Father Ted: Series 2 Part 2 Review
One of the pleasures of a comedy series as great as Father Ted being released on consistently good- if overpriced and cunningly marketed- discs is that the reviewer (i.e me) can achieve a degree of consistency in his remarks about the series, especially if the commentary tracks achieve a degree of continuity that are almost unique, except, perhaps, in Kevin Smith's commentaries. For those coming late into the party, Father Ted is arguably the best sitcom of the 1990s, a nearly perfect combination of fine comic acting and spot-on writing, and the second series contained some of its finest moments, especially in these episodes;
Bishop Brennan reappears, only to be plagued by rabbits, a naked Father Jack and numerous farcical goings-on with Ted. A pretty standard episode, in that it's hilariously funny throughout, and played with faultless comic timing by the cast. All the bishop episodes tend to be of a high quality, perhaps due to Linehan and Arthur Matthews' none-too-concealed antipathy towards them, but the finest one is yet to come in the next series, when Ted has to...I shall reveal all in my next review!
Rock a Hula Ted
For some strange reason, this episode never seemed to be on TV as much as the others, meaning that I only saw it for the first time fairly recently. It's probably the weakest on the disc, combining some rather broad Sinead O'Connor satire of a funky Irish protest singer's attempt to buy the parochial house with some equally obvious, if still uproarious, scenes of Ted judging the 'lovely girls' contest, complete with appropriately surreal rounds. Highly enjoyable, but it doesn't have the unique brilliance of the best episodes, feeling more like a top-class episode of a lesser sitcom.
Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading
Dodgy Oasis title reference aside, this is a lot of fun, as it follows Ted attempt to give up cigarettes, Jack alcohol and Dougal rollerblading- as the title does imply- as part of a bet with Father Dick Byrne and the lads from the rival parochial house; unfortunately, they are tempted, and it becomes necessary to call in a fierce nun to keep them in order. With a plotline this absurd, it'd be asking a lot to expect biting social commentary, but there are some wonderfully absurd moments here, not least some of the odder fantasy scenes seen outside of a Terry Gilliam film.
New Jack City
Although Linehan is slightly dismissive of this one on the commentary track, this is another top class episode, as Jack contracts the dreaded 'hairy hands' syndrome and is packed off to St Clabbert's Old Priest's Home; unfortunately, his replacement proves to be of an anti-social disposition, leading to a desperate rescue bid by Ted and Dougal, and some of the strangest-looking extras ever seen in a television programme. Perhaps more a collection of gags than a coherent storyline, if the jokes are as good as they are here objections seem irrelevant, although the character of Father Stack does feel more menacing than funny.
Flight into Terror
Linehan merrily describes this as his favourite episode of the series, boasting that it only took two days to write, and it's very good indeed. Revisiting the unlikely theme of 'Ted as leader' originally seen in the Christmas special, it deals with the Monkey Priest's bad behaviour on board a plane, coupled with Dougal's naturally inquisitive nature, which leads to hilarity, an essay writing competition and unrequited love for Graham Linehan's character. Top stuff, and with a very nice payoff that ends the series perfectly.
zzz...4:3 transfer from video...perfectly good but nothing really outstanding, then again what did you expect, sweeping widescreen panoramas...if so, why the hell are you watching Father Ted?...feck!!!
Glorious stereo, so the sounds of the Divine Comedy and Jack's colourful language can be heard in full volume; nothing really surprising, then, and much the same as the other two volumes so far.
Only one, as usual, but it's outstanding. Linehan, who is proving to be one of the best DVD commentators around, is joined by O'Hanlon (perhaps as a result of Linehan's oddly poignant plea on the previous track for him to give him a call; see, DVD commentaries have the same purpose as Friends Reunited websites, and provide more entertainment into the bargain!). The two banter hilariously, as one might expect, with one O'Hanlon anecdote on the final episode so uproarious that it bears noting down and wheeling out occasionally as the ultimate Irish joke. That said, there are more introspective moments here than you might expect, with O'Hanlon coming across as surprisingly thoughtful and intelligent, and Linehan obviously relishes having somebody to bounce off against. A fine, fine track; now, let's get Arthur Matthews, Pauline McLynn and Frank Kelly in for the final series' commentary track, and include some of the very funny TV adverts for the various episodes...
Another magnificent series (well, half series, and VCI should be castigated for their penny-pinching in not releasing all the second series at once) is released on a technically unremarkable disc, but with yet another wonderfully funny commentary track. By now, I imagine I'm preaching to the converted, but this is an easy recommendation for all those fond of truly top-class comedy.