Soap (TV Series 1977–1981) Poster

(1977–1981)

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These questions, and many more, will be answered...
selfhelpradio16 August 1999
I began watching this show when I was rather young - elementary-school aged, really, & because of its episodic nature (for I read comic books voraciously, & loved "to be continued" storylines) - well, probably because I liked the guy with the puppet - I was hooked. I watched it weekly & remember praying to God that it wouldn't be cancelled. The magic of the show was that it taught me so much. I knew little or nothing about homosexuality, infidelity, racism, hell, even the Mafia or Central American revolutions, until I watched this show. It was genuinely funny - Bert thinking he could turn invisible, Benson's "I ain't getting that," everyone talking to Bob when they knew damn well Chuck was throwing his voice - I laughed & laughed.

As I watch TV now, I really miss the topicality of this show - the fact that, with a simple parody of soap operas, they managed to bring important issues of the day to the forefront. No one was safe - even alien abductions were lampooned, years before there was an X-Files that could stand a bit of ribbing.

Yeah, it's dated, & when I saw a few episodes in repeats a while back, I was more moved by my old feelings - these were friends I hadn't seen in ages! - than by the story & the jokes. But the point was, it was brave - like "All In The Family," like "Good Times" - though not a Norman Lear creation - braver than anything on right now. Someone else suggested you watch from day one - that's not all that important, because you'll catch on soon enough (it's a soap opera, after all), but I do believe you'll come to care for the characters & their ridiculous predicaments soon enough. & you'll be amazed at how utterly clever it is.

Be warned, though - like "Twin Peaks" it doesn't really end, & if you're coming at it for the first time, you'll be sad when you get to season four's end & there's nothing following. I was.
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Timeless hilarity!
duke337 January 2002
Truthfully, i was too young to remember this show when it originally aired back in the late 70's. I do remember a lot of controversy about it, and that some stations chose to air it late rather than during primetime, because they thought it too racy.

A few years ago, I managed to catch this show on Comedy Central, and I have to admit that it is quite possibly the finest sitcom ever created. The characters were not the bland, shallow, unimaginitive figures you see on tv today. There was Jodie, the homosexual that was always unsure of his own sexuality; Chuck, the shy ventriloquist that always carried around his dummy Bob, whom Chuck thought was real, and there was NOTHING he wouldn't say; Burt, the delusional construction worker who had frequent encounters with the paranormal; Danny, the dimwit son of Burt that was mixed up in the mafia and later became a deputy sheriff; Chester, the wall street financier who slept with every woman in town except his own wife; and on and on. The cast (which includes billy crystal) was perfect...everyone played their roles so believably that you truly feel like you are watching a real dysfunctional family.

The writing and jokes were also timeless...This show was designed to take a direct pot shot at the absurdity of modern soap operas, and it hit it's mark perfectly. Most of the plotlines were like something out of a supermarket tabloid which always added to the hilarity of the show. Burt being abducted by aliens, burt thinking he can make himself invisible by snapping his fingers, jessica being captured by central american freedom fighters, jodie's baby being possessed by satan, etc...

Even 20+ years later, this show will not disappoint. While it may be tame by today's standards, it was clearly a pioneer that paved the way for a lot of today's programming.
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The best cast ever!
RalphWiggum510 November 1999
This is a show that everyone deserves a chance to see. A more brilliant cast and crew was never assembled for anything! These days, they talk about how "Friends" and "Seinfeld" have such great ensembles--"Soap" wrote the book on great ensembles! The only ones since which even come close are, first and foremost, the cast of "Remember WENN," and possibly the cast of "Frasier."

Everyone was great. Jay Johnson as demure Chuck and his daffy doll Bob, and Ted Wass as dim bulb Danny were always hilarious. Enigmatic but always worth a belly laugh was Arthur Peterson as the shell-shocked Major, forever trapped in his own little war. Anyone who's seen the episode with Sigmund, the Major's long-dead, moth-eaten stuffed dog (that he still believes to be alive) knows why the Major was so funny. Billy Crystal brought an understated air of dignity to his role as homosexual Jodie. Robert Guillaume won an Emmy beffore departing into his own spinoff as back-talking, "I-ain't-getting-that," tell-it-like-it-is butler Benson. His show, "Benson," ran longer than "Soap," and he won a Best Actor Emmy there. But the main part of the show--the planets the other characters revolved around--were Katherine Helmond, Cathryn Damon, Richard Mulligan, and Robert Mandan as the Tates and Campbells. Richard Mulligan was sidesplitting as Burt Campbell, a nervous, rubber-faced ball of energy. His physical comedy scenes were way out there, especially one where he stumbles in drunk, accidentally steps up onto a table, and is afraid to come down. Equally funny is a scene in which he and Danny are playing "police chase" while sitting in chairs in the living room. He was a great balance for the late Cathryn Damon, who beautifully and elegantly portrayed Mary Campbell. though some of her best stuff was when she really let loose (check out the third season), Damon's Mary was always a little more down-to-earth than the other characters, and one of the best-played on the show. They couldn't have matched up a better couple than these two, and it shows. Mulligan won an Emmy for "Soap" in 1980, and was nominated again the following year. Damon also won in '80, and was nominated each of the four seasons except the second, where Mary had less to do than usual. Surely, the episode she won for had to have been the one in which Mary thinks she has seen Burt disappear before her very eyes. She goes over to the Tates' house and, trying to explain it all, lapses into insanity. By the time it's done, she's saying that she's crazy and laughing hysterically. That is classic television.

Robert Mandan was big fun as pompous, skirt-chasing Chester, and was a great balance to my favorite, Katherine Helmond, as loony and delightfully dim Jessica Tate, Mary's sister. Helmond was dynamic, making the most of every second of screen time. She had a lot of top moments during the course of the show. Once, Jessica was being kidnapped by guerillas, and she has them put down their guns and help her move some furniture first, then asks if she can call "the nail lady" to cancel her appointment tomorrow--it seems that she charges anyway if you don't show up--then pulls the soldiers' own guns on them. Jessica's murder trial provides some of the show's most hilarious events. There's the time Jessica and her lawyer were in a small room outside the courtroom before the verdict is read, and her lawyer grabs her and tells her he loves her. At this moment, in comes Chester, and Jessica (fearful of what Chester would say) launches into a a waltz with her lawyer. She claims that they're learning the Hustle, and invites Chester to join. In a matter of seconds, the three are strutting around and dancing. To this day, it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen. The first day of the trial is one of the show's best scenes. Jessica, late along with her family and already having made a bad impression on the judge), bursts into the courtroom and begins hugging and greeting people as if hosting a party. She walks up to the judge and explains her tardiness, managing to unwittingly toss in an insult to "the idiotic inefficiency of the judicial system." She then looks over and gasps. She asks proudly, "Is this my jury?" She goes over to them, arms open, before she is pulled to her seat. She then has a friendly conversation with the prosecutor before getting up and trying to pull the defense and prosecution tables together. "It creates an almost antagonistic atmosphere," she says. "So 'them vs. us." She is later appalled by the slanderous words of the prosecutor and stands. "I don't have to take this--I'm going." Her attempt to storm out is stopped, but she warns: "All right, but if he continues in this manner, I will not come back tomorrow." Than, to the prosecutor: "Go ahead. But be nice." She could be dramatic, too, though; once, in one of her best moments on the show, Jessica single-handedly exorcises the Devil from her baby grandson in a bravura performance. Even after watching only one episode, it's easy to see why she was nominated (but, oddly enough, never won) for an Emmy every season that "Soap" was on the air. With a cast like this, what show could go wrong?
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An hilariously funny show!
Andy B-814 August 1999
"Soap" is one of the funniest of America's exports to the U.K. It may have been considered risque back in the late seventies but all the hullaballu about the show's contents seems silly twenty-odd years on.

The programme has been shown in it's entirity a few times in the U.K. most recently on our Paramount comedy channel. It had the most outrageous storylines and the characters were played brilliantly by all concerned - especially Katherine Helmond, Richard Mulligan and Cathryn Damon - who really were the essence of the show! Chuck & Bob, Benson and The Major were always good for a laugh whenever they were on screen.

Susan Harris wrote the entire series which has made me a great admirer of her work ever since. Of course she scored big again in the eighties with the equally brilliant Golden Girls. Some might not be aware that Susan actually appeared in two episodes of Soap as a hooker, believe it or not! My favourite storylines included the murder of Peter and the subsequent trial of Jessica, the abduction of Burt by aliens, Corinne's possessed baby and Burt trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records when he thought he was dying!

The "unique" comedy series still holds up well by todays standards and is truly worthy of the label "cult classic".
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More than An Updated Addams Family These People WERE Awesomely WEIRD!
alphaspace15 August 2001
SOAP is this hilarious serialized saga about two completely Zany sisters and, their madcap families were awesome. This show from day one never ever took itself seriously and that's its greatest claim to fame. Soap dealt bluntly and honestly about a great many pressing social issues like homosexuality, veterans, treatment of the mentally ill.... of course it also in the same breath dealt with rubber suit wearing space aliens and, psycho's with wood puppet fixations.

SOAP for as madcap as it was has a heart of gold. The whole family is welded together in a very unique but strong love. I am a gay man and yet I loved Jessica Tate she was a woman of utter charm and, bearing and she was as off and ditzy but sweet as Gracie Allen. Burns & Allen I would have loved having Jessica Tate as a mom. SOAP was a perfect fusion of the Addams family and the Three Stooges meet Dallas. When I was young SOAP was another of my hiding places on the TV landscape.

SOAP had great moments of fun but SOAP could easily as well be moving and thought provoking. You just can't go wrong buying these tapes you will definitely laugh and, you will learn many things and, get many awesome insights as well! These too are on my highly recommended list of must see items.
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How can ANYONE dislike this?
Douglas_Holmes4 July 2002
This is the greatest sitcom ever made, a tremendous parody of the trashy soap operas that were all the rage when it was in production. There was topicality -homosexuality, racism, revolution, crime, and other things- and there was plenty of comedy, physical and otherwise. In particular, I think that the thing which hooked me on this program was the psychotic young ventriloquist and his dummy, which seemed at times to be more alive than some of the people! At least it was real to him! I particularly remember the scene where there is a discussion concerning a murder and the Black dummy, Bob, looks over at Benson and remarks, "I think the Black guy did it." Benson then coolly crosses the room, yanks the dummy out of Chuck's hands and throws it out a window, which sends Chuck into furious hysterics!

This is one of the very few shows from the 1970s that I can honestly say I miss. Good job, all!
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10/10
Spoof take on daytime soap operas about 2 sisters & their families
michael_mulligan16 July 2006
I was only 10 years old when this show premiered on TV in London. But it was shown on Fridays (10.30pm) & I was allowed to enjoy the antics of the Campbells & the Tates. The characters & their situations were something I had never experienced on TV before, but the actors involved made the show an enjoyable one. Lead character Jessica (Katherine Helmond) was a lovable dope who could pull viewers heartstrings as well, she embarks on an extra marital affair with her tennis coach (who turns out to be her brother in-law's son) who's also having relationships with her daughter Corrine (Confused? You should be), who later turns her attentions to a Catholic priest. Jodie (Billy Crystal) was a gay guy intent on having gender re-alignment to win over his footballer boyfriend, when this failed he turned straight & fathered a baby girl which later sparked an ugly custody battle. Other characters worth mentioning were Burt (Jessica's brother in-law) a quirky guy who's impotent & had issues with his stepsons (wife Mary's boys)it later transpired that Burt killed Mary's first husband. Mary's first born Danny is a would be mobster who decides to quit the mob, in order to do this he enters a shotgun marriage to the boss's daughter (Danny's mob bosses went from being Italian to Jewish without mention). At the time the sexual references & American colloquialisms were unintelligible but watching re-runs on cable have reconfirmed my views that this daytime soap parody is a comic classic.
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10/10
The Best Comedy Series
andy347227 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
For me Soap has always been my favourite TV comedy series. The characters were just fantastic - brilliantly played by all especially Burt and Jessica.

Even the many small supporting characters stood out. The dopey Chief of Police Tinkler, the equally dopey Mrs David and the positively nutty Detective Donahue.

My favourite story lines included Jessica's murder trial, Burt's alien abduction and the Demonic possession of Corinne's baby.

Susan Harris wrote her characters extremely well with some great dialogue and exaggerated the soap opera clichés to the hilt. The show will always be a fondly remembered classic that, unlike some shows, doesn't fade or become less funny over time.
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An honestly funny show
pha-222 December 1998
I watched the re-runs of this hilarious show when they came on on Comedy Central (which they may still, who knows) and loved it. The show actually has an ongoing plot, which carries from the first episode through the end of the series (which, btw, is rather sad). The characters all have their own quirks or

characteristics that make them unique. Mary and Corrine were my favorites :)
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Still holds up
preppy-330 January 2006
I remember when this premiered on TV. I was in high school and this played at 9:30 at night. The original airings had a warning saying that "some material may not be suitable for younger viewers". Naturally every high school kid in the country tuned in! It was ahead of its time. It dealt with senility, racism, adultery, murder, sex...all in a funny manner! Also it had the first positive gay character on TV--Jodie played by Billy Crystal (in fact he said many gay men thanked him for how well he played it). Also it had a great cast--Katherine Helmond and Cathryn Damon especially (both won Emmys for their work on this).

I was unsure of seeing this again on DVD but--it still works! It's dated of course (especially in the clothes and hair styles) and it's nowhere near as shocking as it once was, but it's still very funny and the cast works exceptionally well together. The first three seasons are the best--it really started to fall apart during season four (it's last). However the dramatic parts never really worked--they didn't jell with the comedy well and were HORRIBLY written. Still the focus on the show was the comedy so it worked almost all of the time.

DVD: Season one is OK but the colors are faded and I've noticed bits and pieces missing from certain episodes. I assumed they got the originals but maybe not. The color got better with seasons 2 and 3. No extras on any of the discs--couldn't there have been a few little interviews with the surviving cast members? Still--I would rather have these than not. Recommended highly.
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A Very Funny Parody of Daytime T.V.
sawyertom21 May 2003
Soap was and is great. It has to be one of the best comedies ever on t.v. The lampooning and parodying of daytime t.v. was one of the best ever. It dealt with topics ranging from homosexuality to possession. The humor and one liners were classic. Some of the funniest bits and scene stealing was done by Benson, the butler. It was outrageous, funny, comical,haughty, biting satire at it's very best. There has been nothing like since, that even measure up to it. It's a classic from the seventies, that still has a bite!Daytime t.v. should look so well!
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10/10
My God, what can I say
brendanchenowith24 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Words fail me - do not do justice to the perfection and excellence of this series. I grew up watching soaps like "One Life to Live", "All My Children", "General Hospital" - with a mother and two sisters and ONE TV set, it was impossible to not see these. Anyway, I love sitcoms when they used to actually be funny, and not afraid to film in front of a live audience with adults instead of paid teenage girls who'd sit there and scream on cue when the flavor-of-the-month happened to walk on. This was staged exactly as a play. Having been in stage plays in the past, my eyes are trained to look in the background and see what's moving around there, or whom. Even with the "family portrait" opening titles, I go back and check them out a few times, to see what everyone's doing.

Anyway, this covered and spoofed every single soap cliché there was - resentful step-children; bratty bitchy bimbos who turn nice only to get killed later; prohibited par-lances with priests, politicians and pro-tennis players; multiple murders - or multiple ways to carry out ONE murder - shot, stabbed, strangled, suffocated - - AND bludgeoned. Well, the bludgeoning was always a fail-safe.

I'm renting and burning each season now and it's going to take a few weeks, but I'm going to have the time of my life. Welcome back to my living room, Tates, and Campbells, you sure were missed.
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I remember this hilarious show! contains some spoilers
Fables30 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I recall this series as a child, although I never watched when it was airing but saw all the re-runs every afternoon became hooked on this very hilarious and fabulous comedy that was basically a spoof of TV soap operas with funny, offbeat memorable characters. I always looked forward to the Announcer(Rod Roddy) who narrated the summary of the previous episode in the beginning and asked would happen in the next episode near the end of episode.

Basically the series was about two very different sisters and the oddball dysfunctional families. Jessica Tate(Katherine Helmond)was the very sweet,lovable but ditsy and scatter-brained socialite that lived in the mansion with her wealthy philandering husband Chester(Robert Mandan) and their three children, good girl Corinne(Diana Conova), the not so good girl Eunice(Jennifer Salt) and teenage Billy(Jimmy Baio). There was also the Major(Arthur Peterson), Jessica's kooky shell-shocked father who still believed the war was going on and Benson(Robert Guilliame), the sassy no-nonsense butler was the only sane person in the household or the whole show for that matter.

Then there was Mary Campbell(Cathryn Damon)her older, sensible more down-to-earth sister who was the only normal person in her household that consisted of her lovable but kooky blue-collar second husband Burt Campbell(Richard Milligan) and her two sons from her previous marriage, the dim-witted Danny Dallas(Ted Wass) and homosexual Jodie(Billy Crystal). Later came one of Burt's sons Chuck(Jay Johnson), a ventriloquist who always has his wise-cracking dummy Bob with him that he seems to believe is another person.

This show was ahead of it's time sometimes with it's kooky, and even controversial yet funny story lines from homosexuality, alien abduption, mafia, devil-possession, interracial relationships, student/teacher relationship, amnesia to murder etc. Standout was Helmond who played Jessica comedic dizziness yet with sweet child-like innocence that you'll loved her character even if she wasn't the brightest bulb and her relationship with her sister Mary was the best part since it was very believable. Others were Milligan as Burt was sweet yet clownish and comedic talent reminded me of Jerry Lewis or the Three Stooges plus he had the most interesting story lines from thinking he was invisible to being kidnapped by aliens and The crazy Major stole every scene he was in as with his hilarious antics in the Tate's household where he lived in his own little world. But one of my favorites was Chuck and Bob who were a riot especially since the dummy Bob had the most funny dialogue and more lines than Chuck did. I also recall this series had a lot of known actors/actresses such as Robert Urich, Lynne Moody, Dinah Manoff, Randee Handler, Caroline McWilliams and Inga Swenson. It was shame that they ended this series so soon especially leaving viewers with a cliffhanger. Fortunately some of the actors moved onto bigger things. First Robert Guillame left the show after two seasons to star in his own spin-off "Benson" which lasted much longer(which also starred both Swenson and McWilliams) and was replaced by Saunders(Roscoe Lee Browne). Katherine Helmond went on to portray Mona in the 1980s hit comedy "Who's The Boss", Richard Milligan also starred in hit 80's sitcom "Empty Nest" which also starred Dinah Manoff and was Ted Wass played Blossom's dad in the 90's sitcom "Blossom". Last on least the legendary Billy Crystal went on to appear on "Saturday Night Live" and later became a one of the most popular comedians to hit the big screen and host the Emmys.

I always wished that there could have been a reunion show so at least we could find out what happened to the characters yet sadly Milligan, Damon, Peterson, and Roddy have all passed away. I hope this series comes back to TV, it did briefly air on TV Land but I will I always remember this fabulous show.
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10/10
Rich Nuts, Poor Nuts…They're All Nuts!
madbandit200020007 June 2011
Growing up watching television, I've always noticed that the best shows are the ones that question the status quo. Sure, some people might be offended, but you don't have a pulse if you enjoy something that doesn't have a pulse. Not only does "Soap", the Emmy-winning scattershot mockery of the now-endangered daytime drama, have a pulse, it has a brain, heart and soul.

The setup is in Dunn's River, a fictional Connecticut suburb where the married siblings, ditzy but good-hearted blueblood Jessica Tate (Emmy winner Kath Helmond of "Who's The Boss" and "Coach") and practical but anxious blue collar Mary Campbell (the late Emmy winner Cathryn Damon of "Webster") are the matriarchs of their own equally erratic and eccentric families.

For Jessica, she has her unfaithful stockbroker hubby Chester (Robert Mandan); night and day daughters Eunice (Jennifer Salt, daughter of Oscar-winning scribe Waldo, and now a TV/film scribe herself) and Corinne (Diana Canova); spoiled smart-aleck son Billy (Jimmy Baio, brother of Scott); demented father/WW 2 vet The Major (Arthur Peterson) and defiant butler Benson Dubois (a brilliantly sharp Robert Guillaume, who got his own spin off series after the show's first two seasons).

Mary's clan is no saner. She has her second husband, spineless wreck contractor Burt (the late Rick Mulligan of "Empty Nest"); himbo pistol-headed son Danny (Ted Wass of "Blossom); sly homosexual son Jodie (future Saturday Night Live player and Oscars Awards host Billy Crystal in a groundbreaking role) and nutty, inappropriate, ventriloquist step-son Chuck/Bob (talented Jay Johnston).

Basically, THEY ARE ALL NUTS (excluding Benson) and it's emphasized that THEY ARE ALL NUTS (excluding Benson) when they go through situations involving murder, infidelity, rape, incest, racism, homophobia, sexual teacher-student relations, interracial romance, mental breakdowns, dementia, sexual impotence, third-world country revolutions, religious cults, demonic possession (!), alien abduction (!!!) and other moments that make Agnes Dixon ("All My Children") look like a rank amateur in the art of plotting soap operas.

This delightful sitcom was practically an asylum and creator/showrunner Susan Harris ("Benson", "The Golden Girls" and scribe of the infamous abortion episode from "Maude") ran it for four years (1977-1981). A fifth season was planned, but ABC, the show's original broadcaster, axed it due to pressure from both (!) right and left-wing organizations. It's a damn shame because, aside from the works of Harris's then-mentor, Norman Lear, no sitcom has been socially brave and honest around that time. Set this show against any bow-tie-wearing reality BS today, and IT WILL WIN.

Being one of the few females in the TV showrunning game in the late 70s, Harris, who wrote nearly every episode and appeared in two as a jailed tart (!), transplanted the soap opera's serialized format and injected into a prime time show (predating the action TV serial "24"), hooking viewers by putting her characters in off-beat pickles that parody the genre (Maybe that's another reason why the show was canned: entertainment politics). It's interesting Ms. Harris, now retired, hasn't been approached by "SNL" at the time.

Series director Jay Sandrich ("The Cosby Show") expertly helmed the show's madness, accented by the romantic yet subversive music by George Aliceson Tipton (worked with equally subversive musician Harry Nilsson) and the quirky narration by the late announcer Rod Roddy ("The Price Is Right").

And there's also the cast, ranging in age. They were all so superb, it's hard to pick a favorite. It seems they were told to be themselves, and they heeded the advice. Even the guest stars are fun and they would go off to do other shows like Doris Roberts ("Remington Steele", "Everybody Loves Raymond"), Joe Mantegna ("Criminal Minds"), Sorrell Booke ("The Dukes of Hazzard") and Howard Hessman ("WKRP", "Head Of The Class"), to name a few.

A precursor to shows like "Arrested Development", "Modern Family", "30 Rock", "The Office (USA)" and "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia", "Soap" stands as a example of a sitcom that goes over the edge, and has a good time doing it. If cable networks, HBO and Showtime, established its' original scripted programming much earlier, the show would have found sanctuary from the then-Big Three TV Network cartel. Instead, it's an outstanding artifact that was ahead of its' time, exposing humanity's shortcomings in a ludicrous and (still) controversial fashion. The racy stuff will combat today's right-wing morals and left-wing political correctness, but if you can laugh when watching the show, you're a human being, albeit a wacky one.
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10/10
Hilarious ...
lambiepie-230 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
While its done a lot now, "Soap" in the late 1970's was one of the most funniest soap opera 'knock offs' there was - and kept you hooked just like a traditional soap opera. Susan Harris brought subject matter to the fore that was ahead of television time and although you laugh, you'll also cry, have feelings for the characters and get hooked watching this.

At the time, Soap was on a major network which got a lot of folks in an uproar due to much of the subject matter. But many of us youngsters who were watching Soap, have also watched the obscure "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" which wasn't on a big network, but was another Soap-opera-esquire send off with more racy adult overtones - and was as equally weird for this time in the life of television.

Soap was more zanier and focused on the same formula as the soaps today - two families - The Tates and the Cambells, whom they orbited around including the centering around themselves! But the talent - its' the talent that will surprise you - everyone is there from comedians Billy Crystal to Jay Johnson, serious actors, just tons and tons of talent and they made their characters memorable.

I liked the first few seasons and drifted away from the later seasons mostly due to getting into 'dating' and staying out late. I do intend on buying all seasons and watching the series in order to rekindle another historic time in television (as this series opened the network doors of change!), watch talent that are now superstars in acting and just enjoy one of the best spoofs EVER. I recommend this highly for the new generations to view for this is a lasting comedic treasure.
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10/10
The Best Times
iggysgrl16 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This show really touched me emotionally....i mean when Elaine died in Season 2 i was really devastated. Every time I watch it I cry, and when I think of Richard Mulligan(Burt) I cry because he died before I had even heard of him. I own all 4 seasons and I watch them all the time. I'm so nuts about this show I know who died when and how. And their birthdays. I was so sad when I found out there was only 4 seasons when there could've been 5. The best time I really enjoyed this show is when Jessica was with George, Corinne was with Tim, Eunice was with Dutch at the cabin, Billy was just Billy, Benson was around, Mary and Burt had actually "done it", Danny was with Elaine, Jodie was with Alice, the Major was in his right mind once or twice, and Chester was faithful before he had memory loss(barely though). But overall this was one of the greatest shows of all time and if I had one wish, it would be to be around in 1977 and meet the cast of the show. Because I looked some stuff up it said that everyone was a delight to be around. Even Robert Guillaume when he was still around for the show.
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10/10
Then and Now
mike-29897 May 2006
I watched this series when it first aired in the UK when I was young, single and the world was mine to explore. I laughed and cried with the characters. I am now twice the age as I was then, have moved to Australia, got married, had children, been widowed and have just watched the first 2 seasons again, 25 years later, on DVD. I again laughed and cried with the characters. Interestingly enough, my teenage daughter also laughs and cries with me, a generation gap easily linked with this awesome series. It is still a very emotional show despite everything that has happened in between. For me it has stood the test of time and will always do so.
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Chester's appetite for peanuts
tfclougher22 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Minister: What's the problem? Chester: There's no problem. She thinks it's a problem, but it's just a little thing. Minister: What do you think the problem is Mrs. Tate. Mrs.Tate: He goes through women like an elephant goes through peanuts. He cheated before the wedding. He cheated during the wedding with the bridesmaids. He cheated after the wedding.. He cheated with the nurses in the hospital when I gave birth. He cheated on our honeymoon. He cheated with the steno pool. He cheated with the other lawyers. This was the most outstanding writing I ever heard. Robert Mandan looked like such a weaselly fool and Katherine Helmond was just cool and fed up and cynical.
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Season 1 DVD
movieman_kev4 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Season 1 of the classic, hilarious, timeless satire of soap-operas, "Soap" starts it's 4 year run by introducing as to both the Tates and the Campbells. Meet the Tates. They include a shell-shocked WW2 veteran known only as the Major, his daughter, a dim-witted but sweet Jessica, her womanizing husband Chester, their daughters Corinne and Eunice, one in love with a priest, the other dating a married congressman, and son Billy, who doesn't really have much to do in Season 1. Plus their sassy black butler, Benson. Meet the Campbells. They include Mary (the Major's other daughter), her second husband Burt, who killed her first husband. Mary's, sons from her first marriage Danny, a hit-man for the mob, and Jodie a gay man who wants to be a woman. And Burt's sons, Chuck, a ventriloquist who's never without his wise mouthed dummy, and Peter, who's juggling constant affairs with both Jessica and Corrine, among others. Confused?? You won't be after seeing the first season of "Soap". The first season deals with Jodie's prospective sex change, the mysterious death of Peter Cambell and the subsequent trial,, Danny's troubles with the mob, and more. All 25 episodes of this Emmy winning ( for Art Direction, it was nominated for five others) season are utterly hilarious and has really stood the test of time. Richard Mulligan, Katherine Helmond, Billy Crystal, Robert Mandan, Robert Guillaume and Arthur Peterson in particular, all shine so very brightly. Sadly episodes 2, 16, and 17 seem to be missing some footage.

Season 1 Grade: A+

Season 1 DVD Extras: Trailers for "America's Sweethearts", "Hollywood Homicide", and two compilation trailers (one for TV Action favorites, and the other for TV Comedy favorites)

Season 2 features jailbreaks, death, amnesiacs, love triangles, and as the show grow a tad more absurd possessed babies and UFO abduction, yet the show could and WOULD get stranger. The youngest of the Tate clan, Billy gets his first storyline (well the beginnings of one anyway) and while this season isn't as great as the first one, it's still worthwhile viewing. Even if one of the character's acts way out of character (I know they changed her so that her last scene would be more meaningful, but it still rubbed me the wrong way) and a few of the story lines are stretched out for a tad too long (Chester's amnesia mostly) But as I said before, still a very good watch and far above everything that was on TV in the '78-'79 Season (except the superb first season of "Taxi")

Season 2 Grade: A

Season 2 DVD Extras: "Soap: The Creators come clean" (a 21 minute retrospective which is interesting, but like the show itself, it ends on a cliffhanger); a worthless "bonus" episode of the series premiere (now who would buy Season 2 if they didn't already have season 1??); and 3 compilation trailers for other TV DVD sets
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10/10
These are the Tates. And these are the Campbells. And this is... SOAP!
Sweet Charity29 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I was, most unfortunately, not around in 1977 when SOAP debuted and caused a great deal of controversy. Luckily, I happened to be around in 2002 when TVLand began airing episodes of SOAP as part of the "TVLand Kitschen." I had heard of SOAP and of BENSON, but had never seen either. I decided to watch an episode of the former one night on TVLand, and right away I was hooked! SOAP was a masterful creation - a delightful parody of all things daytime and foreshadowing prime-time (think about it - before there was "Who Shot J.R.?" there was "Who Killed Peter Campbell?"). It covered everything - murder, infidelity, the church, impotency, mental illness, depression, attempted suicide, the mob, alcoholism, and even aliens and exorcisms. It pushed the envelope, but tastefully so, and it was filled with endless humor (both physical and wit).

TV had never before seen a show with as large and as brilliant an ensemble as the one on SOAP, and they sure haven't seen one since. For starters you had the Tate children - bratty Eunice (Jennifer Salt), man-hungry Corinne (Diana Canova), and the long-uninformed Billy (Jimmy Baio). At the head of the family was that wealthy scoundrel Chester Tate (Robert Mandan), The Major (Arthur Peterson) - Mary & Jessica's father who was still suck in WWII, and the delightful presence of the sarcastic butler, Benson (Robert Guillaume).

In the Campbell household, you had Jay Johnson in his dual role as Burt's son Chuck and Chuck's sarcastic and obnoxious dummy, Bob, Ted Wass as mobster/heartthrob Danny Dallas, and Billy Crystal as everyone's favorite homosexual, Jodie Dallas. Head of the household Burt Campbell was played by rubbery and hilarious Richard Mulligan.

At the heart of the show, however, were two sisters - Jessica Tate (played to ditsy delight by Katherine compassion sanity by the highly underrated Cathryn Damon). You always believed these two were sisters who genuinely cared for one another and would do anything for one another.

That is - until Season 4.

I hold firm in my belief that part of the main reason for the ratings decline during Season 4 was the whole "Chester is really Danny's father" storyline. Any SOAP fan knows that Mary Campbell would NEVER have done something like that to her sister - and when you break apart the heart and soul of a show, of course the ratings are going to drop. The final season wasn't a total disaster, but seeing as how several characters seemed to be just so out of character (Mary with Chester, Jodie is really straight, etc.), it certainly wasn't up to par with the first three fabulous seasons. And sure, we'll probably never REALLY know exactly what happened to the characters - but isn't it pleasant to think that somewhere, Jessica and Mary resolved their differences, Burt and Mary got back together, and life was good (insane, but still good) for everyone in the Tate and Campbell families? :) SOAP is a wonderful show - my favorite show - and certainly deserves the lavish praise that everyone is giving it! Hooray for SOAP!
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Oh, the nostalgia
noseyq1 March 2003
I came across this one when it first aired shortly after I came to Canada, and I thought it was one of the funniest shows ever made for TV, with everyone enjoying poking fun at TV soap shows. Some of the characters were utterly brilliant and/or perfect foils for others and at times I thought I was going to do myself an injury I laughed so hard. The wonderful - though perhaps not very amazing - thing was how many of the actors went on to their own series and fame and fortune afterwards - Billy C., Katherine H., Richard S., Robert G., to name but a few, and the shorter, vignette appearances were as brilliant and memorable as some of the main roles. I was genuinely saddened when they wrote out one or two of the roles - and shocked and horrified when ABC abruptly pulled the plug on it. I guess it just showed up the real soaps for how stupid and silly they really are and the networks were making an awful lot of money from those - and still are!!!(It's incredible how people will put up with that stuff without throwing a brick through the screen!) Sadly, Soap, for all its innovative ideas and killingly-funny skits way back 25 years ago, really hasn't stood up to the test of time. TV, soaps, comedy and touchy topics have moved on and the show is no longer nearly as funny as it was originally. Now running on the Comedy Channel once a week (way too infrequently to provide the momentum it now truly needs), it still brings back twinges and some of the performances are obviously as good as they were back in the 70s. But the comedy isn't as fresh as it was, the shine is off the peach, and I guess it's fair to say that even nostalgia isn't quite what it used to be! I'm still enjoying it enough to put it on tape though - that's an opportunity I don't want to miss. Way to go, Ms Harris and your fine cast!!
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10/10
still funny after all these years!
barbiegirl18 July 2007
As I was viewing the titles On Demand I came across 8 episodes of Soap. This show was broadcast when I was a child, so the most memorable characters for me were Chuck & Bob. I forgot that Billy Crystal starred as the fabulous Jodie Dallas and stubborn, cranky butler "Benson" was introduced.

I watched each episode in delight! When each episode ended, I couldn't wait to watch the next. This show is hilarious! It reminds me of a slightly cheesier version of Arrested Development complete with the large family full of crazy characters. If you have the chance, watch the first episode but beware...you'll be hooked!
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Very Funny! I can identify with this show!
AngryGuy9 September 2000
People disagreed with my last comment on "Boy Meets World", saying that people want to escape reality through TV. But there are lots of shows that are realistic and a very good escape into TV land. One of these shows is "Soap". The main reason why I can identify with "Soap" is because my family and the Tates/Campbells are both very loony families. The Tates/Campbells has mob informants, psycho ventriloquists, cult members, sleazy congressmen and more in thier family. Mine has a 20-year old cousin with the mind of a 13 year old, a few spoiled brats, an uncle juggling Jesus and Drugs, a "model" cousin spraying perfume on people at stores and a whole lot more. Sometimes when I get p****d off about my family, I don't want to see whitewashed sitcoms about "perfect" families. I would rather see a sitcom where I feel like they KNOW my family and they are writing a hilarious parody of them. It helps cushion the blow of harsh reality on me. If you want unrealistic escapes like "Full House" and "Boy Meets World", hey, to each his own. But as for me, I'd like to laugh at a lighter approach to life. Thats the way I deal with it and that's the way I am.
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Best comedy ever made
ACW-225 March 1999
Not one of the funniest shows made but The funniest show ever made. Every character has depth (even the Major). It is just a shame that it had to finish the way it did. So many people made it big from Soap. Benson, Billy Crystal, Ted Wass to name just a few. If you have never watched it before I strongly recommend you do so. Try and watch it from episode one.
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Confused? Don't be...
KUAlum2610 May 2007
...when you watch this edition of...Soap!

The words of the now late Rod Roddy opened and closed each episode of this groundbreaking sitcom that ran on ABC for four years. I was much too young to watch this show when it premiered in 1977(I 3was five)and,because it wasn't a habit of my family's to watch,I easily missed it when it closed shop in 1981(I was nine,still not exactly 'grown up',eh?),but I ended up catching this show as a part of my "doing good in school and being a good kid" when I got to stay up on Friday nights when I was in sixth grade(this was 1983-84). What I saw of the show(since they ran five episodes a week,naturally,I missed 80% of the story arcs)had me hooked,and eventually,over the next few years,I would steadily catch nearly all the eps of this show.

Fast forward ten years. I'm in college and Comedy Central network,pre-"DAily Show" or "South PArk",runs re-runs of "Soap" practically three times a day during the week,and twice per day on the weekends. At first I don't really intend to watch,since I know I've seen practically every show(albeit not a one in a decade),and only watch the shows waiting for the "MST3K" one-hour,two-part "split" eps that followed. Sure enough,I found myself getting hooked again,even noticing and enjoying things I'd missed the first time around!

This offering from producers Susan HArris,Paul JUnger Witt and Tony Thomas was probably intended as a simple send-up of soap operas(to counter CBS' "Mary Hartman,Mary HArtman" I'm guessing),was not only groundbreaking,it was keenly written and funny. The goings-on of two families,the well-to-do Tates and the blue-collar Campbells,connected by the fact that the matriarchs of each are sisters who happen to be very close:Jessica TAte(Katherine Helmond),a sexy,bright-eyed but dim lady who is painfully loyal and trusting,and MAry Campbell(CAthryn Damon),a patient,realistic and wounded woman who values her role as a wife and a mother. Their husbands couldn't be more different:Chester Tate(Robert Mandan)is a vile,cheating lech who takes advantage of his wife's nature,and Burt CAmpbell(Richard Mulligan,a fantastic comedic actor who I still miss),a likable construction foreman who believes he's cracking up. The rest of the characters are a wild and colorful bunch I feel staggered trying to describe all of,but they include MAry's gay son(a then-unknown Billy Crystal),Jessica's adopted daughter,the sisters' father,a senile Army General who's mentally locked in 1944 and Burt's son from his first marriage,a ventriloquist whose dummy is far more interesting(And mouthy,no pun intended)than he is. Mixed in are themes of infidelity(duh!),organized crime,blackmail,sexual orientation,suicide,kidnapping,political revolution,murder,rape,lost identities,interracial dating,demonic possession and UFOs! I ask you,how could this NOT be addictive?

I've pondered,off-and-on,what would've happened to all the characters on this show,since it reached no conclusion when it did conclude nearly twenty-six years ago. I have my theories,but I mention that for this: any show that is thirty years old,only lasted four seasons and one that I probably haven't seen in quite a while can STILL evoke fond memories and tickle my imagination MUST be a great show! The themes that this show tackled(which,if I recall from some documentaries)stirred plenty of controversy in its day would,while considerably more commonplace now,still seem relevant,and I'm hoping to see it again on either TVLand or on DVD.
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