Thursday, 2 February 2012


Vietnam war drama TOUR OF DUTY is generally regarded as one of the best US drama series of the era.  And, not unsurprisingly, it was released on (rental) VHS in the UK.


This is the VHS sleeve for the first rental VHS tape derived from episodes of the US Vietnam war drama (58 episodes, 1987-90).  It contained episodes one (pilot) and two (Notes From The Underground) re-edited (removing the end titles from episode one and the credits and on-screen credits from episode two) into a movie-length presentation (albeit still with two distinctive stories and an obvious break mid-way).

The NAM branding only appears here and not on the series itself.  Presumably coincidentally, New World-owned Marvel Comics were publishing the 'NAM comic book (reprinted in the UK in PUNISHER) at the same time.

Several further volumes followed (always rental-only) combining several first season episodes and, on the final release, Saigon (the two-part second season opener).  No further second or third season episodes were released.

The soundtracks on the VHS versions were as-per the CBS broadcast versions, including Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones.

The VHS' did not feature any additional material not seen in the TV versions.

The first season was shot on location in Hawaii with production (rather obviously) moved to California for the following two years.

The series was initially shown in the UK on a station-by-station basis, normally as part of the recently launched overnight services.

Some regions, notably Anglia Television, ran episodes out-of-order which occasionally led to continuity issues, especially during season two (where the final two episodes were reversed in the running order so that the final episode, with cliffhanger, became the penultimate episode).  Anglia also took an unscheduled break in transmission just after the beginning of season two, despite still including it in the schedules published in TV TIMES magazine.

A further break in UK transmission happened during the first Gulf War (1991).  As the series had originally aired region-by-region, some ITV companies (including Anglia) had completed season two before the break whilst others were further behind.

When transmission was resumed, the series was now networked across most of the country (albeit still in a late night slot) as part of the LWT-led ITV Nighttime sustaining service.  To accommodate slower regions, the entire second season was repeated (in order) followed by the third and final year.

Other New World-produced series aired on ITV during this period included daytime soap opera SANTA BARBARA, CRIME STORY, SLEDGE HAMMER! and MURPHY'S LAW (which, like Tour of Duty, was a Zev Braun production).

This is the third season title sequence with original theme: Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones.

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