Somerset (TV series)
Somerset opening titles from 1971-1974
|Created by||Robert Cenedella|
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of episodes||1,710|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original release||March 30, 1970 – December 31, 1976|
Somerset (sometimes called Another World in Somerset or Another World: Somerset) is an American television soap opera which ran on NBC from March 30, 1970, until December 31, 1976. The show was a spin-off of another NBC serial, Another World.
Initially, the show revolved around Missy Palmer Matthews (Carol Roux), Lahoma Vane Lucas (Ann Wedgeworth) and Sam Lucas (Jordan Charney). These were three popular characters who were first seen on Another World. They moved to the fictional town of Somerset, an area in the northern Detroit suburbs in Michigan and started their lives anew.
The first stories on the serial revolved around the trio's progress in starting new friendships and romantic entanglements. In Somerset, the other families of importance were the Davis family, the Buchanans, the Grants and the Delaneys, who ran Somerset's major employer, Delaney Brands. Within six months, Missy was gone and new characters were added, including a new family, the Kurtz family and several female characters to act as love interests for Dr. Stan Kurtz and Peter Delaney.
In early 1971, the show changed writers, with Robert Cenedella leaving the show in favor of Henry Slesar.
Further, Somerset slowly moved away from the traditional soap format, and started telling stories that dealt heavily with the Mafia and other types of crime, not unlike CBS' The Edge of Night which Slesar also wrote. After the departure of Slesar, several other writers attempted to bring the show's ratings up with varying mixtures of the two previous formats, each of them slowly removing nearly all of the original characters. One of them, Roy Winsor, was the creator of Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life, and The Secret Storm.
The Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville, New Jersey, was used for exteriors.
NBC and packager Procter & Gamble Productions first launched Somerset as an extension of the mother show, adding the locales to each program's title. They titled the parent program Another World in Bay City and the new spin off Another World in Somerset, in the hope that the large loyal following of the mother show, which aired an hour earlier than Somerset at 3:00 PM/2 Central, would stay tuned for several of their favorite characters to appear in a new storyline. By March 1971, NBC shortened the title to simply Somerset and reverted Another World to its original title, separating the two shows' identities and slowly phasing out the crossover characters by February 1972. Roux and Wedgeworth did not return to Another World; Charney returned to the mother program in July 1973.
Airing in a time slot prone to affiliate pre-exemption (4:00/3:00 Central) caused Somerset to struggle throughout the whole of its nearly seven-year history to gain a foothold in the daytime pantheon. ABC's Dark Shadows held the ratings and clearances lead at the time Somerset went on the air, but the unpopular Leviathan and Parallel Time storylines coincided with the premiere of Somerset. This enabled NBC's new show to push the ratings of Dark Shadows down considerably, and Somerset achieved promising ratings during its first year. Dark Shadows had achieved a rating of 7.3 during the 1969-1970 season, but by the end of the 1970-1971 season, Somerset had a rating of 7.0 and Dark Shadows a rating of 5.3. A successful revival of the game show Password entered ABC's schedule at that slot during the 1970-71 season, and its ratings success cut into the Somerset audience. Ratings continued to improve during the Slesar period (CBS' The Secret Storm ended a long run against Somerset), but after the end of a successful murder storyline in late 1971, the show's ratings began to decline.
By 1974, the other networks had plugged in surprisingly strong game shows (CBS' Tattletales and ABC's The $10,000 Pyramid) at 4:00 p.m. As a result, numerous affiliates began pre-empting the program in favor of cartoons, syndicated programming (including game shows, sitcom reruns, variety shows or talk shows), old movies, and locally produced content. Perhaps the nail in Somerset's coffin came when ABC acquired The Edge of Night from CBS in December 1975 due to CBS' expansion of As the World Turns to an hour in length, in response to NBC eleven months earlier expanding sister Procter and Gamble serial Another World to a full hour and its NBC sister soap Days of Our Lives three months later with both expansions being successful. ABC placed The Edge of Night against Somerset in the 4:00 p.m. time slot. Although Somerset's ratings had improved during its final year, under the guidance of new head writer Robert J. Shaw, it was ultimately not enough to save the program from cancellation. NBC cancelled the program mid-December 1976, and the show aired its last episode on New Year's Eve. Somerset's place on the NBC daytime schedule was given to new Procter and Gamble-sponsored soap opera, Lovers and Friends later retooled into For Richer, For Poorer. Both shows by the way did far worse in the ratings than Somerset.
Somerset, along with ABC's The Best of Everything and A World Apart, marked the last time that multiple American network daytime serials premiered on the same date. Neither of the ABC shows lasted past 1971.
More than 150 actors appeared on Somerset over its near-seven-year run.
- Jason Bernard: Ricky Matthews (1970)
- Douglas Chapin: Tony Cooper (1970–71)
- Jordan Charney: Sam Lucas (1970–73)
- Ralph Clanton: Jasper Delaney (1970–71)
- Nicolas Coster: Robert Delaney (1970–72)
- Len Gochman: Peter Delaney (1970–72)
- Alice Hirson: Marsha Davis (1970–72)
- Georgann Johnson: Ellen Grant (1970–76)
- Ed Kemmer: Ben Grant (1970–74)
- Ron Martin: David Grant (1970–74)
- Walter Mathews: Gerald Davis (1970–72)
- Susan MacDonald: Jill Grant (1970–76)
- Wynne Miller: Jessica Buchanan (1970–72)
- Carol Roux: Missy Palmer Matthews (1970)
- Gary Sandy: Randy Buchanan (1970–72)
- Paul Sparer: Rex Cooper (1970–76)
- Phil Sterling: Rafe Carter (1970–71)
- Dorothy Stinnette: Laura Delaney Cooper (1970–73)
- Pamela Toll: Pammy Davis (1970–71)
- Marie Wallace: India Delaney (1970–72)
- Ann Wedgeworth: Lahoma Lucas (1970–73)
Other cast members:
- Humbert Allen Astredo: Joe Bruno (1970)
- Bibi Besch: Eve Lawrence (1973–76)
- Gene Bua: Steve Slade (1976)
- Joel Crothers: Julian Cannell (1972–76)
- Ted Danson: Tom Conway (1974–76)
- Veleka Gray: Victoria Paisley (1975–76)
- Harriet Hall: Andrea Moore (1972–74)
- Barry Jenner: Tony Cooper (1974–76)
- Lois Kibbee: Emily Moore Matson (1972–73)
- Audrey Landers: Heather Lawrence (1974–76)
- Michael Nouri: Tom Conway (1976)
- James O'Sullivan: Dr. Jerry Kane (1974–76)
- Jameson Parker: Dale Robinson (1976)
- Christopher Pennock: Dana Moore (1972–73)
- Jane Rose: Becky Winkle (1974–75)
- Frank Schofield: Philip Matson (1972–73)
- Richard Shoberg: Mitch Farmer (1971–72)
- Tina Sloan: Kate Cannell (1974–76)
- Lois Smith: Zoe Cannell (1972–73)
- Sigourney Weaver: Avis Ryan (1976)
- JoBeth Williams: Carrie Wheeler (1975–76)
- Meg Wittner: Ginger Kurtz Cooper (1972)