China Beach is not one of the most well-known dramas to ever hit the airwaves. As a matter of fact, this “little brother” to M.A.S.H. only ran for four years as compared to M.A.S.H.’s eleven year run. Despite that, it still developed a very loyal following among its viewer base. Now thanks to Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment, fans of the series can once again enjoy the first season of this cult favorite once again some twenty-five years after it first made its debut. The DVD release of China Beach Season One is a good start to the series’ re-issue. That is the case first and foremost because of its writing. It is so easy to compare China Beach to its “big brother” in its setting and the fact that it started up only five years after M.A.S.H. ended. But in looking at the show’s writing, there is a big difference between the two shows. Equally important in this first season is the show’s all-star cast. At the time of the show’s broadcast, the show’s cast members weren’t the stars that they are today. But that’s what makes this so important. And last but not least, the bonus features included in this season finish it off. Fans of the show will appreciate the inclusion of both a look back at the show by the cast and crew, the commentary included on specific episodes, and the cast’s twenty-fifth anniversary reunion. These additional features bring everything full circle and make this season’s collection all the more enjoyable for its original audience.
When China Beach made its original debut on TV, that debut came only about five years after its “big brother”, M.A.S.H., had ended. That was not exactly a lot of time when one really thinks about it. So it would make sense that audiences might naturally make a comparison between the two series. Comparisons aside, China Beach was quite different from M.A.S.H. as is evident in its writing. Whereas M.A.S.H. was more a dramedy, China Beach was a more pure drama. It showed to even more extent just how horrible war was. Audiences will also appreciate in watching Season One’s new DVD set that it was more centered on a female cast. As audiences will learn in the bonus material, this was no accident, either. It’s so subtle in terms of the writing. But in noting it, it is something extremely important to note in hindsight. The bonus interviews with Dana Delaney and Chloe Webb help to illustrate that female-centric attitude of sorts behind the show’s writing. Of course, one can’t ignore the general storylines, either. While the show centers on female leads, the writing in general makes each episode quite balanced to the point that both male and female audiences will enjoy it especially if they are new to the series. The human drama not so much just of war, but of the characters’ personal growth throughout the conflict is key to it all. It’s something that M.A.S.H. didn’t focus on nearly as much. That’s not to say that M.A.S.H. didn’t focus on this aspect of story. It’s just that China Beach took that story element to a deeper level. And that depth works with every other factor of the writing to show what made this series so special in its time.
The writers behind China Beach are obviously to be applauded for their efforts. Audiences will see both in the episodes themselves and in Season One’s bonus material just how much thought went into the show’s writing. It’s the most important starting point in examining the first series of the series. Just as important to note in Season One is the show’s cast. The cast members assembled for the series were not the big names at that time that they are today. Robert Picardo went on to rise to fame on Star Trek: Voyager. Dana Delaney and Chloe Webb each have had their own success since the show’s end. And this is no surprise, considering their chemistry both on and off screen. Again, audiences will see that chemistry both in the episodes themselves and in the bonus features included in Season One. Having noted the bonus material included in Season One so much, it only makes sense to delve into them even more.
China Beach Season One is chock full of deep and moving episodes. And the cast did an extraordinary job of interpreting the writers’ work. Audiences will get an even deeper appreciation for the work done by the writers and the cast in Season One’s bonus features. Season One’s bonus features are anchored by a look behind the series’ creation. Viewers will learn that because the series was set during the sexual revolution, it only made sense to have the series centered on a set of very strong female leads. That discussion is taken to a deeper level in the interviews with both Dana Delaney and Chloe Webb. Delaney explains about the job opportunities (or lack thereof) for women at the time, which apparently was why many women ended up nurses overseas. It’s all quite enlightening to say the least. This is just the tip of the iceberg for audiences. The bonus features included in Season One offer far more for viewers. And viewers will find out just what other interesting facts are revealed when they order China Beach Season One online at http://timelife.com/products/china-beach-season-1. More information China Beach and other releases from Star Vista and Time Life Entertainment is available online at http://timelife.com, http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS, and http://twitter.com/TimeLIfeUS. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.