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Monday, July 12, 2010

Father Ted: Inspired Insanity



One of the most inspired comedies to ever have graced the television screen is a gem from Ireland known as Father Ted. Created by Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews, the show premiered on the 21st of April, 1995 on Channel 4.


For those not in the know, the show concerns three priests banished to the fictional backwater world of Craggy Island. Craggy Island seems to be the place where all of the people who can't fit into normal Irish society are sent.


This is our main character, Father Ted Crilly. He's a relatively straight character, but he has a bit more character and nuance to him than the others. Ted is either the victim of the others idiosyncrasies or just cruel fate. That's what keeps him on the island, although he would rather be in Las Vegas. He was sent to the island due to some "financial irregularities", although he'll tell you that the money was resting in his account.


This here is Dougal McGuire, the idiot Robin to Ted's Batman. He is an idiot of the most profound kind. Not only that, but he is slightly crazy, as he can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy. A lot of the time, it's his idiocy that destroys any chance of Ted succeeding in life.


This is Father Jack Hackett. The ultimate drunk. He can drink anything, including floor polishes. He is cantankerous, and most of his dialogue is made up of strings of vulgarities. At points, he seems like a household pet than an actual priest. Always a fan favorite.


This is Mrs. Doyle, the housekeeper of the Craggy Island parochial house. She takes her job very seriously. Hospitable is not enough of a word to describe her. You'll never run out of tea in her house.

This show is a terrific surreal satire of all things Irish and Catholic. The reality of this world looks very much like our own, but then it veers out into left field. It takes all of the archetypes of rural Irish life, and takes it to such surreal extreme ends. Father Jack is not just a drunk, but a bizarre drunk, capable of ingesting floor polish and able to survive the effects of it. Being sober is like a hallucinogenic drug to Father Jack.

A big theme of the show is priests in a modern world. The priests in this world are very pop-culture savvy. In fact, in an interview with the creators, the show is an outgrowth of the idea that modern priests don't like being seen as priests. Ted is the epitome of that. If Ted had his way, he would be out in Las Vegas living the high life.


One of my favorite aspects of this show is that each character has a distinct personality, with their own mannerisms and eccentricities. This is a breath of fresh air in the world of Friends-like shows of interchangeable characters sharing wisecracks. Its atmosphere was distinctly Irish, and yet completely universal. That, and it is so cartoony and exaggerated. No modern-day cartoon can compare to this.

I happened to discover this show late one night on PBS. I was waiting for my dad to come home from work. As I watched it, I began laughing harder and harder. When my dad did come home, I showed him the show and we laughed hysterically. It has become one of our favorite shows and we still love it to this day.

I recommend this show to everyone looking for something outside of the mainstream.

Happy Trails

4 comments:

Oscar Grillo said...

Try to carch "The IT Crowd" by Graham Lineham. Quite funny. You'll find it in YouTube. Last Friday's was a classic!

Eric Noble said...

I love "The IT Crowd". That show is hilarious. I also the show Graham Linehan did with comedian Dylan Moran, "Black Books". Another inspired show.

megnme said...

You have amazing taste in shows, Eric. :)

Oisin O'Sullivan said...

Living in Rural Ireland, I can tell you that this show is BEYOND infamy here. Everybody knows about it and loves it.
I was lucky to be a small kid when this show was made and it made me laugh harder than most shows could, even the Simpsons.
The Passion of St Tibillus episode is genious.
A lot of the jokes in it are funnier here than anywhere else because they are only a slight caracature of what life here is like.

"There is a small child stuck in the Tunnel of Goats..." !