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The Manger's Faulty? What's Wong With Him?,
This review is from: Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection (DVD)
"Fawlty Towers", for those who have somehow not been exposed to it, is simply the most glorious example of the farce ever to be committed to television. "Monty Python"'s John Cleese is Basil Fawlty, a snobbish, rude owner of a small hotel in Torquay. On staff are his wife Sybil (Prunella Scales) - a gregarious woman with the most amazing laugh in television history, receptionist Polly (Cleese's wife Connie Booth) - probably the only staff member with an ounce of common sense, and Manuel (the incomparable Andrew Sachs) - a Spanish waiter with severely limited English. Of the guests, Ballard Berkely delivers a wonderful performance as the not-quite-there Major.
Each episode deals with Basil's various problems at the hotel, problems which he never fails to make much worse by saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, leaving Manuel in charge or generally being himself. The laughs ramp up to fever pitch very rapidly and each episode ends with rapturous cheers from the studio audience. There were only ever 12 episodes recorded of this classic series, but each one has incredible quality. As Cleese explains in part of his interview, attempting to equal the highlights of each series just got too much for the writers and performers.
Here is a quick summary of the premise of each episode and what to watch for:
"A Touch of Class" - this was the first episode ever recorded and deals with Basil's attempt at attracting "a better sort of clientele" to the hotel. Watch for Basil's changing attitudes toward Lord Melbury and the man in the biker jacket, while the standout scene is Basil's seating of Lord Melbury "in his usual seat" in the dining room. Best line: "A lemon squash, a gin and orange and a scotch and water please."
"The Builders" - Basil's attempts at cost-cutting result in a drastically reconfigured hotel. Watch for Mr O'Reilly's Irish accent and Basil's monster double take at the renovations. Best lines: "Where are your ears you halfwit? He no here - LISTEN", "Which of you is Man With Beard?" and "Door gone was here!"
"The Wedding Party" - Basil gets caught up in the fray as a large number of guests appear to be getting very close to each other. Watch for the drunken Manuel and Basil's rising blood pressure at the various couplings. Best lines: "And I saw him...sitting on the waiter!" and "Leaving my three mothers".
"The Hotel Inspectors" - Basil desperately tries to impress guests who he thinks are inspectors. Watch for the revelation of who everyone is.
"Gourmet Night" - Basil's attempt at a gourmet night goes horribly wrong. Watch for the "beating the car" scene (recently voted one of the funniest scenes ever). Best line: "I warned you, you vicious bastard!"
"The Germans" - this is probably the best episode of the entire show. Sybil is in hospital and Basil ends up there as well, but then (still suffering the after-effects of a concussion) handles the arrival of some German guests. Watch for the Major's reaction to the "talking moose" and Basil's marvellous "don't mention the war" performance. Best lines: "I speak eeengleesh very well. I learned eeet from a booook.", "one Hermann Goering" and "well YOU started it!".
"Communication Problems" - a deaf guest checks into the Hotel. Meanwhile, Basil needs to keep his gambling a secret. Watch for the "your horse, he win" scene and the incredible scene in which Manuel can't explain the source of the money. Best lines: "Is this a piece of your brain?", "nitwit or dragonfly?" and "I know NOTHING."
"The Psychiatrist" - Basil provides some great research material for two visiting psychiatrists. Watch for his shameless buttering-up of the doctors. Best line: "Two doctors? How did you become two doctors?"
"Waldorf Salad" - an American attempts to order a Waldorf Salad from the chef. Watch for Basil playing both himself and the chef. Best lines: "What's a waldorf anyway?" and "Whopee, let's all have an apple party!!"
"The Kipper and the Corpse" - a guest dies and Basil tries to prevent everyone else from finding out. Watch for the carrying-the-guest-up-and-down-the-stairs scene. Best line: "I'm a doctor and I want my breakfast".
"The Anniversary" - Basil infuriated Sybil by seemingly forgetting their wedding anniversary. Watch for his solution to the problem. Best line: "Agincourt? Poitiers? Crecy?"
"Basil The Rat" - a health inspector's arrival is precipitated by Basil's discovery of Manuel's "siberian hamster". Watch for the look on Manuel's face as he puts out some food for his pet and Basil's "celebration" upon finding that the cat is alive. Best lines: "Basil, Basil", "To spleep?", "He put Basil in the ratatouille?", "Pigin, like your English" and "no no, is hamster".
For die-hard fans, the third disc, containing interviews and outtakes is also more than worthwhile as a purchase.
Enough praise cannot be given to this series. It should be compulsory viewing for anyone remotely interested in comedy.