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Case Number 10962

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Ballykissangel: Series Five

BBC Video // 1999 // 570 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // March 7th, 2007

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge James A. Stewart tried to visit Ballykissangel once, but found out that it only appears once every hundred years.

Editor's Note

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.

The Charge

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

Opening Statement

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:

Disc One
"Two Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest"
The two in question could be Niamh and Sean, since Niamh's making the big decision about her crumbling marriage. It could also be Brian and Orla, who are flying across the Irish countryside in a hot-air balloon in an effort to win the money put up in an ancient rivalry between a past BallyK big shot and a noble Frenchman.

"Hello and Farewell"
More somber than the typical Ballykissangel episode, this one deals with Ambrose's sudden departure, but the situation doesn't mean smooth sailing for Niamh and Sean. There are a few lighter notes, though, as Orla rents a cottage and has to contend with an angry flock of geese, while Danny takes on more responsibility for the family farm.

"Catch of the Day"
While stealing sand from the beach for Brian Quigley's golf course, Liam and Donel see crooks dump a crate of caviar into the sea. The two hope to clean up, until they find that both the Garda and the bad guys are after them. Meanwhile, Niamh considers leaving BallyK.

"Moving Out"
The "for sale" sign is up again at Fitzgerald's Pub, as Niamh prepares to leave for Dublin. Meanwhile, Emma—fleeing trouble at home—moves in with boyfriend Danny, then with Orla. If that's not enough people on the move, Father Aidan turns up at sister Orla's cottage, fleeing an audit. Not everyone's leaving, though: Oonagh Dooley arrives in town with hopes of buying Fitzgerald's.

Disc Two
"Behind Bars"
As this one opens, Kathleen sees a something wrapped in plastic in front of Fitzgerald's. When she touches it, it makes a noise, and she flees. Despite an opening out of The Avengers, it's only an "autoloo." Naturally, Brian, Liam, and Donel get trapped inside when investigating. The main plot finds secrets catching up to Oonagh, who didn't tell her kids that her husband Paul was in prison, didn't tell Paul she rented Fitzgerald's, and didn't tell Brian Quigley that she's married to his nemesis Paul.

"Brendan's Crossing"
Teacher Brendan's in the running for headmaster, but Father Mac has a favorite candidate in the race. Elsewhere, the Dooleys' fighting has Orla ready to quit her job at Fitzgerald's and Emma's on hand to help a nervous Danny as his sow gives birth.

"A Few More Dollars"
Since there's no Garda in BallyK, it's a good time for Donal's Uncle Minto to return and set up a still, right? But who's that pretty young woman Donel ran into after buying up all the sugar in Kathleen's store for distilling purposes? Meanwhile, Brendan needs a pet competition judge for the school fete.

Disc Three
"The Outsiders"
Paul Dooley's sentenced to community service, and Uncle Minto feels honor bound to give him a hand. Could Minto's help do Paul more harm than good? Meanwhile, Conor gets a job offer off the Spanish coast, and Liam and Donel take up hedge sculpture—on Brian's golf course.

"With a Song in My Heart"
Nothing's going Father Aidan's way as he tries to put together a choir for an upcoming competition, but Mairead Riley's "Amazing Grace" could save a wretch like Aidan. Meanwhile, Sean meets Niamh again—thanks to a car accident—and Orla, Liam, and Donal fret about a broken chair at Brian's house.

"Love Labors"
Mairead Riley shows up for communion, much to Father Aidan's surprise. Meanwhile, Sean and Niamh go to lunch at Brian's house, while Liam and Donel play the ponies, and Orla and Frankie help Aidan organize a raft race.

"Arrivals and Departures"
Paul Dooley's prison buddy has a business proposition just as he needs cash to pay the tax bill, but Dooley's suspicious. Frankie asks Aidan for help to deal with a reckless driver, but her own mishap leaves them stranded and makes Aidan late for an important appointment. This episode title, by the way, has been changed by the DVD packagers to avoid a spoiler.

The Evidence

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.

Closing Statement

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.

The Verdict

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

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 10
Acting: 82
Story: 80
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile

Studio: BBC Video
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
Running Time: 570 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Comedy
• Drama
• Foreign
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Cast Biographies

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