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Recap / Fawlty Towers S1E2 "The Builders"

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Maintenance is made on the lobby while the Fawltys are out, but when a misreading causes the incompetent builders to mess it up spectacularly, Basil must try to remedy the situation before Sybil finds out.

Tropes that appear in this episode:

  • Ass Shove: The implication of Basil's threat to O'Reilly that he will "insert a large garden gnome in you" if O'Reilly doesn't fix a wall.
  • Brick Joke: After Basil discovers the aftermath of O'Reilly's first botched job on the hotel lobby, he orders him to come straight back to the hotel to put his work right otherwise he will "insert a large garden gnome" in him. Later, after O'Reilly's attempt at fixing it is found to have left the hotel in imminent danger of structural failure, Basil is seen purposefully walking out the front door carrying said garden gnome.
    • Said lawn gnome is a Brick Joke in itself, as it gets delivered while Basil and Sybil are away, and is left behind the front desk by Manuel. After Polly persuades Basil to call O'Reily, he trips over it.
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    • Basil is confounded by a drawing of Polly's that he believes to depict a trash heap over a smart collar and tie. Polly shrugs innocently and hangs it up at reception. A few minutes later, Manuel walks in, notices the sketch, and says, "Oh, is Meester Fawlty!"
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Subverted by O'Reilly; the end of the episode gives the impression that he actually is a capable builder when properly supervised and given a push by someone like Basil... right until they discover the slight matter of him having put an improperly-braced door in a supporting wall, which could cause the entire building to collapse.
  • Crooked Contractor: O'Reilly, a criminally lazy construction manager who Basil only hires because he's cheap. By the time he's done, there's a door in front of the stairwell, and no door to the dining room. On another occasion he was contracted to build a wall in the garden. He dumped a load of bricks and mortar there and then just left them. As his piece de resistance, he seemingly manages to do all the jobs he was hired for while also fixing the ones that were messed up, but leaves Fawlty Towers in danger of collapse by knocking a door through a supporting wall and failing to properly brace it.
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  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: When Basil finds that O'Reilly has removed the door to his dining room, Basil tells the builder "No, no, I don't want to debate. If you're not over here in twenty minutes with my door, I shall come over there and insert a large garden gnome in you. Good day." And at the end of the episode, he walks off with the garden gnome to do just that.
  • Double Take: A marvelous one. When Basil back to find that O'Reilly has completely filled in the door to the restaurant, he walks as if to go through it, stops and looks around as if he's taken a wrong turn, and then does a magnificently over-the-top, full-body double take when realization dawns.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Basil breaks down when confronted with a construction snafu with Sybil returning any minute. Polly slaps him and he recovers enough sense to ask her for two more.
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  • Hidden Depths: The delightfully dim Manuel correctly interprets the subject of Polly's surreal sketch.
  • Mythology Gag: Basil explains to Miss Gatsby and Miss Tibbs that they have to go to the Gleneagles for their dinner due to the construction work. The Gleneagles and its manager is what gave John Cleese the inspiration for Fawlty Towers.
  • Never My Fault: The episode is a carnival of blame-shifting between the titular builders who screw up the job, Manuel who instructed and oversaw them, Polly who left Manuel in charge and went for a nap, and Basil who hired the inept builders despite past experience and Sybil's express instructions not to.
  • Oh, Crap!: Stubbs, the conscientious builder who Basil has rejected in favour of the cheap-but-incompetent O'Reilly, inspects the new doorway Basil had O'Reilly built, and remarks that it looks very good. He then asks Basil what kind of lintel he used: RSJ (known to US viewers as an I-Beam) or concrete? When Basil replies that it was 2x4, and therefore basically a wooden plank, Stubbs points out 'But that's a load-bearing wall', whereupon Basil delivers this trope (and Sybil in a more subdued form with an angry "What").
    • This is also Manuel's reaction when he realises the caller on the other end of the phone who he's been angrily hanging up because Basil isn't there actually is Basil.
  • You Get What You Pay For: Basil hires the cheap (and inept) O'Reilly to do some renovation work at the hotel instead of Sybil's choice, the more expensive (but competent) Stubbs, with predictable results.


Video Example(s):



Manuel tries his best to speak English.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / FunnyForeigner

Media sources:

Main / FunnyForeigner