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Fawlty Towers

By Sean Axmaker

Basil Fawlty, as created and performed by John Cleese, is the rudest, most boorish, most hilariously obnoxious man on the face of the planet. What a natural for a TV sitcom! His screen wife, Sybil (Prunella Scales), put it best in the episode "The Psychiatrist": "You're either crawling all over them, licking their boots, or spitting poison at them like some Benzedrine puff adder." He mockingly replies, "Just trying to enjoy myself, dear." With his gangly frame and contortionist abilities, Cleese brilliantly punctuates Basil's outrageous faux pas with absurd gymnastics and turns Three Stooges-style pokes and kicks into a slapstick ballet. Scales's Sybil is the genial but obliviously chatty voice of reason and Andrew Sachs mangles the English language as the Spanish bellhop Manuel, whose struggles with simple directions results in comic lunacy reminiscent of Robert Benigni. After a six-episode run in 1975, Cleese and cowriter and costar Connie Booth (who plays Polly, the maid all too often pulled into Basil's ridiculous plans) reunited the cast in 1979 for another six episodes without missing a punch line. The 4-volume collection contains all 12 shows, interspersed with interview segments featuring Cleese discussing the genesis of the series and anecdotes about the individual episodes. Remember to watch the opening credits of each show to spot the creative misspellings on the hotel sign (my favorite: "Fatty Owls").

 

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Check out our Fawlty Towers forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Fawlty Towers viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

Fawlty Towers is by far the best comedy series I have ever watched. John Cleese is amazing. I especially loved the episode with the Germans......I watch it over and over again and it still makes my eyes water from laughing. The rest of the cast is excellent too especially 'Manuel' the waiter.

--Anonymous

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TV TIDBITS

Aired: 1975; 1979

Cast: John Cleese (Basil Fawlty), Prunella Scales (Sybil Fawlty), Connie Booth (Polly), Andrew Sachs (Manuel)

Network: BBC, PBS

Genre: Sitcom

Theme song

Image courtesy of the BBC


   
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