Still Game Series 7 Reviewed by Thomas Neil

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Still Game. I still remember the excitement during a school week waiting for the next episode and then talking about it the next day, someone whispering “back aff ya spooky bitch” and the entire class breaking into laughter pretty much ruining the rest of the period. So when it was announced that Still Game would be getting its first new season since 2007, I was rightly excited especially since the Live Show in 2014 showed us they still had something left in the barrel.

We even had all the original cast returning to their roles for this season with the obvious exception of Jake D’Arcy or as fans might know him ‘Pete the Jakey’ who sadly passed away. I think they dealt with his real life passing in the show really well with the right blend of humour and sadness that Still Game has balanced so well in the past. In fact they introduced Methadone Mick who is something of a spiritual successor to Pete and an instant fan favourite which softened the blow somewhat.

I’d originally intended this review to be a tribute to the show which was set to finish this season, but as well as the recent live shows it was announced that a new season (number 8) is set to be made with confirmation likely to come in the next few weeks. Whether or not it happens I still wanted to talk about season 7 of Still Game, which gave us the first new episodes in nearly a decade.

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Now I’ve already outed myself as a fan so we know I liked the series so to offset that I’d like to talk about what I didn’t like before I go on to what I did.

Firstly I’m not a fan of the new intro, it’s just off-putting and a little goofy. Someone tuning in after nearly a decade expects some things to remain the same and for the most part things were but this intro was not. It just rubbed me the wrong way because it looked like it was trying to be new and fresh which isn’t what I’m looking for from Scotland’s favourite pensioners.

Some of the jokes too felt a little outdated. They already did the whole not getting technology thing with the 2014 live show and as funny as it was it ruins suspension of disbelief to expect that they’d still struggle with it. But then again maybe it’s just another in a long vein of jokes about how incompetent the elderly are… which is hilarious in case you didn’t get the memo.

Let’s talk about episode 1 “Gadgets”; we have the residents of Craiglang getting into the future with gadgets designed to make their life easier. As I mentioned it felt like they’d covered this ground before but it was still funny. My personal favourite was Isa’s ‘watchdog’ which was both bizarre and hilarious. Alongside this we meet Winston’s brother which gives the show a chance to show its capacity for drama. However it wasn’t as strong an episode as I would have expected especially considering the wait, but it was good nonetheless, sibling rivalry and gadgets make for good viewing.
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Episode 2 “The Undrinkables” is much better. It gave an all new meaning to the phrase ‘blind drunk’. I bet half a dozen reviewers better than me also made that weak joke but it’s funny and I don’t care. I don’t know if it was deliberate but news of Pete’s death comes on the heels of cheap hooch making its way into Craiglang. I thought this episode was much better that the first. It had more moments which actually had me laughing, in particular the concerned pensioners smashing up evil Tam’s still was brilliant. It really felt like old times and was a return to form that the previous episode wasn’t. Also when God closes a door he opens a window and then in climbs Methadone Mick. He’s already a welcome character more so than Fergie (Jamie Quinn) who didn’t seem to take to his grown up ned role like he did when he was young. I think he’s better placed overseas fighting for Queen and country in Bluestone 42 (which if you haven’t seen then you definitely should). I also liked that Boabby got out from behind the bar and into the spotlight and instead of taking ‘pelters’ he’s finally receiving a little recognition for what he is; a pillar of the community (even if that pillar is one you prop yourself up against when you’re pished).

Episode 3 ‘Job’ sees Winston without a leg to stand on…haha get it? He’s hit with an ancient parking fine which shows that Glasgow City council will always get you. And as someone who owes them a considerable amount of money myself I know how he feels. Also I can’t help thinking he’d have been able to pay off that fine if he hadn’t given his no good brother the money he received in the first episode. Also we get to see more of Mick who’s just so oblivious to the world around him. Then again heroine will do that to you so I can’t say it’s too endearing. This episode also sees Boabby receive the Citizen’s Civic Medal for his good deeds and all the while he’s accompanied by Winston who’s almost as interested in getting his Jelly as he is at recovering the parking ticket that’s causing him so much trouble. Also this episode is going to have me staying away from the Dentist for the foreseeable future.

Episode 4 ‘Small Change’ was another episode that was good but not great. I guess because it was more melodrama than comedy but I did like it. It was nice to see a couple on TV who are having a problem and decide to work at it rather than abandoning their relationship. Easily the best part of the episode was Boabby and Navid bantering and finally getting away from their respective tills and customers to see how hard the other works. A nice little call back to Plumb Number as well with a group of kids storming a main character and stealing everything except the pineappleade. As I said it was wasn’t the season’s strongest episode but it was funny and settled us into the new season very well.

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Episode 5 ‘Heavy Petting’ was my personal favourite. And not just because it had some cool dogs in it. Although I object to the title of this episode as the double entendre that it is isn’t paid off with two pensioners and some pups. Overall I thought this episode was full of the hijinks and banter that made the show popular. Isa’s bake off was good and it was good fun to watch her perfect her recipe even if her cakes were about as dry as the desert in the summer. Despite loving Onion and Zeus no dog holds a candle to Victor’s original dog Matthew (the lovable robot canine). Also something that I really enjoyed finding out was that shortly after the episode aired elderly people from Paisley and the surrounding areas swamped Barking Mad (they provide a similar service to the one in the show) with calls wanting to dogsit their own furry little friends. I should also mention that Winston gets a Spider and sure enough it was funny but it felt like they were just trying to give him something to do.

And finally Episode 6 ‘Down and out’. It was with a heavy heart that I watched this one because at the time I thought it was the last episode ever. I tried rationing them, re-watching old episodes to trick myself into believing there was more but ultimately I’d have to face that it was over. Sure as it turns out it wasn’t over but I liked being dramatic. This episode was perhaps the strongest. It wasn’t my personal favourite but it could easily be the best this season had to offer and as conclusions go it was a whopper. It brings a sense of closure to the story. In the very first episode of Still Game ‘Flittin’ we see Jack (Greg Hemphill) move into Osprey Heights and join his old friend Victor (Ford Kiernan) and in this episode they tear down the tower block announcing to everyone, or so I thought, that it was over. Much like with Sherlock’s season four this is the first time I really felt they could have ended it but they did leave room for more stories to come and that’s a good thing.  I’m curious to see what’s coming next from the Craiglang crew.

Let’s hope that the next season carries on the spirit of the show and lives up to the high expectations we have for it and if you haven’t seen Season 7 already then go ahead and watch it because it’s well worth the wait.

TN

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