.
- Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
- Rating: Unknown.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.