An Ode to ‘SCTV’
March 23, 2007 1:37 PM
To have seen “SCTV” once is to love it.
The strange little syndicated half-hour comedy from Canada with a cast of unknowns first hit the U.S. airwaves in 1977, seemingly a “Saturday Night Live” also-ran.
By 1981, a 90-minute version was running on NBC, firmly launching the careers of John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara and Dave Thomas, and a bit later, Martin Short.
At the time the show went network, many felt it was funnier than six-year-old “Saturday Night Live,” which was struggling along with a whole new cast after the 1980-81 season. And by then the “SCTV” cast had perfected their recurring characters and their spot-on impressions of contemporary Hollywood celebrities.
The show was set in a fictitious TV station (SCTV) located in the city of Melonville and sketches revolved around the station’s peculiar employees and egomaniacal on-air talent.
Among my favorites bits: “The Sammy Maudlin Show,” a send-up of talk shows of the time complete with all of the phony Hollywood sincerity that oozed out of the screen.
Here’s a clip with host Maudlin (Flaherty), the sycophantic second banana William B. Williams (Candy), a nonplussed Mother Teresa (Martin) and foxy headliner Lola (“I Wanna Bear Your Children!”) Heatherton (O’Hara), with a surprise appearance by cheesy Catskills comedian Bobby Bitman (Levy):