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Father Ted

Father Ted

Father Ted Crilley is the parish priest of Craggy Island, a godforsaken piece of rock off the west coast of Ireland that isn't on any map. Father Ted is assisted by apprentice priest Father Dougal McGuire and senior priest Father Jack Hackett. Their household needs are seen to by Mrs. Doyle. These characters form the eye in the center of the storm of surreal grotesqueries that makes up one of the funniest British comedies of all time.

Ted himself is fairly normal; although faithful to the Catholic Church, he still longs for fame, maybe a bit of female companionship, and perhaps a pile of money as well. He landed the job at Craggy Island because he stole some money earmarked to send a sick boy to Lourdes, and took it to spend in Las Vegas. He claims the money was merely "resting in" his bank account. Ted sees himself as a normal fellow who can't seem to get a break; and the one chance he does get to leave the island, he finds he cannot bring himself to leave his companions behind. After all, who would take care of them?

Assisting Ted is Dougal, the young priest-in-training who has trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy - even though Ted drew him up a little cartoon diagram for him to study to differentiate the world of reality from that inside his head. Dougal loves television and is easily frightened by what he sees onscreen - Herbie the Love Bug gave him nightmares because he thought the idea of a car driving itself around was quite mad. Still, Dougal retains some skepticism - usually regarding Church doctrine. He still has problems believing in, among other items, "Heaven and Hell and everlasting life."

Father Jack Hackett is the elder priest living in the parochial house. He mainly sits in his chair - which appears not to have been cleaned in some time - and sleeps. Suffice it to say he enjoys a drink now and then. When he runs out of alcohol - even the bottles he has secreted about the house - he will drink whatever comes to hand. Sometimes he even stoops to drinking cleansers like Toilet Duck, which gives him hallucinations and coma-like symptoms. During his career as a priest he enjoyed watching Catholic schoolgirls play volleyball, preferably in their bras. His favorite declaration is, "Drink! Feck! [Fuck!] Arse! [Ass!]"

Watching over the lads is Mrs. Doyle, whose entire reason for being revolves around fixing a nice cup of tea for the priests. Mrs. Doyle likes nothing better than making tea and sandwiches for visitors. She prefers the old-fashioned tea-making methods, however; once, when Ted bought her an automatic tea maker, she took a knife and secretly sabotaged it. Lording it over the three priests is angry, cape- wearing Bishop Len Brennan, who consigned each of them to the island for past transgressions. No saint himself, Bishop Brennan fathered a son during a forbidden affair, and has tried to keep the matter a secret.

Father Ted is one of those wonderful British comedies where logic need not be followed, and the actors involved don't worry about making themselves look as grotesque or as foolish as possible. (Imagine a cast member of Friends with her hair out of place. The horror!) Dougal's utter stupidity and Jack's drinking go beyond reality toward the realm of the impossible; various other priests of Ted's acquaintance are just as daft and wacky as this crew is. Internal logic and continuity is pretty much done away with regarding the various misadventures the boys get into. And the various jabs at Catholicism - and religion in general - are just an added treat. For that matter, Father Ted pretty much points a finger at the entire human race and demonstrates how foolish we can be.

During its run on Channel Four, Father Ted won plenty of awards and millions of fans. It lasted for three seasons plus one Christmas special; shortly after filming ended on the third season, star Dermot Morgan died of a heart attack. Ardal O'Hanlon would return as superhero Thermo Man in My Hero.

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