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Soap (ABC 1977-1981, Billy Crystal, Richard Mulligan)

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‘You want me to get that?’

The butler named Benson wasn’t exactly the most eager of door-openers’this being his patent response when the doorbell rang out. But neglecting butlerian duties was just the tip of the iceberg. Soap touched on impotence, transsexuality, homosexuality, racism, extramarital affairs, single parenting, organized crime, aliens, and religion. And this was a late 70’s sitcom.

Well, a late 70’s sitcom designed to satirize cheesy daytime soap operas’which accounts for that girth of ‘issues.’ Soap operas rarely let plausibility or shock value get in the way of their plotlines, and so neither did Soap. Created by Susan Harris (later of shows like Benson, The Golden Girls and Empty Nest), Soap garnered a load of problematic publicity before it ever saw any airtime, thanks to a misleading Newsweek article that promised when the show did debut, goings-on would include the seduction of a Catholic priest in a confessional. This was all a bevy of religious groups needed to set some fervent boycotts in motion, and some believe the show never quite recovered from the preemptive witch-hunt. It was aired after the traditional ‘family hour’ in less-watched time shots, and early on, it carried a parental discretion notice with it. But past all the headlines and boycotts and advertisers with cold feet was a trailblazing sitcom, with a unique eye for inter-family outrageousness that would be heartily emulated on television in years to come.

Soap

Sisters Jessica Tate and Mary Campbell lived in Dunn’s River, Connecticut. The Tate family was loaded, the Campbells were middle class, and both clans were downright nuts. Jessica was married to the loyally disloyal and always short-on-ethics stockbroker Chester. Jessica’s kids were Billy, who would be abducted by a religious cult, and daughters Corrine and Eunice, who was having an extramarital affair with a Senator. And Jessica’s butler was Benson, played by Robert Guillaume, who would later star in the spin-off sitcom named after this wisest of wiseacre butlers.

But the Tates weren’t the only family with a monopoly on (at the time) taboo family traits. Mary was married to the impotent and always double-taking Burt. Her sons were the gay Jodie (played by Billy Crystal) and Danny, a small time mobster. Burt’s ventriloquist son Bob moved in later, always on hand with a sarcastic comment spoken through his hand puppet named Chuck. But despite all of this supposed anti-normality’and herein was the neat trick of the show’there were still family values, and there were still unassailable familial bonds. The show was notorious for shifting tones instantaneously, from outrageous comedy to heartfelt drama in the space of just a line or two.

Like any soap opera, many of the episodes were ‘to be continued’ in nature, and when the curtain finally fell on the show after four seasons, it fell with a cliffhanger that left plenty of unanswered questions (though a few would be answered a few years later on Benson). Soap was anything but typical, from its reception to its plotlines to its legacy’this is a show that stands, albeit a little off-kilter, distinctly on its own.

Soap Cast

production details
USA / ABC – Witt – Thomas – Harris Prod / 78×25 minute episodes 7×50 minute episodes / Broadcast 13 September 1977 – 20 April 1980

Creator/Producer: Susan Harris / Executive Producer: Susan Harris, Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas

cast
Robert Mandan as Chester Tate
Katherine Helmond as Jessica Gatling Tate
Diana Canova as Corinne Tate Flotsky (1977-80)
Jennifer Salt as Eunice Tate
Jimmy Baio as Billy Tate
Robert Guillaume as Benson (1977-79)
Arthur Peterson as The Major
Cathryn Damon as Mary Gatling Dallas Campbell
Richard Mulligan as Burt Campbell
Billy Crystal as Jodie Dallas
Ted Wass as Danny Dallas
Jay Johnson as Chuck/Bob Campbell
Robert Urich as Peter Campbell (1977)
Kathryn Reynolds as Claire (1977-78)
Richard Libertini as The Godfather (1977-78)
Bob Seagren as Dennis Phillips (1978)
Sal Viscuso as Father Timothy Flotsky (1977-79)
Rebecca Balding as Carol David (1978-80)
Dinah Manoff as Elaine Lefkowitz (1978-79)
Donnelly Rhodes as Dutch (1978-81)
Caroline McWilliams as Sally (1978-79)
John Byner as Detective Donahue (1978-80)
Randee Heller as Alice (1979)
Peggy Pope as Mrs. David (1979-81)
Candy Azzara as Millie (1979)
Marla Pennington as Leslie Walker (1979-81)
Lynne Moody as Polly Dawson (1979-81)
Roscoe Lee Browne as Saunders (1980-81)
Allan Miller as Dr. Alan Posner (1980-81)
Eugene Roche as Attorney E. Ronald Mallu (1978-81)
Gregory Sierra as Carlos “El Puerco” Valdez (1980-81)
Barbara Rhoades as Maggie Chandler (1980-81)
Nancy Dolman as Annie Selig Tate (1980-81)
Jesse Welles as Gwen (1980-81)
Joe Mantegna as Juan One (1980-81)
Rod Roddy as Announcer

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TV

Clairvoyant, The (BBC-2 1986, Roy Kinnear, Sandra Dickinson)

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BBC 2 Logo

In Roy Clarke penned sitcom The Clairvoyant used car salesman Arnold Bristow is knocked down in a car accident and suddenly finds himself with psychic powers – or so he believes. There was a pilot broadcast 27 Nov 1984.

cast
ROY KINNEAR as Arnold Bristow
SANDRA DICKINSON as Lily
HUGH LLOYD as Burma
SHAUN CURRY as Newton
GLYNIS BROOKS as Dawn
CARMEL CRYAN as Carmen

crew details
Writer: Roy Clarke
Producer and Director: Alan J.W. Bell

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC-2
Duration: 6×30 minute episodes
Aired From: Pilot – 27 November 1984 and Series – 15 May – 19 June 1986

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Christmas Princess (UP 2017, Nicole Munoz, Zak Santiago)

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Christmas Princess Nicole Munoz

Christmas Princess is the true story of Donaly Marquez who, through a childhood of neglect and abuse, achieved her dream of becoming a rose bowl princess. An inspirational story of resilience, strength and finding a family to call your own.

cast
Nicole Muñoz as Donaly Marquez
Rosa Blasi as Sara
Zak Santiago as Ignacio Marquez
Olivia Steele Falconer as Emily Marquez
Jaedon Siewert as Abraham Marquez
Lina Renna as Young Donaly
Paloma Kwiatkowski as Chloe
Ty Wood as Trent
Pendo Muema as Monique
Kalyn Miles as Maria
Kaaren de Zilva as Roberta
Garfield Wilson as Dr. Miller
Clay St. Thomas as Judge #1
Patti Allan as Judge #2
Natalie von Rotsburg as Judge #3

crew details
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer: Tracy Andreen

production details
Country: Canada
Network and Production Companies: UP
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017

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Christmas Reunion, A (Lifetime 2015, Catherine Hicks, Denise Richards)

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A Christmas Reunion Lifetime

In A Christmas Reunion a Madison Avenue executive, Amy, discovers an unusual Christmas surprise when she inherits her Aunt’s hometown bakery. The real surprise comes when she learns the other half of the bakery was left to her long-ago boyfriend, Jack.

Unresolved personal issues resurface between them, as the exes return home to co-manage the store, along with its traditional holiday cookie bake-off.

cast
Denise Richards as Amy Stone
Patrick Muldoon as Jack Evans
Jake Busey as Dylan Carruthers
Catherine Hicks as Aunt Linda
Parker Stevenson as Don Dupree
Patricia De Leon as Janette Crowder
Jon Briddell as Luke Crowder
Robert R. Shafer as Frank O’Brien
Anna Barnholtz as Chloe
John Colton as Steve Evans
Sandra Evans as Shari
Brody Fitzgerald as Young Jack Evans
Michael Gaglio as Earl Pratt, Sr.
Gib Gerard as Earl Pratt, Jr.
Joyce Greenleaf as Helen

crew details
Director: Sean Olson
Writers: Margaret Base, Mary Glenn, Sam Irvin, Sean Olson, Peter Sullivan, Michael Varrat

production details
Country: USA
Network and Production Companies: Lifetime – Hybrid
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: 13 December 2015

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