In the 1860's Wild West, when a ragged bunch of misfit settlers decide they cannot stand living in their current situation, they hire a grizzled cowboy to take them on a journey back to their hometowns east.
Sketch comedy show set around the fictitious TV station SCTV. The programs broadcast by SCTV were parodies of films and other television shows. They included "Farm Film Report", Woody Allen's "Play It Again, Bob!", "Monster Horror Chiller Theatre", and "Great White North." Other skits involved the staff of SCTV, like president Guy Caballero, clueless newscaster Earl Camembert, washed up actor Johnny LaRue, and leopard-skin print wearing station owner Edith Prickley. Written by
[on Dialing for Dollars]
We're trying to reach Mr. Paul Pope of Melonville to see if he knows the name of tonight's movie.
[sfx phone ring]
Hello, is this Paul Pope?
No. This is Pope Paul.
We seem to have reached the Vatican, ladies and gentlemen.
Well, hello, your Holiness, this is Moe Green on Dialing for Dollars.
[...] See more »
In the first 2 seasons the cast names were given by voiceover (by Dave Thomas) instead of opening credits, and the last name was given as "And Dave Thomas as the Beaver". In the first 2 seasons the opening includes a parody of the Indian-head test pattern. See more »
There are not a lot of things about this world I can state with full assurance, but I can say with full confidence that SCTV is, bar none, the funniest show of all time. Younger viewers--those born after, say, 1970--may have a hard time with the allusions to and parodies of pop culture circa 1980, and my guess is this would cause those viewers to meet my claim with skepticism. But think about it: every show by and large depends on its time, including SNL and Monty Python. Nevertheless, there is plenty here for anyone with half a brain and a good sense of humor to enjoy. Some of the sketches involve topical matters, but the sheer chuztpah and intelligence of them makes such topicality secondary.
The acting alone is without comedic peer for a TV show in English. Over the past twenty-five years I have never been able to decide who my favorite SCTV actor is. I love the two (main) women: both Martin and O'Hara are game for anything, and they are loaded with comic nuance. But the same goes for all the rest of the cast. Sometimes I conclude that Eugene Levy edges out the others, but as soon as I say that I think of John Candy as William B. or Curly (etc.) or Rick Moranis as Jerry Todd or Skip Bitman, and I renege on my statement. But thinking about Skip leads me to think of Levy as Bobby Bitman, and the process starts all over. (And this is to say nothing of the very great, very funny work by Dave Thomas and Joe Flaherty.) The movie and TV work of the cast, post-SCTV, has been merely OK overall, but don't let it deceive you: all of this great casts' best work occurred on SCTV. After the show ended, Candy fared the best, but he sadly deprived us of his great presence way too early, god rest his soul. Others have done OK in Christopher Guest films. But, again, these usually only make me yearn for SCTV. Martin Short is probably my least favorite of the regulars, yet he has his moments (Boy from Deliverance, some Ed Grimley bits, etc.).
The writing, too, is consistently excellent. (All the cast wrote bits, but some more than others.) Watching the DVDs--and thank god for those!--I see that there are stretches of "padding," but even this is usually pretty funny. (Even Monty Python has some not-so-great shows.) Some of the guest bits are a little lame, and sometimes I wish they had not bothered with guests, unless they make sense to the story (Zontar was funny). Much has been made of the laugh track; I never liked it either. Still, one can punch holes in about anything, and they do not, in the end, add up to much. And this is why I can proclaim that, for me, SCTV is the very zenith of TV comedy. I urge anyone who is uninitiated to jump in with both feet. Any of the four NBC seasons would be a good starting point. (If you want a single DVD, try the Christmas show.) I hope that someone will now release the Cinemax shows.
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