Appellate Judge James A. Stewart tried to visit Ballykissangel once, but found out that it only appears once every hundred years.
Our reviews of Ballykissangel: Series One (published February 14th, 2004), Ballykissangel: Series Two (published February 14th, 2004), Ballykissangel: Series Four (published March 29th, 2006), and Ballykissangel: Series Six (published September 12th, 2007) are also available.
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
For Ballykissangel big shot Brian Quigley (Tony Doyle, Band of Gold), the old saying provides an odd sort of silver lining amid the turmoil in Series Five. After the departure of local Garda copper Ambrose Egan (Peter Hanly, Braveheart) in the first episode, Niamh Quigley Egan (Tina Kellegher, Scarlett), Ambrose's wife and Brian's daughter, is ready to leave BallyK. As she's leaving, Oonagh Dooley (Marion O'Dwyer) and her family arrive. That means Brian has to contend once again with Oonagh's husband Paul (Owen Roe, Michael Collins), a one-time political rival of Brian's who has spent some time in prison.
As Ballykissangel: Series Four drew to a close, Garda Ambrose turned up late to a celebration, which meant that he got to see the faces of his wife Niamh and farmer Sean Dillon as they danced together. Their faces told Ambrose about the growing attraction between the pair that townspeople—and viewers—had been noticing more gradually throughout that season.
Not all the changes are turbulent. Romance is in the air for Orla, in the form of Conor Devlin (Owen Teale); he rescues her and Brian when their usual hijinks land them in more difficulty than usual in the first episode, then winds up as her landlord. There's also a new Garda, Frankie Sullivan (Catherine Cusack), who may take a while to fit in, especially since she starts off by giving Father Mac a stern warning for speeding.
Off camera, this season was unexpectedly the last for two of the regulars: Birdy Sweeney, who played Eamon Byrne, passed away in May 1999, during filming of this season; Tony Doyle, who played Brian Quigley, passed away in January 2000.
There may be a couple of spoilers as I discuss Ballykissangel: Series Five, but there was quite a bit going on here, so there's more to discover if you're a fan who hasn't caught up to this season yet.
Facts of the Case
If you're tired of shows that start off with a barrage of clips from previous episodes to get you up to speed, the first episodes of this Ballykissangel season will turn you off right away. With the breakup of Niamh's marriage to Ambrose, Ballykissangel: Series Five opens on a melodramatic, soapy note that belies the gentle nature of the series thus far:
"Hello and Farewell"
"Catch of the Day"
"A Few More Dollars"
"With a Song in My Heart"
"Arrivals and Departures"
This season of Ballykissangel gets off to a less than auspicious start with marital conflict and the too-convenient departure of Ambrose. It left me with the feeling that the character was expendable once he got in the way of a good romantic storyline. It also seems like a warning sign of jumping the shark. While this season still has a lot to enjoy, Niamh's storyline this season was a bit too soap operatic for my tastes. Actress Tina Kellegher's overemoting got on my nerves at times. On the other hand, the storyline gives Tony Doyle a few good concerned father turns, something the role of Brian Quigley didn't do so much in the previous season.
The best part of the new series is the new publicans at Fitzgerald's. They are a couple to watch as Paul Dooley struggles to adjust to life outside prison under the worried, watchful eye of wife Oonagh. Marion O'Dwyer and Owen Roe are excellent as the bickering but loving couple. The overwhelming emphasis on two storylines leaves the BallyK regulars on the sidelines a lot, although Joe Savino and Frankie McCafferty seem to have their hands in everything as Brian's scheming lackeys, Liam and Donal. There's also a romantic storyline for Orla, but it gets short shrift amid the more serious goings-on.
As always, Ballykissangel looks and sounds excellent, with the beautiful Irish scenery taking a starring role in almost every scene.
Cast biographies are the only extras here.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Wouldn't you like to see more of Brian scheming, Aidan counseling his flock, Danny learning how to run a farm, or Brendan and Siobhan getting used to raising a child together? There were a lot more stories to tell in BallyK, and the emphasis on two of them sends the ensemble show out of whack.
Ballykissangel: Series Five looks like a bad place to start if you're new to the show, but fans will still want to catch up on events in the mythical Irish village.
Not guilty, since there are lots of great moments, but you should be aware that Series Five has a few problems.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BBC Video
• Cast Biographies
Review content copyright © 2007 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.