24 May 2015 | bob the moo
A Christmassy Ted: A great hour which avoids the usual seasonal pitfalls and remains consistent with the series
The Christmas special historically is an extra episode in a show which doesn't fit into the narrative per se, and is deliberately written around Christmas, usually featuring a sense of good will and cheer without being too demanding on an audience trying to stay awake after a day of excess. This episode of Father Ted clearly knows this, and as a result we get a playful moment early on where they ponder on the madcap things that could have happened if the baby they briefly found on the doorstep had really been left for them. From here instead we get a Vietnam flavored adventure in the lingerie section of Dunne Stores, followed by an award being presented for Crilly's heroics in the field.
It terms of narrative it fits really well with every other episode as it is an engagingly absurd plot, with plenty of good laughs and oddity throughout. The extended running time is made to look like no bother at all and it never feels like it is padded out or stretched thin at any point, instead moving well throughout. The small details add to the comedy and generally the episode successfully captures this air of nonsense that is enjoyable and never silly, so it is possible to go with it and find it funnier as a result. A few of the gags have perhaps dated due to them being topical for the time, but it really is the tiny minority.
The cast are strong. This was the final episode to be broadcast before Morgan died at only 45 years old, and here is on great form. While he plays the most "straight" of the characters, he also delivers the weakness and foibles of the characters with great timing. Dougal remain O'Hanlon's best work I think, his delivery and timing is spot on. Kelly's routine is perhaps limited by how simple it is, but still he is funny in small doses – likewise McLynn, who has some great little asides here. The supporting cast throws in some nice surprises (like Kirwan and Tompkinson), but also has good turns from McSorley and others.
Overall a very enjoyable extended episode which stays true to the comedy and tone of the series, and doesn't fall into any of the pitfalls one would often associated with the Christmas special.