How many more times can it go on? How many more examples of the same thing can we put up with before a nation finally says “enough”. It’s just the same thing over and over and over again, repeated with a relentless monotony, lacking fresh insights and wit, providing nothing but the same dull feeling of having the same buttons pressed again and again and again to ever diminishing results.
We speak, of course, of our reviews of the work of Hamish & Andy. You’re sick of reading them, we’re sick of writing them: what more is there to say? Wait, we’re not making the same joke again: seriously, what more can we say about a series that just does the same things over and over again in different locations in front of different bemused locals?
So we weren’t surprised that the final episode of Hamish & Andy’s South American Gap Year was just more eating zany stuff and crossing large bodies of water in wacky contraptions – they even showed footage from previous series to make sure we knew these failed water crossings were “a thing”. Great. We always knew the one thing Titanic needed was more laughs.
We’re not saying these shows aren’t amusing enough for what they are; the double act of Hamish “the wacky irreverent one” and Andy “the slightly more serious and exasperated one” still works fine, and throwing them into various situations where one of them can delight in the suffering of the other is a reliable way to exploit their dynamic. But c’mon.
It’s not even like they’re such skilled comedians they can afford to rest on their laurels. Having Hamish bring along a copy of Usain Bolt’s biography to read from during their attempt to walk (via a giant inflatable plastic toilet roll) up the Amazon was hardly sure-fire comedy gold. It was obviously there as the ’emergency’ joke if nothing else worked out – and luckily there was enough falling overboard and having the tube slowly deflate to keep things interesting – but it just wasn’t much of a joke.
On the one hand, Hamish & Andy are clearly playing to their strengths with all this: they’re good at improv, they have a good dynamic, they’re charming enough to get people watching. But those skills aren’t enough to base a television show on by themselves, and so they roam the globe doing the same pranks and stunts over and over in different locations because to do anything else seems beyond them.
At this stage we don’t know how to feel about this. Once we thought Hamish & Andy could do better; we got a few laughs out of their series Real Stories. But these days it’s become clear that this is their level, and when they stop doing Gap Year they’ll just drift off to host some kind of crazy game show or other equally forgettable gig. Or more likely just stay on radio forever; it’s not like it feels like they have any ambitions beyond palling around for 30 second bursts between commercials.
Maybe this is where commercial comedy is these days. Maybe television is just some unobtainable venue for scripted comedy and the best you can hope for if you get there is to run your one successful idea into the ground. It’s bizarre to think they’ve peaked when all they’re currently doing is wandering around going “wow, isn’t it weird that these people eat this stuff”, but after what, six series of the same show? This is as good as it’s ever going to get.