Several years ago, my family and I became hooked on an old series that aired on TNT about a platoon of Army soldiers during the Vietnam War called “TOUR OF DUTY”. The series starred Terence Knox and Stephen Caffrey and originally aired on CBS between 1987 and 1990.
Recently, my interest in “TOUR OF DUTY” was renewed and I decided to rent the Season One episodes from my Netflix account. Below is a list of five episodes from that first season that I consider to be my favorites:
TOP FIVE FAVORITE “TOUR OF DUTY” Season One (1987-1988) Episodes
1. (1.07) “Brothers, Fathers, and Sons” – The mixture of humor and tragedy is strangely effective in this tale in which Anderson, Baker, and Johnson attempt to return to base after being shot down behind enemy lines, while catching a ride in a helicopter. While being hunted by a VC leader named Trang, whose son Anderson had killed; the trio comes across a pregnant woman who had died after giving birth. Johnson and Baker insist that they take the baby with them, despite Anderson’s protests. The writing and performances (especially Terence Knox) in this episode were so impressive that I consider it one of the best in the entire series.
2. (1.15) “Soldiers” – In this episode, Purcell learns that his father had suffered a heart attack and is given furlough to visit the latter in Honolulu. He is later joined by Taylor and Ruiz and the three men are exposed to the “real” world of the late 1960s and the negative attitudes and consequences about the war. Excellent view of the homefront during the Vietnam War and great performances by Tony Becker, Miguel Nunez Jr., Ramon Franco and guest stars Robert Fuller and Robert Ito.
3. (1.16) “Gray-Brown Odyssey” – Goldman, Horn and a third soldier are attacked when they are returning to base in a jeep. The third soldier is killed and Goldman, blinded. Goldman and Horn managed to capture the surviving VC solider in the attack – a woman. While Horn goes for help, Goldman is forced to leave the scene with his prisoner after she manages to send a signal of help to other villagers. Both Stephen Caffrey and guest star Joan Chen gave superb performances as the temporarily blinded Lieutenant Goldman and the female Vietcong soldier who debate and learn a great deal about each other’s ideologies. This is something one would hardly see in a Vietnam War movie.
4. (1.14) “Under Siege” – In this episode, the men of Bravo Company endure a series of artillery fire and attacks by the Vietcong at Firebase Ladybird. Even worse, the men are forced to deal with an arrogant and fanatic new commander, who is determined to defend the base despite Anderson’s warnings that they are in danger of being overrun by the enemy. A harrowing episode that ends in tragedy.
5. (1.13) “U.S.O. Down” – A USO band that includes three female dancers, a sax players, and a singer complete a performance at an outlying base, and are rushed to a helicopter to be flown to their next destination. None of them get a chance to even change their costumes when the helicopter is shot down and the entire crew is killed. Bravo Company eventually finds them while on recon and the U.S.O band members are forced to make the transition to “soldier” since Goldman is unable to call for help due to dead radio batteries. A strange and very complex episode in which certain characters turned out to be different that one expected.
Filed under: Essay | Tagged: eric bruskotter, history, joan chen, mid 20th century, miguel nunez jr., music, politics, ramon franco, robert fuller, stan foster, stephen caffrey, television, terence knox, tony becker, travel, vietnam war |