Somerset (also titled "Another World in Somerset" or "Another World: Somerset") was a NBC network soap opera and spin-off of "Another World" created by Robert Cenedella which premiered on March 30, 1970 and ended on December 31, 1976 after 1,710 episodes aired.
The series revolved around Missy Palmer Matthews (Carol Roux), Lahoma Vane Lucas (Ann Wedgeworth) and Sam Lucas (Jordan Charney [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 & started telling stories that dealt heavily with the Mafia and other types of crime (not unlike CBS' "The Edge of Night").
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 the shows "Search for Tomorrow", "Love of Life" and "The Secret Storm."
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
NBC and packager Procter & Gamble Productions first launched the series as an extension of "Another World," 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.
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 Levithan and Parallel Time storylines combined with the premiere of "Somerset" which enabled NBC's new show to push "Dark Shadows"'s ratings down considerably and the show achieved promising ratings during its first year.
During the 1969-70 season, "Dark Shadows" achieved a ratings of 7.3, 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.
The ratings continued to improve during the Slesar period (CBS' "The Secret Storm" ended a long run against "Somerset"), in the 4:00 pm time slot, but by late 1971 after the end of a successful murder storyline, the show began to dip in ratings. 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.
Things went downhill from that point; numerous affiliates began defecting the show 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 because CBS needed the extra half hour to expand "As The World Turns" to an hour in length due to NBC's success in expanding sister P&G serial "Another World" to a full hour. ABC placed "The Edge Of Night" against Somerset in the 4:00 p.m. time slot.
Although the series' ratings had improved during its final year, under the guidance of new head writer Robert J. Shaw, Somerset never came close to the solid ratings it had once maintained during the early 1970s.
NBC cancelled the series mid-December of 1976 and the show aired its last episode on New Year's Eve. Somerset's place on the schedule was given to another Procter and Gamble-sponsored soap opera, "Lovers and Friends".
"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.