SCTV is back with Volume 2. We all know the players, Joe Flahrety, Andrea Martin, Catherine O’Hara, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, and John Candy. Martin Short wasn’t on board yet. But this volume has all your favorite characters, Bob and Doug MacKenzie, Count Floyd, Johnny LaRue, Dr. Tongue, Jerry Todd, Lola Heatherington, and I always loved the Hi-Q sketch.
SCTV’s kind of satire and parody is not biting like Monty Python. It’s more endearing, like wrestling match with a friend…. When not parodying real TV shows, the show also make gentle jabs at Russian culture, feminism, and Canadian tax shelter films. The jokes might seem a bit dated, but the talent of this septet goes with out saying. But I will say something anyway: SCTV sports one of the funniest casts to ever grace the sketch comedy stage (or tube).
There are 5 discs on this set. Each disc has 2 episodes (running time is just over an hour). And you don’t have to watch it from start to finish either. Each sketch is detailed in the menu, so you can jump around to your favorite sketches or characters. But you might lose the overall arc of the episode; sometimes there a loose story going on throughout the episode.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is a little disappointing, and very center heavy in your speakers. The audio track isn’t very well mixed (the original source material?). There is a kind of flatness to the sound and there are moments when the dialogue comes out with a real harshness. Fortunately, the comedy material itself is enough of a distraction. But when you’re reviewing for these things, you can’t help but hear the deficiencies.
The expected 1:33:1 full frame transfer is a bit better than the audio, but the picture is not re-mastered in the way we expect from the bigger new releases. SCTV looks like it would on TV twenty years ago, which I guess is a compliment. The video has no evidence of grain or transfer damage. It’s a pretty clean print. But like the sound, there’s a kind of flatness to the picture. However, colors are solid, and those polyester suits come shining through.
I do not have all the extras to review the entire DVD set. But, with a little bit of research, I found out there are some documentaries and behind the scenes features on other discs. From what I was able to glean from my review disc, however, there are commentaries on each episode. Dave Thomas and a couple of writers (Dick Blasucci and John McAndrews) talk about the CCCP episode. This is a very intelligent, nostalgic commentary. I enjoyed listening to it. It’s more of a technical commentary than Andrea Martin and Catherine O’Hara’s commentary on “I’m Taking My Own Head”. It seems that the two ladies are watching the episode for the first time in 20 years, and we take enjoyment from their memories. As Andrea says at one point, “It’s like a dream”.
SCTV has an important place in the history of Canadian comedy. And it’s certainly a watershed moment for the talented cast. If you like television comedy, this volume should be on your shelf. Despite the lukewarm audio and video, the material itself and the extras are enough to warrant a purchase. So take off, eh?
Special Features List
- Commentaries by Dave Thomas, Dick Blasucci, writer John McAndrew, Andrea Martin and Catherine O’Hara
- Larger Than Life: The Norman Seeff Photo Sessions
- SCTV Remembers, Pt. 2
- The SCTV Writers
- The Juul Haalmeyer Dancers
- Behind-The-Scenes Photo Gallery
- SCTV At The 1982 Emmy Awards
- A photo-packed 24-page booklet with an essay by Pulitzer-Price winning television critic Howard Rosenberg