1 9 7 6 – 1 9 8 4 (Canada)
72 x 30 minute episodes
42 x 90 minute episodes
18 x 45 minute episodes
Second City Television (SCTV) was a popular comedy television show originating from Canada that ran in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Pulling much of its talent and ideas from the Chicago and Toronto ‘Second City’ comedy venues, the show became an important pipeline for comedians into the mainstream of the US entertainment market.
Popular performers who moved from SCTV into television and movies include John Candy, Martin Short, Dave Thomas, Catherine O’Hara, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Harold Ramis, Robin Duke, Tony Rosato, Joe Flaherty, and Eugene Levy.
SCTV presented itself as a TV network (Channel 109) with its segments parodying every aspect of television, including advertising (for sponsors such as The Evelyn Wolf School of Speed Eating), news, and even network executives.
The early opening credit sequence set the tone for the show. As the voiceover says, “SCTV now begins its programming day,” a horde of television sets are thrown out of the windows of an apartment building and smash on the pavement below.
In effect, SCTV was a cross between a spoof of television and a loose comedic soap opera about the running of the fictional Melonville television station.
The station’s personnel included the unlikely Argentinian station owner Guy Caballero (Joe Flaherty) and the station manager, Moe Green (Harold Ramis), who was eventually kidnapped and replaced by Edith Prickley (Andrea Martin).
Other recurring figures were the inept features host Johnny LaRue (John Candy, pictured at right) and the endearing Ed Grimley (Martin Short).
Over the years, the SCTV line-up included the local news, read by Floyd Robertson (Joe Flaherty) and Earl Camembert (Eugene Levy), Sunrise Semester, Fishin’ Musician, and The Sammy Maudlin Show (hosted by Maudlin and his sidekick William B) with regular guests appearances from Bobby Bittman (Eugene Levy) and Lola Heatherton (Catherine O’Hara).
Other spoofs include Yosh and Stan Shmenge’s polka show (pictured below right), Count Floyd’s Monster Chiller Horror Theatre (pictured at left) whose host was played by the news anchor Floyd Robertson (Joe Flaherty), the ersatz children’s show Captain Combat, Farm Film Report, and the improvised editorials of Bob and Doug Mackenzie’s Great White North (“Take off, eh?”).
Bob (Dave Thomas) and Doug (Rick Moranis) could not be more stereotypically Canadian. Ironically, one of the few restrictions imposed on SCTV – a Canadian ordinance requiring that each show filmed in the country possess some uniquely Canadian content – spawned The Great White North.
The segment was fully improvised and taped in marathon sessions, raising a sneered-upon subculture into an art form.
Over the years, SCTV produced 72 half-hour shows, 42 90-minute shows, and 18 45-minute shows, as well as numerous spin-offs and specials.
With thirteen Emmy nominations, SCTV won two for best writing. The show has since been re-edited and repackaged into a half-hour “best of” format for syndication.
Mayor Tommy Shanks
The Shmenge Brothers
Lin Ye Tang
Big Jim McBob
Billy Saul Hurok
Harry, the Guy with the Snake on His Face
Rockin’ Mel Slurp
Jackie Rogers, Jr.
Rusty van Reddick