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Recap / Father Ted S 1 E 3 The Passion Of Saint Tibulus

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The Craggy Island parochial house is hosting a guest, Cuban priest Father Hernandez. As he plays a game of Cluedo with Ted and Dougal, Ted tells Hernandez about his direct superior, Bishop Len Brennan, including rumours that he got his housekeeper pregnant and secretly pays for her and their son to live in America. As coincidence would have it, Brennan calls Ted and informs him that he's coming to visit the following day. Before departing, Hernandez gives Ted and company a couple of gifts made by the simple people of his Cuban village in gratitude for their hospitality; a basic video recorder (which he apologises for only having a two-week pre-record), and a rather... phallic fertility idol.


Later that day, Brennan arrives — freshly returned from a holiday in California, funnily enough — and after a few awkward moments caused by the fertility idol and Dougal blabbing about Brennan's son, the bishop gets down to business; an erotic film named The Passion of Saint Tibulus has recently been produced, but following pressure from the Pope, banned virtually worldwide. Thanks to a loophole, however, the ban doesn't apply to Craggy Island, and Brennan orders Ted and Dougal to go protest it, in the hope of getting the film pulled from the local cinema. The two subsequently attend a screening, which is attended by only two other people (one of whom walks out before the film even begins after learning that it's subtitled instead of dubbed), and half-heartedly make a fuss over it.

The following morning, Brennan drags Ted and Dougal down to the cinema (ignoring the slight fact that it won't open for a few more hours), where they stand around with signs reading "Careful Now" and "Down With This Sort of Thing." Following Brennan's orders, the two handcuff themselves to the railings outside the cinema and start vocally protesting the film, only for their protests and angry descriptions of the amount of nudity in the film to actually cause more people to become interested in seeing it. After the cinema's manager remarks that he hasn't seen such big crowds for a film since Jurassic Park, and then none other than Father Jack shows up to watch the film, Ted decides to give up and asks Dougal for the handcuff keys, only for it to turn out that Dougal didn't actually know handcuffs were meant to come with keys...


When they get back to the Parochial House, still attached to a section of railing, Brennan angrily confronts them on making The Passion of Saint Tibulus the most successful film ever to be shown on Craggy Island, with people coming from all over Europe to watch it. What's more, as punishment for their colossal failure, the trio are being reassigned; Ted to an island off the coast of Surinam where the polytheistic locals have been locked in a state of perpetual civil war for centuries, Dougal to a part of the Philippines with no sewage system, and Jack to somewhere equally nasty, though Brennan makes the unwise move of waking Jack up in order to properly berate him, earning himself a broken nose for his trouble. After Brennan storms out, Jack, who it turns out stole Brennan's travel bag, largely out of interest in the duty-free spirits he bought back from the U.S., puts on a video he found in the bag, which turns out to contain footage of Brennan with his mistress and son. The trio realize they now have the leverage they need to persuade Brennan to at least keep them on Craggy Island, and decide to watch the video once more.


Tropes featured in this episode:

  • Artistic License – Geography: Bishop Brennan points at a spot in North America on a globe at the end, but at the time, he was talking about an island supposedly off the coast of Surinam, which (as stated by the Bishop), is in South America, not North America. Justified, as he was of unsound mind due to the unprecedented success of the film that formed so much of the conflict in the episode.
  • Artistic Licence – Law: The Holy See cannot ban a film being shown anywhere outside Vatican City. The closest could be forbidding Catholics to go and see it, or putting pressure on national governments to ban it, and even in the latter case it's doubtful that any governments except for those of Ireland and Italy would pay much attention.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: The conversation between Ted and Father Hernandez has them speaking English and Spanish respectively, yet they are able to understand each other perfectly.
  • Blackmail: Presumably how the priests stay on Craggy Island after finding Bishop Brennan's tape.
  • The Casanova:
    • Father Hernandez, who despite (apparently) keeping to his vows of celibacy, frequently talks about his admiration for women. Mrs. Doyle included.
    • Bishop Brennan would seem to be this as well, given that he has a son and mistress in California.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The video recorder that Ted and co. get from Father Hernandez seems to be a throwaway gag at first, but it comes in handy as a way of watching Brennan's holiday video at the end of the episode.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Instead of being outraged at the blasphemous content of The Passion of Saint Tibulus, Ted and Dougal complain about the film's historical inaccuracies, point out that the plot was incomprehensible and that wearing so little in Norway would've been impractical.
  • Cringe Comedy: One could say the protest ended up this way, making for a VERY interested local populace.
  • The Determinator: While it was briefly shown in "Good Luck, Father Ted", this is the episode that really establishes the insane lengths that Mrs. Doyle will go to in order to force her guests (in this case, Brennan) to accept drinks.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: The vague nature of Ted's and Dougal's protests just gets people to go and watch the film out of curiosity, and when Ted tries graphically describing the film's obscene and blasphemous content, it only gets people even more interested in going to see it.
  • Kavorka Man: Bishop Brennan has a young family.
  • Le Film Artistique: The film that is the centre of the story is a French movie (subtitled in English) with a story that makes no sense. Ted questions the amount of nudity, stating that because the title character was from a location around Norway, he 'would have frozen to death'.
  • Loophole Abuse: Why the film is showing only on Craggy Island.
  • Mind Screw: In-universe. God help these people going to see the movie if they came out not understanding the plot.
  • Moral Guardians: The priests try to be this. See the page image.
  • Never My Fault: Brennan tries to have the trio of Craggy Island priests punished for unwittingly making the film a huge success. At no point is it mentioned that they were following Brennan's direct instructions every step of the way, meaning that the only one of the trio who should really have anything to answer for is Jack, who went to watch the film of his own accord.
  • Noodle Incident: Jack has been sent to Craggy Island as punishment for apparently doing something horrible at a wedding in Athlone (judging by his reaction, it was probably something to with Jack's alcoholism, lecherous nature, or both), while Dougal was responsible for something called the "Blackrock Incident", in which he managed to severely damage the lives of a number of people (though Dougal claims they were "only nuns"), and Brennan was forced to call in personal favours to stop the Vatican from getting involved. The incident that saw Ted sent to the island isn't fully explained, but is indicated to be a more straightforward case of embezzlement (Brennan indicates Ted stole funds meant to sent a sick child to Lourdes to go on a bender in Las Vegas).
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Ted's, Dougal's and Jack's being on Craggy Island is revealed to already be an example of this, and it nearly gets turned Up to Eleven after their protests against The Passion of Saint Tibulus have the opposite effect of what was intended.
  • Skewed Priorities: A man who has been made a widower within the last few hours decides to go and watch The Passion of Saint Tibulus, despite Ted's attempts to tell him that there are really other things he should be getting on with given his situation.
  • Story Within A Story: The Passion of Saint Tibulus
  • Streisand Effect: In-universe; prior to Ted and Dougal getting involved, The Passion of Saint Tibulus was playing to virtually non-existent audiences. Afterwards, people come from as far as Gdansk to see it.
  • Tempting Fate: Brennan insists on waking up Jack just to gloat about the horrible new parish he's going to be sent to, despite Ted's warnings that he should really leave Jack alone. This ends up landing the bishop with a broken nose.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe; Ted and Dougal have trouble comprehending what exactly The Passion of Saint Tibulus was meant to be about, other than showcasing a lot of nudity.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
    • The idea of the church protesting against a film and unwittingly creating publicity for it is actually a somewhat common occurrence in Ireland, as bans aren't always practical to enforce nationwide, resulting in the few cinemas that do get away with showing said films raking it in. The main example in the writers' mind when making the episode was Life of Brian, though they point out in the series' script book that there was usually at least one film a year that had this happen to it.
    • Bishop Brennan getting his housekeeper pregnant was inspired by a then-recent scandal involving bishop Eamonn Casey, who got an American woman pregnant and tried to pressure her into giving the baby up for adoption. The main differences are that Casey's son was 19 by the time the scandal broke, whereas Brennan's son doesn't look to be much more then 6 or 7 years old, and Brennan is apparently still in a relationship with his mistress, unlike Casey.
  • Voiceover Translation: Father Hernandez, a priest visiting from Cuba, converses with Ted in his native Spanish while a voiceover provides an English translation. This even extends as far as the voiceover translating Hernandez's bawdy laughter into a dry "heh heh heh".
  • Waving Signs Around: Ted and Dougal do this outside the cinema.

"Down With These Sort of Tropes!"
"Careful, now!"


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