I only learned of the existence of Ballykissangel when I came across it on Netflix recently, but this show--the first season, anyway, which is all I've seen--is worth watching. Even then I somehow got the idea it was a thirty-minute sitcom, when it's actually an hour-long program (i.e. about 48 minutes) that I guess some might call a "dramedy"; there's lots of "human interest" with the humor.
It is about a young English priest who goes to the Irish village of Ballykissangel, a almost unbelievably beautiful area filled (like most places, if you bother to listen) with interesting people, some of whom may tend toward a very mild eccentricity. Really, it reminds me of nothing so much as a toned-down Northern Exposure, with more beautiful scenery and a certain nostalgic charm. Another difference would be that Father Clifford wants to be where he is, unlike Joel.
The show skirts a "forbidden love" theme in the attraction--irritable and reluctant, but there--between the village atheist (more likely just a scorner of religion, but "village scorner of religion" doesn't have the same ring) and Father Clifford. There's some instances where one could argue Father Clifford could handle various things better; the worst is an instance in the next to last episode where he seems almost to give approval to a grave sin that a dying man admits having commited in the past. Also, Father Clifford's immediate superior, Father MacAnally (played by an actor who is the very picture of an Irish priest), can be a mite, umm, less than idealistic at times. I can see how a few particularly straightlaced Catholics might be offended by these things, but there is no reason to be. Father Clifford is always portrayed as a good priest, trying to do his best. Moreover it's a town where the local church is a fixture of people's life (how often do you see that on TV?) and the clergymen are respected. I also like that all the major characters have good and bad qualities; surely it's a Christian-friendly idea that even the most bad or just plain irritating people we deal with have redeeming qualities?
I really liked this program, which is apparently very popular. Even Uncle Pookie, who'd had no intention of watching it, got sucked in and stayed up late to watch. We already have Series Two in our Netflix queue. According to the Netflix reviews, the show takes a downturn in Series Three, so I don't know how far we'll watch, but I do recommend this first series. You can watch it with the whole family; there's nothing in it I'd be embarrassed to watch with a child or an elderly person.