102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
Whenever I got together with friends discussing television and movies we always wondered why every crummy TV show and movie made it to DVD while SCTV was not yet on DVD. Then we would inevitably begin to reminisce about the show, out favorite sketches, etc. Now we can all watch together because SCTV is finally on DVD . . . well, at least some of it is, and that's a good start.
For those who fondly remember the series I must first state that this is not a collection of the 30-minute shows that were shown in syndication. Rather, this collection contains the first nine shows of SCTV-90 that ran on NBC during the early 80's. Fortunately, the first episode of the collection is a retrospective of some of the best sketches that ran on the syndicated show. Fans will be able to see "Night School Hi-Q," a quiz show where Eugene Levy plays a harassed Alex Trebek to Catherine O'Hara's clueless Margaret Meehan; John Candy as a fully grown Beaver who finally gets revenge in Eddie Haskell; Rick Moranis as Merv Griffin comparing jacket linings with Yasser Arafat and Liberace; and the jewel of the disk, Rick Moranis as Woody Allen playing against Dave Thomas as Bob Hope in "Play It Again, Bob." No one ever imitated Bob Hope like Dave Thomas; seeing him on the screen almost makes us believe were really were seeing Bob Hope, that's how good the impersonation was.
And there's more to come with some of the best-loved characters in SCTV: Guy Callabero, Edith Prickley, Bob and Doug McKenzie, Johnny LaRue, Mrs. Falbo, Lola Heatherton, Bobby Bittman, Earl Camembert, Floyd Robertson, aka Count Floyd, Dr. Tongue, Perini Scleroso, Mel Slirrup, and Sammy Maudlin. They're still as funny, and almost as fresh, as when we watched them back then.
Other highlights to look for include the following:
-- John Candy as Civil War coward "Yellowbelly," a spoof on Chuck Connor' series, "Branded."
-- Rick Moranis a video deejay Gerry Todd, pre-MTV and eerily prescient.
-- The Sammy Maudlin Show where Bobby Bittman (the unfunniest funny-man in Hollywood) is upstaged by Bob Hope.
-- The Ingmar Bergman film parody that shows up of Count Floyd's "Monster Chiller Horror Theater." Floyd is under the impression that it's a horror film. His disappointment when he finds out the truth is as hilarious as the parody itself. ( A bit of SCTV trivia here: Count Floyd, who was SCTV news anchorman Floyd Robertson in a vampire costume and cheesy make-up, is based on Bill Cardille, who Joe Flaherty watched as a kid growing up in Pittsburgh. Cardille did the weather for the local NBC station, and on weekends hosted the studio wrestling matches and as "Chilly Billy" hosted the Saturday night horror feature.)
-- Joe Flaherty as station owner Guy Callabero, who, although he can walk, uses a wheel chair. ("I only use it for respect!")
-- "The Grapes of Mud," a parody of "The Grapes of Wrath."
-- "Mrs. Falbo's Tiny Town." Andrea Martin at her funniest.
-- Johnny Larue's "Polynesiantown," with its ending crane shot that got LaRue in hot water with Guy Callabero because it went so far over budget.
-- "The Merv Griffith Show," with Rick Moranis as Merv doing the part of Sheriff Taylor. Look for Eugene Levy as a great Floyd the Barber and John Candy as Otis.
-- "Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Stewardesses," a cheesy send-up of 3-D movies.
-- Catherine O'Hara as Lola Heatherton. Simply hilarious.
That said, the only stumbling block would be the price, which is due to the cost of obtaining the music rights. But it's worth it, and the music's not bad. For instance, the late Roy Orbison, Dr. John, and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes (fans of Conan O'Brien and the Max Weinberg 7 should watch for LaBamba and Mark Pender in earlier incarnations) are among the performers.
Besides the excellent commentaries on each disk, there is also a 24-page booklet with articles by Conan O'Brien and Ben Stiller, among others. O'Brien says in his piece that in regard to SCTV, "I don't think anyone's ever topped it." I agree.
46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2004
A good day indeed! Who could ever forget Count Floyd hosting Monster Chiller Horror Theater screening such epics as Dr. Tongues 3D House of Pancakes (Would you like some syrup!)and Dr. Tongues 3D House of Stewardesses.
Other Great Sketches;
The Godfather: SCTV trys to eliminate the four families (ABC, CBS, NBC & PBS)
Polynesian Town: Johnny LaRue begging for his crane shot.
Fantasy Island: John Candy as Tatoo is a classic, especially when he gets amorous with a stratavarius violin!
The Guy who sells used fruit (Eugene Levy)
The Porno store guy with the snake on his face (John Candy)
Indira; The musical: (Andrea Martin)
The Days of the Week: You'll be hard-pressed to find two more stupid characters than Rocko & Mojo.
...And last but not least, Great White North. SCTV's answer to the stupid "Canadian Content" rule that was imposed upon them. Out of their protest came the two most memorable characters of the 1980's! Coo Luk-u-coo-coo-coo-luk-u-coo!
RELEASE All OF SEASONS/CYCLES ASAP!! I WANT MY SCTV!
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2004
All I can say is that the release of the 90 minute SCTV episodes is like finding the Holy Grail. These shows, dating back to 1980 or so, were contemporaries of the earliest Saturday Night Live shows and, to many of us, totally *blew away* SNL, even with its now-legendary early cast members. Amazing considering the total shoe-string budget on which these were done.
For those of you who don't know, the cast included Joe "Veddy Scary" Flaherty (Count Floyd, Guy Caballero), Eugene "As A Comedian, in All Seriousness" Levy (Bobby Bittman, Mel Slurrup, Woody Tobias Jr., Yosh Schmenge), Martin "I Must Say" Short (Jerry Lewis, Ed Grimley), Catherine "Tip Toenail" O'Hara (Lola Heatherton, Brooke Shields), Andrea "Momma's Got it Now" Martin (Edith Prickley, Ms. Falbo, Indira Ghandi, Mojo), Dave "Hoser" Thomas (Bob Hope, Doug McKenzie), Rick "Vuhdeo" Moranis (Gerry Todd, Woody Allen, Bob McKenzie) and of course John "They Laughed at Me in Budapest!" Candy (Dr. Tongue, William B. Williams, Johnny Pavarotti, Stan Schmenge). How's that for an embarassment of riches? Oh yeah, and occasionally you'd have lightweights like Harold "Crazylegs" Ramis drop in. This is one of the few shows that I cannot even think about without smiling, or even outright laughing.
I certainly hope the DVD gives these programs the treatment they deserve -- including plenty of extras and commentary (maybe even interactive scripts?? Pwwweeeez?). This material is certainly worthy of major tender loving care.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2005
While Saturday Night Live added a hip-edge to the television variety show, it was in many ways more of a return to TV's live performance roots than a revolution in comedy. SCTV, "the little show from Canada that could," was the late '70s and early '80s real innovator.
A comparison between SNL and SCTV is in some ways akin to comparing McDonald's and Burger King: each had a unique premise that shaped everything they did. Burger King (in its day) was a slave to the pace of a flame-broiler, while McDonald's pre-cooked. Likewise, SNL wrote, staged, and performed a show in 6 days. They worked in front of a live audience and were beholden to the pace (i.e., waiting out laughs) that such an arrangement dictated. SCTV was performed for cameras, and had time to write, edit, digest, reduce, and re-use in a way SNL never could.
The result is that SNL pushed towards catch-lines and easily identifiable, repeatable characters. SCTV, on the other hand, evolved into an ever more complex tapestry of comedy, irony and parody that wrapped around and glided through their sketches. Further, the isolation of their Canadian studio location (particularly the Edmonton years) kept the cast a true ensemble. Unlike the ego wars of SNL, SCTV remained largely devoid of breakout stars through its entire run.
At the heart of SCTV's success is the concept (or conceit) that the program was day-in-the-life of a low-end television network. The programs present a seamless intertwining of the "SCTV Network" programming and the characters and traumas which fictionally produced it. Even the musical guests (which in this set include Dr. John, The Tubes, Roy Orbison, and Robert Gordon) have their performances (both musical and acting) woven into the sketches. Real-world production incidents, such as the "Polynesian Town" budget overrun, are worked into the characters' lives, and the show develops continuity from week to week, rather than resetting the characters' history each time they appear in a new sketch.
These 90-minute shows created for NBC (following the show's original 30 minute syndicated version) include fantastic wrapper material that stiches the sketches together. Lola Heatherton's cancelled special, Johnny LaRue's budget problems and subsequent demotion, and the McKenzie Brother's off-set hunt for a topic all provide the sort of mind-bending transitions from foreground to background wrought by films like "A Face in the Crowd."
SCTV's writers are geniuses of hybridizing their influences. They'll spin a Fantasy Island parody through a Hope & Crosby road picture, Casablanca, and The Wizard of Oz, cross Merv Griffin with Andy Griffith, or feature Bing Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. At its peak SCTV reaches the level of surreal layering that Firesign Theater pioneered on LP. Personal favorites include Gil "The Fishin' Musician" Fisher, Sammy Maudlin, Lola Heatherton, Bobby Bittman, Hollywood producer Larry Siegel, Mel's Rockpile, Gerry "Good Video" Todd (and the Todd Monroe videos and Crazy Hy's commercials that he shows), and periodic skewerings of Woody Allen and Bob Hope.
That said, one must also admit that these shows don't provide the same rush they did when first broadcast, though perhaps it's unfair to expect them to do so. Twenty-five years of comedy inspired by these originals can't help but change the context in which these are now viewed. The clubby nature of being an SCTV fan was part of its charm, as were late-night viewing hours, the social setting against which these shows were viewed, and the ephemeral nature of TV-before-DVD. There is some terrific material here, but viewers are likely to find themselves skipping and picking. A few of the characters (such as Andrea Martin's European cleaning lady) get tiresome, and the canned laughter can be truly annoying.
Most of the extras are skippable. Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty's commentary, as well as a short piece on John Candy, shed little light. The one truly worthwhile piece is a 1990 cast reunion with Conan O'Brien as the interviewer. Overall this is a great reminder of what a towering invention SCTV was, and 25 years later on, what a huge impact it made on comedy.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2004
With the exception of a handful of worn videotapes I still have in my video collection containing some episodes I had taped off TV over 20 years ago, I've had to rely on my memory. The fact that my memory has held up with vivid clarity after all these years is a testament to just how unforgettable this show is.
Conan O'Brien makes a poignant statement during the '99 reunion special contained in the set. SCTV was "his" show in the sense that, while the entire country was watching SNL and it's cast members were getting famous, SCTV was a little show of cult status that had no production values, no proper exposure, and no corporate idiots telling them what they could and couldn't do, not to mention horrible time slots. In other words, if you wanted to watch it, you had to look for it, or stay up past 1:30am. With SCTV, you felt like only you and a handful of friends were hip enough to recognize the true genius comedy show on TV. Perhaps it was SCTV's lack of exposure and budget that enabled the stellar cast to develop their ideas and hone them, playing to themselves and their own amusement rather than any particular Nielsen rating statistics. Even back then some of their references were a little esoteric, making it all the more funny if you "got" it. (i.e. comedian Jack Carter endorsing the Mr. Boom microphone. Show me one person under the age of 35 that would get this today). Whatever the case may be, SCTV managed to escape the grasp and restrictions of corporate involvement (for the most part, though NBC's revamped intros to each season got increasingly cheesier), and as result was able to keep up a consistently high level of quality (until they went to Cinemax in their final season).
This set only scratches the surface, as it represents the first 90-minute episodes made after they were picked up by NBC. Luckily, these episodes were interspersed with both older skits and newer material, so those of us hoping for the early first few seasons to be released at least have a few classic snippets
contained herein such as Grapes of Mudd (with Harold Ramis)and Shock Theater. This also means that these episodes predate Martin Short's involvement (though he does appear on the extras material), which is personally fine by me because I never particularly cared for Short's work with SCTV. IMO, Rick Moranis was the best "newcomer" to the cast, as he seemlessly blended in with the rest of the cast and didn't appear to upstage any of them. Short's style, on the other hand, always seemed too "polished" and incongruous to me in relation to the rest of them, though I will say that I enjoy his work more now than than I did when he first joined the cast.
There are far too many classic bits here to mention, and if there's any criticism of this set it's that it leaves you craving more (I've heard a 2nd volume will come out on October). Here's some of my favorites bits you might have forgotten about(some of which are not on this particular set):
1. Moe Green's Dialing for Dollars: cheapskate Moe Green (Harold Ramis) hurriedly hanging up the phone when someone calls in to guess the correct film title.
2. Edith Prickley live at the Mellonville Baths - Q: what night at the baths would be complete without a dramatic reading of the letters of Alezander Hamilton by Charleton Heston?
3. Indira the musical with Indira Ghandi and Slim Whitman: sung to the tunes of Evita.
4. The Merv Griffith Show: "we'll be right back"
5. Mel's Rock pile with Richard Harris
6. Monster Chiller Horror Theater's, "Ingmar Bergman's Whispers of the Wolf" ("un shrimpka")
7. Julia Child and Deforest Kelly cooking show ("Needs more cimminon!")
8. Dimaggio's on the Wharf: Joltin' Joe (Bill Murray guest star)
is plugging his new restaurant by challenging patrons to try to strike him out for a free meal. He's whacking line drives in the middle of a crowded restaurant. Patrons are given batting helmets to wear.
9. Dr. Tong's 3D House of Slave Chicks in Smell-O-Rama: says it all
Long live SCTV!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2004
For any of those reviewers who have said this box set is expensive (I paid $63), you may be right. However, it is only expensive if you didn't love SCTV. I have only watched the first DVD at this point, but the quality of the audio and video is excellent. It was worth the wait. So many memories come flooding back as I watch these episodes. Another note about the price. This set gives you nine, 90 minutes episodes. A 90 minute movie DVD would cost you at least $15. For this box set, that's only $7 an episode! Plus there are extras.
Another point about SCTV. Every sketch shows the real, future talent of the young cast involved in this show. Now, I'm sure people might say Dave Thomas and Andrea Martin are not major movie stars, but they did make it to the big screen. What can you say about a very young John Candy? He is just hilarious. On disc one, he plays an adult-age, Beaver Cleaver in a 25 year anniversary show for Leave It To Beaver and gives Eddie Haskel what he's had coming to him for along time!
Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy have made huge box office movies. At the bare minimum, they have starred in all of the recent Christopher Guest mockumentaries (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, & A Mighty Wind). All of which I heartily recommend.
Joe Flaherty (aka Guy Caballero), is one of the best straight men on this show. Don't miss his great impersonation of Bing Crosby while Rick Moranis impersonates Woody Allen.
This is one great collection of talented actors. This DVD could have easily been named, "Before they Were Stars"!
For anyone who has memories of this wonderful TV show, buy this box set. You won't be disappointed.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2004
Ok, now I can erase NBC/Bernard Sahlin's numbers from my redial, since I won't have to keep calling once a year to find out when they were going to get the legal paperwork in order and release this on DVD. A seemingly endless cast of memorable characters and reams of bitingly funny satire are chock-a-block in this collection. The 90-minute format was also great because they were able to actually sustain a sketch past the typical 3 minute mark that was commonplace on SNL; the writing was so good, you actually wanted to WATCH a sketch beyond 3 minutes! If you aren't familiar with this show, it's freewheeling, anarchic spirit was lifted at various points by Letterman, Conan, The Simpsons, Amy Sedaris' Comedy Central show STRANGERS WITH CANDY, and a whole host of others (not all nearly as successfully). I could list great moments ad infinitum, but I have to point out the sequence in the Lola Heatherton comeback special when Catherine O'Hara as Lola (in a sequined sari) accompanies Andrea Martin's Mother Theresa to a local hospital, but instead of comforting the sick and wounded, sings Steve Miller Band's "The Joker" to her... "really love your peaches, Mommy Theresa, wanna shake your tree" (!)
Finally, something worthwhile in the new millenium!
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 14, 2004
When SCTV was originally done on TV in the mid-70's it was intended as a cheap "Canadian content" filler program on the rather inaccurately named Global TV Network. The network was actually at that time broadcast only in Ontario, Canada. Those first two seasons were done on the incredibly cheap, but with extraordinary results. They were the seasons when Harold Ramis appeared on screen, but before Rick Moranis joined. Many of the satires were of Canadian TV and celebrities. "Floyd Robertson" and "Earl Camenbert" were parodies of newscasters Lloyd Robertson and Earl Cameron. Lloyd still hosts the most-watched national newscast in Canada. "Halfwits" was a parody of a Toronto High school quiz (hosted by Alex trebec in pre-Jeopardy days!) called "Reach For The Top".
After 2 years, Global dropped the show, but it was picked up a year later by another (& bigger) Canadian network - the CBC. But by this time several of the bigger names, particularly John Candy & Catherine O'Hara, had gone on to other things, so the cast was supplemented by Moranis, Tony Rosato & Robin Duke. Rosato & Duke moved to SNL at about the same time NBC started showing "SCTV90" on Fridays at 1 am. The McKenzie Brothers skits, originally just filler material to fulfill the CBC's demand that the show be "more Canadian", were, remarkably among the most popular skits.
By the time SCTV moved to NBC, the budgets got larger, and the original cast, including Candy & O'Hara, were reunited.
Because so much of the original Second City ran below the radar, they were able to get away with a lot of things. Not censorship problems - copyright problems. They just never bothered to get clearance for a lot of the tunes they played or performed on the show. Sir John Gilguid & Sir Ralph Richardson appeared without salary or residuals. That's why the NBC shows are coming out before the originals.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2004
FINALLY this is getting released on DVD!! There's just no comparison - SCTV was THE best sketch comedy show ever aired on television, cable included. Every cast member went on to major productions & became heavy hitters in the comedy field. And to the reviewer above - Harold Ramis a LIGHTWEIGHT? Ever hear of "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters"?
Here's why this took so long to get to DVD - notice it's not NBC Entertainment releasing it, but that company formed by several smart Rhino Video executives, Shout. Seems NBC threw up it's hands in surrender trying to secure all the music & ancillary rights for a DVD release, so they sold their rights to Shout, said "Good Luck Suckers" and thought they made a great business move! Little did they know Shout has made a conscious effort to chase down all these shows with hard-to-secure rights, knowing there's a huge pre-set market for selling them. Good for them!
I'm buying this baby right now!! SCTV IS ON THE AIR!
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2004
"SCTV Network" has now been released on DVD to largely rapturous reviews. Granted, many of these positive marks are coming from people who remember the show fondly from when it originally aired (or, at least, found it from long-ago repeats). However, you will note on this site that there are a few average folk who were not disciples of the program previously who slam it as being totally unfunny. If you've never seen "SCTV" before, will you find it funny? Honestly, I think the answer is "yes," but don't get too built up over it after reading rave after rave from fans (you're courting disappointment for anything with that mindset). The only things that really may subtract from your enjoyment are the sometimes-irritating canned laughter (which is totally unnecessary but there nonetheless), the fact that the show looks quite tatty compared to other shows with bigger budgets, and the fact that, because some of the bits have been pirated so shamelessly for many years (for instance, "Saturday Night Live's" Celebrity Jeopardy sketches with Will Ferrell as an exasperated Alex Trebek is pretty a much an out-and-out rip off of SCTV's "High Q" scene with Eugene Levy as an exasperated Trebek), bits may seem far less original than when they first aired. Otherwise, this is Class-A sketch comedy with one of the most astonishing casts ever assembled. Not a weak link in the bunch (unlike your average "SNL" cast where there's often one or two folk in the lineup where you say to yourself "What the Hell is that person doing on TV?"). Dave Thomas ("Grace Under Fire"), Rick Moranis ("Flintstones"), Joe Flaherty ("Freaks & Geeks"), Catherine O'Hara ("Best In Show"), Andrea Martin ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding"), Eugene Levy ("American Pie"), and, of course, the late, great John Candy ("Planes, Trains, & Automobiles") all shine here when they were real young and no one knew who the heck they were. If you are a comedy fanatic who never got a chance to see this classic show, run don't walk to get this set. If you're just a casual viewer looking for laughs, you will most definitely find many here as long you can get by the show's cheap look.