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STUDIO: BBC Warner
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 374 minutes
A Visit to Torquay featurette
John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth and Prunella Scales
If you don’t laugh at this, some 40 year old in Hoboken will slam your inferior American taste.
Cleese tried to learn the Shocker. His failure didn’t amuse Lord Pleasurebottom.
The first season of the show quickly jumps out of introductions and into the heart of Cleese’s solo comedy. Most of the first episodes were about Basil Fawlty’s attempts to keep up impressions. He wants the right people to sleep and eat at his Inn. He wants to keep the staff acting proper. Hell, he wants everyone to jump at this command. What’s left for him to do? In those moments, we see Cleese come to work. Bitching about anything with a stiff upper lip is always funnier than direct yelling.
That’s not to discount Connie Booth’s role as co-creator. Moving away from the safety net of the Python Brain-Trust was a risky move on Cleese’s part. But, playing with a single partner allows for a greater mix of ideas to translate to screen. Cleese and Booth have both talked about it in interviews and commentaries in the past. It also didn’t hurt that they were married at the time.
It’ll be called Newhart. We’ll have an innkeeper named Mumbly Joe. Peter Scolari will show up to belittle the rednecks. Tom Poston will attract woodland creatures. All the while, I further explore the hole in my left trouser pocket. Two more inches and I will have pegged myself.
Americans might be lost in the back and forth that Fawlty claims to be an argument. It’s the sort of tit for tat that feels more accustomed to the Post-War work of a Noel Coward. Going back to the original mid 70s reviews of the show, a lot of reviewers took Cleese to task for such an old-fashioned approach. I have to admit that I’m impressed with Cleese’s decision to aim for classic comedy dialogue. But, it feels weaker than the groundbreaking work on Python. That’s not to say that the other Pythons did much better in the years directly following the show’s end.
John Cleese loves to watch the majestic Mogwai mate. He also likes to draw Sleestak porn. If you catch him during the Monty Python 40th Anniversary Press Tour, ask him for a picture of Chaka cock.
of the second season marks a slow change from the material found in the first few years. Basil seems to be evolving into a meaner, yet true self. The Brits don’t like to push anything past set season lengths, but I would’ve liked to have seen Basil a few years down the road. Even when he’s talking to Cybil, there’s something unfunny about his attacks. There seems to be a growing contempt that almost turns the show into something else. But, the series ended with a search for a pet rat. I love the British. Going to the edge of emotional discovery and then bottling that shit up.
The Complete Fawlty Towers is a wonderful look at where British comedy took it to the next level. The idea of the comedy star as creative auteur was forged here with Cleese’s work. I’d go so far as to say that Merchant, Gervais, Laurie and Fry all owe their livelihoods to the success of Fawlty Towers. Can you think of any successful British comedies that aren’t shaped by the central auteur anymore? No. Hell, there’s even some crossover in America.
British working girls are the best. They’ll bring you a honeydew melon and then fellate you with some dialogue about the tea rooms of Cheshire.