The strongest episodes of one of the best comedy series ever
Timothy F. Halloran | Medfield, MA USA | 10/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fawlty Towers was the Doug Flutie of comedy series - a lot from a small package. This short-lived British series of only 12 episodes (I keep waiting for "lost" episodes, though I guess there aren't any) is such a consistently funny series one can't help but worry about losing control of bladder functions.The Germans may be the cream of the crop from the series, with inspired performances from Cleese as a concussive twit who keeps accidentally mentioning the "War" in the midst of his German guests: replete with his famous Nazi walk (ala house of silly walks), a talking moose from Barcelona, a fire emergency and a spat with an ugly nurse.Gourmet Night is another great episode which epitomizes the arrogant British spirit Cleese is poking fun at throughout the series. As he mentions in the included interview, the series is based on an actual innkeeper he and the other Pythons had the ill fortune to encounter in their travels. I don't feel the other two episodes are quite as strong, but they still outclass almost all sitcoms besides maybe Seinfeld. The extras are well worthwhile - the interviews are recent and very interesting. They cover more than just the Fawlty Tower series, so they will be of interest to Python fans as well.The sound and picture are an improvement over the BBC and PBS airings I recall, as well as my 15 year old VHS copies. No wonder.Cheers."
I would like to welcome you war...you ALL...
Timothy F. Halloran | 08/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, Fawlty Towers. One of the many reasons I love England. I WOULD write a review on the complete collection, since I have that, but I will settle for Volume Two, because I think that these three episodes are the best of the whole series.
First of all, let's talk about Fawlty Towers in general. The acting is absolutely hilarious and the characters are well-made. The jokes and hair-rising situations are both ironic and slapstick, leaving families in stitches. I watched Fawlty Towers when I was eleven. I'm almost fifteen now and I still can't resist watching Fawlty Towers over and over again. I think what I like best about Fawlty Towers is the brilliant irony that loves to kick Basil Fawlty in the behind. It makes you want to curl up with a pillow and squeal with embarrassment for poor Basil Fawlty, and yet you can't take your eyes away from the screen because you're just too busy laughing at the brilliant faces Basil is making.
Now the three episodes specifically.
Gourmet Night: A new chef, called Kurt, comes to work at Fawlty Towers and the Fawltys absolutely love him. So Basil and Sybil decide to host a Gourmet Night, with some of Torquay's well-respected people. Kurt, however, has an arguement with the Spanish waiter, Manuel. This leads to him being unavailable and Basil must find a way to get food for his gourmet night, or else it will go all wrong. Utterly hilarious! The irony in this episode really comes back and kicks him in this episode! Basil's temper gets the better of him in this episode (which we should all enjoy) and his desperation for an idea leads to ridiculous situations. in some shows it might seem stupid, but in a comedy like this you just KNOW it's fine. Bear in mind that "if you don't like duck, you're rather stuck!"
The Germans: Sybil has an ingrowing toenail and therefore must spend her night at the hospital. Basil is delighted, FINALLY being in charge. Despite the fact that Sybil keeps on CALLING him to remind him mainly to hang up the moose and to ring the firebell at twelve for a fire drill. And it is only evident that everything falls to pieces, and Basil finds himself in hospital. Convinced that the waitress Polly can't handle the hospital herself, Basil, who has concussion, returns to welcome the Germans, and makes a whole mess. This is not as ironic as Gourmet Night, but it really makes you feel the frustration Basil feels when confronting the hotel guests about the fire drill. Even so, you laugh because you cannot BELIEVE how difficult it must be! Plenty of sticky situations keep you roped in, and the extremely forgetful Major will keep you laughing on and on! "I speeak Eeenglish very well!"
Communication Problems: Ahh, more frustration than the Germans! Mrs Richards, a deaf old woman who refuses to turn her hearing aid on, is not enjoying her stay. First of all, she claims the room is inadequate. Second of all, she is convinced some of her money (75 pounds) has been stolen, and is irritated by the fact that the Fawltys will not call the police immediately. Meanwhile, Basil has been given a rather good tip about a certain horse running in a race called Dragonfly. Sybil, however, had made him quit gambling on horse races when they got married. This means that Basil has to keep quiet about it throughout the episode, and this is a rather difficult thing to do. Why, oh WHY did he ask Manuel to put the bet on for him? Another hilarious episode. The chemistry between Basil and Mrs Richards is absolutely brilliant. "Basil can't win, even if he wins," as it says on the back of a Fawlty Towers DVD box. I agree. The two plots (one with Mrs Richards, the other with Dragonfly) cleverly combine into a delicious mixture that will keep you giggling on and on. There are plently of wonderful one-liners (the same for all of the other episodes!) and again, the irony is wonderful!
Thanks for reading this review!"
Your war... you all...
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 02/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sometimes the guests at Fawlty Towers are more trouble than they're worth.
Basil Fawlty finds that out the hard way in the second volume of "Fawlty Towers," which is arguably the best comedy ever aired. And these classic episodes -- "Gourmet Night," "The Germans," and "Communication" -- are definitely some of the high points of this all-too-brief series.
Basil (John Cleese) and Sybil (Prunella Scales) are planning a "Gourmet Night" with the creme-de-la-creme of Torquay society. Unfortunately, the new cook has a crush on Manuel (Andrew Sachs); when the waiter rejects him, he gets drunk and passes out. Now Basil frantically tries to salvage the gourmet night, with no chef, a dying car and a roomful of increasingly peevish guests.
The "Germans" are coming! While Sybil recovers from surgery, Basil plans a fire drill, and arranges for a pair of German couples to stay at Fawlty Towers. But the fire drill goes horribly wrong, and Basil ends up hospitalized with a head injury. Undaunted, he heads back to his hotel to greet the Germans -- except he can't stop babbling about the war...
"Communications" break down when an autocratic lady arrives at Fawlty Towers -- she's practically deaf, and isn't satisfied with anything. As if that weren't infuriating enough, she soon loses some money and insists that the staff must have taken it. Meanwhile, Basil gets a racing tip from a customer, and decides to bet ten pounds on the horses...
Anyone who's sick of the recycled sitcoms ("Hot Young Urbanites Fall In Love and Have Misadventures") that pepper the TV landscape might want to try Fawlty Towers. The humour is still fresh after all these years, the writing is good, and the actors were great at physical comedy.
The dialogue is especially sharp in these episodes, especially when a confused Manuel tries to talk to the oblivious deaf woman: "No no, 'que' what." "K Watt?" "Si!" "C.K. Watt?" "Yes!" And as witty as the hilarious scripting is, the "Germans" episode wouldn't be the same if it weren't for Basil's bizarre behavior and rubber-legged Hitler walk.
Basil's social-climbing continues without much actual result. Partly it's because his bootlicking is so obvious, and partly because he's not very good at it ("How is your lovely daughter?" "She's dead"). And John Cleese seemed to be having lots of fun as the nastiest hotelier in the world. Sachs has some even funnier scenes as the hapless Spanish waiter Manuel, and Booth gets to be the "normal" one who tries to tone down the madness.
Fawlty Towers reaches its peak in the second volume, with the Germans, deaf harpies and a roast duck. Too bad the series was so short."