Soap's first season was as brave and controversial as it was cheeky. The serial's Second Season continues its soap opera spoof ridiculousness and takes it to a whole new level. If television audiences thought prime time's first openly gay character was shocking, then this season's possessed baby, mafia kidnapping, and alien abduction might surprise. And yet Soap, the Complete Second Season remains timely and poignant.
Soap, as its intro so eloquently tells you each episode, is the story of two sisters. Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) is married to a wealthy philanderer, Chester (Robert Mandan), and has two grown daughters, Corrine (Diana Canova) and Eunice (Jennifer Salt) and a teenage son, Billy (Jimmy Baio). They also have a sarcastic black butler, Benson (Robert Guillaume). Jessica's sister, Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon), decidedly lower income, is recently remarried to Burt Campbell (Richard Mulligan). She has two sons, Jody (Billy Crystal) and Danny (Ted Wass) from her previous marriage and Burt has one (remaining) son, Chuck (Jay Johnson), who is never without his caustic ventriloquist dummy Bob. And Soap is a show driven by character, and this crazy stew of personalities makes for a spicy meal. Ant yet, despite all their inane interactions and extreme personas, the actors are adept at drawing you in and manipulating your emotions.
This season Danny learns about real love and loss. Jodie gets more women than many straight men. Chester loses his marbles (they went with the tumor) and is presumed dead. Corrine spawns the devil, while Billy is enveloped by a cult, and Eunice falls for a killer. Jessica falls for a bumbling detective and Mary and Burt are besotted by more marital troubles. The end of each episode promises that your confusion will be over with the next episode of Soap but in reality you will only be lead down continually stranger paths. Another first that Soap can claim is that of season finale cliffhanger. Though each episode will leave you with questions, the last is the worst. Because each episode ends in the middle of every story, they all have silly recaps that regale the previous week's shenanigans by repeating certain words. While the complex plotlines would surely have needed this in its original airing, it becomes quite annoying as a marathon watch.