June 8th. JUNE 8TH!!

That’s the release date for the first home-video release in any format of SCTV, the classic Canadian comedy series that originally ran from 1976 to 1984. The show never got a VHS release because the producers, not anticipating the home video market, didn’t have music clearances. But somebody has finally thrown some more money at the situation, and Shout! Entertainment is the distributor (though Time-Life was briefly rumored to have it). During its heyday the cast included John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Catherine O’Hara and Dave Thomas, and Harold Ramis was one of the main people in the first 2+ seasons. Martin Short joined during the 4th season and did a little good work, though I’d be happy enough never to see his Ed Grimley character again. The DVD reissues are going to start with season 4, when NBC picked the series up in the U.S. and they switched from 30 minute shows to 90 minutes. It was a studio creation, not live like SNL — imagine your favorite band that constructs really intricate studio albums but don’t really come across in concert.

What I really loved about SCTV was the overall concept of the series, which was that there was a small TV station called SCTV somewhere in the faceless heartland of North America, in a town called Melonville — over the years the series develops the characters of the people running the station and a few folks in Melonville and the Quad-Cities area. But it’s a TV station, so a bunch of material could be presented as the shows that SCTV is broadcasting — movie parodies like “The Grapes of Mud,” “Polynesiantown,” etc., commercial parodies out the yinyang, you name it. PLUS, if you’re familiar with small-town America’s tv stations, you know that the on-air talent does, or at least used to do in the good old days, double and triple duty. So at SCTV, newscaster Floyd Robertson, who considers himself a serious journalist, has to demean himself on Saturday nights as Count Floyd, host of “Monster Chiller Horror Theatre,” presenting crap like “Doctor Tongue’s 3-D House of Stewardesses.” Metafictional layers upon layers, and all of it funny as hell. I am here to tell you, it’s worth buying a multi-region DVD player. The first collection will be nine 90-minute episodes (the 4th season was a supermarathon of 27 episodes in three cycles of nine each) plus three hours of supplemental featurettes, on five discs. List price is US$100, but *m*z*n has it available for preorder at $69. (These numbers are up from $90/$63.) GET IT!