DVD Review: Soap: The complete series

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
SRP: $59.95

Stars: Richard Mulligan, Billy Crystal, Jay Johnson, Cathryn Damon, Katherine Helmond.

This is the story of two sisters: Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell.
These are the Tates
And these are the Campbells.
And this…is Soap.

When Soap debuted in 1977, it was a daring, controversial, and very funny parody of daytime soaps. Thirty-one years later, there is little controversial about it, but it still remains a very funny series.

Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon)is married to Burt (Richard Mulligan), her second husband. Mary does not know that Burt had a role in the death of her first husband (who was a gangster). His guilt is currently causing him to have difficulties performing his husbandly duties.

Mary has two children from her first husband: Danny (Ted Wass), who is following in his father’s criminal footsteps and wants to kill Burt, and Jodie (Billy Crystal) a gay man that is trying to decide whether or not to become a woman.

Burt has two sons from his previous marriage. Chuck (Jay Johnson), a polite young man who is a ventriloquist…that can’t be without his abrasive dummy Bob, and Peter (Robert Urich) a handsome young tennis pro that is a bit of a …tramp. As has been pointed out, he already has some connections to the family.

Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) is a sweet, caring lady that seems not to bright, yet often surprises folks with her insight. Jessica is married to Chester (Robert Mandan). Chester is an arrogant conniving, womanizer. At the start of the show, Jessica is having an affair of her own, with Burt’s son Peter.

The Tates have two daughters and a son. Euince Jennifer Salt) is the oldest daughter, and is rather uptight and conservative. She is having an affair with a senator. Eventually she settles down with an escaped felon.

Corrine (Diana Canova) is the middle child and is…well a bit of a tramp. She also lives at home but rarely sleeps there. She is, at the start of the show, also sleeping with Burt’s son Peter. Later, she settles down and falls in love with a priest. He ends up leaving the priesthood; they get married and have a baby that is possessed by the devil.

Billy (Jimmy Baio) is the youngest and is just starting to date. He might be the only actually normal one of the bunch. During the series, he ends up having a relationship with his teacher as well as getting kidnapped by a cult.

The Tates also live with Jessica’s father, The Major (Arthur Peterson Jr,), who suffers from dementia and thinks that he’s stuck in enemy territory during WW II.

Finally, the Tates have a bulter named Benson. Benson (Robert Guillaume) genuinely cares for Billy and Jessica and seriously despises Chester. He also is not too fond of taking orders from people. Benson is the source of some of the best lines of the series. Eventually, Benson got his own series in which he worked in the Govenor’s mansion and ends up the Lt. Govenor.

Among the things that occur in the series is murder, infidelity, alien abduction, illegitimate children, vengeful mobsters, sex change operations, same sex relationships, cults, student/teacher relationships, alien/human relationships, prison, trials, South American revolutionaries, demonic possession, blackmail, impotency and hypnosis.

Sadly, there are no extras here. It would have been nice to get the surviving cast members together to talk about the series. I think it would be interesting to hear their thoughts on the show after all these years.

One thing I have to point out is that there is nothing new here. If you have already purchased the individual seasons, you are all set. But folks that do not already own Soap really should pick this up. While the last season is hit and miss, the earlier seasons are fantastic and make this a must buy.

Order Soap from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.