China Beach (1990): S04E08 – One Small Step


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

Boonie comes to in the surgical unit of a Vietnam field hospital, where a surgeon and doctor examine his messy field amputation by Dr. Richard. He is flown by cargo plane to the Philippines and he informs his parents of his injury in an emotional phone call. At a Naval Hospital in Oakland, he bonds with a nurse, Linda Matlock (guest star Finn Carter) – first revealed to be his future wife in “The Big Bang” – who helps him adjust to his new disability. She also asks him to talk to a bedridden double amputee believed to be from Santa Cruz, but Boonie bonds with him upon discovering he actually went to a rival high school outside the city. Boonie falls out of bed one night and breaks his nose. The next day, he approaches Linda and asks about her service in Vietnam, but she avoids his questions. Boonie is informed by a doctor that he is scheduled to be placed on permanent disability and medically retired, but he requires an additional surgery to reshape the stump from his amputation so he can wear prosthetics without pain. During a “code red” situation in the bathroom, Boonie intervenes and talks down the double amputee, who threatens to kill himself with a shard of broken mirror. Soon after, he is transferred to a VA hospital in Santa Cruz, where he learns to walk with a prosthesis and avoids undergoing his necessary surgery. He is visited by Dodger with a toddler Archie in tow. Dodger suggests Boonie needs to spend a night with a woman and hires a prostitute who the two bring back to the VA hospital for a night of drinking with his friends. The prostitute swims with a paralysed friend of Boonie’s as the others watch and reflect on returning home wounded. Later, they are deeply moved when a senile general living in the home plays the Battle Hymn of the Republic on his trumpet. Dodger drives Boonie to Linda’s home in Oakland. Boonie, afraid to have his stump revision surgery, arrives unannounced, afraid to look at his injury and seeking answers to who he is now. She invites him in but initially declines to help him, wanting to put Vietnam behind her. When Boonie asks her if he is still a man, she leads him to the mirror in her bedroom, stripping him naked so he can see his missing leg in full view for the first time. Linda brings him to the hospital for his surgery and he tells her he will be okay, his confidence restored.

China Beach Series

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

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 01 December 1990.
  • Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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