Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Random TV Week: Fawlty Towers

Greetings again readers and on to Day 2 of Random TV Week. It has come to my attention I have covered several British comedies but I have done nothing of the illustrious Monty Python collective... at all. Firstly, the internet is froth with comparisons, hyper-boles and enthusiasms of the prestigious troupe and I felt I could not do it justice. Secondly... I forget to put my own two cents worth in weighing this crew so I shall endeavor to point out some of the brilliance that is John Cleese. While many view him to be full of himself, I will not stand on my soap box and defend his every act. Instead I thought I would tackle on of his writing works that did amuse many and disturbed others. This is Fawlty Towers.

Yes, I do tower over you.

This series is a focus around an eccentric hotel owner Basil Fawlty (John Cleese of Monty Python, How to Irritate People, Doctor Who, The Great Muppet Caper, Time Bandits, A Fish Called Wanda, Erik the Viking and Fierce Creatures) a short tempered, short sighted, people person challenged hotelier, his wife Sybil (Prunella Scales of Mapp & Lucia, When We Are Married, Consuming Passions, After Henry, Signs and Wonders and Station Jim) whose ability to undermine and overthrow Basil's orders around the hotel is with style and grace of a vindictive cat tormenting a mouse. Their staff consists of Polly (co-creator of Fawlty Towers/writer/actress Connie Booth of Monty Python's Flying Circus, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Worzel Gummidge, Deadly Game, Flood Tide, The Tomorrow People and The Buccaneers) the maid that balances art, general management and household cleaning and lastly Manuel (Andrew Sachs of The History of Mr. Polly, Dead Ernest, Every Silver Lining, William's Wish Wellingtons and Quartet) a hapless waiter from Barcelona that doesn't speak the language and Basil insists he speaks Spanish.

Nurse Bad Touch.

Our stories are centered around the seaside town of Torquay. The creation of this bizarre character Basil was due to the hotel owner of the Gleneagles Hotel who constantly belittled guests, scoffed at staffs' requests and even chastised Terry Gilliam's table manners during dinner, yanked the fork from his hand and placed it accordingly in the other. In short, the rudest man Cleese had ever the misfortune to meet.

With the aid of Connie Booth, Cleese and she began to flush out a hotel of loopy guests and staff that manage to create everything from a grease fire, to annoying members of Royal and presenting a rat on food being served to a health inspector. Most of Basil's mishaps are due to his horrendous people skills and the need to keep what he deems necessary but far too costly expenses down. Seriously, it is a wonder the roof doesn't go flying off or simply cave-in.

And what hotel storyline would do without some regular guests, eh wot? The dotty retired Major Gowen (Ballard Berkeley of In Which We Serve, Stage Fright, Sherlock Holmes, The Main Chance, Dixon of Dock Green and The Weekend Murders) and the longest residents a befuddled elderly couple of friends Miss Tibbs (Gilly Flower of Work Is a 4-Letter Word, The Root of All Evil ?, Z Cars, Thriller, Beryl's Lot and Blood Money) and Miss Gatsby (Renee Roberts of Play for Today, What Became of Jack and Jill?, Only Fools and Horses and Fawlty Towers) the hotel i believe was haunted by a sadist poltergeist. 

Two of the best running gags in this series is Basil's accumulative collection of faux lovingly references to his wife Sybil. My personal favorite is my little nest of vipers. The other is the sign in front of the hotel is constantly messed with. Whether the letters are made crooked, taken a few or re-arranging them it will always put a slight smile to your face.

Beloved as this creation is lasting two seasons at 12 episodes, that there have been attempts to re-create in both the UK and America which honestly they were near misses at best. These shows are: Chateau Snavely, Amanda's, Payne and Over the Top and frankly they are not worth a fetid pair of dingo's kidneys to view.   Well maybe Chateau Snavely.

Oh look at these sour Krauts!