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 the eve of the 1972 Republican National Convention, Dr. Richard arrives in Miami for a weekend away with Dr. Colleen Flaherty (guest star Colleen Flynn), hoping to consummate their relationship. While making a stop at a nearby convenience store, Richard is stunned to run into McMurphy, riding a motorcycle and living a hardscrabble life as a worker at an orange juice plant. He brings McMurphy back to meet the other Colleen, who is embarrassed when the pair walk in on her waiting to seduce Richard. McMurphy leaves, heading into the marshes of southern Florida to rendezvous with animal wrangler Noon Gantry (guest star Gavan O’Herlihy). Richard visits her at work the next day; while McMurphy says she and the doctor agreed not to contact one another while returning stateside, he manages to convince her to join him for a night out with Colleen. In a flashback to 1968, McMurphy and Richard are “married” by a soldier and chaplain who wanted to marry a couple with his dying wish. At their first stop of the night, Colleen reveals that Richard frequently talks about McMurphy, while McMurphy retorts that she never talks about him and has dealt with her feelings from their relationship. The hard-drinking McMurphy quickly gets Colleen drunk and the trio are picked up by Noon. Richard asks Noon if McMurphy has ever talked about him or his past, but he says no. Colleen tells McMurphy that Richard is in love with her and that she is tired of hearing about his experiences in China Beach. McMurphy ditches Noon and Colleen to take Richard to find a boat to go back to China Beach. Noon and Colleen end up at the alligator farm where he works and Colleen inadvertently reveals that McMurphy is a Vietnam veteran, shocking Noon. When Richard asks McMurphy how she ended up in Miami, McMurphy tells him that she’s made stops in multiple cities since leaving Lawrence, Miami being the latest. Richard confronts McMurphy about keeping her time at China Beach a secret from those who know her and tells her the reason he talks about it is because he loves McMurphy. In tears, she responds that she loved him and her time there as well, but the time is over and gone for them. She finishes by telling him she no longer wants to see him and that he has found “his Colleen.” The two fall asleep next to one another on the beach, but Richard wakes first and leaves without McMurphy. He apologizes to Colleen and opens up to her about his mixed emotions, and they recommit to one another. McMurphy apologises to Noon for the previous night and for hiding her service, still unsure if she is over her time in Vietnam or Richard. She visits the veterans protest march at the RNC before getting on her motorcycle and riding off, again for parts unknown.
China Beach Series
You can find a full index and overview of China Beach here.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 10 November 1990.
- Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
- Rating: Unknown.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.