China Beach (1990): S04E04 – Escape


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

In 1985, at his father’s funeral in Orchard Gap, North Carolina, Beckett reflects on attending his mother’s funeral as a young boy in 1957 and his arrival in Vietnam in 1967. Arriving aloof to combat, he is immediately ordered by Sarge Pepper – then the leader of a combat squad – to join Lynwood “Deadman” Crawford (guest star Kenneth Ransom), another African-American soldier, on R&R at China Beach. Deadman, convinced he will soon die in Vietnam, repeatedly tries to get Beckett to carry a cassette tape for his parents and his wristwatch. Upon arrival, he draws the ire of McMurphy by making a callous joke about an escape artist killed during an ill-fated fall from a helicopter. Soon after, Boonie is thrilled when the officer’s club is destroyed in a bombing, leaving the Jet Set the sole bar in China Beach. Beckett enlists Deadman in stealing the escape artist’s body from the morgue with plans to bury it on the beach to save him from an eternity inside an inescapable box. There, he tells Deadman that he’s relieved to be out of his father’s house, while Deadman tells Beckett of his father’s pride in him joining the military. The two are caught during the scheme and Beckett’s indifference gets the two assigned to China Beach’s Graves Registration Unit. Beckett is again relieved, this time to be avoiding combat, but the work unnerves Deadman. Beckett meets Dr. Richard and Dr. Singer for the first time, both impressed by his theft of the body from the morgue. After weeks of waiting, Singer finally receives his orders to return home. When Deadman is reassigned to combat, he hangs himself in the church ruins on the base. Upon the discovery, Beckett gives an angry sermon, comparing Deadman’s death to the reading he gave at his mother’s funeral as a child. McMurphy tells Beckett that Deadman’s suicide will be investigated; unwilling to allow his parents to find out, he shoots Deadman’s body with an M14 rifle to make it appear that he was killed in combat. McMurphy joins Beckett in prayer at the old church and gives him Deadman’s watch. In 1985, with Deadman’s watch still in hand, he begins his tearful eulogy for his father, recalling the words he spoke in 1957 and 1967.

China Beach Series

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

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 27 October 1990.
  • Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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