Vietnam: A Television History (1983): S01E12 – The End of the Tunnel (1973-1975)


Vietnam: A Television History (1983) is a 13-part American documentary and television mini-series about the Vietnam War (1955-1975) from the perspective of the United States.

It was produced for public television by WGBH-TV in Boston, and it was originally broadcast on PBS between 04 October and 20 December 1983.


On 23 January 1973 Nixon announced a cease fire, the return of all POWs, the complete withdrawal of forces from the country, all within 60 days. Many South Vietnamese were furious, seeing this as a death sentence. Most Americans now believed that the cost of the war, particularly in lives, was too great. The public cheered the return of POWs, a month-long celebration that played out on TV. Nixon had pledged support should the North launch a full-scale invasion, but he was now distracted by the Watergate scandal. He ended the draft and brought the troops home, but opposition to his policies continued, now centred in Congress which wanted to limit his authority and imposed a halt to the bombing of Cambodia in August 1973. Forced from office, Nixon was replaced by Gerald R. Ford who committed to continue his predecessor’s policies, but by August the military balance had shifted against Thieu. The South lacked US air support, had problems with the ammunition supply and spare parts for aircraft. South Vietnamese corruption was a major, though little discussed, problem. In 1972, 31,000 South Vietnamese soldiers had died and leaders in the North concluded there was nothing the US could do to stem the tide. The invasion of the South in 1975 was at least in part a test of US resolve. Congress refused to approve additional funds. A North Vietnamese feint lured the South Vietnamese to defend Pleiku in the highlands but, unsuccessful, they were forced to go further south and set a new line of defence. Da Nang fell on 30 March 1975 and the hysteria there filtered south. Curfews were imposed in Saigon and Americans prepared to leave, but the evacuation created chaos. On 21 April 1975, Thieu resigned and on the 28th Northern troops entered the city, which fell on the 30th. The North, which had given itself two years to gain control of the South, had done so in only 55 days.

Vietnam: A Television History Series

You can find a full index and overview of Vietnam: A Television History here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 13 December 1983.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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