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 a flashback to 1968, McMurphy is stunned when Dodger tells her he loves her before departing with baby Archie (seen in season 3’s “Souvenirs”). On Christmas Day 1976, McMurphy awakes to a phone call from K.C., an empty bottle of bourbon in her bed and a scattering of pills and pill bottles on her bedside table. She retrieves K.C., sent back to the US after a stint in a Bangkok jail, and bribes the officials for K.C.’s freedom. K.C., now penniless, promises to pay McMurphy back within a year. K.C. tells McMurphy that she was able to get Karen out of Vietnam and that she is now with Boonie; in Santa Cruz, the two witness Boonie picking Karen up from afar. Uncertain of their next moves, the two go their separate ways, with McMurphy finally deciding to visit Dodger in Montana. She finds Dodger running a bar in his hometown, caring for Archie and his widowed father – also severely debilitated by a stroke – and converting an old school bus into a mobile ministry for veterans and refugees. She claims to him she has stopped drinking, but quickly relents when he asks why she has visited. The next morning, after coming to on the bar, she is told by Archie that she reeks of alcohol. While working at the bar, McMurphy is accosted by a vet (the drifter Dodger met in season 3’s “The Thanks of a Grateful Nation”) who pulls a pistol; Dodger disarms him and counsels him on the loss he feels from Vietnam. McMurphy finally admits to Dodger that she too feels lost and asks to stay with him. The two finally act on their lingering feelings for one another and start a relationship. During a service in Dodger’s church bus, McMurphy admits that she had lost her way since returning from Vietnam and hit bottom the night before K.C.’s call, planning to commit suicide – thwarted when she drank her entire bottle of bourbon and passed out instead. Despite the revelation and Dodger’s companionship, her drinking continues mostly unabated. At Christmas 1977, McMurphy receives the promised payment and a photo from K.C., now running a successful restaurant. During the bar’s celebration, McMurphy snaps when the tree’s lights short out and tells Dodger she doesn’t fit in Montana. He chastises her for her drinking, causing her to slap him and tell him she hates him; he slaps her back and tells her loves her. When Dodger’s father has a stroke in the middle of the night, he asks McMurphy to drive the church bus to the hospital, but she dozes off and crashes the bus. Dodger’s father survives and the incident causes McMurphy to stop drinking as heavily, confirmed when Archie tells her she no longer smells of alcohol. In an emotional conversation with Dodger, she tells him she loves him, but is hurting him with her problems and she must leave to solve them on her own.
China Beach Series
You can find a full index and overview of China Beach here.
Production & Filming Details
- Release Date: 25 June 1991.
- Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
- Rating: Unknown.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.