SCTV: Second City Television Network - Volume 3
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SCTV was at its best when skewering show business and television convention, as witness the lavish "People's Global Golden Choice Awards" (the Five Neat Guys' medley of faux motion-picture theme songs anticipates Billy Crystal's Oscar-night showstopper), and "The Battle of the PBS Stars," which pits Julia Child against Mr. Rogers in the boxing ring. This cycle also introduced the pitch-perfect soap-opera parody, "The Days of the Week" (former Second City member and Saturday Night Live superstar Bill Murray brings his considerable cachet to one installment), as well as the polka meisters, the Schmenge brothers (a classic sketch marred somewhat by the absence of "Stairway to Heaven," apparently due to rights issues).
Martin Short, momentously joins the seamless ensemble, and makes an instant impression, with such masterful bits as his devastating "Jerry Lewis Live on the Champs Elysees." Throughout, even when a sketch falls flat ("The Pre-Teen World Telethon"), the cast's commitment to character is exhilarating to watch. SCTV fans who have long suffered the show's intrusive laugh track will want to check out the bonus feature on disc 5, a 1997 reunion of the surviving cast at the Museum of Television & Radio. Rick Moranis reveals that the technician responsible was--no joke--a moonlighting chicken farmer who didn't get the jokes and was simply looking for lulls in which to place the canned laughs. Not even SCTV's brilliant writing staff could have made that up! --Donald Liebenson
- Nine 90-minute episodes from the fourth season (episodes 97-105, broadcast on NBC in 1982), introducing new cast member Martin Short
- Commentaries by Joe Flaherty and writers Paul Flaherty, Mike Short, and Dick Blassuci
- SCTV: The Producers, Part 1
- A John Candy profile and photo gallery
- SCTV Remembers 3
- SCTV at the Museum of Television & Radio (1997 round table)
- Bonus audio CD: From the Second City Stage
- 16-page booklet
Top Customer Reviews
* The Pre-Teen World telethon (with Rick, Eugene, and John as the pre-teen band The Recess Monkeys doing a cover of Chiliwack's "My Girl")
* The first Schmenge Bros. sketch (including commercials for Schmenge Travel and Schmenge Records)
* "Chariots of Eggs" with Hall & Oates.
* The first Al "No Song and Dance Here" Peck Used Cars ad
* The People's Global Golden Choice Awards
* "The Days of the Week" soap, in six parts. ("Didn't you have amnesia?" "Um...maybe. I don't remember.")
* The Battle of the PBS stars
If you've read Dave Thomas' book, watching the last 3 or 4 of these shows will remind you of how burned out he said he was, and it shows in a few pieces. (e.g. "Charlie's Kitchen.")..but the addition of Martin Short to the cast gave the show a great shot in the arm, and this box set contains the only three shows where Short, Moranis, Thomas, and O'Hara are all together.
Martin Short isn't utilized as much as he became later in the run of the show, but he does shine in "Jerry Lewis Live On the Champs-Elysees"
Overall, the production values are at their best here. The makeup, costumes, sets and camera work are much improved in this cycle.
The DVDs have the same great navigation as Vol. 2, with titles to the shows, and chapter stops on the sketches. I even found an easter egg on disc 3, which is the first I've found on any of the volumes (silent home movies from backstage at Edmonton.)
Two new commentaries: one from Joe Flaherty with Paul Flaherty and Dick Blasucci (not very entertaining, although they allege that Eugene Levy is a billionaire after making "New York Minute" with the Olsen Twins).Read more ›
During a ten-month period in 1982, only nine original episodes were aired, and that's a lot of reruns. The writers were simply not prolific enough to satisfy the demand for more high-quality material. In addition, the cast now seemed reluctant to indulge in physical humor, preferring the quiet character-driven comedy that was Second City's trademark. The only time you saw an energetic performance was when they were making fun of energetic performers, such as Eugene Levy's manic impression of Borscht Belt comic Jack Carter, Martin Short's brutal take on Jerry Lewis, or Andrea Martin's blaring imitation of Ethel Merman's singing voice.
The bonus features in this box set include a CD of live sketches and songs from the Second City archives (now the property of Sony) with narration from Second City alum Robert Klein. The sound quality varies from track to track, but it's still fascinating listening for comedy historians. Fans may be surprised to learn that Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara only worked together in a handful of episodes; this box set includes a hilarious new interview where the two crack each other up with impromptu impressions.Read more ›
On the plus side, the bonus CD of Second City stage material is great - funny and smart.
The show was becoming more refined in this "cycle", and gentler. Two performers whose manic energy had always been an asset, Dave Thomas and Catherine O'Hara, were soon to depart along with Rick Moranis. They each do good work on here, but less of it and Thomas and Moranis do write a couple of long, insipid sketches near the end that appear to be tryouts for writing bad Hollywood movies. And a lot of other mediocre stuff ("Shake and Bake" for example, is pretty sad. These guys had been so brilliant in seasons/cycles past).
Personally I prefer the previous cycles. But when the good gags came here, they were pretty amazing. Eugene Levy's "The Days of the Week" pieces are a highlight of nearly every episode, and great. Levy's Howard Cosell imitation, seen here in "The Battle of the PBS Stars", will bring tears to your eyes. "I Was A Teenage Communist" is perfection in brainy satire.
Like every other season or cycle of SCTV, there is some great, amazing stuff on here.
There are some absolute classics here. For those of us who grew up on the absolute worst of television history in the 70's, with the endless variety shows and "star ensemble" "olympic" style games, and so forth, the sketches were brilliant satire. Who could forget Levy doing Howard Cosell in the "Battle of the PBS Stars" episode, especially the boxing match between Julia Childs and Mister Rogers. I am crying with laughter. The "Raiders of the Lost Ark" silly take off sketch of "Soapy Maxwell" where Moranis exists the show with lines like "I'll shoot you so full of holes you will look like the Cub's infield" it is funny stuff indeed.
The show really went to town on the "Great White North" surprise popularity. The episode where Bob and Doug get their own variety special will leave you in stitches.
This is SCTV at its best in my opinion. The best line up and some of the best skits. If you have never seen the show, start with this set, not the first two. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After SCTV had a successful start in Canada, NBC picked up the show, a sketch comedy series involving a fictitious television network, starting in 1981. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Eric Mayforth
It's funny. All the usual cast and situations but NO SHMEAGIES! The Lutonian polka kings are not to be found! This is a real disappointment, for me. .Published 10 months ago by Dave
It is the beginning of the group sit. com. the characters depicted in the series are well played and the cast is an all-star group with talents and abilities that are loved and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mr. JFT
Volume 3 has fewer high points than Volumes 1 and 2, but overall it is an entertaining assembly of shows. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Lucy Dickey
The performers wrote their own sketches, with little regard for what humor was
popular in the day. Read more