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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bless Me, Father - The Complete Collection
Bless Me, Father - The Complete Collection
Acorn Media // Unrated // April 26, 2005
List Price: $59.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted March 22, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

A religious comedy shows just wouldn't make it to network TV in the US.  Too easy to offend people, and that's what the networks try to avoid above all else.  Luckily, there isn't such a problem in England, and there been some very humorous shows poking light fun at religion made in the UK. With both Father Ted and The Vicar of Dibney being favorites of mine, I was very interested in seeing Bless Me, Father, another sitcom with a religious basis that was first broadcast in 1978.  Acorn has now released all three seasons (21 episodes) of this low-key comedy show in a three disc boxed set.  Unfortunately the show is a bit dated, and not nearly as funny as I was hoping.

In a small suburb of London in 1950, Father Neil Boyd (Daniel Abineri), fresh from the seminary, is assigned to be the new curate at St. Jude's (patron Saint of lost causes.)  The Pastor there is Father Duddleswell (Arthur Lowe of Dad's Army fame) a crusty old veteran priest who has seen it all.  Though he seems gruff and sour, inside he has a heart of gold.  It is Duddleswell's  job to show the young wide-eyed Father Boyd the ropes at their small parish.

The household is run by Mrs. Pring (Gabrielle Daye) who has been having a battle of wits with Father Duddleswell for the past 20 years.  They constantly throw insults and jabs back and forth, though you can tell that they both feel affection for the other.

Other supporting characters include Billy Buzzle (David Ryall), the bookie who lives next to St. Jude's and Father Duddleswell main nemesis, and Dr. Daley (Patrick McAlinney) Duddleswell's best friend who is always drunk.

Bless Me, Father isn't absurd like Father Ted or slightly outrageous like The Vicar of Dibney.  The humor in this show is gentle and calm.  To gentle for my tastes.  Things like a dog climbing onto the Bishop's lap are greeted with uproarious laughter on the soundtrack but they don't cause me to crack a smile.

The show is based on writer Peter de Rosa's experiences as a novice curate, and I think that accounts for the show's weakness.  A lot of the humor has a "you had to have been there' feel to it.   Maybe it is because I wasn't raised as a Catholic, but a lot of the humor just doesn't work for me.  In the first episode for example, Father Duddleswell informs Father Boyd that he is going to put him through a baptism of fire, implying that his introduction to St. Jude's is going to be very harsh.  After a tour of the district, seeing the hospital and the cemetery, he hears the confession of a young boy.   After that Father Duddleswell informs Boyd that he passed with flying colors, much to the relief of the young man.  I totally missed the point.  Was hearing a single confession supposed to be difficult?  Was Father Duddleswell lying about the introduction being difficult?  If so, Father Boyd certainly acted like it was rough going.
 
Another thing that I have against the show is the run of the mill sitcom plots; Father Duddleswell stealing a pig that subsequently dies, Duddleswell realizes that a couple he wed isn't really married, a masterpiece painting is discovered hanging in a convent.  These are the type of thing that we've all seen before.  Seeing them again, with fewer actual jokes, just doesn't make for an entertaining show.

The DVD:


Audio:

The two channel mono soundtrack is showing its age a bit.  There isn't much in the way of bass, even in the opening and closing music, but that is to be expected.  The dialog was clear but unfortunately there was a light hum in the background.  It wasn't obtrusive, but it was easy to hear in the quiet sections.

Video:

The full frame image was a little less than average.  The picture was soft, without the definition I was expecting.  The show was recorded on tape (the interior scenes at least) and there are some video dropouts because of that.  The show is still watchable, I'm sure Acorn did the best they could given the source material, but don't expect a stellar picture.

Extras:

The only extras included with this set are a series of text biographies of the writer and actors.

Final Thoughts:

While I love Going My Way and Bells of St. Mary Bless Me, Father doesn't work for me.  The plots are trite and the humor is too low key.  While I have enjoyed other Britcoms based on the lives of people of the cloth, this one isn't worth tracking down.  Skip it.

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