SCTV's best half-hour episodes from 1978 - 1980 are showcased in this 3-DVD collection. From its humble beginnings in 1976, SCTV transformed from a half-hour comedy airing monthly in Canada on the Global Television Network to a widely embraced series that, by the third season, was airing weekly on the CBC and syndicated in the U.S.
Guy Caballero and Edith Prickley were born in the early years. The McKenzie Brothers started here. Earl Camembert, Floyd Robertson, Johnny LaRue, Sammy Maudlin and Bobby Bittmancharacters destined to become household nameswere first beamed into consciousness here.
Starring: John Candy, Robin Duke, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Tony Rosato and Dave Thomas
Special Features Include:
Commentaries by Robin Duke, Joe Flaherty and executive producer Andrew Alexander
The featurette "Looking Back With Andrea Martin,"
CBC news magazine segment "The McKenzie Brothers - Take Off, Eh"
Examining the impact The Great White North had on Canada
"Andrew Alexander Answers Fan Mail."
Even the worst
would be superior to much of what passes for contemporary sketch comedy. This three-disc set collects 15 of the now-legendary 30-minute syndicated episodes from 1978-80 that initially formed the bedrock of SCTV
's Network 90
incarnation (now available in its entirety on DVD). There are but three episodes from season 2, which feature SCTV
's most popularly known ensemble: John Candy, Joe Flahrety, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, and Dave Thomas. Arguably the best of these is "On the Waterfront Again," with Levy's old school and out of touch comedian Bobby Bittman and O'Hara's B-list entertainer Lola Heatherton appearing on "The Sammy Maudlin Show" to promote their hopeless remake of the Brando classic. The bulk of this collection hails from season 3, which lamentably saw the departure of Candy and O'Hara, but also the auspicious arrival of Rick Moranis. Also joining the cast were the unsung Tony Rosato (who does a wicked Lou Costello in "Midnight Express Special") and Robin Duke. They would later make the jump to Saturday Night Live
, which gets an upstart thumping in the episode, "Thursday Night Live." One of the season's running gags is a series of promos for Taxi Driver
, recast with Woody Allen, Dick Cavett, Gregory Peck, and even Bob Hope ("You talkin' to me? Nobody talks to me that way. I didn't let Darryl Zanuck talk to me that way."). Thomas's definitive Hope also pops up to upstage Bittman on "The Sammy Maudlin Show" to promote "I Owe Peking 2000 Dollars," and alongside Moranis' uncanny Woody Allen in the masterpiece, "Play It Again, Bob." Thomas and Moranis make their momentous first appearances throughout this season as bickering, beer-swilling brothers Doug and Bob McKenzie, SCTV
's breakout characters. "The Great White North" (a.k.a. "Kanadian Korner"), their sublimely silly improved segments, introduced such Canadian patois as "Take off," "Hoser," and "Beauty, eh?" into the pop culture lexicon.
SCTV mastered the art of cross parody. "My Factory, My Self," one of Martin's finest half hours, somehow combines An Unmarried Woman, Coming Home, Norma Rae, Kramer vs. Kramer, and The China Syndrome. It's unfortunate that The Early Years represented in this collection do not extend to the first season (Harold Ramis fans, arise!). But these gems are dazzling in their--to quote the hilarious "The Trial of Oscar Wilde" sketch--"sparkling wit and unbelievable intelligence." Some of the references are dated (anyone remember gossip columnist Rona Barrett, transformed here into sportscaster Ronny Barrett?). But we agree with SCTV station manager Guy Caballero. This is "the hippest comedy you'll ever see." --Donald Liebenson