SOAP was amazing when it aired, and it still has a lot going for it. The slapstick scenes are impeccable, the comedy is brilliant and sharp, and the heartwrenching scenes are so well done! It's the story of two sisters and their respective families - Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell. In true soap opera form in this second season someone is convicted of murder wrongly, everyone seems to have an affair, several people have near nervous breakdowns, somebody gets kidnapped by aliens, impossible love rears its head several times, and somebody forgets who they are! This doesn't even BEGIN to cover all that happens!
SOAP moved at lightning speed doing what most soap operas take years to develop. I watched it back in the days it was on, and I was afraid it would not hold up well. Guess what? It does! SOAP was funny because of the characters not topical discussions. Sure there are plenty of 70s touches - the costumes, the way the show looks, but it's still funny and moving. The ensemble was unbeatable!
The DVD gives you 23 episodes spread out over 3 discs. You also get an unaried PILOT, and a featurette with the creators. It was the FIRST show to have a content warning before it aired, the first show with an openly gay character (Billy Crystal as Jody Dallas), and it's soooooo irreverant and politcally incorrect! Black jokes, gay jokes, veteran jokes, talk about orgasms, talk about infidelity, talk about impotence, mental health issues, hookers, politicians -- I could go on and on with the tabboos this show broke! It seems a little less sensational here in 2004, but it's still something special. Too bad they didn't put more on the discs - COMMENTARY FOR SEASON 3 PLEASE!, but the show itself is well worth the price! Is the picture quality poor? Not too bad but you do see some flaws, but that may be because of the way networks taped shows back then. SOAP was never high on production values, just high on its own giddy satire! Like video laughing gas!
Most Soap fans will probably agree that the show's second season ranks as its best. Not only do we get the full cast returning from season one, but there's John Byner as lovestruck Detective Donahue, and Donnely Rhodes as Chester's partner-in-crime, Dutch. Billy Tate finally gets a chance to shine. And Chuck and Bob's "mindreading" act has to be one of the most inspired bits of nonsense ever dreamed up by the writers in 4 years of...well, inspired nonsense.
But...I don't want to give away too much. You just have to see for yourself the sidesplitting, often absurb moments...and the occasional heart-tugging ones. Robert Guillame picked up an Emmy. But my favorite actor, and character, is still Richard Mulligan's Burt Campbell.
Confused? You won't be, after watching the 20-minute featurette, "Creators Come Clean." Witness Soap creators Susan Harris, Tony Thomas, and the impossibly chatty Paul Witt wax nostalgic about casting the landmark sitcom. My only complaint about this welcome insight into the show is that NONE of the actors appear to offer comments. Still, you may recall that Season One had absolutely NO supplemental features, so it's still a welcome treat.
Now...for the sake of Soap fans everywhere (and poor Burt Campbell...oops! I'm saying too much again) let's have Seasons 3 and 4 without delay!
The second season of SOAP picks up the story right after the cliffhanger ending of season one. Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) has been convicted of murdering Peter, and now is about to be sent to prison. But as we know, she is innocent. Her husband Chester (Robert Mandan) confesses his guilt and Jessica is a free woman.
This season has many many plots going at once (much more than season one which mainly focused on establishing the relationships and the dominating storyline of Peter's murder and the subsequent trial).
Chester's incarceration and escape from prison sets up the main story for season two. He hides out in the Tate cellar with fellow escapee Dutch (Donnelly Rhodes) who later becomes the unlikely love interest of Eunice (Jennifer Salt). Corrine's (Diana Canova) marriage to `fallen priest' Timothy Flotski ( Sal Viscuso) and Danny's (Ted Wass) marriage to Mob boss' daughter Elaine (Dinah Manoff) are the 2 big weddings of the season.
A dissatisfied Mary (Cathryn Damon) goes back to college, which sets up her marriage to Burt (Richard Mulligan) to have a complete breakdown. After he finds her in a compromising position with her teacher, he gets drunk and spends the night with secretary Sally (Caroline McWilliams), who is actually being blackmailed by the one and only Ingrid (Inga Swenson)!
Confused? That's the idea! SOAP is a complete send-up of the convuluted plots and subplots of soap-operas.
Other choice moments, like Corrine's baby from hell and Elaine's kidnapping, only add to the zaniness and sheer genius that Susan Harris created in SOAP, which can be hilariously funny and yet deeply moving. By this time we have really come to care about these characters. SOAP does indeed walk the line between comedy and drama, which is why the show is still timeless and recommended viewing. And of course there's the trademark season cliffhanger (Burt being abducted by aliens!).
Unlike the bare-bones release of season one, the second set of SOAP contains interviews with Susan Harris as well as the other producers, and an `encore presentation' of the first episode.
Roll on Season Three!
on October 2, 2004
I just finished watching the second season of "Soap" and the bonus interview with the creators. The season was pure genius, and it amazes me that television like this ever made it past someone like Fred Silverman. Of course, because of network issues (and America as a whole, at that time) the series was spun off and diluted ("Benson," anyone?) but the originality and unassailable creativity that existed during the first and second seasons of "Soap" live on now, thanks to these DVD releases.
After watching the first two seasons of "Soap," I have come to the conclusion that Susan Harris was the brightest, most brilliant writer ever to work in the medium of television. Ms. Harris (along with her collaborators) created not only "Soap," but "Golden Girls," and "Empty Nest." What I found devestating was this: nowadays, sitcoms are written by committee. During the first two seasons of "Soap," Ms. Harris wrote over 70% of the shows BY HERSELF, and co-wrote the rest. This woman was working every week, coming up with brilliant, side-splitting comedy, all the while bucking the system and disproving stereotypes, and the proof lies on these delicious little silver platters.
Harris, along with her partners, created a wonderful company of mostly Broadway theatre actors, and they utilized them to their best. Dinah Manoff does a delicious bit in "Soap" as the shrewish mob daughter, and then was resurrected years later for her brilliant turn in "Empty Nest." Witt/Thomas/Harris did a tremendous thing, and created a sort of repertory company of wonderful actors who spanned all of their series. The delighful Richard Mulligan turns up in every one of their series. The sensational Doris Roberts (another terrific actress whose roots lie in the NY stage) also shows up in this DVD set. My personal favorite is Inga Swenson, star of the Broadway musical "110 in the Shade," as the sadistic, revenge-driven Scandanivian maid. True to repertory form, she turned up later on "Benson," as another character, which allowed the multi-faceted Ms. Swenson a chance to shine as two completely different characters.
Harris was able to illuminate something here that very few writers do, and it was a gift to all of the actors who played her parts. None of her characters are "stock," or one dimensional. The divine Kathryn Helmond is a dumb socialite, but one with whom everyone could sympathize, because she was a tender, caring human being. She was a living, breathing, dichotemy. (As we all are, really.) Same with every single other character who appeared on "Soap." It is a remarkable achievement, and what makes "Soap," at its core, so brilliant still today.
Ms. Harris herself turns up playing a prostitute in one of the Season 1 episodes. She looks terrific. She doesn't look a day older during the contemporary interviews on the Season 2 set, which leads me to believe that not only is she a talented writer, but she somehow trumped Ponce de Leon somewhere along her travels.
Ms. Harris, I hope that someday you get the full credit that you richly deserve. Everyone else? Buy both seasons of "Soap" on DVD. It's a wonderous, hysterical experience, and an eye into one of our best (albeit underappreciated) contemporary writers.
In the annals of television history, "Soap" ranks as one of the most outrageous sitcoms ever aired on an American network. Ribald, over the top, whimsical, and with the potential to offend large segments of society, "Soap" handily lived up to each of these elements and more. But most importantly the show about two wacko families living lives of utter weirdness was incredibly hilarious. I was a mere seven years old when the program appeared in the late 1970s, but I did remember bits and pieces of the show since my parents let me watch it with them. I know; I can't believe they let a youngster view a program like this one, either, but they rightly figured that my tender age prevented me from understanding the adult themes behind the comedy. Of course, you didn't need to understand much to laugh at the physical machinations of Richard Mulligan. When I finally saw a few episodes on cable a few years back, I finally understood the ruckus. I usually avoid watching television nowadays, but I put "Soap" right up there with "The Rockford Files" as my two favorite network shows. It's great to see the former arrive on DVD.
In true soap opera fashion, the second season of "Soap" picks up right where the prior season ended. The shocking denouement of Jessica Tate's (Katherine Helmond) murder trial ends with a startling revelation, one that sees someone very close to her confess to the crime. He goes off to jail only to meet a hardened con named Dutch (Donnelly Rhodes). The two eventually escape from prison, which leads to a romantic relationship between Dutch and Jessica's spoiled daughter Eunice (Jennifer Salt). Chester receives a head injury and suffers a bout of amnesia. Jessica faces a dilemma when she falls in love with Detective Donahue (John Byner) and must decide whether to stay with him or remain faithful to her husband. The second season also provides more information concerning the problematic marriage of Corinne and Tim Flotsky (Diana Canova and Sal Viscuso). The two have the typical problems a couple might encounter when the wife is a reformed tart and the husband a former priest. Billy (Jimmy Baio) has several memorable adventures. The Major engages in his usual antics, and Benson remains a hilarious island of sanity.
Then we have the Campbells and their wacky problems. Mary (Cathryn Damon) decides to enroll in college, much to the chagrin of Burt (Richard Mulligan) when he discovers his wife and a college professor might be engaging in more than cracking the books. His disgust over this possible affair leads him to the arms of Sally (Caroline McWilliams) and, by extension, the evil Ingrid (Inga Swenson). Jodie (Billy Crystal) has his own problems, including a baby on the way with a woman as well as continuing problems explaining his sexual orientation to outsiders. Danny (Ted Wass) and Elaine (Dinah Manoff) must deal learn to deal with each other, which they do, right before a tragedy involving their respective backgrounds in organized crime throws their relationship into jeopardy. Expect to see more hilarious hijinks from Chuck and Bob Campbell (Jay Johnson). The high point of the season involves a series of episodes that sees Burt dealing with extraterrestrials. The aliens abduct him, he meets a 4000-year-old man, and he struggles to return to earth. Whew! That's a lot of ground to cover, and even then I'm leaving out a bunch of minor story arcs.
Susan Harris and company deliver the goods once again in the second season of this fantastic television series. Only in the 1970s could you put this much wackiness on the air and get away with it. Alien abductions and demonic babies mixed with murder trials and romantic entanglements sure don't sound like the formula for a winning television series, but the creators of "Soap" make it all come together in fine fashion. As in the first season, the cast has amazing chemistry, and they possess the chops to pull off the most insane scenarios imaginable. Once again Richard Mulligan works his frenetic magic as the high-strung Burt Campbell. He's my favorite character by far in this show, and it's always a pleasure to see him in action. If I had to critique the second season in any way, I would say that we're already starting to see a softening in the format that would eventually lead to the show's demise a couple of years later. I suspect Harris didn't write as many of the scripts from this point on, although I can't prove it. I did notice that we got a lot fewer of those great Jessica Tate speeches, the ones where she rambles on and on following an internal logic only she understands. I missed those speeches, and I always suspected Harris wrote them.
I'm just trying to find something to complain about at this point. The second season of "Soap" will keep you entertained for hours and hours. It's great to revisit this show once again, and it's great that they're releasing them on DVD. The episodes on these discs look and sound better than the ones we saw on the first season, although the quality still leaves a lot to be desired. Even better, the people releasing the DVDs included the pilot episode as a bonus (I thought this was on the first season but maybe I'm mistaken) and a featurette containing an interview with Susan Harris and producers Tony Thomas and Paul Junger Witt. Aside from the fact that Harris hardly says a word during this interview, we still learn a lot about the show and its history. They explain how they kept track of the various story arcs and how they confronted the criticism aimed at the show before it even aired. Good stuff. Season two gets five stars from me. I can't wait to move on to the next!
"Soap" was a virtual runaway hit by the time it began its second season in the fall of 1978. Gone were the harsh critics and religious groups and now it was time for the show to really entertain its audience.
This season Susan Harris, again writing every single episode herself, wrote stories surrounding who killed Peter Tate?...it was not Jessica. Others stories included Danny falling in love with Elaine, the mob boss' daughter (played to perfection by Sorrell Brooke from "Dukes of Hazzard" fame), Chester's memory loss, Eunice falling in love with a prison convict, Corrine having a baby by a priest with the baby being possessed by satan and much, much more. For me the real treat wasn't so much in the stories (although I love the show), but the fact that I loved looking at Ted Waas' tight jeans. It is not hard to tell this guy was blessed by God!
on July 27, 2004
As a thirteen year old in 1978, I discovered Soap thanks to the hype in TV Guide towards the end of the first season. The recap episode before season 2 helped me catch up on what I missed during the summer reruns. But it was season 2, the season on this DVD, is when I first started watching faithfully each week.
At the time, due to the mature content (tame by today's standards but very mature in the late 70's), the show aired after 9pm EST. Since this was after my bed time, I would pretend to go to sleep. When air time came, I'd turn on my portable black and white TV (in the dark with the volume low) and sit close to take the show in. I was hooked!
This show is both very funny and very touching. Susan Harris was a master at the scripts. The cast was talented and multi-faceted. This is a classic comedy whose storylines are still very viewable and enjoyable today.
Can't wait for the rest of the seasons! This is one show I'll be happy to own the entire run for.
Despite the gripes that some had with the first Soap DVD, the set still sold like hotcakes, prompting Columbia-TriStar to reward the loyal fans of the classic show with the release of the second season DVD - with extras. Though, with the exception of the special features, you shouldn't expect that much of an upgrade in terms of picture quality and packaging considering the economical price tag which is exactly the same as the first set's initial price. As with the first DVD set, I'm sure fans will continue to buy Soap for the soap. The special features included this time around are just icing on the cake. Keep 'em coming Columbia-TriStar!
Making-Of Featurette: "The Creators Come Clean"
Bonus Episode: The Season 1 Pilot
Previews of other Columbia-TriStar releases
on September 23, 2004
In brief Soap is humorous. Soap has a series of plots that you can follow,just like otehr soap's - of course what makes soap funny is that it is a satire on the real soap's. And from the soaps I saw the story is not much different except that the people are making funny comments instead of crying all the time.
The show was made in the late 70's and being over 25 years old I do nto find that is has become dated, and it has retained it's humor.
The BAD thing! How long must I wait for volumne three!!!???
I need to find out what happens to Bert, which man will Jessica selects how does Danny get away from the killers, and who will rescue Billy!!!
Tri-Star hurry with volumne three!!!
on September 11, 2004
You forget how well written and acted this series was. It shows something that we all remember a character or at least that it was on the air for such a short period and we still think of it today. They could hardly get by back then showing and saying on tv what they did but with the PC police it couldn't be done today. They may fun of everything and everyone equally. They said "fagalots", "homoboy", "chinks", "sambo" and we're just up to show 10 in the first season. Filmed before a live audience, what great actors!!!! Everyone needs to see SOAP again!!!!