Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Are you looking for a family-friendly television series? Do you have a Netflix subscription? I recommend that you check out "Bless Me, Father."
There are 21 half-hour episodes, currently available either streaming or on DVD. The series originally ran 1978-1981 and centers on the parish of St. Jude in suburban London. The main characters are Fr. Duddleswell, the pastor (played by Arthur Lowe, who also starred in the better-known "Dad's Army"), Fr. Boyd, the young curate, and Mrs. Pring, the housekeeper. Other recurring characters are the hard-drinking Dr. Daley, the nightclub owner and rectory neighbor Billy Buzzle, and the formidable Reverend Mother Stephen. Most of the action takes place in the rectory and church. Fr. Duddleswell spends much of his time trying to get more money for the parish, often involving himself in questionable schemes. He is rarely successful. Fr. Boyd is still learning the ropes as a priest, and some episodes feature Fr. Boyd's first experiences hearing confessions, instructing converts, and having his commitment to priestly celibacy tested (this issue is handled with surprising sensitivity). Any Catholic will probably recognize people and situations they've known in this series, perhaps especially in the relationship between Fr. Duddleswell and Fr. Boyd.
I hadn't heard of this series until it came up in my Netflix recommendations, but I'm glad I gave it a chance. The plots are simple, the jokes are gentle but funny, and I think many families would enjoy this series.