Soap (TV series)

From Academic Kids

Soap was a sitcom which ran on the ABC network from 1977 through 1981. The show was designed as a weekly, primetime half hour comedy whose format was similar to that of a soap opera. The format was augmented by the introduction of real-life soap opera actors into the cast. Robert Mandan had previously been seen on Search for Tomorrow and Donnelly Rhodes was the first husband of Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless.

The show was controversial for its time, as it included one of the first regular gay characters depicted in a prime-time network television series in the United States. (Soap is commonly mistaken for the first series to include a sustained gay character, but at least one other series, 1972's The Corner Bar, preceded it.) This character, Jodie Dallas, was played by actor Billy Crystal. Many stations refused to air the series because of a gay character.

The show started each week with a shot of two women chatting over lunch. The announcer, Rod Roddy, would intone, "This is the story of two sisters: Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell". The Tate family was very wealthy. In the very first opening sequence, the announcer said that the Tates lived in a neighborhood known as "rich". Jessica liked life but if she could change anything about hers, she would set it all to music. The Tates employed a sarcastic butler, Benson, played by Robert Guillaume (the character of Benson was spun off into his own series, Benson, in 1979.) Jessica and her husband, Chester, were hardly models of fidelity, as their various love affairs resulted in several family mishaps, including the murder of the first son of Mary's sister's second husband, Peter (Robert Urich), in the early days of the show. Even though everyone told Jessica about Chester's affairs, she did not believe it until she saw it with her own two eyes: one afternoon, while out to lunch with her sister Mary, she spotted Chester necking with his secretary. Heartbroken, she sobbed in her sister's arms. While Soap was a sitcom at its core, the show, at times, had many dramatic scenes that were performed like a real soap opera.

Mary's family, the Campbells, were more middle-class. Mary also liked life but the announcer intoned that "life wasn't so crazy about her." The Campbells had the problem that Mary's son Danny Dallas was a junior gangster in training. Danny was told to kill his stepfather Burt when it was revealed that Danny's father did not commit suicide, but instead was killed by Burt out of his love for Mary.

Other plot lines involved Jessica's daughter, Corinne, having a love affair with Father Tim Flotsky (another controversial subject which caused many stations to refuse to air the show); Mary's stepson Chuck, a ventriloquist whose alter ego was his dummy Bob, who voiced all of the negative comments that Chuck was too repressed to say; Jessica's love affair with a Latin American revolutionary; Billy Tate having an affair with his schoolteacher; Danny in a relationship with an African-American woman and Mary's husband Burt being replaced by an alien look-alike.

At the beginning and end of the show, off camera announcer Rod Roddy would give a brief description of the convoluted storyline and then he would conclude it with the line, "Confused? You won't be, after tonight's (or this week's) episode of...Soap".

The series ended abruptly; the final episode contained several cliffhangers that were never resolved. However, the spirit of Jessica (who was last seen facing a firing squad) later appeared on "Benson" and revealed that she was not dead, but in a coma.

There were 4 seasons. Seasons 1, 2, and 3 are currently available on DVD.

Major characters and the actors who portrayed them

The show was created, written, produced and directed by Susan Harris.

External Links

Soap- An ABC-TV series (http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/8163/soap.htm) - a fansitesv:Lödder

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