China Beach (1990): S03E22 – Strange Brew


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.


McMurphy is troubled by nightmares of her and K.C. visiting a deserted, destroyed firebase. When most of the base heads to a firebase for a Cream concert and Dr. Richard takes a golfing trip, the two are left by themselves at China Beach. After a nightmare of the firebase being bombed, K.C. visits McMurphy in the ward, where she is treating a mysterious man who asks for his legs back. The two reminisce over high school and prom, with K.C. bringing up her teenage boyfriend Joey, and drink themselves into a stupor on the helicopter pad and pass out. Entering the dreamscape again, the two are guided by a Native American soldier named Dreamwalker (guest star Gary Farmer), the patient from the ward. He revives a dead soldier, K.C.’s old boyfriend Joey (guest star Clancy Brown), mystifying McMurphy. During a driving rainstorm, Dreamwalker helps McMurphy express her pain and confusion at watching her mother care for her alcoholic, increasingly abusive father over the years. Joey and K.C. reunite and discuss the breakdown of their relationship. K.C. still resents Joey for standing her up for the senior prom, revealing that he was a lifeline away from her father, who began sexually abusing her when she was 10. Joey tells K.C. not to blame herself for her father’s indiscretions. When the rain clears, McMurphy begins treating an endless line of wounded men before the soldier gives her a peace medallion and departs. She finds her mother in a cave and confronts her about failing to stop her father’s growing alcoholism and the effect it had on their family. Her mother tells her she can’t take the pain away from the soldiers she treats; understanding that her mother was fighting a losing battle much like she does in Vietnam, McMurphy tearfully tells her mother she loves her. McMurphy and K.C. are woken on the helicopter pad as news of the firebase being bombed reaches them; however, when the evac helicopter lands, McMurphy awakes in her bed, apparently all part of her dream. Katrina and the Waves and Eric Burdon appear as themselves at the concert.

China Beach Series

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

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 30 April 1990.
  • Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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