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Recap / Fawlty Towers S1E5 "Gourmet Night"

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In an effort to climb another rung in the social ladder, Basil arranges a gourmet night. Unfortunately, thanks to the chef's alcoholism and inability to cook the meal on the menu, Basil must try to get hold of a finished duck platter from his restaurateur friend André. This, combined with the Fawltys' faulty car and Basil's social awkwardness leads him ever closer to a nervous breakdown.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • The Alleged Car: Basil's Austin 1100 Countryman. When it refuses to start, Basil proceeds to scream at his car before giving it a "damn good thrashing" with a tree branch.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted. As Basil is in the middle of one of his many mental breakdowns while changing a menu, he says that perhaps today is all just a dream. Basil proceeds to bang his head on a book a few times before declaring "No, it's not a dream; we're stuck with it!"
  • Big "WHAT?!":
    Colonel Hall: Waitress!
    Polly: Yes?
    Colonel Hall: There's a hair in my mousse.
    Polly: Well don't talk too loud, everybody will want one!
    Colonel Hall: WHAT?!
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Basil has to deal with an obnoxious little boy who complains that his chips are in the wrong shape and calls the mayonnaise puke. Basil ends up "accidentally" smacking him on the head.
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  • Contrived Clumsiness: When Basil 'accidentally' elbows a bratty kid in the back of the head for saying that the mayonnaise looked like puke.
  • Corpsing: During the scene when Kurt shoves Basil through a door, Polly is in the background covering her mouth briefly, presumably to cover up the fact that she was laughing at Basil's misfortune.
  • Dramatic Drop: Polly seems to pick up on Basil's tendency for this, as she tells him to put down a bottle before she tells him about Kurt's inebriation.
  • Hotel Hellion: The kid who complains that his chips are the wrong shape.
  • Ignore the Disability: The short woman and her husband the Colonel, who has a prominent facial tic, which makes things awkward when Basil introduces him to Mr. and Mrs. Twitchen.
  • My Car Hates Me: The very pinnacle of this trope.
    START!! Start, you vicious BASTARD!!!
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  • Percussive Therapy: The iconic "damn good thrashing" scene, where Basil takes out his frustrations on his broken-down car with a tree branch.
  • Spoiled Brat: That obnoxious boy who says his meal is awful just because it looks different to what he normally eats.
  • Talent Double: John Cleese did not learn to drive until a year after this episode was broadcast. A double was needed to drive the car.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: So discreet it's confusing. In "Gourmet Night", Basil is asking inebriated chef Kurt how to prepare the mullet ("do we fry it? Just go 'ungh'"). We barely see Kurt's head move, the camera cuts to Sybil, while the audience howls with disgust. According to the director's DVD commentary, Kurt vomited on the plate, but The BBC wouldn't even let them show enough to properly suggest it.


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