One of the things I remember from my early childhood are my mother’s records. She had all the “it” albums for the time: Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac, etc but by far my favorite were the Tour of Duty soundtracks. When I saw the complete series was due to get a region 4 release, all of these memories came back relating to those records and I wanted to review it straight away.
I couldn’t remember anything about the show, I thought I had watched it as a kid, but wasn’t sure. I was up for reviewing it anyway as I tend to enjoy war related shows – Generation Kill, Band of Brothers etc. The moment I put the first disc in I totally remembered it and that I had a huge crush on Zeke as a five or six year old.
The box set consists of 15 discs. That’s three seasons, 58 episodes and 3480 minutes of content. All for $49.99. And yes it contains the original soundtrack. Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Steppenwolf, Chuck Berry, James Brown etc, it’s all here. I knew that alongside Northern Exposure this was a show that you had to watch what release you purchased as certain releases did not contain the original music. So relax, along with being good value you are getting the show’s soundtrack as intended. Unless there’s like one episode where they couldn’t get the rights to one song, there’s always one right?
Tour of Duty follows the exploits of an American platoon during their tour of duty in Vietnam. Ok, so what sets it apart from something like M*A*S*H? The stories. It’s not simply about men in conflict, nor is it simply about a brotherhood. It tackles a lot of interesting topics considering its setting. Not only does it deal with racism and the politics of war, but issues such as drugs, suicide, religion and fragging.
Although it may seem it is cashing in on the trend of Vietnam related content (Rambo, Platoon etc), the show has its own voice, is well written and is well crafted for what it is. However, it is a bit hokey in places because it deals with such emotive topics, some of the acting does come off a little over-the-top. The first season is also the strongest and most realistic. In the second season the show introduces more characters that lead it down a different path and it loses some of that realism and exploration of a tight-knit unit that was so great in the first season.
Has it aged well? Well I like it for nostalgic reasons, I still think I would have enjoyed it had it been my first viewing but I think it would have been a bit hokier and seemed dated. Still, if you are a fan of war movies and TV series and haven’t seen this it’s well worth checking out and is featured in a lot of “Top 100 Must See TV Show” lists.
The only negative thing I have to say is that it doesn’t look or sound amazing. I don’t think 40” screens and HD are too kind to shows of this age, that’s really my only complaint is that at times the image looked a tad washed out and lacks sharpness. This should not put you off considering the price and how much content you are getting.
Along with 21 uncut episodes this season also includes a 55 minute making of documentary called “The Story of Tour of Duty: Part One”; there’s also a series synopsis, series concept, original cast biographies, character biographies and crew biographies.
10 uncut episodes and a 30 minute documentary “Back to the Jungle”. Again there’s cast, character and crew biographies as well as action stills, behind the scene stills and publicity shots.
21 uncut episodes and a 24 minute documentary called “The Final Mission”. Also included: cast, character and crew biographies, action stills, behind the scene stills and publicity shots.
The standout extras are clearly the documentaries which are great watches, really informative and interesting and make it a much more appealing purchase.
For 15 discs at a cost of $49.99 this collection is an absolute steal. A must have for any fan of the show as the seasons are quite expensive separately and you’re getting the original soundtrack.
Also I feel it is a much better purchase than the $124 version, it might look cooler but ouch that’s expensive. And it seems that the content is pretty similar, the limited edition comes with an episode guide booklet and a few more text and photo extras but still not enough to warrant the huge leap in price.
The box-set itself is great, each season has its own case with artwork and the case is not one of those fidgety click in ones which I always end up breaking.