While Saturday Night Live has lasted for nearly 40 years now, there was a point, as the original cast was moving on, that another show was set up to potentially supplant it. It didn’t succeed, but the legacy of SCTV lives on, and thankfully some of the classic bits are readily available thanks to the Internet.
Second City Television, featuring such amazing comic minds as John Candy, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara, Joe Flaherty, Martin Short and Andrea Martin, had existed as a low-budget yet high-concept Canadian production, and was brought to the U.S. by NBC in a 90-minute format that, had it been more successful, could have knocked SNL off its perch. Yet the fact that it wasn’t more successful, and the fact that the show was produced far away from anyone who had an inclination to meddle, meant the show could explore concepts and ideas in original and creative ways.
The concept of setting the show as the broadcast day of a small TV station proved brilliant and flexible, as it allowed for pitch-perfect TV and movie parodies, as well as celebrity doppelganger opportunities, while creating an insane cast of characters such as station owner Guy Caballero (“The wheelchair is for respect”) and station manager Edith Prickley.
The NBC shows, with their longer length, began having recurring themes throughout a thread of shows, which led to even more brilliant parody and comedic concepts. The cast, of course, saw success in a number of arenas after the fact.
A number of DVD releases, as well as ongoing posting of clips on YouTube, has helped to keep the show’s legacy alive with another generation. It’s definitely an entertaining program, and holds up well all these years later, especially if you’re familiar with the source material being parodied.