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Shout Factory presents
SCTV: Volume 2 (1981-1982)

"May the Good Lord take a likin' to ya and blow ya up, real soon!"
- Big Jim McBob, Billy Sol Hurok (Joe Flaherty, John Candy)

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: October 26, 2004

Stars: John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine 0'Hara, Dave Thomas
Other Stars: Al Jarreau, The Plasmatics, Natalie Cole, The Boomtown Rats, The Plastics, Talking Heads, Bonar Bain, Eugene Fodor, James Ingram, John Marley
Director: Various

Manufacturer: 3rd Sector Entertainment
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 13h:00m:00s
Release Date: October 19, 2004
UPC: 826663952094
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A+A-A- A-

DVD Review

SCTV: Vol. 2 picks up the chronological trail during that glorious period that resulted in some of the Canadian import's best work and a trio of Emmy nominations for Best Writing In A Comedy Series (though they won the trophy for the terrific Moral Majority episode featured on Vol. I).

Among the many classic sketches and wraparounds contained:

The Jazz Singer: Yet another modern-day take on the legendary 1927 film featuringSCTV performer Sid Druthers taking on Warner Oland's father role with a twist: he's a hip saxophonist who's trying to keep his musically talented son (Al Jareau) from pursuing a career as a cantor.

Perhaps the most bizarre edition of The Fishin' Musician as Gil welcomes the outlandish punk-rock outfit The Plasmatics with Mohawk-ed lead singer Wendy O. Williams unleashing her legendary chainsaw proficiency on the Scuttlebutt Lodge.

Zontar is one of two practically flawless wraparound episodes. In Episode 90, a mysterious force that surfaces in the form of a cabbage overtakes SCTV headquarters. Meanwhile, many stand-alone masterpieces emerge including dual Woody Allen Annie Hall knock-offs with Don Rickles and George Carlin (both brilliantly portrayed by Rick Moranis) adapting their stand-up personas in place of the neurotic director; a blisteringly funny Farm Film Report where Meryl Streep (Catherine O'Hara) attempts to "blow up reeeeal goooood" and a wild Sammy Maudlin segment where a soused Joan Embry (O'Hara once more) gives the censor's index finger a real workout.

Godfather is the second "all killer, no filler" episode of this set and ranked by many SCTV afficionados and critics as one of the show's true high points. Reworking Francis Ford Coppola's Oscar-winning masterpiece to incorporate station owner Guy Cabellero (Flaherty) in Marlon Brando's role, this more than half-hour parody that becomes an all-out war between his network and the four major American prime-time competitors. From the moment Floyd the Barber (perhaps Levy's best impersonation) emerges from darkness over that haunting theme music to convince Godfather Guy to kill Opie because of irreparable damage to his barber's pole, to a take-no-prisoners climax involving familiar television faces of the time from ABC, CBS, and NBC (all brilliantly brought to life by the show's players), it's still incredibly funny (and look for a great cameo from original Godfather cast member John Marley recreating his memorable role.

Other great moments from Episode 93: Katherine Hepburn (O'Hara) remembers her First Time and 3-D House of Beef featuring Dr. Tongue (Candy) and Woody (Levy) as greeter and waiter at a posh restaurant where their entertainment is bombing. Other gems scattered throughout the rest of the set include a tour of Walter Crontike's Brain co-hosted by David Brinkley (Moranis); another visit to Mrs. Falbo's Tiny Town with special guest G. Gordon Liddy reading his version of Goldilocks; Doorway to Hell where Guy is so desperate for programming ideas, he turns to the crew with outlandish results; Neil Simon's Nutcracker Suite (from the show's classic 1981 Christmas episode that features many familiar characters rubbing shoulders at the network's annual holiday clambake), and the overwhelmingly brilliant Perry Como Still Alive (another Levy diamond) that finds the veteran crooner keeping with the times while still finding time to play Mr. Relaxation in ways that will have you howling with laughter.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Though I had no problem with Vol. I's picture quality considering the limitations of 20-year-old videotape, this set is a marginal improvement with a touch more color and less grain.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Like the visuals, the audio fares better on Vol. 2 as well. Less boxed-in and more full with a bit more low end.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 0 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring SCTV-Volume One, Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series and Easy Riders and Raging Bulls
3 Feature/Episode commentaries by Co-star Dave Thomas, co-writers Dick Blasucci and
John McAndrew (CCCP 1); Co-Stars Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara
(I'm Taking My Own Head and SCTV Staff Christmas Party)
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
5 Discs
5-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. The Juul Haalmeyer Dancers
  2. The SCTV Writers
  3. SCTV Remembers
  4. 1982 Emmys Clip
  5. The Norman Seeff Photo Sessions
    and Behind The Scenes Photo Gallery
Extras Review: After the gargantuan fun on SCTV's DVD debut, this set is a bit anti-climatic with far less, at least in terms of length. But what is contained is every bit as enjoyable and educational.

Three commentary tracks are notable efforts, two pairing up Andrea Martin and Catherine O'Hara on the episodes I'm Tearing Off My Own Head and SCTV Christmas Party. Though low-key on the former, they're relentlessly chatty on the latter as the ladies are never at a loss for a good story, anecdote or fun memory. It's charming to hear them gasp in horror at early 1980s fashions ("My waist is underneath my breasts," Martin jokes at one point), rave about their male partners in comedy, the back history of their characters, and the occasional "wow" moment like their revelation that the dangerous-looking Wendy O. Williams of The Plasmatics was actually very sweet in person and thrilled to be doing the show.

On to the boys, writers Dick Blasucci and John McAndrew team with co-star Dave Thomas for a peppy talk-a-thon in support of CCCP 1 that's chock full of background and interesting trivia including the identity of the second back-up singer supporting Andrea Martin in the classic Perry Como skit (Wayne Gretsky's then-girlfriend), how the Great White North skits were always improvised, a neat technical trick that gave the Soviet-themed sketches such an authentic feel, and the nice revelation that no matter how minor a player's part was, they would infuse it with the same amount of energy as though they were playing the lead, which is one of the elements I feel made this show so well done; truly the epitome of a team effort.

Other bonus info: The Juul Haalmeyer Dancers (09m:14s) traces the transition of SCTV's famed costume specialists from wardrobe guy to dancing fool as a one-time chorus line bit became a great running gag; SCTV: Writers (25m:58s) is a neat roundtable with five of the show's talented scribes (Paul Flaherty, Michael Short, Doug Steckler, Bob Dolman, and John McAndrew). One of the most entertaining extras on an SCTV set thus far, it's an informative look inside a mostly neglected asset of the show as memories of these petrified writers in awe of an amazing cast learn how to recover from pitch meetings filled with occasional bombs and silence, to being trusted collaborators privy to helpful suggestions (like Moranis' suggestion to "readyourskitideareallyreallyfast"). Classic clips support the reminisces (the Sinatra-influenced commercial parody Frankenscent and one of my all-time favorites, The Nutty Lab Assistant featuring Martin Short's Ed Grimley doing the Professor Kelp bit).

Cast members Eugene Levy and Joe Flaherty hold court themselves on a second installment of SCTV Remembers (14m:16s) recalling the genesis of memorable characters (including Flaherty's Count Floyd), Funny Farm Film Blow-Ups' evolution from a straight parody of those morning hogs 'n pigs statistics info shows to a movie buff program where celebrities would combust to the host's delight, and the wonderful memory of a great night at the 1982 Emmys when writers and cast were given a writing award by comedy legends Milton Berle and Martha Raye. Speaking of which, that very Emmy Clip (03:45s) is included for posterity.

In addition to a Photo Gallery containing dozens of Polaroid's of cast members in costumes (including a couple of one-time guest and Second City alum Bill Murray), The Norman Seeff Photo Sessions (40m:42s) is another high point of the extras. This Life Magazine-sanctioned layout gave the photographer the impetus to shoot the actors not only as themselves but in character mode, partially turning the proceedings into a question and answer session. In addition to lots of raw footage, we get fresh recollections from Seeff, Flaherty, Thomas, wig specialist Judy Cooper-Sealy, and makeup artist Beverley Schechtman.

Finally, in sharp contrast to the show's DVD debut offering, every skit has its own chapter stop. Unlike some programs that foul things up as far as menu accessibility on an initial offering only to never change them out of laziness on future sets, I felt it a very refreshing option to an already stellar package. Way to go, Shout Factory.

On Disc Two, in the main menu, click the right arrow of your DVD remote for a horrifying hidden bonus—as in horrifyingly funny. It's five minutes of film that served as inspiration for one of the show's most memorable sketches.

Extras Grade: A-

 

Final Comments

SCTV: Volume 2 captures perhaps the most gifted comedy ensemble in the history of television at mid-stream of an incredible run of shows that would only get better once freshman Martin Short climbed aboard in the homestretch of the 1981-82 season. Until that cycle of episodes debuts on the format, this collection will more than suffice. Along with Vol. I, one of the best and absolute "must-have" TV DVD boxed sets of the year.

 


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