The Good

The Bad

It took me awhile to realize what Soap - The Complete Fourth Season was. I was just watching it as a simple situation comedy. I slowly realized similarities between this show and the “soaps” I watched as a kid. Yes, you read that right. At one point in my life I was beholden to “Edge of Night” and “General Hospital.” While Soap - The Complete Fourth Season takes a comedic look at the plot lines and such that make up the regular soaps, I did find that for the most part it captured the melodramatic moodiness of those shows in a wry, tongue and cheek fashion.

This show could have been easily called “A Tale of Two Families”. You have the Tates and the Campbells. There are “characters” on both sides and just when it seems like they might find some common ground between them, something happens that puts the families at odds. Whether a member is kidnapped, another member reveals a secret or such things as adultery, bankruptcy and flying babies are going on, Soap really shows itself to be ahead of it’s time. In fact, much the of the issues of the day are things that we are still arguing about in 2005. What this says about us I don’t know, but whatever it is, this show is going to laugh about it.

Features

No extras came with this DVD set. In fact, from what I read, no extras came on any of the 4 season DVD sets. I think this is a shame, mainly because these actors are all so good. They are funny without hamming it up or mugging for the camera. It would have been interesting to see how everybody acted behind the scenes.

Video

Full Screen. 1.33:1. Maybe the prints or the tapes of this show that were saved were not taken care of, but these episodes do not look they they were bumped up at all by the DVD compression process. In fact, when I have seen parts of this show on TV, they looked the same as they look here on this DVD. I don’t know that this is really that bad, as I personally like the dated look that this gives this 3 disc box set, but it was just something I had gotten used to from watching DVDs of shows from the 1970s (and these episodes are from 1981, so figure that one out!). Also, I guess there is a different between these shows on the DVD and the shows that air on TV in syndication. What is this difference people are talking about? How big of a difference is it? Lastly, does it really matter?

Audio

It didn’t say what kind of audio was used on these DVDs. I looked all over the DVD box art and I even went on the Worldwide Internet and could find nothing. The sound was very good however. As sitcoms are really done like plays, the emphasis is thankfully on the dialogue and not the overall sound design. As a result, there wasn’t a lot of other noise competing with what the characters were saying. I was able to hear everything the characters said and even with all the laughs, I didn’t feel like any of the comedy was lost or that the characters were talking over one another.

Package

There is a lot of green on this cover. We see Billy Crystal, Katherine Helmond, Robert Mulligan and few other cast members. It is difficult to tell if this is a promo shot for the TV show or if each character was separately photoshopped on to this cover. The back features some scenes from the show (all encased in bubbles to give this set a “soapy” feel), a description of the 4th season (which was a little confusing since I didn’t know anything about the show before I started watching it) and some technical specs. All 3 discs fold out in their own plastic trays and there is plenty of green, and plenty of pictures of the cast to make the fans happy. There is an index which gives a well composed description of each episode that makes up this 4th season. While I admit to being a “digipack” connoisseur, I do like the user friendliness of this box set.

Final Word

I am actually very surprised with how much I enjoyed this show. Even coming in at the 4th season and being disoriented, mainly because I didn’t realize that the show was a takeoff of the mid-afternoon “soaps.” In fact, it wasn’t until I was about 6 episodes in that I did a little bit of research on the internet and found that out. The biggest red flag was that the plot lines were so outrageous, even for this band of people. I can truly say that as a parody of the “soaps,” this show works in every way shape and form.

Sadly, we only seem to get this kind of humor in movies that take on this tact. Whether it is Scary Movie or Not Another Teen Movie, this seems to be where the “Soapish” comedy lies. It would be great if a sitcom were to come out that mocked shows like “The OC,” “Laguna Beach” and “24”. These shows take themselves so seriously and while I don’t think they are bad shows, anything with this much sense of self importance just comes off like a real blowhard.

Soap - The Complete Fourth Season was a gem of a TV show to find. I had always known it was there, now I need to work my way back to see how things started.

Soap was released .