Soap—Season 1

soap season 1 dvd episode guide
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Clever and innovative

Dated look and storylines

soap season 1 title card episode guide

Meet the Tates and the Campbells

The Tates and the Campbells are forever tied together.  Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) is married to Chester Tate (Robert Mandan) while Jessica’s sister Mary Campbell is married to Burt Campbell (Richard Mulligan).  The Tates and the Campbells aren’t like other families and when murders, illegitimate children, secret adoptions, and talking dummies surface, it is just another day in the lives of Jessica and Mary.

Soap—Season 1 aired from September 13, 1977 to March 28, 1978 on ABC.  The soap opera comedy won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Art Direction for a Comedy Series (“Episode 1”) with nominations for Outstanding Achievement in Video Tape Editing for a Series (“Episode 2”), Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series (“Episode 24”), and nominations for both Katherine Helmond and Cathryn Damon for Outstanding Leading Actress in a Comedy Series.

Soap is considered a groundbreaking series.  Not only did the style and humor of the show push boundaries, the show is credited for having a gay character as one of the regular main characters (played by Billy Crystal).  Met with controversy, the series does manage to hold up but seems a bit tame by today’s standards.

soap season 1 episode 17 jessica arrested katherine helmond

Will Jessica fry for a crime she didn’t commit?

The show is mocking traditional soap operas.  Many of the plot themes were the same as daytime and nighttime soaps but the fact that they were all crammed into the show from the onset and didn’t develop led to a lot of the humor.  Soap played with the ridiculous nature of the plots that you are supposed to take seriously in something like Days of Our Lives or General Hospital…and it had glee doing it.

The plots and goofiness of the stories work largely due to the talent of the cast.  The actors of the show are all in and seem to really revel in the show.  While the cast is all strong, I do feel a bit sorry for Eunice (Jennifer Salt), Corinne (Diana Canova), and Billy (Jimmy Baio) of the Tates since Chester, Jessica, Benson, and even the General seem to dominate that side of the family.  The “wackiness” of the Campbells is a little more balanced and that allows for a bit more even-keeled scripts though Bob and Chuck (played by Jay Johnson) are a bit of a one-trick pony.

soap season 1 episode 23 jodie sleeps with woman

Will Jodie be scared straight?

With the soap opera set-up the show is fortunately cheap (and it makes sense to look cheap).  There are only a few locations and a narrator (Rod Roddy after Casey Kasem quit after the pilot) fills in the missing details.  Like most soap operas, there are the houses, a restaurant, a hospital, and a jail…and it seems like that is usually all you need.  Soap recognizes that and utilizes that to its advantage.

Soap—Season 1 is a strong start to a memorable series.  With some pretty risqué jokes and characters, the series was something different and special.  I can also see Soap being pretty divisive.  If you like Soap, you probably see it as something unique and different…if you don’t like Soap, you probably see it as something stupid and a waste of time.  I think in the big picture, Soap is a lot like Arrested Development in characterizations and quirkiness.  Both Soap and Arrested Development were shows that either were a hit with viewers or off-putting…but both were original and different (which is something that can’t be said about all network TV).

Soap—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

soap season 1 episode 1 jessica benson katherine helmond robert guillaume

“Episode 1”

Episode 1.1     Airdate:  09/13/77

Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) tries to keep her home while carrying on an affair with her tennis pro Peter (Robert Urich) as her husband Chester (Robert Mandan) carries on an affair.  Billy (Jimmy Baio) prepares for his first date as the Major (Arthur Peterson) continues to believe he’s in the war.  Corinne (Diana Canova) carries on an affair with Jessica’s tennis pro also, and Benson (Robert Guillaume) just tries to survive the Tate house as their butler.  Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon) deals with her husband Burt (Richard Mulligan) and the fact he isn’t able to perform in bed due to having secretly killed her criminal husband.  Danny (Ted Wass) has ties to the Italian mafia and continues to deny that his brother Jodie (Billy Crystal) is gay.

soap season 1 episode 2 mary jodie billy crystal cathryn damon

“Episode 2”

Episode 1.2     Airdate:  09/20/77

Mary learns about Jessica’s affair with Peter.  Chester’s secretary Claire (Kathryn Reynolds) makes a power-play for Chester when she learns Chester is having another affair.  Jodie reveals to his mother that he’s considering a sex change.  Danny learns that his father was a member of the mob and that his bosses want him to kill his father’s killer (without knowing it is Burt).  When Burt’s estranged son comes to dinner with the Tates and Campbells, Jessica and Corrine learn that Peter is Burt’s son.

soap season 1 episode 3 mary burt cathryn damon richard mulligan

“Episode 3”

Episode 1.3     Airdate:  09/27/77

Jessica debates telling Chester about her affair with Peter, and a fight breaks out over dinner about Jodie.  Mary tries to get to the bottom of Burt’s fear of sleeping with her and tries to get Burt to like Jodie.  Danny learns Burt killed his father and is told that he will be killed if he doesn’t kill him.

soap season 1 episode 4 chester robert mandan

“Episode 4”

Episode 1.4     Airdate:  10/04/77

Corrine sees her mother with Peter and begins to suspect her.  Jodie learns that his boyfriend is considering dating women and tells him about his possible sex change.  Claire breaks up Chester’s relationship with his other mistress and demands Chester divorce Jessica.  Danny debates trying to kill Burt.

soap season 1 episode 5 burt jodie danny richard mulligan billy crystal ted wass

“Episode 5”

Episode 1.5     Airdate:  10/04/77

Jodie discovers Eunice (Jennifer Salt) is having an affair with a Congressman, and Eunice learns Jodie is dating Dennis.  Burt and Mary go to see a sex therapist.  Peter debates moving in with Corrine and learns that Jessica wants to end it with him.  When Corrine catches Jessica with Peter, Corrine accuses her mother of trying to steal her boyfriend.

soap season 1 episode 6 jessica corinne katherine helmond diana canova

Episode #6

Episode 1.6     Airdate:  10/25/77

Billy deals with losing his love with a pep talk from Chester.  Corrine decides to move in with Peter regardless of her mother’s affair.  Corrine and Eunice swap their secrets, and Jessica tries to apologize to Corrine. Burt gets word from Hawaii that his son Chuck is coming with his dummy Bob.  Corrine makes one last attempt to win her Father Tim Flotsky (Sal Viscuso) before moving in with Bob.  Danny gets his final orders to kill Burt and is ordered to do it at a remote cabin.

soap season 1 episode 7 burt danny gun richard mulligan

“Episode #7”

Episode 1.7     Airdate:  11/01/77

Chester deals with the Major’s actions and is warned that he’ll be put away if he plots anything again.  Danny tries to schedule Burt’s killing at the cabin but find Chuck (Jay Johnson) and Bob’s arrival could interfere.  Claire threatens to tell Jessica about their affair, but Chester calls her bluff…and meets with Jessica.  When Danny and Burt go camping, Danny decides to take comply the orders of Charles “the Godfather” Lefkowitz.

soap season 1 episode 8 danny jodie billy crystal gay ted wass

“Episode 8”

Episode 1.8     Airdate:  11/08/77

Danny finds he cannot kill Burt and decides he has to go into hiding.  Jodie decides to have a sit down with Danny about his sexuality and hopes Danny can accept him.  With fears for his life, Danny, Burt, and Jodie tell Mary that he’s leaving to be a spy.  Chuck and Bob meet the Tates, and an attempt is made on Danny’s life.

soap season 1 episode 9 chestr jessica mary affair

“Episode 9”

Episode 1.9     Airdate:  11/15/77

Jodie goes in for his sex change operation but finds a nurse determined to change his mind.  Burt meets with a psychiatrist and reveals how he ended up killing Mary’s husband.  A lunch out with Mary leads Jessica to learn the truth about Chester and Claire.

soap season 1 episode 10 jodie gay billy crystal sex change

“Episode 10”

Episode 1.10   Airdate:  11/22/77

Jessica questions if the family is cursed after discovering Chester is cheating and tries to convince Mary.  Mary gets a visit from Danny’s “employers” and has to hide Danny from them.  Father Tim questions his faith when Corinne continues to test him.  Jodie’s boyfriend Dennis (Bob Seagren) drops a bomb on Jodie as he plans to go under the knife.  Jodie decides to commit suicide but faces indecision when he gets a pep talk from his roommate Barney Gerber (Harold Gould) about life.

soap season 1 episode 11 katherine helmond robert mandan chester jessica

“Episode 11”

Episode 1.11   Airdate:  11/29/77

Burt and Mary’s night is interrupted by Danny and robber (Jerry Houser).  The family learns about Jodie’s suicide attempt and rushes to the hospital.  Corinne suspects Peter of cheating and warns him that he will be sorry if he does.  Jessica confronts Chester about his affair, but Chester turns it back on her when he learns about her affair.

soap season 1 episode 12 peter shot robert urich

“Episode 12”

Episode 1.12   Airdate:  12/06/77

Jessica decides what to do about Chester.  Jodie prepares to leave the hospital but finds friends in Barney and his nurse Nancy (Udana Power).  Jessica tries to mend her differences with Corinne but finds Peter is cheating on Corinne.  Corrine calls Father Tim and reveals that she has nowhere to live…and when Peter is shot in the shower, anyone could be the suspect.

soap season 1 episode 13 gordon jump benson robert guillaume

“Episode 13”

Episode 1.13   Airdate:  12/13/77

Burt and Mary celebrate a successful night of sex, but the moment is ruined when Burt discovers the body of Peter.  When Chief of Police Tinkler (Gordon Jump) arrives, the Campbells and Tates learn that they are all suspects.

soap season 1 episode 14 corinne diana canova

“Episode 14”

Episode 1.14   Airdate:  12/27/77

Chester deals with the discovery that Jessica was having an affair with Peter.  The Campbells and Tates debates who killed Peter.  Eunice tries to cover her affair with Congressman Walter McCallum (Edward Winter) when his wife gets suspicious.  Chief Tinkler finds his suspect!

soap season 1 episode 15 ingrid inga swenson bernard fox

“Episode 15”

Episode 1.15   Airdate:  01/03/78

Burt begins to go crazy as he tries to determined who killed his son.  The Tates try to get Corinne out of jail.  Ingrid Svenson (Inga Swenson) and Randolph (Bernard Fox) learn about Corinne’s arrest in Ecuador and choose to return to the United States.  Danny decides he has to make amends with the mob but meets Lefkowitz’s daughter Elaine (Dinah Manoff) when he breaks into Lefkowitz’s house.

soap season 1 episode 16 william daniels jay johnson

“Episode 16”

Episode 1.16   Airdate:  01/10/78

Corinne learns about her true mother Ingrid and questions if she can trust her mother anymore.  Ingrid’s detective Heinrich Himmel (William Daniels) has some questions for the Tates and the Campbells.  Burt’s question to find the murderer might be pushing him over the edge.

soap season 1 episode 17 elaine lefkowitz dinah manhoff sorrell brooks

“Episode 17”

Episode 1.17   Airdate:  01/17/78

Eunice and Congressman McCallum learn a blackmailer might have compromising photos of them.  With Corrine cleared of Peter’s murder, Jessica now faces jail…and Chester’s attorney (Howard Hesseman) tells Chester the bad news about the case.  Mary realizes Burt’s mental state is becoming dangerous.

soap season 1 episode 18 mary burt bathtub richard mulligan cathryn damon

Episode 18

Episode 1.18   Airdate:  01/24/78

Jessica considers jumping bail and worries that she has no worth to the family.  Mary tries to convince Bert to get help.  Chester goes to a new high price defense attorney named E. Ronald Mallu, Esq. (Eugene Roche), but learns that it has put him in financial crisis…leading him to cut off his mistress Claire (Kathryn Reynolds) who has other ideas.

soap season 1 episode 19 ingrid inga swenson

“Episode 19”

Episode 1.19   Airdate:  02/07/78

Burt’s trip to the psychiatrist Dr. Medlow (Byron Webster) doesn’t go well.  Mallu searches for character witnesses among the Tates and the Campbells.  Jessica tries to mend her differences with Corrine but finds opposition from Ingrid.  Congressman McCallum and Eunice learn that the blackmailer isn’t bluffing about evidence, but the Congressman might have made an even bigger mistake.

soap season 1 episode 20 eunice congressman mccallum jennifer salt edward winter

“Episode 20”

Episode 1.20   Airdate:  02/14/78

Danny’s attempt to end things with Elaine Lefkowitz leads to problems with her father as he calls in his “favor”.  Jodie worries about recent threats from Bob and tries to confront Chuck about it.  Burt learns he might be committed, and Jessica faces the court judge Anthony Petrillo (Charles Lane) who could have an axe to grind with Chester.

soap season 1 episode 21 danny elaine dinah manhoff ted wass

“Episode 21”

Episode 1.21   Airdate:  02/21/78

Elaine meets Danny’s family and discovers Danny might be the sane one.  Corrine seeks out Father Tim at his mountain spiritual retreat and tries to force him to make a decision.  The Major decides he has found new love at the cemetery.  Jessica’s trial begins, and Jessica doesn’t quite understand the rules of court.

soap season 1 episode 22 jessica billy jimmy baio katherine helmond

“Episode 22”

Episode 1.22   Airdate:  02/28/78

Jodie learns Mallu’s legal assistant Carol David (Rebecca Balding) can “turn” him.  Burt is checked into the hospital and worries that he doesn’t fit in.  Billy runs away from home leaving the Campbells to search for him.  Danny explains his relationship with Elaine to his mother.  Benson takes the stand for Jessica’s defense but Chester’s testimony might not be the most helpful.

soap season 1 episode 23 father tim mother doris roberts sal viscuso

“Episode 23”

Episode 1.23   Airdate:  03/14/78

Eunice has a confrontation with Walter’s wife (Judith-Marie Bergan).  Burt reveals a shocking secret to Mary that could change their relationship.  Father Tim goes home to his mother (Doris Roberts) and tells her about Corrine.  Corrine learns the secret Ingrid is plotting against her mother in her court case.  Jessica’s trial hits a problematic point when a surprise new witness could ruin Jessica’s opportunity for freedom.

soap seaosn 1 episode 24 major jessica howard hesseman katherine helmond arthur peterson

“Episode 24”

Episode 1.24   Airdate:  03/21/78

Jodie discovers his night with Carol has led him to questions about his life.  Burt tries to get back into Mary’s life despite his confession about her first husband.  Corrine returns home but must make a decision about where she wants to be.  Chester faces charges of his own as the jury prepares to deliberate on Jessica’s fate…but the Major has other plans.

soap season 1 episode 25 jessica guilty katherine helmond

“Episode 25”

Episode 1.25   Airdate:  03/28/78

Danny tries to find a way out of the marriage to Elaine but learns Burt’s plan might not be feasible.  As Jessica and Chester grow closer together, Mallu has a surprise for Jessica that she didn’t see coming.  The day has come…Jessica’s fate is determined, and the Tates and the Campbells question if justice will be served!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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