The plot of "No Soap Radio" involves a man inheriting a broken-down hotel in Atlantic City which has been in his family for three generations, and trying to make it into a successful business venture. Along the way, has to deal with the "wacky" guests and staff and many "zany" situations.
I use the words "wacky" and "zany" here advisedly, as most things about the plot are incredibly bland, in that, from a plot standpoint, this looks like a pretty standard sit-com of the type which were so prevalent in the 70s and 80s.
What sets "No Soap Radio" apart, is that while it had a pretty generic plot, all of the action of the show was interspersed with very frenetic and surreal sketch comedy which was very reminiscent of Monty Python, Benny Hill, or Spike Milligan. For instance, some of the guests at the hotel might be walking down a hallway, when they are suddenly almost crushed when a giant foot comes crashing down in front of them. Zoom out to reveal that the foot belongs to a father who has just accidentally stepped on his sons model of a hotel. This would launch a totally unrelated sketch, which would then weave its way back into the main plot.
I vividly remember watching this show when I was a kid. I thought the sketch pieces were absolutely hysterical, I loved the way the sketches were interlinked to the main plot (which I was generally less impressed with). I found it frustrating that the show was only on intermittently during the summer and vanished after just a few episodes.
It was only recently that I managed to find a copy of the few existing episodes on eBay. As you can well imagine, I eagerly watched them, and while I revisited many of the skits that I remembered as a child, I was a bit disappointed with the show as a whole. There seemed to be too great a disparity between the main plot and the sketches. The main plot dragged on for far too long, usually on a paper-thin premise, while the sketch bits (most of which were truly unique with very funny concepts behind them) felt very rushed, as if the director was in a hurry to wrap them up quickly and get a laugh, this usually spoiled most of the punch-lines. In general the timing seemed off.
Of course, this is going to happen in the early stages of any program, when the people who created it haven't fully come to terms with their material. However, this show was such an unusual concept, so different from other programs which ABC was running at the time (to give you an idea, some of the other shows on ABC at the time were "Love Boat," "Fantasy Island," and "Happy Days"), you got the impression that the network executives had commissioned some shows, and when they saw the product, canned the whole project, and used the existing episodes as fill in when their summer season had a few holes in it.
Its a pity this show wasn't allowed to grow to its full potential, but I guess we're lucky that it ever aired at all.