I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Monday, April 02, 2007

"Soap" (1977-1981)

This comedic soap opera is guilty of the sin of never resolving story lines after its four-season run, but it provided a lot of fun -- and controversy -- while it existed.

The heart of the show were two sisters, Jessica (Katherine Helmond) and Mary (Cathryn Damon). Jessica married rich, to a philandering business man named Chester (Robert Mandan). Their three kids were conservative Eunice (Jennifer Salt), wild child Corrinne (Diana Canova) and smart-aleck Billy (Jimmy Baio). Mary and Jessica's shell-shocked war vet dad, The Major (Arthur Peterson), lived with Jessica's family. Benson (Robert Gulliame) was the family's tell-it-like-it-is butler.

Mary's husband was construction worker Burt (Richard Mulligan) a nervous type. Burt was stepdad to Jodie (Billy Crystal), who was gay, and Danny, a hothead (Ted Wass). Later, Burt's son Chuck (Jay Johnson) showed up with his venquiloist doll, Bob. Bob never left Chuck's side, and constantly insulted everyone.

Craziness permeated the show, which ended the first season with Jessica on trial for the murder of Peter Campbell (Robert Urich), a tennis pro who both she and Corinne were seeing. It turned out that Chester did the crime, and he was sent to prison. Chester broke out and later lost his memory, while Jessica played around with Det. Donahue (John Byner). Other major story lines found Danny married to Elaine (Dinah Manoff), a mafia don's daughter; Jodie fighting for custody of his daughter against Carol (Rebecca Balding), a woman whom he slept with once; Danny's interracial romance with Polly (Lynne Moody); Billy being caught up in a cult; Burt being kidnapped and cloned by aliens; Corinne marrying Timothy (Sal Viscuso), an ex-priest and having a baby with him that was possessed.

The show was criticized by many religious and TV watchdog groups while it aired for depictions of homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and just plain naughty humor. The series ended with Jessica being shot -- and perhaps killed -- by Latin revolutionaries and Burt unknowingly walking into a trap where a rackateer's henchmen were preparing to gun him down.

Katherine Helmond later appeared on the sitcom "Who's The Boss" (1984-1992). The late Richard Mulligan was in the movie S.O.B. (1981) and the sitcom "Empty Nest" (1988-1995). Robert Guilliame left "Soap" and had a spin-off sitcom, "Benson" (1979-1986). He was replaced on "Soap" by Roscoe Lee Brown. Diana Canova later appeared on the short-lived sitcom "Throb" (1986).

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