TV review: Still Game Series 9, BBC Scotland
- Brian Donaldson
- 22 February 2019
The last stop for Hemphill and Kiernan's beloved sitcom
So, this is the beginning of the end. There's still a pension-supplementing live extravaganza at The Hydro in the autumn to come, but for the armchair fan, this signals Still Game's last hurrah. Worried that the show might be getting a little stale (though the last series, its eighth, certainly had the odd smattering of mould), Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan are putting Jack and Victor out to seed with six final slices of Craiglang-based daftness.
And judging from the opening two episodes, 'Local Hero' and 'Cat's Whiskers', they have upped the slapstick count, one spectacular tumble in particular from Jack will delight those who revel in other people's staged misery. Never the most subtle of sitcoms, the grouchy straight-talking of Winston, Tam's gargantuan levels of tight-fistedness, and Isa's propensity for suddenly appearing when least expected or wanted, show few signs of letting up while the characters are so set in their ways that development or growth are simply not on the agenda.
Featuring celeb cameos (the classic signifier of a show either on the rise or dead on its feet) from Martin Compston, Des Clarke, and James 'him from Taggart' MacPherson, the opening salvos feature Winston going from a social media hero to zero, Navid tackling a precocious shoplifter, Victor undergoing a makeover, and Methadone Mick becoming more philosophical than ever.
The question no one is asking now is whether any of the characters can enjoy an afterlife with a spin-off (or some sort prequel action). If Hemphill and Kiernan's appetite for these characters has finally been sated then that would seem unlikely. But for now, the hardcore will still lap up the caustic antics of the Clansman's loyal clientele, while other viewers will agree that Still Game's time has been and gone.
Episodes watched: One and two of six
Still Game starts on BBC Scotland, Sunday 24 February, 9pm.