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A Three Disc Set Of Season One: Let's Hope They Follow Suit With Seasons Two Through Four
on September 12, 2013
Earlier this year, Time Life and Star Vista finally released the "China Beach" set that fans had been awaiting for over 25 years! Of course, it came with a rather hefty price tag. If you are interested in the Complete Series, go straight to the source and do a quick Internet search of Time Life with China Beach to get the best price available. Suggested selling price for the Complete Series is 199.95 with a Collector's Edition available at 274.95. Do NOT pay second hand seller prices on this site! I am pleased, however, that they have also portioned off Season One for a regular and priced-right DVD release. This does make me nervous, though. Whether or not future seasons will get individual releases is still up in the air and will undoubtedly be dependent on sales of this set. The good news for those looking to make a Season One purchase, this is exactly what you would get in the Complete Series package.
The three disc set has the seven episodes of Season One:
1) China Beach Pilot
3) Hot Spell
4) Somewhere Over The Radio
5) Waiting For Beckett
7) Chad Ong
The third disc has two extended featurettes:
1) China Beach: How It All Began: The show's creators wax nostalgic about the program, its influence and importance, and the cast. They are especially proud of this achievement.
2) Highlights From The 25th Anniversary Cast Reunion: This is a great peek at many of the major cast members now. They contrast how they appear in present day with the series finale (which had aged them). My only comment is that I watched this with someone who had not seen the series in its original run. Seeing who attended, who was in the series finale and who was not, was a little bit of a plot spoiler for newbies.
Debuting in 1988 and running for four seasons, the show constantly challenged its viewers and thwarted conventional expectations. In my opinion, it was one of the three defining shows of its era in terms of sheer ambition, gritty realism, and emotional impact. I remember episodes from the initial run as if I had seen them yesterday, and that says a lot for a program celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary! "China Beach" became one of the most requested unreleased programs on the popular website TVShowsOnDVD and so it's fair to say that expectations were high for this DVD debut. Part of the delay, I'm sure, was negotiating the rights to the many songs that were featured during its broadcast run. And unlike some other popular shows of the era (Northern Exposure, for example), they didn't want to make arbitrary substitutions for the DVD release. If you remember the show, the music was absolutely integral to its storytelling.
Season One is largely seen through the eyes of two outsiders (Laurette and Cherry) to China Beach. Perhaps the fullest character arc goes to Chloe Webb as Laurette, an entertainer that finds more than she bargained for in her experiences in Viet Nam. Her powerful work in the last epsiode scored her a guest actress EMMY nomination. The Pilot episode (nominated for Writing and Directing EMMYs) is still a tremendous introduction to the characters and situations. While the show would continue to get richer in the following seasons, Season One really played up the core of female characters vital to the shows success including Dana Delaney and Marg Helgenberger, both would win EMMYs for later seasons. No doubt about it, "China Beach" is landmark TV. The whole series is essential viewing, let's just hope that those that purchase Season One will be able to get the other ones individually as well. KGHarris, 9/13.