Quips and Video Clips

Fawlty_Towers_HotelWe all have our favorite Fawlty Towers episodes, but some bits never lose their ability to make us laugh no matter how often we’ve seen them. It’s those bits that have kept its audience coming back for more. Fawlty Towers celebrated its 40th anniversary this past year, and from all accounts it continues to gain fans year after year. With only two seasons and 12 episodes recorded, it makes it somewhat of a phenomenon.

Another marker on the trail for fans who travel along the Fawlty Towers journey, is the fact that the hotel that inspired the series is scheduled for demolition, and is being torn down shortly after the first of the year. There can never be another. That’s life and there will be no rapid prototyping the old place.

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A Stage Revival of Fawlty Towers?

gold mask of tragedy and comedy between a red theatre curtainFawlty Towers almost didn’t make it to the viewers’ screen. Nearly landing in the back room, the graveyard of would be sitcoms, Fawlty Towers ran its pilot episode, and was completely panned by the executive producers. Too contrived, dated and comically predictable were some of the criticisms. Not sophisticated enough for audiences who were becoming more discerning in their taste for entertainment. Comments made to the effect that it was too vaudevillian and dated, were among the disapproving banter.

Ian Main, the BBC’s editor in 1974 nearly flushed the pilot down the plumbing and is quoted as having said: “ A collection of cliches and stock characters which I can’t see being anything but a disaster.” Fortunately, he was wrong. It was televised and every subsequent week since it first aired, its fan base has grown worldwide by the millions. In fact, at the turn of the century, Fawlty Towers was declared the best TV series of all time by the British Film Institute. Its regard of John Cleese’s “moments of genius” throughout the 12 episodes have been acclaimed as untouchable and unforgettable.

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More Of The Fawlty Towers Family

Manuel of Fawlty TowersBasil is a bit of a buffoon, it’s one of the things we like about his character. There are parts of him that we can all relate to. Feeling put upon or over stressed by the small bits of life, having our priorities in the wrong order, wanting to please ourselves first. In all honesty, we all share portions of these traits at some point during our day. Nonetheless, we get to see them acted out in such elegance and chicanery through Basil Fawlty’s personality that we likely don’t mind relating a little personally to Basil’s bizarre antics. What builds a good TV personality – one that we want to tune in again and again, is the fact that in some way we can relate.

If a character is too stereotyped, it get’s a bit boring. For my taste the character of the waiter, Manual played by Andrew Sachs gets overdone with his supposed inability to understand English.   Of course, it’s by design that he plays dumb to any instruction given in English, and in my opinion, many of his scenes could have been produced in a 3D printer, same, same. Predictable and structured to frustrate the bajeebas out of Basil, Manual’s role, is from my point of view a bit tiresome. John Cleese’s Basil makes the most out of the tiresome theme, and thereby still produces a laugh out of me and the rest of his audience, so I have to concede; mission accomplished.

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Fawlty Towers Celebrates It’s 40th

fawltytowers staffFawlty Towers, also known in my house as Friday Towers (see About Page) is a dry, quick witted, English comedy, aired on the BBC network. It is about a small country hotel owned by Basil Fawlty and his wife Sybil, played by Prunella Scales. Why they ever got into the hospitality business is beyond any of us viewers’ imagination since the character of Basil is “annoyed by the general public who insist on staying at hotels.”

You would think they would be better suited to work in something like the construction industry as a landscaper or paving contractor where you don’t have to deal with people every waking minute of the day. Sybil is wound tighter than a cat’s hairball. She always finds Basil to be a complete boob and doesn’t hesitate to tell him so. Sybil can best be described as “harpy” with her screen spouse, but the digs are clever and worth the ear.

The backdrop of the hotel business, of course lends itself perfectly to any number of scenarios where Basil, played by John Cleese, is hoisted by his own petard. The combination of being self-employed in a business that he is fairly inept, and having a partner /aka wife who can’t see him doing anything right paves the way for one convoluted and hilarious disaster after another. The British dry sense of humor is the perfect backdrop for the condescension that Basil shows towards guest and employees alike.

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