Shout! Factory continues with its release of SCTV on DVD with their third set. Signaling a high watermark to the show, the set improved (somewhat), the sketches became more ambitious (including an episode long Bob and Doug special), and three things demonstrated that SCTV had secured a place in the pantheon of comedy greatness, rivaling, if not quite equaling the Saturday Night Live juggernaut. The first was that Bill Murray made a guest appearance. When Bill Murray wants to be on the show, you know you've got something good going on. The second is a sketch within a sketch, wherein Bob and Doug make a hilariously awful attempt to duplicate (read: rip-off) Dan Aykroyd and Steve Martin's Festrunk brothers sketch.
"We're, like, two wild and crazy guys, eh?"
When you feel brave enough to take a poke at SNL, you really know you've got something good going on. And the third ties it all together. With some of the cast starting to follow Harold Ramis in leaving the show, new blood was needed and Martin Short was brought into the fold. Short would later go move onto SNL.
When you start turning young comics into SNL quality cast, you REALLY know you've got something good going on.
While an increase in budget does allow for a tad more polish, the show continues to be 80s video technology. Shout! Factory continues to offer the best example of 80s video they can, but that has its limitations.
There is a single point during the Pre-Teen World Telethon episode where the video pauses briefly. I can't confirm if this is consistent with all copies, just the early copies that went to the press, or just mine, but it's a minor skip.
Like the two previous releases, the shows are largely in mono, with occasional stereo musical cues. Any deficiencies in the sound are from the original (recorded outside in the wind, etc.) and not the DVD quality. The newer extras have simple stereo, though the 80s show That's Life, which is included, is mono, and harsher than the SCTV audio.
There are two commentaries, one featuring Joe Flaherty and writers Paul Flaherty, and Dick Blassuci, discussing the Pre-Teen World. The other features Mike Short and Dick Blassuci talking about Rome, Italian Style, which is a major episode for the fledgling cast member, Martin Short.
SCTV: The Producers, Part 1 (29:10)
Andres Alexander and Patrick Whitely talk about what it took to turn a group of improv stage comedians into a television show.
That's Life (6:34)
In the 80s, a half hour show used to air, called That's Life. The concept was to take a peek into the lives of interesting people and see what they're like when they're not doing their interesting things, with the understanding that it would be, well, interesting. One episode visited John Candy and his family at their rural home in Ontario one summer. A nice look at the John Candy we never got to see much, though the opening shot of Candy is a bit creepy.
John Candy photo gallery
Approximately 50 (I lost count) colour photos of (you guessed it) John Candy. And while you might think there's a lot of Candy overkill on these DVD sets, it's not like he can participate. I say more extras with John.
SCTV Remembers 3
Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short wax nostalgic about the show and crack one another up in the process. The revelation that O'Hara doesn't do an impression of Katherine Hepburn, but rather does an impression of Short doing an impression of Katherine Hepburn is staggering.
SCTV at the Museum of Television & Radio (1:10:00)
A huge number of the cast, producers, and writers for the show sat down in 1997 to talk about SCTV to an audience at the MT&R. Heck, even Rick Moranis was there (which is good, because I've wanted to see some extras with him and thus far he has been conspicuously absent.) A gold mine of info, even with all the other collections of recollections in all three sets.
More on the MT&R
I'm guessing that the Museum of Television and Radio only OK'd the use of the round table footage in return for some publicity. This is three pages of brochure promoting one impressive facility. A little dull as extras go, but interesting.
Bonus audio CD: From the Second City Stage
17 tracks taken from recordings of the Second City stage shows, across three decades (not covering all the way to the beginning, but close.) Actually, it's 15, an intro, and one montage of SCTV sketches. Why watch when you can listen. I guess. Still, these early looks at stars like Mike Myers and Chris Farley (not to mention a whole slew of SCTV alumni) is a good value.
Ah HA! My copy came with the booklet this time, and I can say, in retrospect that I wish I'd had them for the previous sets. Some excellent blurbs on the show, its cast, and even a note from John Candy's daughter about her famous father.
Home Movies (0:45)
Hidden on disc 3 (pressing left or just letting the menu loop a couple of times will launch the clip) is a short montage of behind the scenes footage at the Edmonton studio. It's the kind of thing that only drives you crazy wishing they'd include more, which is likely why it's not offered up front, but rather is hidden away.
I recently picked up a British DVD of the sketch show Big Train (which features Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame.) In one episode he and another cast member play Daryl Hall & John Oates. I watched this, laughed, and put in the SCTV disc with Chariots of Eggs (which spoofs Chariots of Fire obviously, only with more eggs) - which features Daryl Hall & John Oates. I couldn't breath. It's was the comedy equivalent of mixing household cleaners. Don't do it, you'll only asphyxiate yourself.
I would have to say that this is a banner year for SCTV. While some members were moving on, they did still put in appearances, so it's hard to tell they supposed to be gone. And Martin Short joins the cast, upping the ante for everyone with his energy and insane impressions. Considering they're all excellent impressionists and a few, like Eugene Levy and Rick Moranis and spectacular, adding Martin Short to the mix made for fireworks. Levy and Short's fistfight between Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal is nothing short of genius.
If I have one complaint about the set, it's the box. It's like they decided to put all the worst elements of various DVD cases into one box, just to make me mad. Take a fold-out case with sleeve, add an inside flap for the booklet and CD, but arrange it in such as way that they will fall out everytime you fold the flap open to get at the discs. Then, for the discs, use a modified version of the 4-in-1 Overlap type case, wherein two discs, well, overlap one another, which makes it impossible to remove one without removing the other. Only, the set has 5 discs, so add a single extra disc housing. On a flap.
To whom it may concern at Shout! Factory. Keep it up, the sets are awesome, but please, do something about the case. You're headed the wrong way!