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SCTV comedy troupe was 'Second' to none

THE SHOW "SCTV Golden Classics"

WHEN | WHERE Thursday night at 9 on WLIW/21

REASON TO WATCH A tribute to the classic series that aired from '76 through '84, with clips, clips and more clips.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT From Toronto's Second City troupe (an offshoot of the Chicago original) it came - a great comedy sketch show of the late '70s that in the minds and memories of true-blue fans was superior to "Saturday Night Live."

"SCTV" was about a fictional TV station with uniquely bad programs, infomercials and hosts - oh, the SCTV hosts - based in Melonville (which was maybe in Canada, or the States). Staples included talk show parodies, commercials and impersonations - at least a hundred, and some of the most indelible in TV history. The cast ranks with that of the first few seasons of "SNL." Among them: John Candy, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Dave Thomas, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short and Rick Moranis.

MY SAY What else is there to say? "SCTV" is a classic, and based on tonight's show, a surprisingly durable one. Viewers will have their own favorites, and Ch. 21 offers a reasonable, though far from exhaustive, selection: "5 Neat Guys," "The Great White North," "Lola Heatherton," Harvey K. Tel, Moranis as Dick Cavett, Short as Jerry Lewis at the Champs-Elysees.

"SCTV" parodied not just '70s culture but '70s TV stations. Both were equally target-rich environments, but to an extent, you also had to be there to appreciate some of this - no one younger than 35 probably knows what a "Harvey K. Tel" joke is about.

BOTTOM LINE There's a thick mantle of cultural dust on some of these bits - a miracle that so many still work as well as they do. (Some, alas, do not.)

GRADE A-

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