Heralded as one of the best dramatic series of its time, China Beach brought a unique portrayal of the Vietnam War to television. Unlike the slew of war sitcoms that preceded it and unlike a stereotypical shoot’em-up action series, China Beach focused on the psychological ramifications of war. Emotional and often graphic, the series concentrated on the characters’ lives, with the war around them as a backdrop.
The series was set in a military hospital that doubled as a USO entertainment center. Situated near a large U.S. Army base in Da Nang, the site was a beautiful beach facing the China Sea.
The series featured a large cast of characters, though many episodes focused on Nurse Colleen McMurphy (Dana Delany), who became involved with several of the men who passed through China Beach. Principal characters included hooker K.C. Koloski (Marg Helgenberger), Private Sam Beckett (Michael Boatman), Dr. Dick Richard (Robert Picardo), heroic soldier Dodger (Jeff Kober), reporter Wayloo Marie Holmes (Megan Gallagher), USO performer Laurette Barber (Chloe Webb) and many others.
China Beach premiered as a TV movie in April, 1988 and ran as a series through July, 1991. The show’s fourth season flashed back and forth from the late ’60s to late the ’80s following up on the characters’ lives 20 years after the war.
UK / ABC – Warner – Sacret Inc / 1×120 minute episode 61×50 minute episode / Broadcast 26 April 1988 – 22 July 1991
Creators: William Broyles Jr, John Sacret Young / Original Music: John Rubinstein / Theme Music: Reflections by The Supremes
Dana Delany as Coleen McMurphy
Nan Woods as Cherry White
Megan Gallagher as Wayloo Marie Holmes
Marg Helgenberger as K.C.
Chloe Webb as Laurette Barber
Concetta Tomei as Lila Garreau
Nancy Giles as Frankie Bunsen
Brian Wimmer as Boonie
Robert Picardo as Dr. Richard
Jeff Kober as Dodger
Troy Evans as Sergeant Pepper
Shay Aster and Christine Elise as Karen
Michael Boatman as Beckett
Marcia Magus as Jody Kass
Ned Vaughn as Jeff Hyers
Derek De Lint as Dr. Gerard Bernard
Elizabeth Lindsey as Mai
Ricki Lake as Holly Pelegrino
Kieu Chinh as Trieu Au
Tom Sizemore as Vinnie Ventresca
Penny Fuller as Colleen’s mother, Margaret Mary McMurphy
Donald Moffat as Colleen’s father, Brian McMurphy
John Laughlin as Colleen’s brother, Brenden McMurphy
Harold Russell as Colleen’s uncle, Conal
Kevin McCarthy as Wayloo’s father, Congressman Holmes
Penelope Windust as Dodger’s mother, Jean Winslow
Tom Bower and Richard Jaeckel as Dodger’s father, Archie Winslow
Arlene Taylor as Dodger’s sister, Annie Winslow
Frederic Lehne as Cherry’s brother, Rick White
Finn Carter as Boonie’s wife, Linda Lanier
Sean Ryan as Boonie’s son, Adam Lanier
Shannon Farrara as Boonie’s daughter, Gillian Lanier
Conni Marie Brazelton as Boonie’s daughter, Angela Lanier
Colleen Flynn as Dick’s wife, Coleen Richard
Troy Searcy as Beckett’s son, Malcolm Beckett