Fans can breathe a sigh of relief. After brooding over the fact that life is unfair (Why are "The Anna Nicole Show" and "Gilligan's Island" available on DVD, but "SCTV" is not?), they can relax in the knowledge that dreams sometimes come true.

Fans can breathe a sigh of relief. After brooding over the fact that life is unfair (Why are “The Anna Nicole Show” and “Gilligan’s Island” available on DVD, but “SCTV” is not?), they can relax in the knowledge that dreams sometimes come true.

The sketchcom never won a huge audience, but, as Conan O’Brien says in one of the DVD extras, “It is the show” for comedy connoisseurs.

Starting in 1976, “SCTV” was in syndication for three seasons, followed by two years on NBC latenight and one term on Cinemax. The five-disc DVD set kicks off with nine 90-minute episodes from the series’ first NBC season, from 1981.

The five-disc set offers four half-hour docus and a one-hour discussion among the cast. There is some overlap in the material, but for aficionados, this isn’t a problem: You can’t get enough of these people.

Throughout the DVD extras, the participants offer smart analysis of their work and hilarious horror stories of working on a low budget (which Dave Thomas seriously estimates at $3,000 per episode).

Several writer-actors say they benefited from working in a vacuum, without network interference and, interestingly for theater-trained comics, they think it was a good thing to work without a live audience: They never held for laughs, but just plowed ahead with rapid-fire gags.

Harold Ramis, who was in the first season, says working in this vacuum (the show began taping in Toronto and moved to Edmonton) helped them remain an ensemble, with no individual stars and no egos to tear them apart.

Other highlights include their anecdotes about coming face-to-face with stars they’d parodied (Jerry Lewis, Richard Harris, Meryl Streep).

The first docu, “SCTV Remembers,” features the writer-performers musing on the evolution from stage improv to the TV series. A second film traces the origin of Chicago’s Second City and its offshoots, and provides an overview of North American comedy in the 1960s and ’70s.

“The Craft of SCTV” focuses on the show’s key designers — Juul Haalmeyer, wardrobe; Beverly Schechtman, make-up; and Judi Cooper Sealy, hair and wigs — who laugh about how they threw together things with zero time for camera tests.

Disc four includes a salute to “SCTV” vet John Candy (who died in 1994), with fellow actors and six staff writers offering recollections that are affectionate, occasionally bemused and never maudlin.

The hour discussion, taped at HBO’s Comedy Arts Festival in 1999, distills many of the sentiments voiced in the four docs.

The next set is due in stores Oct. 19.


Production: A Shout! Factory release of the 1976-86 TV series exec produced by Andrew Alexander; producer, Bernard Sahlins; director, John Blanchard. Writers-performers: John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O'Hara, Dave Thomas. Running time: 14 hours (5 discs; $89.98).

More Digital


    SAG-AFTRA Ends Long Strike Against Ad Agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty

    SAG-AFTRA has ended its 10-month strike against Bartle Bogle Hegarty after the advertising agency agreed to sign the union’s new commercials contract. The union instructed its 160,000 members in September not to accept any work for BBH, which had been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s commercials contracts since 1999. The strike came two weeks after BBH publicly [...]

  • FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone,

    SAG-AFTRA Warns Members About FaceApp Terms of Use

    SAG-AFTRA is warning its 160,000 members about the “overreaching and invasive” terms of use for the FaceApp mobile application. FaceApp, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, uses neural network technology to automatically generate transformations of faces in photographs. The app can be used to make users appear older, younger, or change gender. The terms include [...]

  • J. Cole

    Apple Music Launches 'Rap Life' Playlist

    Apple Music announced the launch of “Rap Life,” a new global playlist focusing on contemporary rap artists and culture. It replaces the former “The A-List: Hip-Hop” playlist. Said Ebro Darden, Apple Music’s Global Editorial Head of Hip-Hop and R&B: “We flipped it to dig deeper into into the lifestyle [and to] keep pushing the culture [...]

  • Billie Eilish

    ARRI, Mobile TV Group Back New Venture Revitalizing Streamed Concerts

    A new venture looking to bring a fresh approach to live-streaming concerts has gotten the backing of hardware heavyweights ARRI and Mobile TV Group. Wide+Close is launching with the mandate of shooting music performances with film cameras and cinematographers in order to give the content a more cinematic feel. “We want to take concert filming [...]

  • Fortnite Battle Royale

    How 'Fortnite' Fans Can Earn Loot by Watching YouTube Videos

    Epic Games and YouTube have teamed up with a special offer for “Fortnite” players — giving players of the popular battle-royale game rewards when they watch “Fortnite”-premiered content on the video platform. The catch: You have to watch at least 20 minutes of “Fortnite” special content or live esports broadcasts to receive the loot. Under [...]

  • Roku headquarters

    Roku Plans to Expand to Brazil, Other Countries (EXCLUSIVE)

    Roku plans to expand to multiple new territories in the coming months, Variety has learned. One of the first new markets for the company will likely be Brazil. An international expansion could help Roku grow its customer base, which in turn should lead to growing advertising revenues. Roku executives have been hinting at plans to [...]

  • Google Stadia Pro to Include 1

    Google’s Stadia Game Streaming Service to Include Free Monthly Game

    Google has been busy sharing additional details about its upcoming game streaming service Stadia, clearing up some confusion in the process. Stadia’s pro subscription tier, which will cost $10 per month, won’t be a Netflix-type subscription service. However, subscribers will get free games at the rate of about a title per month. That’s according to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content