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No Soap Radio aired from April until May 1982 on ABC.

No Soap Radio might best be described as the Twilight Zone of situation comedies. There was a story of sorts in each episode , but it was frequently interrupted by slight gags, blackouts , and surrealistic skits that might or might not have anything to do with anything else. The setting was the seedy Pelican Hotel in Atlantic City, where you might open the door to your room and find yourself standing in the woods, or pass a glass-enclosed fire station in the corridor and notice a live fireman inside. Riding in the elevator was always interesting as you could never tell what would be revealed on each floor as the doors opened; Miami Beach, perhaps, or a coronation ball?

Presiding over this house of sequiturs was the pleasant young manager, Roger ( Steve Guttenberg), assisted by Karen ( played by Hillary Bailey. Brianne Leary had played Sharon the assistant in the first episode ) and Tuttle ( Stuart Pankin), the house detective. They hardly batted an eye at such goings-on as they chase after a man-eating chair, the little old lady who was attacked by a submarine, the frustrations of a gunfighter whose opponent overslept, or the pause for a preview of the new science-fiction movie" The Day Everyone's Name Became Al."

Rounding out the cast was Bill Dana as Mr. Plitsky, a guest, Fran Ryan as Mrs. Belmont, another guest; Jerry Maren as Morris, the bellhop, Edie McClurg as Marion and Phil Rubinstein as Rico.

As for the series' title, No Soap Radio-why should that make any more sense than anything else? ( According to columnist William Safire in You Could Look It Up, the phase originated many years ago as the punch line of the following gag: A lion and a lioness were taking a bath together. The lion said,' Please pass the soap,' and the lioness replied ,No soap, radio.'" Doesn't make sense? That's the point; it isn't supposed to. If you laugh, you obviously don't get it.)

A Review from The New York Times


Published: April 15, 1982

SAY this for ''No Soap, Radio'': it's different. In the cookiecutter world of situation comedies, the new series, on ABC-TV Thursdays at 8 P.M., is making an almost desperate effort to be zanily unconventional.

Most of the action takes place at a rundown hotel in Atlantic City. Roger (Steve Guttenberg), the young owner, is getting offers to sell the Pelican Hotel to a group called the Tarantula Brothers. The place is falling apart; some of the older residents are just about certifiable; the staff, especially the midget bellhop, is questionable -but the place has been in Roger's family for three generations and he tends to be sentimental.

So far, this might sound like a replay of ''The Hot l Baltimore,'' the short-lived series that Norman Lear adapted from a Lanford Wilson play several years ago. But the producers of ''No Soap, Radio,'' Les Alexander and Dick Smith, have spiked the proceedings with a slew of jokes and routines that fall somewhere between the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges on the one hand, and between ''Laugh-In'' and ''Monty Python'' on the other.

The opening credits, taking a swipe at public television, note that the program is being underwritten by ''Trans National Petroleum and Rico's Boom-Boom Room.'' The central plot, such as it is, is stopped frequently for totally unrelated asides. A ''Special Report'' announcing that Mr. Potato is missing ends with the news that the President has asked families around the nation to put a French fry in their windows. In a special interview, the cartoon character Elmer Fudd, ''one of Hollywood's most beloved actors,'' confesses that ''cartoons aren't weal.'' The interviewer gasps, ''You mean you can't tie your head into a knot.''

The rest of the cast includes a flashy blonde, who is roughed up and contemptuously thrown money by a puppet called Harry the Hippo (his voice belongs to Sheldon Leonard), a nasty young man whose head is transformed into a basketball, and a doctor who shows signs of serious psychosis after offering a tribute to the ''health and happiness of the American family.''

Back in the hotel lobby, Roger is beginning to weaken before the persistence of the lawyer for the Tarantula Brothers, who enters the picture with a chorus of boos from the soundtrack. It's not the money that tempts Roger, as he explains, ''it's what I can buy with the money.''

His assistant, Sharon (Brianne Leary), is unimpressed with the possibility of vacations abroad. ''Europe needs a painting,'' she argues. And the whackiness spins on at an impressive pace in this premiere episode. The future will face the more difficult problem of maintaining the momentum.

A Review from the Washington Post

Hellzapoppish 'No Soap, Radio'
By Tom Shales April 15, 1982

"No Soap, Radio" is another all-out assault on the funny bone that fails to result in a compound fracture. But at least this ABC comedy, produced by TV veteran Mort Lachman, takes a stab at being different; it's a studiously oddball freefall that definitely has its moments.

The comedy airs tonight at 8 on Channel 7, which is something of a tiny tragedy in itself. ABC insists on using this time slot--in which it has not been competitive for about two years--to try out promising projects that don't stand much of a chance against the powerhouse "Magnum, P.I." on CBS. So they fail to earn big ratings, and ABC crumples them up and callously throws them away.

This was the vicious fate that befell the dear departed "Police Squad!", a truly funny, wildly welcome sendup of cop-show cliche's and TV cliche's in general. ABC ordered six episodes for a test run, but has only aired four of them; the network yanked the last two from the schedule without warning and aired new editions of the abysmal "That's Incredible!" instead. That's not so incredible. That's just the way they do business at ABC, the network of the Philistines.

"No Soap, Radio" attempts to impose hellzapoppish gags and blackouts on a primitive sitcom story line--the saga of Atlantic City's rundown Pelican Hotel, the kind of dump where water drips continuously on the registration desk, a Teutonic midget does six-floor drops with the elevator, and a crafty, crybaby lawyer schemes to take over the joint on behalf of the Tarantula Brothers, Joey and Nick, who want to tear it down and erect a shrine to the god of parking.

At any given moment, and at some not-so-given, the story gives way to outrageous, absurdist sketches. These involve a little boy with a basketball head, a lethal box of Raisin Flakes, a scandalous confession by Elmer Fudd, and a bulletin on the whereabouts of Mr. Potatohead.

Even when the sketches make suds, the transitions leading into and out of them are deft, even marvelous--so clever they recall the hysterically halcyon days of "Monty Python's Flying Circus." Credit for this goes to the show's four writers, director John Robins and editor Larry Harris; they made "No Soap, Radio" technophrenically telegenic.

The hotel portions might be negligible if not for the high caliber of performers involved. Steve Guttenberg is the manager--wearing the pliantly likable kisser with which he is currently brightening the movie "Diner." The other residents include Bill Dana, Fran Ryan and Stuart Pankin. Also popping up briefly in the mayhem are treasurable souls like Edie McClurg, Jack Kruschen, Gary Owens ("We'll be right back after this." "We're back.") and, as a dirty old bum who rattles off a little Mozart, Sidney Miller, Donald O'Connor's costar from the TV '50s.

You have to admire this many talented people daring to prance out on a limb, even if the limb is clearly too spindly to support them.

To watch clips from No Soap Radio go to

For a Page dedicated to No Soap radio go to

For some No Soap Radio-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

To watch the opening credits go to
Date: Tue June 3, 2008 � Filesize: 66.8kb � Dimensions: 687 x 538 �
Keywords: No Soap radio-ABC Promo (Links Updated 7/20/18)


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