Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Second City Television
The show's cast included John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Andrea Martin, Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis and Dave Thomas, many of whom had previously been regulars on The David Steinberg Show . All of the original featured cast went on to successful careers in American film and television, although later additions Tony Rosato , Robin Duke and Jan Randall weren't so lucky. (Rosato and Duke were called upon by Dick Ebersol to help fix Saturday Night Live in the Spring of 1981.)
SCTV first aired on Global in Canada, and later moved to the CBC. It ran in Canada from 1976 to 1984. The show also aired on NBC in the United States, under the title SCTV Network 90, from 1981 to 1983. In 1984, for its final season of existence, the show moved to pay-TV channel Superchannel in Canada and Cinemax in the United States, changing the name slightly to SCTV Channel.
The basic premise of SCTV is that it is the television station for the city of Melonville. Rather than broadcast the usual TV rerun fare, the business, run by the greedy Guy Caballero (Joe Flaherty) who sits in a wheelchair only for effect, puts on a bizarre and humorously incompetent range of cheap local programming. This can range from a soap opera called "The Days of The Week", to game shows like "Shoot The Stars", in which celebrities are literally shot at like targets in a shooting gallery, to full blown movie spoofs like "Play it Again, Bob" in which Woody Allen tries to get Bob Hope to star in his next film. In-house media melodrama was also satirised with characters like Candy's vain, bloated variety star Johnny La Rue and Martin's hatchet-faced, shrewish Edith Prickley, the station manager.
Parody shows included The Goose Girl, a Tarzan-style spoof in which Martin plays a girl, whose family have died in a plane crash, who has been raised by geese. A parody of the popular western drama Grizzly Adams -- retitled Grizzly Abrahams -- depicted the burly western hero as the owner of a wild tortoise, which took weeks to lead police to the skeletal remains of its master, trapped beneath a fallen log.
As one chronicler has noted, the TV station concept gave the show the ability to parody virtually any TV genre, as well as advertising. Some of the most memorable sketches involved parodies of late-night low-budget advertising, such as the "Used Fruit Stand", in which viewers were enticed to come early with the offer of free tickets to 'Circus Lupus', the Circus of the Wolves (accompanied by mocked-up photos of wolves forming a pyramid and jumping through flaming hoops). Equally memorable were the faux-inept ads for local businesses like Ted and Edna Boil's Magic Mile of Organs.
Impersonations were also an integral part of the comedy, with almost every cast member playing multiple roles as well-known personalities. Some impressions include Short's Jerry Lewis, Candy's Orson Welles, Pavarotti and Herve Villechaize, O'Hara's Katharine Hepburn, Andrea Martin's Streisand, and Flaherty's range of impersonations including Gregory Peck, Peter O'Toole, Kirk Douglas, Charlton Heston, Bing Crosby, William F Buckley, Geraldo Rivera, Charles Bronson, Alan Alda, Gene Siskel, Richard Nixon, Jack Klugman, Slim Whitman, Larry Fine and Salvador Dalí -- and of course, Levy's Ricardo Montalban.
Other popular sketches and characters include:
- the "Farm Film Report," in which two hicks interviewed celebrities and finally encouraged them to "blow up" (creating the catchphrase "get blow'd up real good"),
- "The Sammy Maudlin Show," whose sleazy showbiz guests and hosts usually did nothing but sit around and praise each other, and Martin Short's "Jackie Rogers, Jr." (a sort of albino Sammy Davis, Jr.)
- insufferable talk show host Catherine Timber (O'Hara), host of chat show Enough About Me (which is, not surprisingly, her catchphrase)
- Ed Grimley (later featured on Saturday Night Live). The Grimley character is believed to have been an inspiration for Paul Reubens' character Pee Wee Herman.
- Martin Short's Brock Linehan , a thinly-veiled impersonation of real-life Canadian interviewer Brian Linehan, who was famous for his overpreparation.
- Harry, The Man With The Snake On His Face (John Candy), who runs Melonville's adult book and video stores.
- Count Floyd (Joe Flaherty) who hosts Monster Chiller Horror Theater, featuring flicks like "3-D House of Beef" and "The House of Cats".
- The newscasts hosted by Floyd Robertson and Earl Camembert, modelled after Canadian news anchors Lloyd Robertson and Earl Cameron and played by Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy respectively. (Floyd Robertson was revealed in one episode as the same person as Count Floyd, host of the station's cheap late-night horror films)
- the Shmenge Brothers and their Polka band, the "Happy Wanderers" resulted in an HBO special called "The Last Polka", a parody of Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz. (John Candy would go on to play another polka clarinetist in Home Alone, which starred Catherine O'Hara.)
- Dave Thomas playing actor Richard Harris in a skit where "Harris" sings his most famous hit MacArthur Park, then waits in total agony during the orchestral stretch while the show moved on to other skits.
- The famous Russian Television episode in which an aging and bedridden Perry Como (obviously played by cast member Eugene Levy) "stars" in his TV special "Still Alive", only to be interrupted by an illegal signal from a Russian Television station. From there, all the skits are spoofs of Russian Television network shows.
Ironically, the most popular sketch was intended as throwaway filler. Bob & Doug McKenzie were the imaginary Canadian brothers in The Great White North sketch. The sketch was initially developed by Rick Moranis ("Bob") and Dave Thomas ("Doug") at the end of a day's shooting, as a sarcastic response to the CBC request for two minutes of "identifiably Canadian content". The brothers ultimately became icons of the very Canadian culture they were meant to parody, spinning off albums, a movie (Strange Brew), commercials, and cameo appearances on TV and film. It has been said that Bob and Doug popularized the inaccurate stereotype that Canadians say "Eh" after every sentence, which is often poked at in American shows featuring Canadian characters.
SCTV Guide, including a searchable episode guide.
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