Bernard Black runs a book shop, though his customer service skills leave something to be desired. He hires Manny as an employee. Fran runs the shop next door. Between the three of them many adventures ensue.
Inept and manic English hotel owner and manager, Basil Fawlty, isn't cut out for his job. He's intolerant, rude and paranoid. All hell frequently breaks loose as Basil tries to run the hotel, constantly under verbal (and sometime physical) attack from his unhelpful wife Sybil, and hindered by the incompetent, but easy target, Manuel, their Spanish waiter.Written by
John Cleese was paid £6,000 (roughly equivalent to $31,000 in 2019) for writing, performing, and filming the first series. The series consumed 43 weeks of work in 1975. Cleese remarked "So if people like Fawlty Towers they have to thank all the advertisers who offered me commercials because that was what subsidised my ability to spend all that time writing scripts." See more »
John Cleese says "hand waited on hand and foot" at one point in the episode "Waldorf Salad". See more »
If you were to look up some of the most hysterical moments on the BBC, you would no doubtably come across two names. Those names would be John Cleese and Ricky Gervais. While Gervais recently found comedy through his program called 'The Office', Cleese has been providing wit, wisdom, and down-right hysteria for the past several decades. While away from his namesake (Monty Python), you can find Cleese comfortable in several other roles that showcase his bubbling talent. One of those programs just happens to be the funniest bit of crumpet called 'Fawlty Towers'.
Remembering this show when I was a child and was on our local PBS station, I eagerly bought it when it was released on DVD about a year ago. Since then, I have watched random episodes here and there but never fully taking in the enjoyment from watching it all. So, today I decided to sit down and watch this series from beginning to end and I have yet to finish laughing. If this program doesn't define comic genius, I don't know what does. Never have I witnessed a show that has continually been fresh, hysterical (I cannot use that word enough), real, and outlandish all at the same time. Normally, with our current television programming, you need to pick or choose which it will be, but thankfully 'Fawlty Towers' is all of these and many more.
Cleese remains in top form as Basil Fawlty, the owner/manager of the B&B that just happens to have his hands and over-worked imagination in everything. With the aid of his helpers Manuel (he's from Barcelona) and Polly (co-writer Connie Booth and ex-wife of Cleese), Cleese always seems to find himself in a heap of trouble with his wife Sybil (the dragon of the hotel). Armed with physical humor and a snake-like banter, we witness everything from a dead body, hotel inspectors, a failed anniversary party, a moose head, and a Himalayan rodent of sorts happen to this simple, everyday, B&B. This is not only a few of the episodes you will find in the complete set, but also the daily stress that Basil finds himself falling into daily.
This series, again, is hysterical. Cleese is the master of his trade while proving that he can manage any task thrown in front of him. While some will argue that he overshadows the rest of the cast, I would say 'hogwash' to that. My two favorite characters in this series were Major and Manuel. The comedy that they provide cannot be found on television today. All I need to say is thank God for the BBC.
Grade: ***** out of *****
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