Show Type: Sitcom
First Telecast: September 13, 1977
Last Telecast: April 20, 1981
Chester Tate..... Robert Mandan
Jessica Tate..... Katherine Helmond
Corrine Tate (1977-1980)..... Diana Canova
Eunice Tate..... Jennifer Salt
Billy Tate..... Jimmy Baio
Benson (1977-1979)..... Robert Guillaume
The Major..... Arthur Peterson
Mary Dallas Campbell..... Cathryn Damon
Burt Campbell..... Richard Mulligan
Jodie Dallas..... Billy Crystal
Danny Dallas..... Ted Wass
The Godfather (1977-1978)..... Richard Libertini
Claire (1977-1978)..... Kathryn Reynolds
Peter Campbell (1977)..... Robert Urich
Chuck / Bob Campbell..... Jay Johnson
Dennis Phillips (1978)..... Bob Seagren
Father Timothy Flotsky (1978-1979)..... Sal Viscuso
Carol David (1978-1981)..... Rebecca Balding
Elaine Lefkowitz (1978-1979)..... Dinah Manoff
Dutch (1978-1981)..... Donnelly Rhodes
Sally (1978-1979)..... Caroline McWilliams
Detective Donahue (1978-1980)..... John Byner
Alice (1979)..... Randee Heller
Mrs. David (1979-1981)..... Peggy Pope
Millie (1979)..... Candace Azzara
Leslie Walker (1979-1981)..... Marla Pennington
Polly Dawson (1979-1981)..... Lynne Moody
Saunders (1980-1981)..... Roscoe Lee Browne
Dr. Alan Posner (1980-1981)..... Allan Miller
Attorney E. Ronald Mallu (1978-1981)..... Eugene Roche
Carlos "El Puerco" Valdez (1980-1981)..... Gregory Sierra
Maggie Chandler (1980-1981)..... Barbara Rhoades
Gwen (1980-1981)..... Jesse Welles
Soap was undoubtedly the most controversial new series of the 77-78' "season of sex" as it was called. Even before it went on the air, ABC had received over 32,000 letters about the show - all but 9 of them against it. ABC affiliates had been picketed for planning to air it and sponsors had been urged to boycott the show (which a few did). Some ABC affiliates refused to carry it and many who did, ran it late at night.
The object of all this attention was a half-hour comedy which was billed as a satire on soap operas. It had a continuing story line but was populated by a cast that was hardly ever seen on any serious dramatic show. Sex was on practically everyone's mind and formed the basis of many of the stories.
Stories centered on the wealthy Tates and the blue-collar Campbells. Chester Tate was a pompous businessman with an urge for extramarital affairs. No wonder since his wife, Jessica, was a spaced-out, fluttery idiot. Of their three children: sexy Corrine was always putting her best attributes forward; Eunice was much quieter and more conservative and Billy, 14, was a wise-cracking brat. Living with the Tates were Jessica's father, the Major, who crawled around the floor in his old army uniform, still fighting World War II and Benson, the insolent and obnoxious black butler and cook, who commented on the events taking place.
Across town lived Jessica's sister, Mary Campbell. Her husband, Burt, was a working class guy whose main problem was dealing with stepsons: Jodie, who was gay, and Danny, who was involved with organized crime.
The major development during the first season was the murder of Peter, the handsome tennis pro - and Burt's son, who had been luring most of his female students to bed with him. First Corrine was accused, but then Jessica was arrested and subsequently convicted of the crime. In the last episode of the 77-78' season, an off-screen narrator informed viewers that she didn't really do it, and as the following season opened, Chester confessed to the crime.
Chester was sent to prison but soon escaped with Dutch, a convicted murderer. Soon thereafter, Chester lost his memory and wandered out west, where he became a cook. Dutch eloped with Eunice, Jessica fell in love with Detective Donahue - whom she had hired to find Chester. When Chester finally returned, she had to choose between the two. She choose Chester but only for a while. After a fling with South American revolutionary "El Puerco," she and Chester were divorced.
Benson the butler departed for greener pastures - his own TV show, Benson - in 1979, after rescuing Billy from a religious cult, the Sunnies. the new butler was named Saunders. Corrine Tate married ex-priest, Timothy Flotsky, but their union produced a baby possessed by the devil and the Tates had to band together to exorcise the spirit.
Across town, Burt found himself kidnapped and cloned by aliens and Mary got a few nights of uninhibited sex from the clone! But who then was the father of the baby that resulted? Jodie, Burt's gay son, decided that women are fun too and sired his own baby by Carol, but wound up in an ugly custody battle. Burt got himself elected sheriff, resulting in a run-in with the racketeer Tibbs and his hooker, Gwen. Danny, who had previously been in love with Elaine, Millie and Polly, sort of liked her.
Soap attracted a large and loyal audience and the controversy over it was confined mostly to the first season. ABC maintained that the program represented a major breakthrough in TV comedy and claimed that "through the Campbells and the Tates, many of today's social concerns will be dealt with in a comic manner." Others, however, considered Soap nothing more than an extended dirty joke being broadcast into America's living rooms. Much of the opposition to the program was led by religious groups (sound like ABC & Ellen?), including the National Council of Churches. Reverend Everett Parker, a long-time critic of TV, called Soap "a deliberate effort to break down any resistance to whatever the industry wants to put into prime time.... Who else besides the the churches is going to stand against the effort of television to tear down our moral values and make all of us into mere consumers?"
[Back to SHOW TITLES - S] [Back to THE MAIN PAGE]