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Recap / Father Ted S 3 E 2 Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep

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Dougal: They say that [the beast is] as big as four cats! And it's got a retractable leg so it can leap up at you better! Oh, and Ted, it lights up at night, and it's got four ears - two of them are for listening and the other two are just kind of backup ears. Its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!
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The story begins as Ted has bet the entire heating allowance budget for the year on the King of the Sheep competition on Chris, a sheep who has won several times and is considered a sure thing. Unfortunately, Chris has heard rumours about a sheep-eating beast and isn't feeling at all himself. Chris's owner, Fargo Boyle, decides he needs Ted's help getting Chris' spirit back.

The first thing Ted does is visit Fargo and observe (through photographs) what he's in for. Then he gets Fargo to send Chris to him for a week. After that week has passed, Chris is back to his old self. During this time, Dougal becomes convinced that the beast is real, despite Ted insisting that it is not.

Before Fargo can collect the sheep, however, Chris goes missing, with the beast the likely (yet improbable) culprit. Ted and Dougal search for him. During the search, they discover that the sounds supposed made by the beast are actually coming from a speaker system hidden in a tree, playing BBC sound effects. Ted deduces that Chris' loss of spirit was arranged. He intervenes just as Chris is about to named winner of the competition and exposes the plot; however, he finds out that this leaves the priests without a heating budget for the winter, resulting in them trying to hibernate.

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Tropes featured in this episode:

  • Anachronic Order: This episode is said to be set in Autumn, but it first aired on the 20th day of March, 1998.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Subverted, as the least serious-sounding symptom of Chris’s nerves is the one that Ted and Fargo are most worried about, as no burping sheep has ever won the King of the Sheep contest.note 
    Fargo: (Referring to Chris) He's off his food, he doesn't sleep at night and he's starting to burp!
  • Artistic License: It is said that Jack becomes a different person during the Autumn of any leap year. 1998 was not a leap year.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: Subverted. Ted strides into the prizegiving at the King of the Sheep competition and boldly announces that he has evidence the competition is corrupt. The room immediately goes silent - except for one just audible "Fucking hell!"
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  • Blatant Lies: John tells the priests that Mary is locked in the cupboard because of the beast. What the priests don't know (but what the audience does know based on the scene before) is that this is the product of another of the couple's arguments. Earlier, John attempted to explain away Mary's absence by stating that she had gone to see her mother, only for Mary to say hello to the priests from the cupboard.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: Dougal has been told by Ted in the past that the Loch Ness Monster, Frankenstein (probably the monster), Magnum P.I., non-Catholic Gods and Darth Vader are not real, and is forced to add 'The Beast' and the Phantom of the Opera to the list.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: After Fargo gets caught red-handed, Chris is implied to have been disqualified.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Ted sees the two local lads in separate locations, each with an expensive item (Giant with a fur coat on and Hud wearing a crown). He later concludes they could only have got them if Fargo had been paying them.
    • Similarly, when they're going to O'Leary's, the priests see Fargo walking out of the store. If you notice carefully he has a vinyl track under his arm. It proves important.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mrs. Doyle already has some 'sheep tea'.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    Alan: Well, it's been an easy decision. There's one out-and-out winner; and, rather than waste time with the speech, I'll get on with the job of announcing the winner, who, today, has come first in this competition to see who the winner is in the King of the Sheep competition that we have all come to today, wondering who indeed will it be who wins the prize of King of the Sheep. The winner of this year's King of the Sheep competition is...
    Ted: Stop! This contest is a sham, and a fraud, and a... sham!
  • Didn't Think This Through: After Ted solves the mystery of 'The Beast' he walks away victorious ...forgetting he bet the entire winter's heating money on Chris winning.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: It's Dougal who reminds Ted that the bet on Chris means they've lost the heating budget.
  • Hidden Depths: Ted is revealed to have a deep and intuitive understanding of sheep he certainly doesn't have with people.
  • Honor Before Reason: Ted exposes a scam set up by a sheep's owner to ensure he wins the best sheep award, resulting in the sheep being disqualified. Afterwards, Dougal reminds Ted that he bet their heating budget on that particular sheep to win, meaning that he caused him to lose it all.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Ted chews Dougal out for believing various fictional beings were real, despite claiming two fictional characters were real in the previous episode.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong:
    Jack: (Falling down the stairs)AH, FECK! (He comes into view breaking the banister) FECK, FECK, FECK, FECK, FECK!
    Ted: (After a pause) I think it would be an insult to you if I were to finish that sentence.
  • Left the Background Music On: Dougal plays scary music and the sound of stomping feet on his record player during the first of this episode's scenes involving Mrs. Doyle.
  • Long List: How Dougal describes the beast. He also has a very long list of things that aren't real.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The beast is described this way, which makes it sound like an absolute monster:
    • According to Hud, the creature is the size of a jaguar (i.e., the cat), and has 'big white teeth, as sharp as knives'.
    • Dougal does it the most spectacularly, as seen above. He also claims that some of the creatures' ears are on the inside of the head, that its yawn sounds like Liam Neeson chasing hens around in a barrel, and that it only has eyebrows on a Saturday.
    • Even Mrs. Doyle gets in the act. She says that it lives 'where there would normally be moors', and that people think it's some kind of giant fox. The only thing about the monster that is real (the howling sound made by the speaker) comes from her description, where she describes it as a 'terrible howling noise'.
  • Noodle Incident: When Ted claims that no burping sheep has ever won the contest, Dougal asks about 'Big Brendan'. Ted's response? 'Fluke!'
  • Oddball in the Series: The closest Father Ted gets to spoofing Scooby-Doo or having a episode featuring real monsters
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Jack in the beginning.
  • Precision F-Strike: The only two non-beeped examples, which take place whenever everyone is shocked by what's going on:
    Graham Linehan: (Off-camera) Fucking hell!
  • Running Gag: This episode repeats the O'Leary feuding-when-priests-are-not-looking thing from previous episodes.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: The Beast is just part of an elaborate con to drive up betting odds.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Springtime for Hitler: It’s made clearer in the series scriptbook than the actual episode, but Fargo’s plan was to deliberately lengthen the odds on Chris winning by unnerving him with rumours about the “Beast”, place a big bet on him, then have Ted nurse him back to health. Granted, Fargo probably reasoned that even if he found out, Ted wouldn’t be dumb enough to blow the whistle on the scheme seeing how Ted himself would lose out if Chris were disqualified.
  • Stepford Smiler: John and Mary, as usual.
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