This wacky, irreverent, groundbreaking sitcom finally came to a close with the 1980-81 season, having revolutionized the form and ushered in a new era of prime-time TV expressiveness with regard to hitherto taboo subjects. The show's writers drew from a seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of creativity, crafting the most outlandish situations and practically daring the audience to say, "Oh, come on! This time they've gone too far." Somehow, though, that never seemed to happen: The series maintained a loyal fan base, and the producers honestly expected ABC to pick it up for a fifth season (which is why the finale is loaded with unresolved conflicts and cliffhangers). The year opened with Jessica Tate (
Katherine Helmond) being revived from the dead while her sister, Mary Campbell ( Cathryn Damon), was giving birth to a baby boy she feared had been spawned by aliens who abducted her. Things got stranger from there. Jessica's daughters, Eunice ( Jennifer Salt) and Corrinne ( Diana Canova), actually drew cards to decide which one of them would wind up with ex-con Dutch ( Donnelly Rhodes). Her son, Billy ( Jimmy Baio), found himself being shot at by his former teacher and lover, Leslie (Marla Pennington). As the season progressed, Jodie Dallas ( Billy Crystal) became embroiled in a custody battle, Jessica took up with a Latin American revolutionary named El Puerco ( Gregory Sierra) -- while her husband, Chester ( Robert Mandan), steamed -- and Mary's husband, Burt ( Richard Mulligan), once again became a target of mobsters. The 22 episodes got progressively crazier, making nervous wrecks of network executives worried about the show's lightheartedly dismissive view of contemporary values. We're not certain how Soap would have fared had it been renewed for a fifth season; it would have been all but impossible to top the deliriously funny episodes you'll find collected in this box set.
Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse