DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Soap: The Complete Third Season

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Aaron Silverman, Jan 24, 2005.

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  1. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Soap: The Complete Third Season

    US Original Broadcast Date: 1979-1980 Season (Columbia - TriStar)
    US DVD Release: January 25, 2005
    Running Time: Approx. 10:11:00 (22 episodes; 7 chapter stops per ~25 minute episode, 9 chapter stops in the 49-minute season finale)
    Rating: None
    Video: 1.33:1
    Audio: English DD1.0
    Subtitles: None
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English
    Menus: Not animated.
    Packaging: Fold-out 3-disc digipak with slipcase; 6-page insert with cover art from other Sony TV season sets; 4-page insert with synopses and credits for each episode
    MSRP: $29.95

    Note: This review is based on the first six episodes.

    THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3/5

    Who could have predicted the success of older TV programming on DVD? Shows that haven’t even been seen in syndication in decades are suddenly a hot commodity. What’s especially amazing is that people are gobbling up season sets of 20- and 30-year-old sitcoms when there are 150 channels of digital cable that can be automatically recorded and replayed on a whim thanks to DVR. Perhaps today’s programming is even more of a wasteland than we thought. Or perhaps people are just that nostalgic for the comedy of their youth. In reality, these older programs aren’t inherently any better or worse than their modern-day counterparts. Some are still entertaining, while others are better left to the archives of the Museum Of Television And Radio. Soap, a sitcom that was a bit ahead of its time, has held up pretty well.

    The premise of Soap is a satire of daytime soap operas. It tells the story of two sisters, Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) and Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon), and their families. The Tate family is wealthy and eccentric; while the Campbell family is middle-class and, well, slightly insane. They include such wacky characters as the philandering Chester Tate (Robert Mandan) and Chuck Campbell (Jay Johnson), who is never without his dummy Bob. The show also features a very young Billy Crystal and his full head of hair as Jodie Dallas, television comedy’s first openly gay character.

    The show threads a number of interwoven stories together, just like the soap operas that it spoofs. It jumps among them freely, covering three or four separate plots in each half-hour episode. A lot of the story lines have a rather modern feel to them, with sexual wordplay and innuendo to rival Will And Grace or Friends. This is pretty racy stuff for the ’70s!

    The one area in which Soap falls a little flat is in attempting to be serious. It suffers from “A Very Special Episode Of”-itis, which didn’t work any better in half-hour comedies of those days than it does today. One generally doesn’t pop in a sitcom episode to see things like a couple deciding to get a divorce and then bursting into heart-rending tears. While all sitcoms eventually get around to this sort of thing, Soap tends to visit this territory about once every other episode. Perhaps the producers felt that they should try to maintain a tighter bond with the daytime soaps they were spoofing, as the comedy doesn’t really have much connection to them (see post #5 below for more information on this). It isn’t necessary, but it isn’t enough to kill the show, either.


    THE WAY I SEE IT: 1.5/5

    The video doesn’t appear to have undergone much, if any, restoration. Colors are OK, if a bit oversaturated, but the transfer is taken from some very low-res source material. This is just a step above VHS quality, if that. This is one case where the picture is inherently so soft, I didn’t really mind the edge enhancement. It’s certainly no Star Trek, but to be honest, we can’t really expect too much work to be done on these older TV shows, or at least not on the ones that don’t have huge cult followings. For what it is, it’s watchable. I wouldn’t really recommend it for 96” front projection systems, though.


    THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3/5

    The Dolby Digital mono audio is perfectly acceptable. Dialogue is almost always clear, and that’s what’s important. The track is showing its age, but not as much as the video. Again, this is 25-year-old videotape that probably hasn’t seen any restoration.


    THE SWAG: 0.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)

    Previews:

    Three trailers are included for other Sony TV-on-DVD product. One is for Seinfeld, another covers various 1970s sitcoms, and the third previews more recent, short-run material like The Critic and The Tick.
    • Seinfeld (2:58)
    • Classic Comedy TV (1:31)
    • Original Programming TV (2:06)

    SUMMING IT ALL UP

    The Way I Feel About It: 3/5
    The Way I See It: 1.5/5
    The Way I Hear It: 3/5
    The Swag: 0.5/5


    Fans of Soap will be happy to continue getting season sets of an old favorite. Others, like me, who never saw it in its original run may enjoy discovering an oldie but goodie. The A/V quality is nothing special, and there are no extra features to speak of, but considering the reasonable price, it’s worth a look.
     
  2. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

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    The Way I Will Feel About Owning It Tomorrow: 5/5
     
  3. Scott Hamilton

    Scott Hamilton Stunt Coordinator

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    I am shocked at this review, this isn't a review it's a rant against Tv shows.

    Aaron you are saying old shows are terrible and that people should just copy Tv shows off digital cable. Ron would be shocked.

    You watched only 6 episodes then why post this review?
     
  4. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I have too many titles to review to put in that kind of time. Much as I enjoyed this show and wouldn't mind spending 10+ hours watching it, I simply don't have the time. The choice is between watching enough of it to get a feel for the quality or not reviewing it at all.
     
  5. Jaime_Weinman

    Jaime_Weinman Supporting Actor

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    I don't think that was quite it. Susan Harris has always talked about how what she liked about writing Soap was the freedom to change tone and go from goofy comedy to emotional moments and back again; she liked to surprise the audience by making them care about these people even though we might think, at first, that the show was only a spoof. Those changes in tone, and the fact that the show can do all different kinds of scenes, is built into the kind of show it was; it just wouldn't be the same show without those sudden shifts from wackiness to seriousness. The ultimate example of that was in a season 2 episode when a crazy, silly scene with Chuck and Bob (having nothing to do with the plot) is followed by a shocking, and totally serious, scene with Danny and Elaine.

    Whether you like the serious scenes or not is another matter (I like some of them, like the above-mentioned Danny/Elaine scene; others not so much), but I don't think they're extraneous or tacked on; they're a part of what the show was supposed to be.

    I watched the first episode of season 3. Great stuff. "We speak your Earth languages. We read and write. We also disco!"
     
  6. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the info, Jamie! I will add a note to the review.

    I didn't care too much for the serious stuff, but that's a matter of personal taste of course.


    No wonder he hadn't gotten laid in 2000 years! [​IMG]
     
  7. Tory

    Tory -The Snappy Sneezer- -Red Huck-

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    From what I see in this post, you did not intend it that way but from what I read it seemed a put down as well.
     

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