China Beach (1990): S03E17 – The Thanks of a Grateful Nation


Introduction

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.

Outline

McMurphy sends a letter to Dodger, hoping to hear from him since his departure from Vietnam. Dodger, real name Evan Winslow, struggles to acclimate to life back in Red Lodge, Montana. Living with his infant son, parents, and sister, Dodger works a dead-end job as a dishwasher at a local bar and refuses to wear his Marine dress uniform to church as his mother wishes. He reunites with Richard (guest star Doug Savant), his best friend from. He tries to set Dodger up with Sissy (guest star Helen Hunt), who recognizes him from high school. During a game of pool, the group is shocked by Dodger’s admission that he volunteered to go to Vietnam and that he enjoyed parts of the experience. Richard reveals that his draft deferment is up because he failed to get into medical school and he plans to flee to Canada. Dodger visits Sissy and is surprised to find she is a mother of two children and estranged from her husband. While looking at their yearbook, he discovers Sissy had dreams of being a surgeon in Boston before motherhood ended them; he too admits he “got lost somewhere” and they spend the night together. Dodger’s father Archie (guest star Tom Bower) joins Dodger in the treehouse he spends most of his time at home in. He tells Dodger he was wounded in World War II, describing it to him in vivid detail, leaving Dodger in tears. While Dodger is at work one night, a drifter and Vietnam veteran (guest star Robert Knepper) enters for a drink. The drifter wonders if their sacrifices will be acknowledged like those of the bar owner, a World War II vet, and says he will stop roaming once the Vietnam veterans have a monument like the Iwo Jima statue. Dodger travels to visit Sweetness, finding him tending to birds on a city rooftop. The two discuss their grief and confusion over surviving Vietnam, and they briefly consider jumping from the roof. Dodger pulls them both back from the ledge and the two soldiers tearfully express their brotherhood and love for one another. Later, Dodger gives Richard the keys to his old Chevrolet and wears his dress uniform to church. He joins Richard to “visit old friends,” traveling to a veterans’ cemetery. He stops at a grave of an unidentified soldier and admits to Richard he thought he’d recognise a name on one of the gravestones but did not, even though he remembers their faces. He vows not to forget their sacrifices.

China Beach Series

You can find a full index and overview of China Beach here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 28 February 1990.
  • Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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