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Soap - The Complete Fourth Season

4.5 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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(Oct 11, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description



Even as it struggled with lower ratings and ongoing backlash from conservative watchdogs, Soap entered its fourth and final season with big laughs and plenty of surprises. The series was beginning to lose its edge with interwoven plots even more preposterous than usual, but its primary strengths (a great ensemble cast, risk-taking writing, and a delicate combination of humor and pathos) are still abundantly evident as Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) emerges from a coma in episode 1. In the 20 episodes that follow, Burt (Robert Mulligan) will survive a blackmailing scandal and, as the new local sheriff, begin a political career; Jodie (Billy Crystal) fights for child custody, enters into psychotherapy, and begins to channel a 90-year-old Jewish man from a previous life; Mary (Cathryn Damon) suspects that her newborn child is an extraterrestrial, and devastates Jessica with a long-held secret about her past involving Chester (Robert Mandan); and the now-liberated Jessica gets involved with El Puerco (Gregory Sierra, from TV's Barney Miller), a revolutionary from the (fictional) Latin American country of Malaguay.

These and other plots--including an affair between Danny (Ted Wass) and Chester's new wife Annie (Nancy Dolman), and the climactic kidnapping of Jessica--ensured that Soap's final season was never boring for even a minute, and the one-liners are endlessly quotable as series creator Susan Harris (here backed, for the first time, by a stable of cowriters) dares to combine comedy with heavier elements of betrayal, alcoholism, life-threatening situations, and heartwarming reconciliation. These shifts of tone still qualify Soap as one of the most accomplished sitcoms in TV history (you'd be hard pressed to find a better cast capable of handling such a dynamic range of comi-tragic extremes), and with Sierra and a then-unknown Joe Mantegna providing the best laughs from an impressive guest-star lineup, the series mixed up its volatile ingredients with considerable aplomb and no small degree of genuine humanity. While some characters suffered due to the season's ambitious plotting, it's still clear that Soap could have thrived into a fifth season and beyond. Alas, it wasn't to be. Amidst threats of sponsor withdrawal and the inevitable fallout of ratings in decline, ABC pulled the plug on Soap, depriving loyal viewers to a resolution to this season's cliffhangers, which left several key characters on the brink of disaster. It's therefore regrettable that this DVD set lacks any bonus material that would provide a retrospective summation of what was, for its time, one of TV's boldest comedy experiments. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Mulligan, Katherine Helmond, Robert Guillaume, Billy Crystal, Cathryn Damon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (PCM Mono)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: October 11, 2005
  • Run Time: 524 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000AMJG5S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #97,233 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Soap - The Complete Fourth Season" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While it's true the once-brilliant "Soap" suffers major, terminal creative problems in its fourth and final season (why is Burt suddenly the sanest member of the family?), it bests practically every comedy on the air today with its daring mix of comedy, drama, romance, suspense, and pathos. Season Four offers up plenty of memorable TV moments, if fewer than the previous three seasons, including Burt's crisis of faith, El Puerco and his Juans' hilarious introduction to the family, Chester's touching and too-late realization that he loves Jessica, Dutch and Eunice's tacky wedding, and Mary's struggle to maintain her sanity amidst some veritable insanity. No show today even comes close to "Soap" even in this, its weakest season.

What Sony has done to the fourth season is appalling and a mystery. While its presentations of Seasons One through Three were technically unremarkable, much of that due to so-so source materials, at least the episodes remained intact and were presented as they were originally on ABC and on the VHS release of the series by Columbia House in the 1990s. For some reason, Sony has opted here to edit the fourth season of "Soap" by lopping off most of the pre-episode recaps ("In the last episode of 'Soap' . . ."), some of which were quite clever and none of which consumed more than 40 or so seconds of time. Worse, Sony has edited the final five, one-hour episodes of the season into ten half-hours, omitting entire scenes and essentially including heavily-edited syndicated versions of the show's home stretch. (I do not know if these are indeed the syndicated versions of these episodes, but they are significantly different than the episodes as they appeared on the Columbia House tapes, which offered uncut episodes as they appeared on ABC in 1981.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have to admit, I was very disappointed in this installment of Soap DVDs. Granted, I didn't expect extras, since they didn't really do any after season 1, but it seems like they could have tried harder for the last one.

Granted, it's been 25 years since they first aired, but I don't remember them dropping the "In the last episode of Soap..." openings in the 4th season, but they only include that on the season's first episode.

Also, I know they were probably filmed as half-hours, but the last portion of the season orginally aired in hour blocks and it seems they should have presented them that way on the DVD.

I was already annoyed that seasons 2 and 3 didn't include the retrospectives that they aired before each new season started. especially season 3's which also served as Benson's exit. However, leaving out the great season 4 one with Jessica in heaven telling everything to Bea Arthur is unforgiveable.

Since the last season was messed up by the anti-Soap campaign by Donald Wildmon, why not include the ads ABC aired explaining why it was pulled temporarily and urging people to call and voice their opinion on the show? Where is a Susan Harris interview discussing this or saying how she planned to resolve the unresolved cliffhangers in a 5th season? At the very least, they could have included the episode of Benson that sort of resolved what happened to Jessica.
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Format: DVD
It's pretty much universally acknowledged that Soap's final season was not its best. I think a large part of the blame can be attributed to the additon of several new writers to the staff. The brilliant Susan Harris was still at the wheel, but must have lost some control over the other writers. Characters we've grown to know and love seem to have changed for the worse. Two of the best-loved ones (played by, arguably, the show's best comic actors), Jessica and Burt, suddenly became less sympathetic. And Danny Dallas was certainly never that bright, but he seems to have undergone a lobotomy by the fourth season. Dutch and Eunice became increasingly irritating, Billy and the Major were neglected; and of course the loss of Diana Canova as Corinne didn't help matters.

And let me join in the chorus of Soap fans unhappy with the DVD presentation of this, the FINAL Soap set we'll ever see. A retrospective segment would seem essential, considering the way the show ended. We know the creators are still out there, as well as several cast members. Longtime fans will recall that the ghost(?) of Jessica Tate appeared in the 5th season of BENSON in an episode appropriately titled "God, I Need This Job." What a terrific "extra" that would have been for this set.

I give it 3 stars simply because Soap was a fantastic, funny, touching and original show. And even with the aforementioned detriments, season four wasn't a complete waste. And if you're a fan of the show, you'll want to have it. I just wish Sony would have spent a little more time and effort to reward our loyalty.
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Format: DVD
I've got all the "Soap" DVD sets, but this is by far the worst. By the time the series came to it's fourth season, too many good characters had left, some really dumb ones had been written in, and the plots were nothing like as entertaining as in former years. The main casualty was the loss of Robert Guillaume as Benson in the last few episodes of Season 3, his ultra-dry wit was never equalled or replaced by the lack-lustre Saunders. Secondly we also lost Diana Canova as Corrine, who was one of the better actors among the younger generation of the cast, and had been particularly effective in several emotional scenes that featured her character.

All the best and funniest plotlines such as Chester's memory loss, Corrinne's possessed baby, Billy and the Sunnies and Burt's UFO abduction (ok that one was pushing it a bit!) are distant memories. The dramatic stories were also much better, with Billy's courtroom battle for custody of his daughter as a fine example. Now, with such meagre stories as Jodie being turned into an old Jewish guy and Jessica lost in the revolution, the series struggles to maintain the viewers interest.

After greedily consuming all the episodes in the first three season DVDs - sometimes in batches of 3 or 4 at a time - I really couldn't rustle up much interest in seeing all of the Season 4 episodes after watching the first few. With Jessica not able to interact with any of the other cast due to being lost in the jungle with the dire El Puerco, and Mary turning into an alcoholic (what a horrible storyline to give one of the warmest and most level-headed characters of the whole show), you just don't feel that this is the same story any more.
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