Q: Who’s Your Favorite “SCTV” Cast Member?
A: What an outrageous question. I am outraged! I can’t pick one. They were all fantastic. If they were all drowning and I had only one life preserver I’d jump in myself because I wouldn’t want to be burdened with that decision.
Unsolicited Thoughts / Notes On John Candy’s Going Berserk
– even though this 1983 comedy was meant to be some kind of breakout for Candy and his fellow “SCTV” co-stars Joe Flaherty and Eugene Levy, it is established within the first several minutes that Going Berserk takes place in the same fictional universe as “SCTV”; this is odd because the majority of the film’s events occur in Los Angeles and none of the characters these men made famous on “SCTV” make appearances (unless you want to count Candy’s admittedly hilarious impression of Jerry Mathers)
– I suppose placing Going Berserk in the “SCTV” canon allowed Candy et al a license to bend reality in the same manner that garnered them so much acclaim on the small screen, but the movie (which centers around Candy’s pending marriage to an influential politician’s daughter) never commits to being a total bonkers spoof or something grounded in reality that’s simply decorated with wacky elements (it’s sort of like Rock n’ Roll High School in that respect)
– whatever issues GB has (tone, budget, script) the nucleus of Candy, Flaherty, and Levy is potent enough to make it work; watching these guys mine hard laughs out of what is often thin air made me upset they didn’t get a chance to put something like this together in the early ’90s after Candy had become comedy royalty
– even if our Canadian heroes had failed (yes, I know Joe Flaherty’s from Pittsburgh, shut up) there is plenty of nutso window dressing to justify this movie’s existence: we have the Ernie Hudson sex scene; the Dixie Carter make-out scene; the Alley Mills nude scene; Lee Ving attempting to parody punk rock / himself with the song “Mom Is Dead”; the rap that describes the entire plot of Going Berserk and plays over the opening credits; the movie-within-the-movie, Kung Fu U, about a college for martial arts experts; and of course mustache-free Pat Hingle (never a safe bet)
– according to the Internet Movie Database, at one point Going Berserk had the working title of Numbnuts; maybe this film would be better known today had they stuck with that moniker
– press me to grade Going Berserk and I’ll give it a solid B (which does not actually mirror my intense fascination / obsession with this project)
In Praise Of Harold Ramis
Egon Spengler has always been my favorite Ghostbuster because Harold Ramis molded him into a person who could be both intensely smart and deftly funny. It’s clear the other guys die like carp on a dock if Egon isn’t there to do all the math and glue everything together. And yet Egon is no soulless drone; mostly through body language he exhibits many of the endearing ticks we associate with the other allegedly more humorous Ghostbusters.
Egon’s sarcastic: see the way he pokes that guest while investigating the hotel haunting. He’s slick: see the way he signals Venkman like a baseball coach when the Ghostbusters are discussing ghostbusting fees with the hotel staff. Egon’s also dopey: that look he gives in the second movie after he starts his proton pack in the court room, like yeah, y’all didn’t think so, but I’m a bad motherfucker…I vote that the best part of Ghostbusters II. Egon could have turned out another super nerd stereotype but Ramis bucked that, giving him these great little personality flourishes.
After falling in love with Harold’s portrayal of Egon I was flabbergasted to discover how much other great stuff he had his name on. Animal House, Vacation, “SCTV,” Groundhog Day, Stripes…god, he reigns supreme in Stripes. Again, the body language. I think about that scene where he meets Judge Reinhold’s character. The grin, the head bob…it’s like he’s trying to be “the cool guy” who’s on the younger guy’s level, but he’s also mocking him and/or that entire concept. Later, when John Candy gives that speech in the barracks, and they keep cutting to Harold’s sarcastic reactions, how can you not lose your shit?
Offscreen, Harold was apparently a friendly, happy guy who was eager to talk to fans and just enjoy his life. That’s evident when you Google Image Search HR and see that he’s got what appears to be a completely genuine smile in nearly every candid or non-promotional shot. He radiated warmth and good vibes, which is something this world could always use in extra supply.
I’m pretty trampled by Harold’s death. He left us with plenty to chew on, though, and because of that he’ll never really die.
Nice working with you, Dr. Spengler. See you on the other side.
Joe Flaherty Is Always Behind Us, Metaphorically Speaking
If there was ever one image to completely sum up the human condition…
I have a friend who insists the major fault of Ghostbusters is the film’s pronounced lack of Joe Flaherty. I still don’t know how to respond to (or how I’m supposed to feel about) that statement. It’s sort of like hearing someone say, “You know, all those Beatles albums woulda been better if Randy Rhoads had played the guitar solos.” Uh, maybe?
Where would you even put Joe Flaherty in Ghostbusters? Is he Slimer’s human form—that is to say, Slimer before he died and became a disgusting green blob? Is he the guy Ray buys the ambulance from? Hey, you tell me where I’m supposed to put Joe Flaherty in this thing. Maybe they can rerecord him doing Gozer’s lines for the next Blu-Ray release. “Hey JACKASS, choose the form of your destructor!”
Related factoid: Eugene Levy (that pile of sex in front of Joe in the picture above) was cut out of Ghostbusters II. He played Louis Tully’s brother, I think. Unfortunately for Gene, in the end the filmmakers decided they already had plenty of smirking Canadians in ill-fitting suits.
[“SCTV” screencap stolen from Comedy Time Warp, a great blog if you’re looking for black and whites of Albert Brooks.]