Father Ted is a typical British/Irish comedy. There are some truly hilarious moments, excellent sight gags, some quite subtle humour, likeable and eccentric characters, and plenty of nonsense thrown in. Those who like their humour with a mix of farce and intellect will be well served by Father Ted.
Set on Craggy Island, a wind-swept hell-hole that the world seems to have forgotten, Father Ted Crilly (Dermot Morgan) lives with a younger priest, the extremely dumb, naïve, but innocent, Father Dougal McGuire (Ardal O’Hanlon), and the unbelievably haggard Father Jack Hackett (Frank Kelly). Father Jack’s entire vocabulary still consists mostly of three words, “Drink”, “Feck”, and “Girls”. He gets plenty of the first, none of the third, and uses the second just for the hell of it. A typical Irishman if ever there was one, fond of the booze and all for having a good time, all of the time. Apologies to any Irish readers, but you guys always seem to know how to have a good time, and find humour in the most unlikely of places. The main cast is rounded out by his hired hand, the tea-obsessed Mrs Doyle (Pauline McLynn).
Series Two picks up where Series One left off, and is quite similar coming as it does from the same writers, Arthur Matthews and Graham Linehan (Linehan was a co-writer of Black Books which should give some idea of the offbeat gags that can be expected). The scenarios are as humorous, outrageous and as unlikely, although there are ten episodes this time around - plus the double length Christmas Special. The characters are quite possibly not your typical Catholic types, but thank God for that. These guys are not afraid to bend life’s rules, but are still good people.
The beauty of the series for my money is the almost surreal moments of quirky site gags using clever editing, and the over-the-top situations that the Ted and Dougal seem to find themselves in, despite Ted’s best attempts to keep everything simple and above board. There are guaranteed laughs in every episode. Then of course, there is the second half of this series also available on DVD and reviewed here.
Hell: It’s holiday time, and Ted takes Dougal and Jack on their annual holiday. However the caravan they have been promised has also been promised to Father Noel Furlong and his youth group. Dougal has left all their stuff at home, so it looks like two weeks of boiling water and awful campfire songs with the youth group from hell!
Think Fast, Father Ted: In need of urgent funds to fix their leaky roof, Ted organises a car raffle, but his amateur bodywork renders the car useless. With a clever plan to borrow Father Finnegan’s car as a substitute, they attempt to rig it so that when Dougal wins the raffle, they can then return the car, keep the cash and no-one will be any wiser. It seems simple enough, but even the simplest of concepts send Dougal into a spin.
Tentacles of Doom: The Holy Stone of Clonrichert is to be upgraded to a Class Two relic, so a visit from three Bishops should be an honour. Ted attempts to keep Dougal and Jack on their best behaviour, but a crisis of faith and a faulty toilet have other ideas.
The Old Grey Whistle Theft: Dougal’s shady mate, Father Damo, pays a visit and soon leads Dougal down the path to the Dark Side. Ted’s picnic is disrupted by some very rude people, but all hell breaks loose when the picnic area’s supervisor has his whistle stolen, and the local Bobby suspects a priest.
A Song For Europe: Dougal can’t find his record collection, or more accurately, his record. When Father Dick Burne goads Ted into entering the Song For Europe contest, he, with Dougal’s help, composes a crap little ditty called My Lovely Horse. ‘Honouring’ a previous winner by ‘borrowing’ the tune that is the B-side of their 1976 winning song, Ted and Dougal feel they have a real chance of winning. Unfortunately, they have to resort to the original tune at the last minute. Is it still a winner? Could be.
A Christmassy Ted: In this 55-minute special, Father Ted is to be honoured with a Golden Cleric award. This is his chance to stick it to all those along the way that said he’d never make it. Mrs. Doyle concedes that Ted is the second best priest in Ireland. With Christmas fast approaching, a young and excitable Dougal takes great delight in his Nativity Calendar, Mrs. Doyle receives a Tea Master machine that she despises, and Ted simply wants to stick it up all those that claimed he would never amount to anything. But just who is Father Todd Unctious and why is he so interested in Ted’s award?
There is not much to get excited about video-wise, but in all honesty there are no problems either. It’s a television show and is therefore the expected full frame presentation that looks like it would have the first time you saw it. The image is middle-of-the-road, though quite acceptable. Colours and skin tones are good and consistent, black levels are generally good, and there is little interference from noise. Shadow detail is also fine.
There is some very mild grain, but it's largely dismissable. There is some regular aliasing and shimmer but is only ever minor and not distracting. There is very little in the way of artefacts such as dirt and marks.
The real annoyance is the layer change, which is placed between scenes in Episode 4. Why? If it weren’t for this badly thought out placement, watching the entire series would be just the same as watching a good clear television broadcast.