NBC can take heart. Even as the network gets steamrollered this season by Survivorover on CBS, it's building up some fine karma for itself after midnight. Having finally put the woeful Later out of its misery, the Peacock has filled its 1 to 1:30 a.m. time slot, Monday through Thursday, with the greatest North American TV sketch comedy of all time, SCTV.
Buzz on the Internet is that the show -- which, criminally, is not currently available on video, except for one tape of John Candy's highlights -- will run at least through the end of March. Hopefully it will become a post-Conan fixture.
SCTV (short for "Second City Television"), which started in Canada in 1976, eventually wormed its way onto U.S. late night, and lasted, with various shifts in personnel, into the mid-'80s. It's a collage of movie and TV parodies, built around the conceit of a small-potatoes TV network in the town of Melonville. It is, I suppose, not for everyone. The humor, though often broadly physical, is nonetheless conceptual, sometimes almost disturbingly attenuated. It's rarely topical and hardly ever risqué, yet even the finest vintage of Saturday Night Live has never come close to it for sheer daring of approach.