Fawlty Towers

fawlty_towers_title_cardYears: 1975-1979

Synopsis: The irascible Basil Fawlty runs a hotel with his wife and colorful staff, while dealing with a diverse set of guests

• John Cleese (Basil Fawlty) drove the often chaotic comedy, as the character was remarkably human.
• Connie Booth (Polly), Prunella Scales (Sybil Fawlty), and Andrew Sachs (Manuel) balance the hospitality-attempted madness perfectly.
• Ultimately succeeded in being more than an extended Monty Python sketch
• Not terribly hard to assume that there were some days that runs smoothly.
• As Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick did in The Shining, Booth and Cleese utilized the inherent absurdity of the hotel brilliantly to their own ends.
• The humor has aged well, especially when one imagines the Yelp reviews for the fictionalized hotel (Basil’s theoretical reactions).

• The character of Manuel might be taken as racist by some today, when that was certainly never the intent.
• The humor may be a bit too dry for those outside the UK

Featured Yelp Review:
This place is aptly named. I love the area of Torquay. It is the loveliest location overlooking the English Channel. The proprietor, Basil Fawlty, is the most erratic and short tempered proprietor, and perhaps human, I have ever met. His wife seemed to be largely running the place in an effort to make up for her husband’s inhospitable behavior. In spite of having a reservation made a month ahead, he coldly stated there were no rooms, before running off manically. It seemed that their chef had passed out drunk, based on what we gathered from his screaming in the kitchen. His wife dutifully apologized a whole ten minutes later, and checked us into our room. The porter was very friendly, but did not know English well. Before the nice porter made it to our room, Mr. Fawlty suddenly showed up in a deep sweat to guide us to the room instead.

Now the room, like the hotel, was bright and clean, but felt a bit cramped. It would seen that the hotel did not have bathrooms in every room until recently, leading to some rooms being smaller than they would have been otherwise.

When we went down stairs to the dining room, a heavy breathing yet smiling Mr. Fawlty apologetically explained we had to eat out for dinner, presumably because the chef was still incapacitated.

The first night was surprisingly restful. However, that was after hearing Mr. Fawlty screaming outside our room over a ticking suitcase the owner claimed held an alarm clock.

The breakfasts were passable, while the staff was very pleasant. Not the fault of even Mr. Fawlty, but we overheard an apparently racist rant from a man in reception the first morning. Not long after, Mr. Fawlty asked if we needed anything else for our breakfast, he screamed for one of the staff when we asked for the coffee we had not yet received. He seemed to be in the middle of some unseen crisis, and venting his frustrations.

We decided to stay for all three nights in spite of the prior oddities. The second night moved smoothly like a normal hotel, while the last had some remarkable chaos. It would seem the chef was again drunk, causing the fire alarm to go off. Yet, Mr. Fawlty claimed it was only a drill. We were let back in for our dinner, but were immediately ushered back out. It was minor, and I suppose these things happen. We then heard Mr. Fawlty ranting and raving over faulty fire extinguishers, before literally being carted off in an ambulance. After the fire department put out the minor fire, we were let back in, but again needed to eat elsewhere. When Mr. Fawlty asked about our stay the next morning — with wrapping around his head and hospital gown, we informed him we were most amused and hoped he will feel better soon. He gave us a confused look and wondered off, leaving our check on the counter.

Definitely recommended for those looking for a memorable experience unlike any other.

Fan Website

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Rotten Tomatoes
S1 – 100%
S2 – N/A


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