Question: The '80's sitcom Soap was based on the Tate and Campbell families. Why did the Campbell sons, Danny and Jodie, have the last name Dallas? Did their brother Bob and his puppet also have that last name? Was this ever explained in an early episode? Thanks. — John

Televisionary: Jodie (Billy Crystal) and Danny (Ted Wass) bore the Dallas surname because mother Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon) had them with a previous husband. Chuck Campbell and puppet Bob (I can see how you'd mix them up) was the natural son of Mary's blue-collar husband Burt (Richard Mulligan).

Of course, Soap being Soap, that setup is much simpler than it sounds. You see, from the get-go we found out Burt killed Mary's first husband and couldn't have sex with her because of the guilt. Meanwhile, Danny was involved in the mob and was told to kill Burt and thus avenge his dad's murder. And did we mention Jodie was gay and there were numerous affairs in the making? That was all revealed in the first episode.

To my mind, a more interesting question is how today's audiences would receive Soap's racier aspects, considering that in 1977 conservative anger over the show and its perceived danger to morality created a major headache for ABC before the series ever hit the airwaves. As these things go, however, most of the shouting died down after the first season, when the entire country was dying to know who killed Peter Campbell (Robert Urich), and Soap developed an enthusiastic following and stayed on the network schedule until April of 1981.

My guess is that after weathering Dennis Franz's butt on NYPD Blue, all manner of debauchery on Jerry Springer and wave after wave of confessions in taxicabs, today's audiences would scarcely blink and the show would be thankful for any such publicity.

After all, I've heard the word a--hole on network television, even though I still have to obscure it with hyphens because this is a family-friendly site.

Funny world, huh?