All 62 episodes of CHINA BEACH, along with more than 10 hours of bonus material will be released on DVD by Time Life on 15 April 2013. The long-awaited boxed set can now be pre-ordered for $199.95. (It is possible to pay in 5 installments.) The series, which ran from 1988 to 1991, has not been available till now because of disputes over music rights to the 268 popular songs in the soundtrack.
Amng the bonus features included are: the 20th anniversary cast reunion; interviews with Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger; original featurettes; and a collectible memory book called Tales from the Five & Dime, with rare photos, and letters from Vietnam veterans.
CHINA BEACH was set at an American base in Vietnam, and focused on the lives of nurses, doctors and USO entertainers and the soldiers with whom they interacted. The main character was Nurse Colleen McMurphy, wonderfully portrayed by Dana Delany.
Today there is Showtime’s NURSE JACKIE, but as of 1988, there weren’t many American TV shows about nurses. CHINA BEACH was one of the few series to have a nurse for a main character.
In 1962, the late Zina Bethune starred in THE NURSES, a CBS hospital drama whose central characters were Nurses Gail Lucas (Bethune) and Liz Thorpe (Shirl Conway). Hospital dramas were all the rage at the time and some of the bigger hits were Ben Casey and Dr. Kildare, but the genre just wasn’t big enough for a series about nurses. At the beginning of season two, Bethune’s series was renamed THE DOCTORS AND THE NURSES. The name change improved the ratings enough to keep the show (which was pretty good) on the air until 1965.
Interestingly enough, when THE DOCTORS AND THE NURSES was cancelled by CBS in 1965, a show called THE NURSES was launched on ABC. The half-hour afternoon soap continued the characters of Liz Thorpe and Gail Lucas (played by Mary Fickett and Melinda Cordell respectively). It ran for 395 episodes and ended on 31 March 1967.