YMMV / Fawlty Towers


  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Major's cheerfully casual racism really shouldn't be funny, but... yeah.
    I took her to see India at the Oval... and the strange thing was that throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as 'niggers'! No, no, no, I said. Niggers are the West Indians. These people are WOGS!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Veteran actor David Kelly — not the late UN weapons inspector — appears in one episode for six minutes. Andrew Sachs claims that those six minutes of David Kelly are just about all that fans of the show ever talk to him about. The six minutes also follow David Kelly more than anything else he's ever done. It's even more of a testament to Kelly's performance that this takes place in what is generally regarded as the show's worst episode.
  • Fight Scene Failure/Narm: Mr. Hutchinson beating up Basil Fawlty in "the Hotel Inspectors". Seriously, it looks like William Shatner choreographed the fight.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: One of the best scenes in the whole series is where Manuel sets fire to the kitchen during a fire drill. The real building (for exteriors, anyway) burned down in 1991.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Basil the Rat", Manuel gets a pet rat, and when the health inspector comes, Sybil tries to explain that "Basil" is a nickname for the hotel's ratatouille.
  • Internet Backdraft: For reruns at least, it appears that the infamous racism from "The Germans" has been removed, killing the joke and also removing an opportunity to poke fun at actual racists, which led to complaints on the internet and in the media (on grounds of humour and not racism).
  • Jerkass Woobie: Basil. He's an unquestionably horrible human being to be sure, but he's married to an equally horrible (if more socially adept) woman, many of the customers he acts so put upon by really are obnoxious and irritating, and the universe just enjoys watching him suffer.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Don't mention the war!"
  • Misaimed Fandom: The climax of "The Germans" and indeed most of the show is actually making fun of racist attitudes. Hasn't stopped the former from being popular among people with those views, which alarms John Cleese.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Fawlty Towers' use of broad humor based on obnoxious behavior, slapstick, and shock has been so influential that the series may seem a bit stale to some modern viewers.
  • Special Effects Failure: In "Basil the Rat", most of the shots of Manuel's pet "filligree Siberian hamster" used a real rat, videotaped separately from the main action and edited in. In a scene where the rat scurries across the floor it's obviously a model pulled by a nylon cord, but the main fx failure occurs in the final scene in which the rat pops its head out of a biscuit tin that Polly is presenting to the health inspector. In this scene the rat is a very unconvincing puppet with a rotating head which is operated from beneath the tin by Connie Booth.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: See Internet Backdraft.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Cleese and Booth didn't make more episodes because the expectations would've been too high to satisfy. They were already reluctant to do the second series because of that.
  • Values Dissonance: The Major's conversation with Basil about explaining the difference between "wogs" and "niggers" to his ex-girlfriend. These slurs are seen as far more inappropriate than they were when the show first aired and would probably never fly on any modern show. Indeed, by 2013, the BBC started censoring the scene on re-airs, causing some Internet Backdraft from purists. They're uncensored on the DVD though, fortunately. Even in-universe the fact he's so matter-of-fact about it is the entire joke.
  • Vindicated by History: The series (the first season in particular) was lambasted by British TV critics, who did not find it inspired or funny at all. Gradually it became a cult series and eventually the most popular, critically acclaimed and often repeated British sitcom of all time.

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