This was basically the Canadian version of Saturday Night Live. Ran from 1976-1984. Used to watch reruns of it as a kid. I've brought this show up over the years and am surprised how many folks have still never heard of it. You can see right here in the cast listing that this production was bursting with actors who got their start here and then went on to become Hollywood heavyweights.
So far, there's been 4 sets released of SCTV, a Holiday Specials, and Best Of Dvd. Each set is kind of a snippet of episodes from a certain genre of SCTV's history. At this point it doesn't look very promising that the rest of the episodes will ever make it to daylight, which is a shame, as there are 135 episodes out there (varying from 30-90 minutes each.) Much of it was clever, genius, and downright loony.
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Edward Garea | Branchville, New Jersey United States | 07/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Good Day Eh!!!
Robert W. Stoll | Whittier, CA USA | 06/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
The Holy Grail!
Robert W. Stoll | 03/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Thank you! Thank you!
Peter M. | West Orange, NJ | 06/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 allLong live SCTV!"
Revolutionary television comedy
hyperbolium | Earth, USA | 03/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."