SCTV Volume 2 Box Set
Caviar. Sardines. Cigars. SCTV. What do these things have in common? They could all be perceived as an acquired taste. Something you're not sure you'd like the first time you take a look at it, but once you've considered it, you're glad you did. Also, these things (SCTV included) are not for everyone.
Chicago-born comedy troop Second City branched out into different cities in its early years, eventually heading north into Canadian territory. After the success of Saturday Night Live (starring some earlier SC Alumni even from the beginning), it was decided to give Second City a shot on the air.
I’d like to challenge anyone to write me on the message boards and say they haven't seen any movie starring at least one member of the old school SCTV. If you doubt it, just remember Splash!, Waiting for Guffman, Beetlejuice, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Home Alone, Stripes, American Pie, and Ghostbusters. Yep. That's what I thought. Eugene Levy, John Candy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Rick Moranis, Joe Flaherty, and Dave Thomas: Every one of them has pioneered his or her own path into the comedy history books, with good reason. And they more or less got their start with SCTV.
Their first seasons were made up of 30-minute episodes. The fourth season found that extended to a full 90 minutes. That's what is on the DVD Box Set in my hot little hands. Now, the requisite DVD extras aren't bad. Commentary (always a plus), photos from the 1982 Emmys where the show won best writing for a comedy variety series, and other little tidbits make for a nice package that SCTV fans will appreciate.
Sketches range from the low-brow (A 2.5 minute-long boob joke. Heh.) to the dryly satiric. (Fact: the infamous McKenzie brothers, played by Moranis and Thomas, were created after the Canadian network asked them to veer away from stereotypes like the ones Bob and Doug are riddled with. Heh again.) All the players have their recurring characters: The Schmenge Brothers, the McKenzies, Lola Heatherton, Count Floyd... A personal fave is Dr. Tongue, provided by John Candy. The material on these episodes is produced, written, and performed by a group of actors who, at the time, were still trying to prove themselves. It feels like they were trying harder. Energy was higher, risks were taken, and there was a general feeling of tasteful irreverence missing from crap shows of today like Mad TV.
'’m not going to lie; some of the material is dated. In one episode, the station's signal gets taken over by a Russian network. They spend ten minutes or so (in various sketches) showing how out of date and poor Russia is. Uh, ha? And only those familiar with the craptacular Benny Hill Show would get the send up Benny Hill Street Blues. I thought it was hilarious.
Other sketches, though, are timeless. Take for instance, High-Q, where a frustrated Alex Trebek is forced to suffer through the question-and-answer game with a half dozen moronic contestants. Sound familiar? This was two decades before Celebrity Jeopardy hit the SNL stage.
As is true with any sketch comedy show, not every sketch is gold. Some, I sat and wondered what the hell they were thinking (or in fact, on) when they dreamt it up. Others, I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. It is good stuff despite dated material, a shoe-string budget, and the presence of Joe Flaherty, who I personally have never found funny. That's me.
I recommend SCTV Volume 2 for anyone familiar with the actors and that wants to see their early work. It's really worth it. I give the package an 8 out of 10. Go forth, and seek commerce.
The Second Volume of SCTV is available from Amazon.com