For fans of comedy, the influence that the original “Not Ready For Prime Time” players on Saturday Night Live was indelible, but did not deter from enjoyable sketch comedy after the group left in 1980. Sketch comedy was being done at an equally accomplished level with the Second City players, some of whom Lorne Michaels recruited for the initial cast of SNL. Those that remained provided some hysterical moments and quality comedy.
Shout! Has done a commendable job in bringing this c…medic gem back to life, and has done very well with the first three volumes. In Volume 4, there are two episodes on each disc, and six discs total. You get to see all the long lost favorites. From John Candy (Splash), you see Johnny LaRue, Mayor Tommy Shanks, and I saw a pretty hilarious bit of him (dressed as Devine) doing Peter Pan. From Joe Flaherty (One Crazy Summer), there’s SCTV station head Guy Caballero. Andrea Martin (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) did Libby Wolfson and Edith Brickley, and Eugene Levy (American Pie) brought in Bobby Bittman and Earl Camembert. Together, they all brought in their unique comic sensibilities and timing, and helped to contribute to outstanding comedy, that won some awards during the season.
Now, it goes without saying that some from SCTV did take their characters with them to SNL, specifically Martin Short (Father of the Bride), as you can see early sketches featuring Jackie Rogers Jr. or Ed Grimley before they were brought to wider attention in America. There’s actually one bit where Levy (as Alex Trebek) is visibly frustrated when dealing with three slow contestants. I’m not saying that Will Ferrell or Darrell Hammond basically stole that bit and used it on Saturday Night Live in the late ‘90s, but the similarities look awful similar.
All in all, SCTV made for some fine moments of hilarity, whether you were from Winnipeg or Washington, from Toronto to Toledo. The cast members of the show are memorable names in comedy, and to see them at their purest form really is something special to see, and was a pleasure to revisit.
The show is reproduced in all of its full frame glory. Some of the pre-taped stuff appears to be shot on film and it really shows its age, and some of the show graphics are reproduced pretty well. It’s like you’re right next to the sex and drugs! Wait, this isn’t a Saturday Night Live review. Still, things look OK.
Just your usual 2 channel Dolby soundtrack, with the difference being that this was done before everything was recorded using the magic of stereo sound, so everything sounds pretty hollow. Quite frankly, you’re better off enjoying this through your TV speakers than your home theater setup, which is probably best for most TV shows on DVD, come to think of it.
The folks at Shout! Have actually done fans of the show proud in the past, and continue to do so in subsequent releases of seasons to DVD. Starting off, there are commentaries on two episodes, featuring a mix of Short, Flaherty and alum Catherine O’Hara. While Flaherty and Short are jovial and recall the show fondly (for the most part), the track with Short and O’Hara seems to be a little flatter, and not really worth the time. Included as a pretty nice extra appearing periodically are the original shows (or commercials) that the gang would eventually satirize. To have the inspiration for some of the Canadian references that appear is quite thoughtful, and would be the perfect thing on other TV sets for comedy troupes like The Kids in the Hall or Monty Python’s Flying Circus. There are remembrances with Short and Flaherty, who revisits his character Sammy Maudlin in a recent stage appearance, along with some home movies of the gang too.Closing Thoughts
My main concern was that the extras were somewhat scarce, but they’re fairly unique and help to complement an excellent season of sketch comedy that was clean, but still biting at the same time. Shout! has done well once again for this volume of SCTV, and this is recommended to any fan of comedy.
Special Features List
- Selected Episode Commentary
- Retrospective Interviews
- Home Movies
- Real Canadian Reference Footage