The October 2 episode of the PBS television series History Detectives included a moving segment that dealt with the return of the diary of Vu Dinh Doan, a North Vietnamese Army soldier, to his family. A U.S. Marine, Bob Frazure, serving with Bravo Company, First Battalion, 7th Marines, found the diary following a vicious firefight in Quang Nai Province on March 29, 1966.
Working with the sister of a fellow Marine who was killed in Vietnam, he turned the diary over to the History Detectives earlier this year. The show contacted the Pentagon for help, and the diary wound up going to Vietnam in June when Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta visited that country. He presented the diary to the Vietnamese (in photo, above) and in September the diary was returned to Vu Dinh Doan’s family.
The entire episode is now available on the History Detectives website.
Posted on October 5th 2012 in Documentaries, TV Series
Pat Sajak, the famed long-time host of “Wheel of Fortune” who served a tour of duty in Vietnam during the war as a radio deejay with AFVN, occasionally steps out from the “Wheel” set to do other show biz work. That includes this week, as Sajak is co-starring in a production of the famed Neil Simon comedy “The Odd Couple” through July 7 at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theater on the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs. It is a summer production of the University’s Connecticut Repertory Theater.
Anyone who knows the play (or the movie or TV show) won’t be surprised that Sajak is playing Felix Unger, the obsessive-compulsive half of the quite odd couple. Oscar Madison, the slob sportswriter, is played by Joe Moore, who served in Vietnam with Sajak. These days Moore’s day job is news anchor on KHON-TV in Honolulu.
According to the favorable review of the show in the July 1 The New York Times, Sajak–who received VVA’s Excellence in the Arts Award at the Louisville Convention in 2009–and Moore have appeared in three other shows together, including “The Odd Couple” in Hawaii in 2001.
Times reviewer Anita Gates says of Moore: “If you were in the casting director’s office looking for an Oscar Madison-type, and came across Mr. Moore’s photograph, it would probably go to the top of the pile. The role fits him well, and he does a fine job as the gruff, put-upon Oscar.
Sajak “is as personable onstage as he is on TV, maybe even more so,” Gates opines. “His Felix is properly oblivious to his own flaws and appropriately appalled by filth, but there is little fervor or palpable purpose in his domestic madness.” Sajak, she goes on to say, “does best as a straight man” and “when Felix is outraged. One of his nicest moments is an Act II encounter in which Oscar has come home late for a dinner party and reveals how little he knows about cooking. Felix shouts the main verbs with believable exasperation as he explains: ‘You have to make gravy. It doesn’t come.’ Then, heaven help him, Oscar refers to a ladle as a spoon.”
Posted on July 2nd 2012 in Plays, TV Series
The NBC weekly one-hour drama series, Parenthood, now it its second prime-time season, is based on the 1989 movie of the same name. The TV show, produced by Imagine Television and Universal Media Studios (Ron Howard is an executive producer), airs Tuesday nights and deals with the ups and downs of a large, sometimes functional family, the Bravermans.
Sarah, a single mom, and her two teenagers live with her dad, Zeek, played by Emmy-Award-winner Craig T. Nelson (above, right) of Coach fame and her mom, Camille. There also are a bunch of other Braverman siblings, including Adam, played by Peter Krause, who starred in Six Feet Under.
Zeek is, among other things, a Vietnam veteran with 2st century re-adjustment issues. Here’s how Nelson described his character in a recent Internet interview:
“He’s an adventurer, he’s still an experimenter. He’s willing to change up to a certain degree but he knows what works. The show has talked about depression, his post-traumatic stress disorder, his mood swings, his temper, some of his proclivities for drinking. They stem from his experience in Vietnam, which is an area we haven’t really gotten to in the show yet. Hopefully we’re going to get into that because I came through that time and it was tremendously impactful on who we are as a country and as people.”
Posted on April 28th 2011 in TV Series
There’s an interesting, thoughtful article that touches on the image of the Vietnam veteran in TV cop shows and film in the August 31 The Phil Nugent Experience blog. Titled “In Country,” (where have we heard that one before?), Nugent’s essay begins with his take on the new AMC-TV conspiracy thriller series “Rubican,” and then morphs into his analysis about “the way Vietnam began to be used [on TV and in the movies] in the early 1980s.”
Nugent talks about early Nam vet TV characters, including Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck, below), Sonny Crockett (portrayed by Don Johnson, above) and Lt. Castillo on Miami Vice, and the gang on the original A Team. Then he makes the point that most Vietnam veteran TV characters in the previous decade “were less likely to be chasing crooks than to be the crooks.” And he is right; it seemed like every week in every Kojak or Hawaii Five-O episode the crazed psycho killer was–you guessed it, a disgruntled, disturbed Rambo type Nam vet.
Nugent then goes on to give his take on the execrable Rambo movies, as well as Platoon, Missing in Action, Uncommon Valor,The Green Berets, and the movie M*A*S*H, as well as what he calls “grubby little exploitation movies” such as The Losers and Deathdream.
It’s well worth a perusal.
Posted on September 9th 2010 in Feature Films, TV Series
The Fox TV show “War Stories With Oliver North” will have a segment this Sunday, July 6, at 8:00 and 11:00 p.m. Eastern time called “Leave No One Behind.” The segment will take a look at the work of JPAC, the Pentagon’s Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command
The show, which will be repeated on Monday, July 7 at 3 a.m. Eastern time, includes an examination of the case of Lt. Fredrick Joel Ransbottom, an Oklahoma native who went missing in action in the fighting at Kham Duc in Vietnam in 1968. VVA’s Veterans Initiative played an important role in the recovery and repatriation of Lt. Ransbottom’s remains, as well as those of Skip Skivington, another 196th Light Infantry Brigade trooper who was declared MIA on Mother’s Day 1968 at Kham Duc. We told that story in “Final Honors for Kham Duc Heroes,” a fascinating article that appeared in the March/April issue of The VVA Veteran.
Posted on July 3rd 2008 in TV Series