After wrapping production on the weekly, 90-minute NBC comedy-variety series SCTV Network, six members of the Canadian "Second City TV" comedy troupe reassembled for this cable-TV effort, which premiered November 22, 1983 on Cinemax. Seen in a weekly 45-minute slot, SCTV Channel proved an excellent workout for the comic skills of SCTV "veterans" Andrea Martin, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, and Martin Short, as well as comparative newcomers Mary Charlotte Wilcox and Jim Hemphill. Although the absence of former SCTVers John Candy, Dave Thomas, and Catherine O'Hara was sorely felt, all three of these performers were adequately represented via guest appearances.
No longer obliged to use musical guest stars as they had during the NBC run, the producers of SCTV Channel were able to focus exclusively on comedy. As in its previous incarnations, the show specialized in devastatingly on-target satires of contemporary television programs and genres, with each episode representing a "typical" broadcast day at Channel 109, the SCTV network's flagship station in Melonville. Many of the recurring characters had already been established in SCTV's previous syndicated and network shows, notably crooked station owner Guy Caballero (Flaherty), obnoxious station manager Edith Prickley (Martin), burned-out horror show host Count Floyd (Flaherty), pompous news anchor Earl Camembert (Levy), nerdish SCTV janitor Ed Grimley (Short), oily talk show MC Sammy Maudlin (Flaherty), unfunny funnyman Bobby Bittman (Levy), and smarmy Australian superstar Jackie Rogers Jr. (Short), among others. The one significant "new" character was created by Jim Hemphill; lachrymose, heavy-drinking kiddie show host Happy Marsden, who presided over his daily TV series from his favorite tavern, and who featured highlights (?) from the interminable black-and-white movie serial Six Gun Justice. As for Mary Charlotte Wilcox, her main character of note was fatuous "famous for being famous" local celebrity Idella Voudry. Although at its best SCTV Channel was every bit as good as the late, lamented SCTV and SCTV: Network 90, the series' writers tended to stretch and attenuate its material at times; also, the show seemed to run out of gas toward the end, as witnessed by its heavy reliance upon "coming attractions" consisting of vintage clips from earlier SCTV efforts. Even so, the 18-episode SCTV Channel was a worthy swan song for one of the most consistently funny and inventive sketch series in television history. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, (more)