SCTV Network/90: Volume 1

A few nights ago, I heard a "Great White North" call from some hoser on my street. I wanted to respond with a "take off, eh!," but I was too wrapped up in the hackey and the Moosehead to haul my ass as far as the window. Okay, I'm actually not a sports fan (Moosehead's okay though), but I did hear the hoser call, a sign that SCTV continues to stick around after nearly three decades. Despite the show's significant Can-con roots — it was initially broadcast by Global and shot in Toronto and Edmonton with a predominantly Canadian cast — the five documentaries in this five-DVD box reveal that it wasn't quite a Canadian phenomenon. In "The Origins of SCTV," we learn about Chicago's Second City theatre and its Toronto branch, the source of SCTV's cast, as well as much of the early roster of the rival Saturday Night Live. "The Craft of SCTV" (costume, hair, make-up) is less fascinating, but "SCTV Remembers" and "Remembering John (Candy)" offer insider info from the show's cast and the theatre's owners and founders, along with plenty of priceless clips. The set also features a 24-page booklet and, most importantly, nine 90-minute episodes from SCTV's fourth season (1981-'82), its first on NBC. With John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara and Dave Thomas, this is SCTV at its most consistent. The parodies may seem obscure to a young audience unfamiliar with 25-year-old TV and movie culture, but I defy anyone to keep a straight face through Woody Allen's screen test for Taxi Driver or David Brinkley's editorial about the drop in "quality smoke." With equally hilarious original characters like Bobby Bittman, Sid Dithers, the Schmenge Brothers and, of course, Bob and Doug McKenzie, this is classic (Canadian) comedy. (Shout!/Sony Music)