Series: Tour of Duty

Tour of Duty was an American drama television series on CBS. It ran for three seasons from 1987 to 1990. The show followed an American infantry platoon on a tour of duty during the Vietnam War. The story focused mainly on Bravo company's second platoon under the command of 2nd Lieutenant (later 1st Lieutenant) Myron Goldman (Stephen Caffrey), and Staff Sergeant (later Sergeant First Class) Zeke Anderson (Terence Knox).

The first season opens in 1967 and follows a standard light infantry platoon. In the second season, the troops found themselves relocated to a base near Saigon while conducting the typical "search and destroy" missions. Female characters were also introduced (in hopes of gaining more female viewership and because of the premiere of the ABC Vietnam Army Nurses drama China Beach which was aimed at a more female audience). In the third season, the remaining female character was killed off and the platoon was transferred to a SOG (Studies and Observation Group) unit under the command of Colonel Brewster, conducting covert operations in Vietnam and in Cambodia, culminating in the fictional version of the raid on Son Tay Prison. The third season was the show's last.

Tour of Duty contains examples of:

  • Anyone Can Die: The series did not shy away from killing off major characters, often without warning, highlighting the arbitrary and unfair nature of combat.
  • Downer Ending: The finale of the second season ended with a surrounded Lt. Goldman and Sgt. Anderson calling down an artillery strike on their own position. They get better.
  • During the War: During the Vietnam War to be precise.
  • Ensign Newbie: 2nd Lt. Goldman is this at the start of the show. He gains experience and maturity quickly over the course of the first season.
  • Haven't You Seen X Before?:
    Private Alberto Ruiz: What's the matter? You niggers never seen a spic before?
  • Honor Before Reason: In Gray-Brown Odyssey, Lt. Goldman and a female VC prisoner, whom he holds at gun point after a prior ambush that also leaves him temporarily blind, come across a wounded communist sympathizer and his starving family. After hearing the VC explaining about the plight of the said family of four, Goldman gives them all his rations and is about to move on. The VC, knowing that Goldman does not understand Vietnamese language, not only tells the family that Goldman has just offered them food but also asks the family to mob the blind Goldman and help her escaping. A girl from the family grabs a knife to free the VC...... only to be prevented from going through with it by her wounded father, who thanks Goldman for the food and allows him to leave with the VC still his prisoner.
  • The Medic: Randy "Doc" Matsuda was Bravo Company's designated medic during the first season, before becoming a victim of Anyone Can Die.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Some of the characters are forced to do this when one of the new guys gets drunk in town and jumps to his death. They initially plant the body in the jungles with the intention of shooting him in order to make it look like the VC killed him. The platoon sergeant however, finds out, but not before the base is attacked by the enemy. The new guy's corpse startles a VC sapper who fires at the body before being killed. The dead soldier is honored for fighting bravely in the base's defense.
  • Rank Up: Myron Goldman goes from 2nd lieutenant to 1st lieutenant between first and second seasons, and Staff Sergeant Anderson is promoted to Sergeant 1st Class in season 3.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "Paint It Black" by The Rolling Stones.
  • Retirony: The show had an odd tendency of killing off anyone who was 'getting short' (ie: Was about to complete their mandatory one-year Tour and be sent home). Even the main characters weren't always immune to this.
    • Played with when one character was only grievously wounded when he found out he was 'getting short'. In a much later episode, we find out that said character later recovered in hospital, re-enlisted, got promoted, and returned to combat...only to be Killed Off for Real this time.
  • Sergeant Rock: Staff Sergeant (later Sergeant First Class) Zeke Anderson, especially in the first few episodes when Goldman was more an Ensign Newbie. He is a grizzled veteran who has the respect of all of the men in The Squad.
  • The Squad: The focus of the series is very much on 2nd platoon Bravo Company, complete with nicknames for almost every platoon member.
  • Squirrels in My Pants: One of the soldiers is suffering from the runs, and has to keep going off into the bushes while on patrol to drop his pants. While he does so, a large toad jumps onto his dropped pants. At the same time, he happens to see some Vietcong slipping out of a tunnel to evade the American soldiers; the soldier quickly yanks up his pants and Hilarity Ensues.
  • Tokyo Rose: The series briefly featured a Vietnamese equivalent, with one GI asking another why he listened to that stuff. He replied that the propaganda was annoying, but that the music they played was actually pretty good.
  • Vietnam War: The show follows an American infantry platoon on a tour of duty during the Vietnam War, starting in 1967.
  • War Is Hell: Like most series about the Vietnam War made after Platoon, Tour of Duty focuses a lot on the horror of combat.