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Bob & DougBob & Doug McKenzie's two-four anniversary on DVD

By Jim Bray

Well at least they give you a "free" bottle opener for your trouble.

Bob and Doug McKenzie were the stereotyped Canadian hosers introduced on the old SCTV television series – one of the best comedy series in TV history. They began life as a parody response to the suits at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which was broadcasting the show in those pre-NBC days, who wanted the U.S.-themed show to have something distinctly Canadian about it.

They got their wish, but not the way they wanted.

Bob and Doug, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, respectively, were a couple of idiots who sat around, drank beer, ate back bacon and smoked. Each of their vignette "shows" would have a theme, usually something silly such as (their best one) how to get a mouse into a beer bottle so you can complain to the brewery and thereby extort a free case.

But it was chiefly a send-up of Canada's self-inflicted self-angst and inferiority complex that led to such official idiocies as mandating in law that radio stations must play Canadian artists as about a third of their music  - whether or not the music was any good.

This brought us Patsy Gallant, whose biggest hit was the wonderfully Canadian-themed "From New York to L.A.", and others who are fortunately now forgotten.

I was a deejay during those days and it was embarrassing the crap we had to play just 'cause it wore a maple leaf. There just weren't enough songs by the Guess Who, Neil Young, BTO, Trooper, Prism, Mashmakan, Gordon Lightfoot (rumours that the Canadian government wanted him to change his name to Lightthirdofametre when the country went metric are to this date unconfirmed), Guy Lombardo, Robert Goulet, etc. etc. to go around.

Anyway, that's where Bob and Doug came from and they were a reasonable hoot when viewed in that context. They were really a one joke pony, but one that hit the mainstream popular culture's funny bone suddenly and unexpectedly, leading to a hit album, a hit movie, and a lot of hype. Even SCTV lampooned the hype on their show: as Bob and Doug bumped Johnny LaRue from his position as the network's star personality as station owner Guy Cabellero tried to exploit them.

It's a shame that many people only know SCTV through Bob and Doug, because there was so much more to that series. Set in the mythical American city of Melonville, it was a lampoon of the media and popular culture told through the eyes and experiences of the SCTV television station and the people who work there – people such as Bob and Doug, but also Gerry Todd (probably the world's first VJ), Edith Prickly, Bill Needle, Lola Heatherton, Sammy Maudlin, Pirini Scleroso, Johnny LaRue, Floyd Robertson, Earl Camembert, Guy Cabellero and many others.

Some of the best parodies in TV history were done on that show, and some of the best impressions. And some of the best of the best were done by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas.

Thomas, who wrote the two-four anniversary special, is the only person I've seen do Bob Hope, and he nailed it. One of the best SCTV fake movies of the week involved his Hope and Moranis' Woody Allen (Play it again, Bob), trying to plan a movie together.

Anyway, back to this tribute.

It is lame, lame, lame. We get to see many of Bob and Doug's old SCTV bits, either in excerpt or as the whole shebang, and a much older Bob and Doug are back to take one more kick at the cat, er, can and as nice as it is to see Rick and Dave working together again, this just isn't very funny.

Stretching out the special to the interminable is a gaggle of minor celebrities such as Tom Green opining about Bob, Doug, Canadians, SCTV and whatever other pearls of apparent wisdom they could gurgitate – just like the kind of fawning and maudlin TV special SCTV used to lampoon – except now it's being done about them, and supposedly seriously.

Give me a break.

If you want to see Bob and Doug as they should be seen, buy the SCTV boxed sets. They'll leave you laughing so hard you might just wet yourself.

But unless you need a bottle opener there isn't much reason to suffer through this DVD. Sorry, guys, I had hoped for something much better from people I admire so much.

At least it's widescreen.

Bob & Doug McKenzie's Two-Four Anniversary
94 min, with bonus features.

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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