There are very few examples of the Vietnam War used as a backdrop for prime time episodic television. I know of two instances from American prime time TV shows in the late 1980’s / early 1990’s – the action drama Tour of Duty, and the emotional war drama China Beach.
Recently, I came across an additional drama – one that was actually filmed while the Vietnam War was in progress. It’s a 26-episode series called You Can’t See ‘Round Corners, based on a 1947 novel about a World War II deserter.
You Can’t See Rond Corners had a plotline that was, shall we say, melodramatic. Frankie McCoy, played by Australian actor Ken Shorter, has received his draft notice, and he is to report to the Army and eventually fight in Vietnam. He rebels against the idea of being a soldier – not because of any pacifism or nobility, but because he has other interests. Those other interest include illegal bookmaking in his neighborhood, and trying to bed his girlfriend.
This first episode is also every controversial, in that there is a scene in which Frankie takes his girlfriend to a park, and as they kiss, he tries to slide his hand up his girlfriend Margie’s skirt – apparently the actor went a little too far UP the skirt, so the reaction from the actress is quite genuine and upsetting. After the initial broadcast, the scene was edited to remove the physical grope.
Here’s the first episode of You Can’t See Round Corners in all its low-fidelity, black and white glory.
Yes, this is homegrown Australian episodic television from 1967.
Very few episodes of the series exist online, but here’s the summation of the story. Frankie deserts from military service, he makes some illegal bets that he cannot pay off, he robs an office to get some money, he gets involved with a prostitute, yeah this show just goes right down the “irredeemable bastard” checklist.
As I said, only a few episodes of this series exist online; the show has never received a proper video or DVD reissue. So if that first episode piqued your interest …
Episode 5 features…
Here’s episode 6.
We skip forward to Episode 10.
And the final episode, episode 26.
Immediately after the show was produced, the cast participated in a two-hour movie based on the TV series. As you can see, they put a few extra dollars into the production costs.
Here’s a re-shoot of the park scene between Frankie and Margie ….
Here’s one more fragment from the film, a scene where Frankie discovers what conscription into the Army is really like.
You Can’t See ‘Round Corners is an oddity to say the least … a drama about the Vietnam War that was actually filmed DURING the Vietnam War.
I’d definitely like to see the full miniseries – along with some closed captioning to get past the thick-as-vegemite Australian accents – but yeah, this is quite a curiosity.