SCTV: Volume 3

SCTV: Volume 3

SCTV: Volume 3 is naturally a must have to fans of the show or fans of the many comic geniuses that made it

SCTV: Volume 3

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There have been a few incarnation of the merry band of comedians known as Second City Television. One of the last was the 90 minutes variation Network 90.

Here was a television series whose sole function was to hold other shows up to the unblinking eye of satire. While no genre was safe from this troupe they seemed to take particular delight in sending up news shows, soap operas and commercials. SCTV: Volume 3 had a simple format which added to its appeal. The action switches almost at whim between the shows this ‘network’ presents and the behind the scenes activity of the misfits that run the station, think WKRP in Cincinnati just substitute television for radio.

The talent of the cast members is nothing less than incredible. Each member was not bound to a single character portrayal; they switched personas with little or no warning. With the use of minimal makeup as disguises they depended on their improvisational abilities to embody whoever they where at the moment. Guy Caballero, the station owner was played by Joe Flaherty. He is a man trying to gain control of the uncontrollable. He gets around in a wheel chair, not for any disability just because it adds an air of respect. Constantly worried about ratings he is usually demanding more programming from his station manager, Edith Prickley perfectly played to the hilt by Andrea Martin. With her cat’s eye glasses, bedecked in leopard prints, Prickley droned on in nasal voice demanding her motley crew of ‘talent’ to produce more and more. Typical of the off beat background story each character has Edith liked to relax by engaging in the luge.

In SCTV: Volume 3 the reliance on reruns and repacked shows are forcing a decline in the marginal ratings the station could muster. Guy looks into it and finds the one spot that people have responded to are Bob and Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas), two rather dim witted Canadians whose life revolves around drinking beer, back bacon and calling people hoosers. As they start to get media attention Guy move them up from their typical two minute slot to a full out television special. To do this they have to bump the self proclaimed star of the station, Johnny LaRue (John Candy). He loses his per diem, his dressing room and his time slot to the brothers McKenzie. There show is naturally a disaster. They can barely read the queue cards, they never hit their mark and Guy calls in the guest star, the real Tony Bennet. As with other seasons SCTV: Volume 3 usually had a well known singer as his or her self to add a little extra flavor.

Moranis and Thomas actually managed to take Bob and Doug to the same heights as many recurring characters shown on Saturday Night Live, the McKenzie brothers where just two guys, basically idiots, that got on television and struck a chord with the audience. This is a fine example of how SCTV: Volume 3 satirized television, long before reality TV they poked fun at the notation that a moron could be a star.

Catherine O'Hara also played a variety of characters here. Among her best and most diverse are Lola Heatherton, a washed up lounge singer that has had an affair with most of the male staff. She also does an on target parody of Morgan Fairchild. One of Martins best recurring characters is Pirini Scleroso the station’s cleaning lady from some tiny Slavic country. Unable to speak English she is great at repeating back various sounds trying to appear to be able to communicate.

The station naturally has a soap opera. Here is the ‘Days of the Week’ featuring the usual daytime drama mixture of drunken doctors, slutty widows and handsome but dark leading men. Even the usually more respected evening news was not free of their treatment. News anchors Floyd Robertson (Joe Flaherty) and Earl Camembert (Eugene Levy) where the epitome of incompetence. They are unable to get the facts of the simplest story correct, argue on air and are always fighting the marginal technology of the station.

In the last few episodes presented in SCTV: Volume 3 the cast was joined by Martin Short. In perchance for mimicry is among the best seen anywhere. Like the other cast mates he wears each character he takes on with ease. This is what really makes SCTV: Volume 3 a lasting classic. While some of the humor is dated, specific to the eighties, it’s the presentation that endures. Considering each actor has multiple roles we as the audience can forget this fact and become enveloped in the moment. Considering what each member of the cast has gone on to do it is difficult to decide whether this is a tightly scripted show or if the real life producers just gave the cast leeway to just have fun. In any case the results will always bring out the laughs.

Shout Factory once again does right by SCTV: Volume 3. Like the previous two volumes the full screen video does exhibit some signs of age and less than perfect storage. There is the occasional speck that flicks across the screen, nothing major but you will notice it. Just think of it as part of the run down station that SCTV portrays, get into it instead of being annoyed by it. The two channel Dolby is clear, no real problems there. The four disc set each contains not only the episodes but an extra or two, no waiting for the last disc to see some of the additional content. This set concludes the three part tribute to the regrettably short but immensely talented life of John Candy. There is also the third part of the documentary Looking Back, where the remaining cast reminisce about this unique experience and how it shaped their future careers. There is also a featurette on the real producers of SCTV: Volume 3 and how they had to aim the wild talent they had on the show. There is even a bonus CD of some of their routines ‘SCTV at The Museum of Television & Radio’. SCTV: Volume 3 is naturally a must have to fans of the show or fans of the many comic geniuses that made it. SCTV: Volume 3 will also serve to introduce a whole new generation to this classic.

Movie Review of SCTV: Volume 3 by Doug MacLean of

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