Picks and Pans Review: Vietnam War Story

updated 07/25/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/25/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

HBO (Wed., July 20, 10 p.m. ET)


Last summer, HBO presented three Vietnam War Stories that were, perhaps, unsubtle but at least weren't insultingly simplistic like Platoon, Tour of Duty and all the rest of the hormonal war-movie revisionism Hollywood was spewing out then. Now HBO revives the series with one War Story this week, another next week and four more in August. They are still good, not great. In this first show, Tim Guinee plays a good-hearted farm boy—soldier who befriends some Vietnamese villagers but learns through the brutal, ugly, evil action of the other side that friendship means little or nothing in this war. The moral of the story—innocence lost and all that—is a touch too obvious. Grade: B This week's show may be drawn in primary colors, but next week's (same time, same channel, same price) is written in neon and halogen. Tate Donovan plays a soldier who goes on R & R in Hawaii with his sweet '60s wife (Cynthia Bain). But he can't talk to her, make love to her or be civil to her because of the war. "The smell of dead bodies," he sneers, "do you smell that in your bridal shop?" A stinker.

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