Tour Of Duty Review

Tour of Duty follows the fortunes of a platoon of US soldiers during their Tour of Duty – a year long period of combat in Vietnam.

The initial episodes introduce a cast from a vast spectrum of backgrounds, each one a strong caricature; the Californian blond, the Hispanic from the Bronx. What they all share is that they are horribly young and naïve. Differences melt away as they are constantly attacked from all quarters and the overwhelming paranoia towards the Vietnamese means they can only trust eachother.

Terence Knox stars as the seemingly macho Lt Clayton Ezekiel “Zeke” Anderson, a no non-sense long time veteran of the war who’s on his third tour of duty. Without a family to go back to and strong ties to his men, his involvement in the war is not a political one, nor a patriotic one; he simply has nowhere else to go. As the series goes on, each character reveals how they’re involved in the war.

The episodes focus on a particular pressure or nuance during the Vietnam war. What it was like to work for a renegade Officer, how a pacifist could end up in the war or how attached you might become to the native population – all these facets are explored in each hour-long episode. This allows you to dip in and out of the series. 

Tour of Duty is both informative and engaging; a difficult mix. The reality of war is something that’s drip fed to you as to not be so overwhelming, but its certainly convincing. But this was made in the 80’s, so don’t expect any Band-of-Brothers style soul searching or an intimate reflection such as The Thin Red Line. This is a boisterous show with explosions, macho blustering and incredible all-American soundtrack from the 60’s and 70’s.

A must see for any fan of war films, particularly those of the Vietnam Era.  Rated impressively on IMDB, its certainly got an army of devoted fans who have been waiting for a DVD release. Considering its bite-size nature, I’m hoping that it’ll pick up a new legion of fans who won’t be put off by its slightly dated look – surely one of its charms.  It’s filled with an easy humour that takes the edge of the serious content, but you’ll certainly pick up one or two facts along the way and a real feel for the conditions within Vietnam.

Maliha Koro

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