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.
But in TV land, the sisters were doin' it for themselves and finally getting respect as cops, war nurses and working moms; iconic shows like 'Hill Street Blues,' 'St. Elsewhere' and 'L.A. Law' would forever change (for the better) cop, medical and legal dramas; and no idea was too high concept to fill a primetime spot (time-travelling physicist? check; housewife-turned-CIA op? check; New York City beauty in love with a subterranean monster? check).
The bottom line: They all add up to 10 years of fine channel surfing -- and our awesome list of the 40 best series of the 1980s.
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.
Just like their real-life counterparts, TV politicians will say and do anything to get your support.
The difference? Instead of a ballot, they want you to vote with your remote. And on TV, a politico's constituents are nothing more than ratings boosters. OK, so maybe there's not a huge difference.
From the obvious (three 'West Wing' pols make the list) to the more obscure (did you even know there was an elected official on 'The Wire'?), we count down the top 20 TV politicians of all time. Read through our list and let us know if you think we need a recount or if our list is full of winners.
(S01E01) In the first five minutes of this show, viewers are treated to a visual definition of the phrase "fish out of water."
I generally don't like any comedy that starts out with the the main character losing everything and starting her life all over again. In a drama, it kind of works that the hero has to go from town to town searching for something she lost. In a comedy, it just means that we'll be spending the next half hour watching the hero say things like, "What did I get myself into?"
It occurred to me that had the internet existed in the 1970s, the backlash to the jumping the shark episode would have been immediate and crushing....
You almost thought I posted a pre-jump spoiler, didn't you? Admit it, you were sharpening your commenter fingers just ready to eviscerate me for ruining the show!
Well, I did no such thing. The only person who is ruining this show for you people is Bill Bellamy, and that's the way it's gonna stay!
Let's get on with the review...
Here are the new TV DVDs, in stores tomorrow.
- Benson - Season 1
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie - Seasons 3 and 4
- The Crow: Stairway to Heaven - Complete Series
- Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law - Vol. 3
- Isis - Complete Series
- Land of the Giants - Giant Collection
- Philip Marlowe, Private Eye - Season 1
- The Pink Panther Show - Vol. 6
- The Real McCoys - Season 1
- Spenser: For Hire - A Savage Place and Judas Goat
- Star Trek - Captain's Log Fan Collective
- Stargate SG-1 - Season 10
- Suspense - Lost Episodes, Vol. 1
- Tales From The Crypt - Season 6
- Underdog - Vols. 1-3
- Weeds - Season 2
- Woody Woodpecker - Classic Cartoon Collection
- X-Games - Best Of
A new weekly feature here at TV Squad, as we list some recent deaths of those involved with TV, on screen and behind the scenes.
- Roscoe Lee Browne: The veteran actor appeared in a number of TV shows, including All in the Family, Benson, Columbo, Mannix, The Invaders, Will and Grace, and a voice actor in cartoons. He was a classically trained film and theater actor as well. He died April 11 in L.A. of cancer at age 81.
- Stan Daniels: He co-created Taxi and won several Emmys for that show and his writing on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He died of heart failure on April 6 at age 72.
Carey played Officer Carl Levitt on the classic sitcom Barney Miller (remember, James Gregory would always call him "Levine?"). He died Tuesday in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke.
Besides that role, Carey appeared in several other TV shows, including Benson, Alice, Lucky Luke, and the New Love American Style. He was in a bunch of movies too, including High Anxiety, Johnny Dangerously, History of the World, Part 1, Fatso, and The Out of Towners (the original). His last role was in the 1999 movie Food For Thought.
His real name was Ron Cicenia and he stood 5 feet 4 (hey, I'm only 5 feet 5, so it's always good to see other short guys become a success!).
Stahl was in tons of TV shows over the past 40 years, including All in the Famly, Columbo, Laverne and Shirley, Benson, Good Times, Maude, Bonanza, That Girl, Love, American Style, Happy Days, Soap, Barney Miller, The Facts of Life, the original Love Boat TV movie, and was a regular on the 80s sitcom It's A Living. I'll always remember him from several very funny appearances in The Odd Couple. He was also in several movies, including Five Easy Pieces, Billy Jack, and Slaughter House-Five.
(That's him on the right in the photo, being attacked by Son of Blob.)
How do I know this? Because I've been watching the Benson marathon since about 10 AM, and have barely switched away from it since. I was going to pick up dry cleaning and go out for a nice lunch, maybe get some writing work done. But here it is, 5:00, and all I've done is laugh my ass off at one of my all-time favorite shows (one I haven't seen in many years). God, Kraus was funny. And Benson's insults towards her and Clayton were legendary, and... oh, crap. I need to go out for dinner tonight. Guess I'll actually need to leave the apartment...
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