The all new anniversary edition was preceded by Shooting Stars: The Inside Story, a mockumentary of sorts which mixed backstage characters portrayed by Vic & Bob and previous guests.
Alongside them was pop singer Dan Gillespie Sells, an addition to the former participants whose presence can only be explained as a way to bring forward the date of the viewer?s suicide. Also present was Martine McCutcheon (once a guest), who only succeeded in confirming her inability to align herself with – or comprehend – the humour and spirit of the programme.
A notable absence was that of original team captain Mark Lamarr. The truth behind the relationship between Mark and the presenters remains an elusive one. Oh, and a note for contributor Noel Fielding – Mark has two award-winning shows on Radio 2; he isn't missing.
The problem with what was essentially a showcase of the best moments in Shooting Stars history meant that the all-new edition had a lot to live up to. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, it didn't. Or couldn't.
Vic and Bob?s aged figures danced as vigorously as they did in the past during the opening? number, and perhaps if you were to squint you could almost pretend it was still the glory days. However, there was no pretending that this anniversary show didn't come with a generous dose of nostalgia.
That said, the nostalgia was both the saving grace and the Achilles heel. While attempting to remain faithful to the original format, the structure came across as Shooting Stars-by-numbers. Pulling out the handbag gag in the first two minutes felt like a tired rehash of what once was, and a cash-in on the now bankrupt novelty factor.
The choice of contestants wasn?t especially inspired, though Dizzee Rascal proved to be an exception to that – he was impressively game and added a great deal to the proceedings.
It was undeniably a very self-indulgent show, and it was possible (if difficult) to switch off and enjoy the old jokes and repartee. New team captain Jack Dee returned to form under his miserable, deadpan persona and it was especially pleasing to see him try to maintain his stony exterior while an opera singer used the full force of his voice in Jack?s face.
Importantly, Shooting Stars ended on a high after a six year absence and, despite not quite living up to past peaks, it has scratched an itch and shown that Reeves & Mortimer have a whole load of talent left to share.
[story by Keith Emmerson]