Father Ted (1995-1998)

My Favourite TV Show

Yes, Father Ted is my favourite TV show of all time. In the UK and Ireland, we quote this show as much as the rest of the world quotes The Simpsons, with so many lines and terms from the show becoming implanted into our psyche. I’ve been watching Father Ted since I was a kid and even though I didn’t get off any of the adult jokes back then, the wacky and surreal humour always had me in fits of laughter. I don’t think there’s been a month in the last 17 years that I haven’t watched one of its 25 episodes, yet I still can’t pick a favourite!

Every joke in Father Ted works on so many levels. The setting of the fictional Craggy Island is surely the most backward ended place on Earth but this is all brilliantly downplayed. Whenever anything absurd happens, the characters react in an unsurprised or not surprised enough manner. For example, when Ted discovers Craggy Island has its own Chinatown. Just how does an island off the coast of Ireland have a significant Chinese population and how does a person living there not even know about it?! I could take any joke from this show and list on multiple levels as to why it’s so absurd and surreal. The inconsistencies and even the odd plot hole just makes everything funnier.

I suspect one of the reasons Father Ted became so successful is that it dispelled the notion that the Irish are completely oblivious to the outside world in the sense that the characters talk about popular culture just like people in any other civilized county would. Granted the characters in every other sense don’t act like people in the real world but I believe this one aspect made the show more relatable to a wider audience, from references to bands such as Oasis and Radiohead to various film references (Dougal, we are not watching Aliens!). I’m from Ireland and even to this day, I hear stories from Irish people who have gone abroad and meet people who think Ireland is technologically un-advanced country and that we all live in cottages. One story I always remember was an Irish guy telling me of how he told an American he owned an Xbox 360 and the American couldn’t believe it.

Allow me to hold up my cup of tea to Father Ted. May I continue to watch it for years, with Dougal and Mrs. Doyle and Father Jack forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever…

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The Simpsons: Season 3: Episode 17; Home At The Bat (1992)

The Pride of the Simpsons

After recently re-watching the first nine seasons or what fans now refer to as the golden age I have come to the decision that Homer at the Bat is my favourite episode of The Simpsons.

I should point out that I’m not a sports fan (far from it as a matter of fact) and due to cultural reasons I do not know who any of these baseball stars are as the sport is not popular in the UK. However, this made me realise just what made the guest appearances during The Simpsons glory days so great. Even if you’re not familiar with a celebrity you can still enjoy their appearance on the show as they manage to give them their own unique comic, down to Earth personalities. Here there are no fewer nine guest stars and they’re all equally memorable and funny. However what also astounds me is how each of these guest stars has their own story arc and all this within the confines of 22 minutes. There is even an early exposure to Barney Gumble being a secret intellectual; leave it to The Simpsons to get the viewer interested in who was England’s greatest prime minister. There is so much going on in this episode yet the show’s creators successfully get it all in without any of it feeling forced. There’s enough material here to make several episodes.

Homer at the Bat is one of the more surreal episodes of The Simpsons’ glory days and they even manage to summarise this during the end credits in one catchy song (a parody of Talkin’ Baseball by Terry Cashman). Like many Simpsons’ parodies it has become more famous than its source and like the best Simpsons’ songs, a whole generation can recite it off by heart.

The Simpsons: Season 7: Episode 21; 22 Short Films About Springfield (1996)

Seeeeymoooour!

I can narrow down the two Simpsons episodes which I quote the most in daily life; A Star Is Burns and 22 Short Films about Springfield. Half of my favourite Simpsons’ quotes come from these two episodes alone.

This episode has not only my all-time favourite Simpsons’ moment but also possibly my favourite moment in TV history; I am indeed talking about the greatness that is the Skinner and Superintendent skit. I can recall several instances in which myself and people I’ve known have recited this scene in its entirety from memory. As a kid, I didn’t get the humour of the scene but can recall my parents and older brother laughing hysterically at it. Now that I’m older I constantly watch this scene over and over again. But do you know what’s the funniest thing (well aside from the aforementioned scene) it’s the little differences. Such as the episode’s parody of Pulp Fiction’s “Muthaf**ka” scene, with Chief Wiggum stating “Hey I know you!”; the complete opposite of what is said in the scene from Pulp Fiction. Like the greatest of Simpsons’ gags, it works on so many levels. Why did they never make another episode like this? I guess this one was as close to perfection as it gets that they could never top it.