'Tour of Duty' Is Turning to Home Front

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Expect a different "Tour of Duty" if the CBS series about Vietnam is renewed for fall.

In a two-hour season finale scheduled to air April 28, "Tour of Duty" will bring several of its major characters home from the war, laying the groundwork for fall episodes to deal with the hostility encountered by returning vets in the United States.

"The war continues, but now we're starting to bring our guys back to another battle--the homeland," said Zev Braun, executive producer of the series. "We will keep the war alive; we'll keep a couple guys over there. But in 1970, the war is winding down . . . our guys are like fish out of water here."

The idea of bringing home some of the platoon, he said, was born of a brainstorming session with CBS Entertainment President Jeff Sagansky. The two of them "cooked this up over breakfast or lunch, I forget which," Braun said.

"We wanted to put some of our guys up against it a la 'Born on the Fourth of July,' " he added, referring to 1989's Academy Award-nominated feature film starring Tom Cruise as a handicapped vet. "And, frankly, the guys came home to women. Hopefully, as in (the ABC Vietnam series) 'China Beach,' you'll see the women behind the war."

Whether the series will be renewed for a fourth season is questionable. "Tour of Duty" ranks 104th out of 111 prime-time programs that have aired on the three major networks this season, attracting, on average, just 13% of the available audience.

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