China Beach (1990): S04E01 – The Big Bang


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.


In 1985, Boonie – missing his right leg below the knee – and his family visits Dr. Richard, who is now married to another woman named Colleen. Richard reveals to Boonie he and McMurphy have lost touch in the years since China Beach and apologizes to Boonie for his lost leg, ominously telling him there “wasn’t enough time.” Unable to sleep, Richard pulls out his photos from early in his tour in Vietnam, looking fondly at ones of McMurphy. In 1967, Richard and McMurphy have a fraught professional relationship; Richard pesters McMurphy with his camera and the two bicker over shaving the beard of an injured patient. Despite this, Dr. Singer (guest star Scott Jaeck) warns Richard – still happily married to his wife – that he will be drawn to McMurphy regardless of his marriage, just like his passionate relationship with head nurse Jan Wyatt. Tensions boil over when Richard and McMurphy operate on an injured dog and Richard insults her ability in the operating room. Boonie and K.C. grow closer, with Boonie helping her obtain an expensive bed for her quarters. However, K.C. is in a relationship with Mac, who asks her to leave China Beach and return to the Philippines with him. Dodger visits Boonie, now painting the helicopter pad, and asks Boonie to return to combat, but Boonie refuses. At Singer’s final going-away party, Singer coaxes the medical staff to dress in gender-swapped costumes, with Richard wearing a nurse’s outfit and McMurphy wearing an MP’s uniform. Singer is stunned when an Army aide comes to gather Jan, not him, after she requested a transfer from the base with Singer’s impending departure in mind. When the base is bombed and overrun, McMurphy and Richard are attacked by a female Viet Cong soldier. Richard is saved from being stabbed by the tennis ball in his nurse outfit and McMurphy incapacitates her with an IV stand. Boonie runs to K.C., where he awkwardly finds her with Mac and K.C. informs Mac the two are lovers. After the attack, McMurphy and Richard nearly have an emotionally charged moment of passion together. Back in 1985, Richard tries to call McMurphy but is told he has the wrong number. On the other end, McMurphy hangs up.

This episode is also known as History: Part I.

China Beach Series

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

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 29 September 1990.
  • Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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