Expanding from 30 to 90 minutes per week in the process of "graduating" from Canada's Global Television Network to America's NBC, the popular sketch comedy series SCTV also boasts an expanded title -- SCTV: Network 90 -- as it launches its first NBC season. The "new" series' format is primarily the same as the "old" one, with each episode chronicling a typical broadcast day on SCTV's flagship station, Channel 109 in Melonville. Returning from the earlier series are John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, and Rick Moranis; beginning with the 25th episode of season one, Martin Short joins the cast, adding his own unique comedy characterizations to the cast of "regulars" already established by his colleagues.
Among the recurring segments introduced during the shakedown season of SCTV: Network 90 are "Farm Film Report," with bucolic emcees Billy Sol (John Candy) and Jim Bob (Joe Flaherty) exhorting various ersatz celebrities to "blow up reeeal good"; "The Happy Wanderers," featuring Leutonian polka kings Stan and Yosh Schmenge (John Candy, Eugene Levy); "One on the Town," a fatuous investigative reporting series hosted by news anchor Earl Camembert (Levy); "Street Beef," the cheesy man-on-the-street interview show to which SCTV personality Johnny LaRue (Candy) is exiled after the failure of his first starring movie "Polynesiantown"; and "The Gerry Todd Show," a lampoonish music video disc jockey program that predated the debut of MTV by four months! Many of the sketches seen during SCTV: Network 90's first season are reruns, culled from three seasons' worth of the original SCTV (some of these, however, had not previously been seen on U.S. television). Of the new sketches, several are standouts, including "CCCP1," in which the SCTV satellite is hijacked by the Soviet Union; "Zontar," an extended parody of Invasion of the Body Snatchers; "The People's Golden Choice Awards," arguably the single most crooked awards show in TV history; and the hilariously self-explanatory "PBS Battle of the Network Stars." On orders from NBC, SCTV: Network 90 was obliged to accommodate musical guest stars, but for the most part these performers were smoothly integrated into the comic action. This season's crop of guests includes Levon Helm, Dr. John, Natalie Cole, Al Jarreau, The Tubes, Tony Bennett, Talking Heads, Roy Orbison, and even classical violinist Eugene Fodor and Johnny Puleo and His Harmonica Gang. Mention should also be made of non-musical guest Bill Murray, who -- to no one's surprise -- melded beautifully with the series' general zaniness. (DVD alert: Most of the aforementioned guest star turns have been removed from the half-hour syndicated versions of the individual SCTV Network episodes.) ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
- John Candy, Joe Flaherty, (more)