Ross McCafferty: Still Game’s final episodes can’t come quickly enough

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Fans of a show are supposed to feel sad when it is announced that it will come to an end, but the sadness I felt at news Still Game’s next series will be its last was at the fact there will even be a final series.

No-one likes one of their all-time favourite shows to go out with a whimper, but even the most die-hard fans of the classic Scottish sitcom should be able to concede that Jack and Victor have been whimpering for a while now.

Jack and Victor. Picture: BBC

Jack and Victor. Picture: BBC

When I wrote a review of the last episode of series 8 of Still Game, there were plenty of viewers willing to leap to the show’s defence.

I appreciate my view is not universal, but it is hard to deny that a lack of ideas, often marked by note-for-note repetition of old scenes and storylines, have seen the show become stagnant, especially in plot terms.

All sitcoms are formulaic, and if viewers wanted to by turned this way and that by a twisting, labyrinthine plot, they would watch Lost or try and work out how to deal with Brexit.

READ MORE: Still Game Review: Muddled finale sums up dismal series

But even the semblance of a plot is required to make a sitcom, even one with such bonhomie as Still Game, work, and even that bare minimum has seemed like asking too much of creators Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill in recent seasons.

The original six series run, which was rediscovered by a whole new generation around five years ago after being picked up by Netflix, remains some of the finest Scottish comedy shows ever made, rightly placed among classics like Scotch and Wry.

Jack and Victor were flawed characters, but were still basically good, and importantly, their antics were funny.

There’s little more that the average fan requires from a sitcom, and that Still Game was formulaic was not necessarily a bad thing, most comedy shows are and the fact plot was secondary to character made the episodes all the more quotable and hilarious.

Since the revival, however, Jack and Victor appear to have changed.

The duo’s mannerisms in later episodes appear to reflect a bitterness from their creators, a nastiness behind their dismissal of their fictional corner of Glasgow and its inhabitants, where once there was only knowing joshing.

It is perhaps a sign of how starved Scotland is of truly good original content that fans of Still Game have been so charitable as its quality has plummeted.

There is only so much that the local hero status of Kiernan and Hemphill can endure, and that the series shows that the duo have recognised the limited shelf-life of their creation.

Peter Kay’s early stand-up was observational genius, but even a Manchester audience would quickly tire if he turned up in 2018 shouting about garlic bread.

The backlash to my original review calling for Still Game’s end shows that there will be plenty of people who will mourn the end of the show.

I doubt I am the only one, however, who believes that Still Game as we know it ended in 2007, and felt only a sense of relief that Jack and Victor will stop collecting their fictional pensions before the actors playing them start collecting their real ones.

So farewell then, Still Game. It was very good while at lasted. And very bad while it didn’t.