Movie Reviews Index

SCTV Volume 4 (1982-83)

Rating: 4 Stars

D: Various. John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Martin Short, Mary Charlotte Wilcox. Approx. 14 hours (Shout! Factory, 6-disc) 9/05

Shout! Factory marks a most welcome return to Melonville with its six-disc SCTV Volume 4, celebrating what may well have been the small screen's best sketch-comedy series. Containing a dozen choice episodes from the show's final run on NBC, the collection assembles many priceless skits, with writing and performances so sharp they even compensated for that season's departure of longtime regulars Catherine O'Hara (who does drop by for the Christmas episode [#111]), Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, with newcomers Short and (to a somewhat lesser extent, screentime-wise) Wilcox stepping into the breach. Short especially impresses here, inhabiting such immortal characters as endearing super-nerd Ed Grimley ("What Ever Happened to Baby Ed?," "The Nutty Lab Assistant"), talentless show-biz offspring Jackie Rogers, Jr., and even Jerry Lewis (in the brilliant Ingmar Bergman parody "Scenes From an Idiot's Marriage"). Other inspired highlights include "The Bowery Boys in the Band" (with guest star Robin Williams as a gay Leo Gorcey), "Bobby Bitman's Retirement," with Levy as the eponymous ultra-obnoxious Vegas comic, and the 3-D "Midnight Cowboy II," with John Candy as a German-accented Joe Buck and Levy as a Lon Chaney, Jr.-styled Ratso Rizzo. But our fave bit casts the entire SCTV crew as the mock Brit punk-rock band the Queen Haters, performing their hilarious signature tune "I Hate the Bloody Queen" (with lyrics printed in a cool bonus episode guide booklet) on a "Mel's Rockpile" segment before an audience of stunned clean-cut American teens. Extras include an entertainingly candid reminiscence with Short, the segment "Sammy Maudlin at Second City," wherein Joe Flaherty offers a live 2004 reprise of his fictional talk-show host (loosely based on Sammy Davis, Jr.), vintage cast and crew home movies, and more. SCTV 4 will not only satiate the late, lamented series' diehard devotees but likely win new converts as well.

~ The Phantom