China Beach Even Better In Its Second Season

Courtesy:  StarVista/Time Life/Warner Brothers Home Video

Courtesy: StarVista/Time Life/Warner Brothers Home Video

ABC’s China Beach only lasted four seasons in its original broadcasts.  But in that short span of time, the military medical drama became a favorite among viewers, critics, and even Vietnam veterans alike.  The series’ second season proves even more than its debut season just why it was (and still is today) a favorite among its audiences.  That is first and foremost because of the show’s writing.  Audiences will see in this season that the writing is even more character driven than before.  Now that it has been released to the masses on DVD, audiences will appreciate the bonus featurette “Voices of the War: The Real China Beach.”  This piece goes into some depth explaining why the series was especially a favorite not just among general audiences but vets, too.  And making the recently released DVD set complete is its packaging.  StarVista and Warner Home Video are to be commended for the set’s packaging.  Together with the writing and the bonus featurette, the three factors come together to make China Beach Season 2 another must have for any of the show’s original audience base.

The very first aspect of China Beach’s second season that makes it work is its writing.  The series’ first season spent most of its time setting the scene for the series.  It spent much of its time introducing the characters and their chemistry, as well as the series’ backdrop.  To the defense of the series’ heads, there’s not a thing wrong with that.  That early establishment was solid in its own right.  Now in its second season, the series’ writers have begun to delve more into the characters themselves.  They begin to show how working in Vietnam is affecting them personally and in their interactions with one another.  Most interesting about this is that the stories of the doctors and nurses at China Beach are in fact based on stories collected from those that actually served and worked in Vietnam.  That explains why the stories are so gripping.  This leads to the second aspect of the success of Season Two’s recently released box set.  That aspect is the bonus featurette, “Voices of the War: The Real China Beach.”

The recently released DVD box set of China Beach Season 2 includes as an extra, a bonus featurette titled “Voices of War: The Real China Beach.”  This featurette takes viewers behind the writing that comprised Season Two.  It does so by presenting interviews with the show’s heads and cast.  Spliced into the cast and crew interviews are interviews with nurses that actually worked at the medical camps in Vietnam.  The combined interviews display in full detail just what made the series work so well for so long.  Audiences will laugh along as one of the series’ heads tells an anecdote of how one veteran told him something in one episode didn’t happen a certain way but then did a full 180 the following week, asking how in the world the crew knew that said situation had happened.  On another level, audiences will be moved seeing lead cast member Dana Delaney brought to tears in recalling her interactions with the nurses on whom the series was based.  These are just a couple examples of what makes this featurette so important.  Perhaps the most important part of the whole featurette is the recurring sentiment among the cast and crew that the intent with the show was to honor those that served.  They wanted the memory of those that served to be properly honored especially considering how soldiers at the time had been treated by their fellow Americans upon returning from the front lines.   Such sentiment is difficult to find among cast and crew of any of today’s shows.  Audiences don’t hear the cast and crew of any medical and crime dramas sharing such sentiment towards the police officers or EMTs that put themselves on the line every day.  It makes this sentiment all the more powerful.  And in the bigger picture, it makes Season Two even more worth the watch.

The writing and the bonus featurette included in China Beach Season Two are equally important to the overall enjoyment of this recently released box set.  There is one more aspect of this set that audiences will appreciate, making it complete.  That aspect is its packaging.  StarVista and Warner Home Video have given proper respect to audiences with the set’s packaging.  Each of the set’s five discs have been given their own spot inside the standard DVD case.  Four of the set’s discs are placed on their own spot on either side of two “leafs” inside the case.  The fifth disc gets its own spot on the back of the case on its own spindle.  This protects each of the discs from one another and from themselves.  The result is the capability of watching this season for a long time.  It is the final touch on an already impressive box set from a show that proves especially in its second season that it is deserving of more respect from a whole new generation.  China Beach Season 2 is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GLT2TR6/ref=s9_simh_gw_p74_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1VZVGYAGEKD2Q93H5722&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846.  More information on this and other releases from StarVista is available online at http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS and http://www.timelife.com.  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 news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

War In HD Box Set An Excellent Piece Of Military History

Courtesy:  History Channel/A&E TV/A&E Home Video

Courtesy: History Channel/A&E TV/A&E Home Video

History Channel released one of its most impressive box sets yet earlier this year with the release of WWII in HD: Collector’s Edition.  That four-disc set took audiences in the lives of just a handful of members of the “Greatest Generation.”  It was the follow-up to the network’s equally impressive military history piece, Vietnam in HD.  Now for all the military history lovers out there, History Channel has combined both mini-series into one full six-disc set featuring both presentations in their entirety.

War in HD is a good gift idea for the military history lover in anyone’s house this holiday season.  The entire thing starts with the hugely acclaimed WWII in HD.  This series takes viewers through the history of WWII from its earliest days before the United States’ entrance to its final days.  This mega set even includes the bonus segment, “The Air War” from the previous releases of WWII in HD.  Presented in full HD, the footage culled for the presentation that is WWII in HD looks outstanding, even on standard def DVD.  And new light is shed on life on the frontlines and stateside from the interviews collected for this mini-series.  One of the most intriguing factors of WWII in HD is the drastic difference in support for the war.  Whereas support for the war in both the Pacific and in Europe was overwhelming from America, support for the war in Vietnam was quite different.

Support for the War in Vietnam went from being in support of the troops to being completely against the men fighting the war.  But now thanks to the inclusion of Vietnam in HD those who perhaps have always had a certain view of how things went down get an entirely new view of what really happened.  It’s intriguing to see the progress made in support of South Koreans in the fight against the North.  From new schools and much needed medicines, American forces did a lot to try and help the South Koreans.  Just as intriguing to learn from this double disc portion of War in HD was that despite the draft being in full effect, nearly one-third of the men serving in Vietnam by the late 1970’s were actually volunteers.  Considering how many were drafted into service (and that number is given), that one-third of enlisted men were volunteers is still quite eye opening.  It changes the view of things from that angle.  And for that matter, viewers actually learn that about four years in the war, North Vietnamese casualties far outnumbered those of American forces.  Narrator Michael C. Hall (Dexter) explains that the measure of victory in Vietnam was not by ground taken (as was the case in WWII), but by the body count.  That perhaps is what makes the Vietnam War so controversial more so than what happened during the war.  That military brass openly said that was the measure of victory set off both citizens back home and the men serving on the frontlines.  There is so much more eye opening material that audiences will appreciate from Vietnam in HD than just what is noted here.  On the note of the forces fighting the war, there is a discussion on the part of deciding whether to save the life of a fellow soldier or decide if one of the locals was a North Vietnamese fighter.  That brief moment makes for quite the discussion.  And it’s just one more of the many topics raised in this half of History Channel’s new War in HD box set.

War in HD is available now.  It can be ordered online at http://shop.history.com.

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