From time to time, I think about a few TV shows that I watched and loved and I look to see if they are available anywhere. That is why I have Remington Steele, Columbo, Rockford Files, Hart to Hart, The Scarecrow and Mrs. King and a few others saved on various Hulu/NetFlix/Amazon players. Still, there are a few that have never been made available on DVD or streaming and I think missing them has become a bit of an obsession. Here are a few:
China Beach is an American dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War. The title refers to My Khe beach in the city of Đà Nẵng, Vietnam, which was nicknamed “China Beach” in English by American and Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War. The ABC TV drama aired for four seasons, from 1988 to 1991. Some of the notable cast were Dana Delany, Marg Helgenberger, Ricki Lake, and Cloe Webb.
Created by William Broyles, Jr. and John Sacret Young, the series looks at the Vietnam War from a unique perspective: that of the women, military personnel and civilians, who were present during the conflict. John Wells took over most of the series beginning with the second season—many of the show’s cast members would appear later on the Wells-produced series, ER.
Set in a Vietnam locale nicknamed “Bac My An Beach” at the 510th Evacuation Hospital and R&R (the “Five-and-Dime” Rest & Recreation) facility, the cast of characters includes US Army doctors and nurses, officers, soldiers, Red Cross volunteers, and civilian personnel (American, French, and Vietnamese). The series also featured the experiences of the characters when they returned to the U.S., either on leave or at the end of their tour of duty. The show did not shy away from showing the gruesomeness of war, providing a very gritty view of the experience there. Unusual story-telling methods were sometimes used: scenes presented in reverse chronology; insertion of animated cartoons to express a character’s state of mind; alternating between interviews with former military nurses and scripted scenes; and a visit by the cast to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C
I’ll Fly Away is a television series set during the late 1950s and early 1960s, in an unspecified Southern U.S. state. It aired on NBC from 1991 to 1993 and starred Regina Taylor as Lilly Harper, a black housekeeper for the family of district attorney Forrest Bedford (Sam Waterston), whose name is an ironic reference to Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877), the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. As the show progressed, Lilly became increasingly involved in the Civil Rights Movement, with events eventually drawing in Forrest as well.
I’ll Fly Away won two 1992 Emmy Awards (Eric Laneuville for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing in a Drama Series for the episode All God’s Children, and for series creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special), and 23 nominations in total. It won three Humanitas Prizes, two Golden Globe Awards, two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, and a Peabody Award. However, the series was never a ratings blockbuster, and it was canceled by NBC in 1993, despite widespread protests by critics and viewer organizations.
After the program’s cancellation, a two-hour movie, I’ll Fly Away: Then and Now, was produced, in order to resolve dangling storylines from Season 2, and provide the series with a true finale. The movie aired on October 11, 1993 on PBS. Its major storyline closely paralleled the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. Thereafter, PBS began airing repeats of the original episodes, ceasing after one complete showing of the entire series.
The series takes its name from a Christian hymn written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley.
In 1999 TV Guide ranked Lilly Harper number 15 on its list of 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time.
The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd is an American comedy-drama series that aired on NBC from 1987 to 1988, and on Lifetime from 1988 to 1991. It was created by Jay Tarses and stars Blair Brown in the title role.
The show depicts the life of Molly Bickford Dodd, a divorced woman in New York City with a lifestyle that could be described as both yuppie and bohemian. Molly seems to drift from job to job and relationship to relationship. Her ex-husband, a ne’er-do-well jazz musician, still cares for her. In fact, nearly every man she meets (and the occasional woman) adores her. Her warmth and emotional accessibility are the root cause of most of Molly’s problems in life.
In addition to Brown and Tarses, the cast included Allyn Ann McLerie as Molly’s mother, James Greene as her building’s elevator operation/doorman, William Converse-Roberts as her ex-husband Fred Dodd, and Maureen Anderman as her best friend Nina. Sandy Faison was a cast member during its run on NBC. Actors David Strathairn and Richard Lawson each appeared in about a third of the episodes (both playing characters who were romantic interests for Molly).
Major recurring roles were held by Victor Garber, Richard Venture (who played Molly’s father), George Gaynes, John Pankow, and J. Smith-Cameron.