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Soap proved through its first season that although it was controversial, people still were interested in watching the program. Garnering decent ratings, the show lived for a total of four seasons. The second season continued the hilarious adventures (or should I say misadventures) of the Tates and the Campbells.

The Series
If you recall from my review of the first season of Soap, we last left our two families in a courtroom where Jessica Tate had been found guilty of the murder of Peter Campbell. The announcer informed us that she was innocent, and that one of the following people was, in fact, guilty: Jodie Dallas, Benson, Burt Campbell, Chester Tate or Corinne Tate. Season two picks up at that exact same moment and as Jessica is being lead away to jail, the true murderer, Chester, confesses in open court. Chester is subsequently taken to prison, where he meets his cellmate, Dutch. Dutch is in for murder as well, and the pair break out of prison and find themselves living in the basement of the Tate home. While there, Dutch falls in love with Eunice, and the two run off together to an abandoned farm in upstate New York.

Soap - The Complete Second Season
Elsewhere in the Tate household, Corinne and Father Tim plan to get married after Tim has left the priesthood. Tim's mother is none too thrilled with that idea, and she curses and Tim and Corinne on her deathbed. Less than two months into their marriage, Corinne finds herself five months pregnant. Despite her denials, Tim cannot believe that she has not had sex with another man. As if the fact she was five months pregnant after two months is not enough, when she gives birth to an obviously normal developed baby boy just days afterwards everyone is amazed—none more so than Corinne. Strange phenomena begin to happen around the baby and Corinne determines that the baby is possessed. The family attempts an exorcism to rid the baby of the Prince of Darkness.

Doctors diagnose Chester with a brain lesion, which has caused him to temporarily go insane (the cause for him murdering Peter). Surgery is performed and Chester appears fine, except he has no memory of who he is and who the other members of the family are. At different points he believes he is Gunga Din, Gloria Swanson and Marlene Dietrich. He disappears and his amnesia leads him across the country. Jessica hires Detective Donahue (John Byner) to find Chester, but when Donahue tells her that Chester has been killed in a train accident (in which they found his clothes and wallet), Jessica begins to fall for Detective Donahue. Chester is, in fact, alive, but he still has amnesia until he is suddenly jolted back to reality after an altercation in a diner. He returns to Jessica and she now finds herself torn between her feelings for her husband and Donahue.

Soap - The Complete Second Season
Meanwhile, things are no better in the Campbell household. Danny has been forced to marry Elaine and she makes life for him (and the rest of the family) absolutely excruciating. Through some trickery on Danny's and Burt's part, Elaine begins to soften, and, just as the two find out they really do love one another, she is kidnapped. As Danny gets together the ransom money, Elaine escapes but is shot, and she makes her way back to the Campbell doorstep only to die in Danny's arms. Danny vows to find the killers, but he is captured as the season ends.

Jodie finds out that Carol is carrying his baby and he agrees to marry her, effectively ending his relationship with Dennis. On the day of the wedding, Carol rethinks the marriage and leaves Jodie standing at the altar. He travels to Texas to confront her and although Carol doesn't want him to be, he swears to be part of the life of his child. Seeing no future, he goes to the top of a New York bridge to think things over, where he meets Alice, a lesbian who has travelled there as well to commit suicide. The two decide to go off together and a friendship results.

Burt has finally put his mental instability (in which he thought he could make himself invisible) behind him and everything seems to be going fine with Mary, until Sally, his secretary, hits on him. Mary has started night school and when her professor gives her a ride home and attacks her, Burt walks in and sees the entire thing. Believing she is having an affair with her professor, he runs back to Sally (who has an ulterior motive for what she is doing), and the two spend the night together. Not knowing that Mary kicked her professor out after the attack, Burt tries desperately to hide what he has done. Burt tries to end things with Sally, but she then goes directly to Mary and tells her about the affair and lies about other affairs that Burt has had as well. Mary leaves Burt and goes to live with Jessica. Burt vows to prove to Mary that what she believes is not true. While helping Danny track down Elaine's killers, Burt sees a UFO, and later while walking the area where he saw it, he is abducted by aliens in the final scene of the season.

Soap - The Complete Second Season
Once again, the charm in the series comes from both the very sharp writing (creator Susan Harris plotted the entire season and wrote or co-wrote every episode) and the outstanding acting. There is much physical comedy in this season, with the standouts being Richard Mulligan as Burt and Katherine Helmond as Jessica. Helmond has the uncanny ability to take a scene from uproarious laughter to deep sadness in the blink of an eye (another credit to Harris' writing as well). Benson's popularity continued to skyrocket and he would soon be rewarded with a show of his own. The situations the characters finds themselves in seem to become more absurd (and more hilarious) as the seasons progress.

Video
Shot on video tape, this leaves a somewhat washed out effect on the video transfer for this season, although it does appear cleaner than the season one set. Naturally we have a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, as widescreen was virtually unknown in the world of television at this time. Colours appear to be done well, with the exception of the dullness of the video tape. With what I am sure they had to work with (considering the show is over twenty five years old), I really can't complain too much about the video transfer, but it still is not even close to what other sets contain.

Soap - The Complete Second Season
Audio
Nothing spectacular here, but the material doesn’t really call for many bells and whistles either. Sporting a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, the audio serves the material well. All of the dialogue is very clear (which is the most important part of most situation comedies). Since the success of the show is dependent upon both the dialogue and some physical humour, there is not much that anything more than a 2.0 track could improve upon.

Extras
Unlike the first season, this set does contain a small amount of supplemental material. One feature, entitled The Creators Come Clean is a twenty minute featurette focusing on the three creators and how the series came to be. They relate how they went about casting the many varied roles and what obstacles they faced in attempting to get the show on the air. The program was derided before a single episode was ever broadcast. Various religious and gay rights groups assailed the show, and it was only with support of Fred Silverman (President of ABC at the time), that the show survived and flourished for four seasons.

The inclusion of a second extra is somewhat baffling. The distributors have decided to put the pilot episode from the series here on the second season set. It is baffling because I cannot believe that anyone would buy the second season set and not have the first season....therefore already having the pilot episode. My only thought is that it allows for Columbia Tri-Star to list more extras in the advertising for the set. A great episode, but really rather repetitive if you ask me.

The only other supplemental material is trailers for other CTHE releases. No need to watch them; we all know what they are.

Soap - The Complete Second Season
Overall
One of the most groundbreaking and innovative shows of its day, Soap continued to delight and amuse viewers with its second season. This was the show that really launched the careers of its creator, Susan Harris, and its Executive Producers, Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas. The trio would go on to create such successful programs as the aforementioned Benson, Empty Nest and their longest running show, Golden Girls, among others. This set is a trip down memory lane, and what a journey it provides. I anxiously await the release of season three (and so should you)!


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