Normally, you'd think it odd to spotlight a series that lasted four seasons in a column like 'Gone Too Soon.' But 'Soap' was a different kind of series. Like the soap operas it was mocking, it was a premise that could have gone on for years and years. In fact, there's no reason to imagine that it couldn't still be on today.
From 1977 to 1981, Susan Harris crafted what would become a timeless comedy classic for ABC. But despite high ratings throughout its run, 'Soap' would only see four seasons, abruptly ending on a slew of cliffhangers that have frustrated fans for decades.
Despite that, the stellar cast and writing have stood the test of time in a way very few television series can, even if the wardrobes haven't. 'Soap' is as relevant and hilarious today as it was more than thirty years ago now. It deserved a longer life, and both the series and its fans deserved a true ending to Harris' brilliant vision.
A lot of times, when a show that we love gets canceled way too early in its run, we like to trot out the mantra: "It was before its time." But looking at a television landscape with The Office, 30 Rock and Parks & Recreation (and that's just one night on one network), I really do think Sports Night may have been too innovative for its own good.
Creator Aaron Sorkin even wanted the sitcom to air without a laugh track, but ABC balked and there is one evident in the first season. It was dropped by the second season, but unfortunately the show was dropped as well after only 45 episodes.
Character relations were front and center, and the humor was much more subtle and dry. In 1998, comedies were still dominating the television landscape, led by traditionally formatted shows like Frasier, Friends, The Drew Carey Show and ABC's TGIF lineup. Maybe the very non-traditional Sports Night should have been an hour long, and acted more like FOX's Ally McBeal.
After the jump ... Remember this pop cultural gem (video below) that gained traction on the Net not too long ago? The sheer oddity of the clip alone forces us to ask ourselves several questions: do these people all live together? Why is Marla Gibbs dressed like an astronaut? Does Bea Arthur do everybody's shoppingl? CAN'T NELL CARTER JUST SIT DOWN AND REST HER FEET FOR A SECOND? (Seriously, give her a break!)
There was Ralph Waite, John-Boy's father from The Waltons; Robert Guillaume, the double Emmy-winning star of Benson; and even the creator of Laugh-In, George Schlatter. And the center of the whodunit was none other than an original Hitchcock blonde, Tippi Hedren, star of The Birds and Marnie.
(S01E19) It must be hard as hell to do an episode of a show where something bad happens to one of the characters that actually happened to the actor in real life. In this episode, we find out that Isaac had a stroke after returning from a vacation. Actor Robert Guillaume had a stroke in real-life too. It's a tricky thing for a show to write in a real-life incident into a show, but because of the way this show is structured - a seamless blend of comedy and drama - it actually works.
Before they find out about Isaac, the staff is getting ready for special March Madness coverage. They're working on a Saturday, Bobbi Berstein is coming in to co-anchor (which thrills Dan, since she still thinks they slept together in Spain), and Dan is wondering why Rebecca's ex-husband Steve is in her office. On a Saturday. He thinks it's like "Eli's Coming," the classic Three Dog Night song, that something bad is about to happen. But as Casey reminds him, the song isn't about that, it's about a womanizer. No matter, Dan still thinks it's going to be a bad day.