Newest Review: ... duties, but occasionally is roped into helping Basil out of trouble. There are three long stay guests at Fawlty Towers, the first bei... more
Member Name: hewhoisme
Advantages: An incredible cast of actors and jokes that never get old
Disadvantages: None whatsoever.
Back in 1970 John Cleese and the Monty Python crew booked a stay in a Torquay hotel named Gleneagles, expecting nothing more a few short uneventful days whilst they did some location filming. Instead they saw the manager assault a guest with a bus timetable, hide Eric Idle's suitcase because he thought it was a bomb, and accused American-born Terry Gilliam of not being 'British' because of his table manners. From that moment on, Basil Fawlty was born.
Fawlty Towers revolves around a dysfunctional Torquay hotel of the same name (although the sign is often amusingly rearranged by the local paperboy), infamous for its incompetent staff and the sharp but insulting wit of Basil Fawlty, everyone's favourite short-tempered hotelier. Aided, but more frequently hindered, by his overbearing wife, a smart but slightly put-upon waitress, and a Spanish waiter with a two-foot thick language barrier, we follow Basil through the trials and tribulations of hotel management, usually made all the more complicated by his snobbish attitude and a severe case of bad karma. Throughout the series we see the hotel in a variety of bizarre situations, the most memorable being the buildings near structural failure courtesy of O'Reily's builders, trying to conceal a particularly troublesome corpse, and tracking down Manuel's escaped 'Siberan pedigree hamster,' a.k.a Basil the rat, during a routine health inspection. It's a wonder hoteliers don't break down more often really.
Despite only being 12 episodes long Fawlty Towers remains one of the most iconic sitcoms in British TV history. Of course, with John Cleese on the team we expected nothing short of brilliance, and brilliance was exactly what we got. Cleese's patented brand of piercing wit made Basil Fawlty a truly unforgettable character, my favourite line being his explanation of Manuel's 'Siberian hamsters' real identity. Despite being with such a comedy heavyweight the rest of the cast rose to the occasional spectacularly. Prunella Scales was excellent as Basil's long suffering, yet razor tongued, wife Sybil, and Andrew Sach's immortal catchphrase 'que?' will always have a fond spot in my memory.
Part of Fawlty Tower's charm is the way they deal with not just the inner-workings of a hotel, but also the daily problems of modern life, all with blend of amazing incompetence and sheer bad luck. Although Basil Fawlty is a snotty, rude, bad tempered miser, you often can't help but feel sorry for him. Partly because he seems about two steps from a nervous breakdown, but mainly because some of the customers he has to deal with are genuinely infuriating. To me Fawlty Towers will always remain a comedy classic, and something I watch over and over again without ever becoming bored.
Summary: British comedy at its best