China Beach has always evinced a certain fondness for melodrama, A Promise to Keep, headed up by China's producer-director, John Sacret Young, and star, Dana Delany, positively wallows in it. The premise is a heartbreaker: Delany's sister-in-law (Mimi Kennedy) dies of cancer just days after the woman's husband was killed in a train accident. The couple's four children are then adopted by Delany and her husband, played by William Russ (Wiseguy, Capital News).
You can imagine the problems that arise: The young orphans are sad and angry and confused and quarrelsome; they fight with Delany's and Russ' three children, and let off steam with dangerous pranks like blowing up neighborhood mailboxes. The newly bursting household becomes a place of great tension. The new arrivals also put a strain on Delany's marriage. It's merciful that Delany and Russ are so good so understated and yet adept at conveying all their conflicting emotions about this situation because the script is solemn, obvious (Russ to Delany: ''I realized that when we took those kids in, our life couldn't be the same…You and the kids that's my life''), and resolutely drippy. C