FATHER TED (1995-1998)
Series 1, 2 and 3 with brand new artwork from cartoonist, Tony Millionaire.
Series 1 of FATHER TED instantly introduces us to the beloved characters who live on the secluded Craggy Island, including its barmy residents. Two such residents are married couple are Mary and John O’Leary, who are the definition of ‘domestic abuse’, who are physically and verbally violent towards each another. However, when they enter the company of one of the Fathers, they instantly put on a facade, fooling the Fathers into thinking that they are a sweet, loving, happily married couple which couldn’t be further than the truth. In this series, Father Ted is visited by the silent Father Stone, who’s awkwardness and inability to keep conversation drives Father Ted, Father Dougal and even Mrs Doyle up the wall. In another episode, Father Ted’s ‘boss’ Bishop Brennan visits the parochial house and orders Ted and Dougal to publicly protest against a blasphemous movie showing at the local cinema, entitled The Passion of St Tibulus. This episode produces many laughs in many different forms, in particular visiting Cuban Father Hernandez, who gives Father Ted a rather large…ahem… fertility statue after a memorable night of playing Cluedo.
Some episodes in Series 1 though are a bit hit and miss, in particular the Competition Time episode where Ted, Dougal and Jack all dress up as Elvis for All Priest Star in their Eyes competition. There are 6 episodes in total in Series 1, which includes some special features including an interview with the writers and commentary by Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews.
Series 2 seems to settle in more, with the audience well accustomed to the priests way of life on Craggy Island. Father Jack seems to be increasingly drunk and girl orientated, with a distinct decline in physical hygiene since Series 1. The first episodes sees the trio go on holiday to the coast, where they borrow a friends caravan. Of course, nothing goes swimmingly and they end up in some hilarious situations. Chatshow host and comedian, Graham Norton, makes his appearance as Father Noel Furlong, an excitable camp priest who’s constantly on a high and never shuts up. Other episodes on the two-disc series involve three bishops visiting the island to bless the Holy Stone of Clonrichert which has been upgraded to a Class 2 relic by the Vatican, and one surreal episode involves a house full of rabbits that seem to appear from nowhere. There’s plenty to see in this 11 episode series, with much fun to be had by spotting the little things, such as Redrum in the background of Tom’s basement and Dougal reading ‘Gary Lineker’s Book of Ghost Stories’. A Christmassy Ted is included in this series, with Ted and Dougal trapped in the lingerie section of a department store, along with a group of other priests, forcing Ted to think on his feet and find an exit to prevent a scandal. For eagle-eyed viewers out there, look out for ROME’s Kevin McKidd as a young priest! This series also features Writer Commentaries, a 10min look into Tedfest 2007 and a Comedy Relief appearance from Ted and Dougal.
My personal favourite of Father Ted, however, is Series 3, where we get to see Ted dared into kicking sour-faced Bishop Brennan up the arse! I think the whole audience will be cheering Ted on in that quest. With an abundance of laugh out loud scenes in the episodes involving Nazi sympathising priests and memorabilia, the Beast of Craggy Island and a skit on action movie Speed but using a milk float, Series 3 is definitely where Father Ted reached its peak. This series comprises of 8 episodes and features a newly recorded commentary by Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews, as well as additional footage from Tedfest.
There’s plenty to love about Father Ted and even though some episodes are less funny than others, it’s always interesting to see what scrapes the trio can get themselves into. On Craggy Island, there is never a dull moment, especially with the likes of Mrs Doyle, who never fails to raise a laugh with her window cleaning antics as she’s unable to stop herself from falling off the window sill.
Voted by viewers as Channel 4’s Greatest Comedy Show, Father Ted has received new packaging illustrated by cartoonist, Tony Millionaire, which can be seen on the individual DVD covers as well as the title screens on the disc itself. The transfer of the episodes left me a little disappointed as they can be quite grainy in parts, reminscent of VHS. However, after a while you tend not to notice this as much and the grain gives the episodes a classic feel. If you’re one of these hi-def fans though with a giant screen TV, this may bother you quite a bit. The contents however are fabulous with plenty of episodes to keep you entertained, whether you’re a longtime Father Ted fan or a newbie to the sitcom, there’s something for everyone.