Synopsis by Hal Erickson
An outgrowth of Chicago's Second City comedy troupe, which was created in 1959, the Toronto branch of Second City invaded Canada's CBC in the fall of 1976 with a weekly, half-hour sketch comedy series, making up in talent and energy what it lacked in budget and production polish. Taped in Edmondton, Alberta, Second City TV had an angle which its spiritual predecessor, NBC's Saturday Night Live, lacked. Each episode purportedly took place during a typical broadcast day at Channel 109, in the "SCTV Studios"; thus, the satire and spoofery were aimed almost exclusively at popular television of the late '70s, with savage lampoons of vapid variety programs, glitzy game shows, pretentious miniseries, pompous newscasters, cheesy children's shows, and dopey do-it-yourself programs. Each member of the series' brilliant repertory company essayed a variety of roles, some of them recurring, but most of them hilarious one-shots. The cast included Joe Flaherty, often seen in the guise of the studio's shamelessly crooked owner, Guy Caballero; Andrea Martin, whose best-known characterization was obnoxious station manager Edith Prickley, who only got the job by default when her predecessor, Moe Green, was kidnapped; Harold Ramis as that selfsame Moe Green, along with several other characters; Eugene Levy, best known as self-important news anchor Earl Camembert; John Candy, who was usually cast as the station's lazy, overweight physical fitness guru Johnny LaRue; Catherine O'Hara, a specialist at playing such strident, superficial faux celebrities as Lola Heatherton; Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, best known for their appearances as the beer-guzzling McKenzie Brothers, hosts of "The Great White North" (a sequence contemptuously added to the proceedings when the CBC demanded that Second City TV include three weekly minutes of "exclusively Canadian content"); and in a variety of characterizations, Tony Rosato and Robin Duke. Second City TV was syndicated in the U.S. beginning in the fall of 1977, its exposure initially limited to the NBC-owned stations. After three seasons and 78 episodes produced between 1976 and 1980, the series was picked up by NBC and retooled in an expanded format (including guest stars and musical numbers) as SCTV Network 90.