Father Ted: The Complete Series 1
Directed by Declan Lowney
Starring Ardal O’Hanlon, Dermot Morgan
British television’s Channel 4/ITV is making it harder and harder for me to go out on a Friday night. The comedy line up is pretty much unparalleled on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. You’ve got the mega-award winning Black Books, Jackass reruns, Frasier (yawn), So Graham Norton, and reruns of what was once its crown jewel of sacrilegious yuks, Father Ted. Or, as I like to call it, possibly the best fucking television program in the world EVER. It’s a vicious and hilarious (to Larry Davidesque proportions) look at three bumbling Catholic priests, banished to a remote vicarage on the remote Craggy Island in deepest, darkest Ireland.
The creative brains behind it (Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews) are still effortlessly producing godlike television with the equally ace and caustic Black Books, but that’s for another rant. Back to our beloved cast of characters — there’s Father Jack, a grizzled and disfigured old bastard whose vocabulary seldom strays from screams of “Drink! Feck! Girls!”; Father Dougall, a dimwitted young buffoon who doesn’t even believe in God; and Father Ted Crilly, the head of the parish, who is self-absorbed and barely even interested in the trappings of priesthood, and imagines himself disco dancing with lovely ladies while wearing a white blazer at least once every episode, but basically a good bloke. Every week they get in way over their heads in a series of ever-more surreal (and usually blasphemous) disasters that come out of trying to execute the simplest of priestly tasks. This video collects the first six landmark episodes — the making of a cult smash right before your eyes. Can you believe that some people find this stuff offensive?
There’s “Good Luck, Father Ted,” where the fame bug bites Ted as he gets his big chance to be on a television interview program, but it ends disastrously as they mistakenly interview Dougall instead and Ted cripples himself trying to distract the producers. Keep your eyes peeled for the scene where Ted goes to a tarot reader and gets three death cards in a row! “Entertaining Father Stone” finds a guest at the house, quiet and boring Father Stone, who drives Ted so crazy that he prays to God to kill Stone and, well, God listens to priests, I guess. Next up is “The Passion of Saint Tibulus,” where Ted and Dougall are sent by the Bishop to protest a provocative Last Temptation of Christ-like film, but inadvertently end up making it the biggest film blockbuster Craggy Island has seen. Best lines of the show: Dougall: “What was it all about Ted? The part where the one lad was taking the banana from the other lad?” Ted: “That wasn’t a banana, Dougall.” They end up having to carry around the guardrail they chained themselves to and blackmail the Bishop with a holiday video (the Bishop with his girlfriend! And child!) which Father Jack stole out of his bag while looking for Jack Daniels. “Competition Time” means that its time for the All-Priests Lookalikes Competition and it’s Jack, Ted and Dougall doing the “Three Ages of Elvis” against their archenemies Fathers Dick Burns, Cyril McDuff and Jim Johnson (from Rugged Island, no less — think of them as the Bizarro World / Evil Michael Knight versions of the Craggy Island cast) as The Supremes! Who will reign supreme? Next up is “And God Created Woman,” where Ted imagines that a famous author who’s come to Craggy Island fancies him, with embarrassing results. Watch for the Ted-can’t-walk-after-she-starts-talking-about-sex scene! Finally, there’s “Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest,” and Father Jack has died leaving Dougall and Ted a half-million pounds each. All they have to do is spend a night with him in the tomb! When they ask Ted what he’s going to do with his share of the money, he starts talking about charities but then starts imagining himself in Vegas in a white blazer and shades getting girls to kiss his dice. Coming on four years, this show is still every bit as fresh and fall-out-of-your-chair hilarious as it was in its first airing. Do yourself a favor and head down to Amazon.com and order the DVD — Season 1 and Season 2 are yours for the taking. Go in the name of the Lord!