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Recap / Fawlty Towers S1E6 "The Germans"

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With Sybil in the hospital with an ingrown toenail, a moose's head to hang up and some German guests arriving the next day, Basil has his work cut out for him. After an attempted fire drill goes wrong and Basil lands up in the hospital with a concussion, he causes much offence to his German guests after finally escaping back to the hotel.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Accidental Ventriloquism: The Major believes a moose head is speaking to him, but it's actually Manuel hidden behind a desk practicing his English.
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  • Actor Allusion: Basil's goose-stepping is deliberately reminiscent of Cleese's "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. Just check out the applause it gets. The Hitler impression he does is also more than a little reminiscent of the same show's "Mr. Hilter" sketch.
  • All Germans Are Nazis: Some Germans are visiting the hotel. Basil tells everyone "Don't mention the war". However Basil (who, for a change, is actually concussed rather than simply rude) manages to make reference to the war in almost every sentence he subsequently speaks to them. It's subverted here: the Germans are never cast as Nazis (and find the constant references upsetting to the point Basil's actions reduce one of them to tears), but are just trying to enjoy their holidays in peace.
  • Ambiguous Syntax:
    German Guest: Will you stop talking about the war?!
    Basil: Me? You started it!
    Guest: We did not start it!
    Basil: Yes you did, you invaded Poland!
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  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: During the Major's racist tirade, Polly poses a question for him and gets a rather non-sequitur answer:
    Major: Hate Germans, love women.
    Polly: What about German women?
    Major: Good card players!
  • Brutal Honesty: Basil due to his concussion:
    Basil: (to his nurse) My God, you're ugly, aren't you? Mind-boggling.
    Sybil: Basil?
    Nurse: I'll... I'll get the doctor!
    Basil: You need a plastic surgeon, dear, not a doctor.
  • Crying Wolf: Basil works so hard to set up a fire drill and gets into a spat about it (you have to see the whole conversation to understand), where Manuel is supposed to yell "Fire!" and then they all calmly walk out. Then Manuel screws it all up by starting not one, but two real fires in the kitchen. Basil then calmly ushers Manuel back into the burning kitchen as he tries to explain that it's just a drill.
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  • Dude, Not Funny!: The Germans don't find Basil's Hitler imitation funny. invoked
  • Foreshadowing: Basil asks Manuel to fetch a hammer, and Manuel misunderstands and thinks he is asking for Manuel's pet hamster. In "Basil the Rat", we meet that "hamster"...
  • Ignore the Disability: Note that Basil's emphatic insistence that nobody mention the war (when no one in their right mind would anyway) and his propensity to do so himself are both due to him having a concussion, causing him to act even weirder than normal.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: A concussed Basil tries it, but only makes it worse: "Now, would you like to eat first or would you like a drink before the warrrr...ning ... that trespassers will be tied up with piano wire?"
  • Metaphorgotten: "My dear woman, a blow like that to the head... is worth two in the bush."
  • Never My Fault: After discovering the kitchen fire and being unable to sound the fire alarm due to not being able to find the key, Basil begins angrily shouting about how "someone's lost the key". That someone would of course be Basil himself, who is the only person who touches the key during the entire episode.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: While it had been earlier hinted at in "The Builders" that Manuel actually spoke better English than he lets on, it's made clearer here that he actually does know enough English to hold a reasonably fluent conversation — which he does with the Major, albeit with the latter being unaware that he's talking to Manuel and not a moose's head — and just hides his level of English fluency so that he'll have an excuse to ignore Basil's instructions.
  • Random Events Plot: A unique example of this trope in a series of such usually tight, clever, (standalone) plot driven complex farces. In a brilliant demonstration of how Tropes Are Not Bad, because it's typically named as the funniest episode.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: An unfortunate example occurs when the Major tells a story about how he took a woman to a cricket match, and she kept referring to the Indian players by the wrong racial slur.
    The Major: And the strange thing was... throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. "No no no," I said, "the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs."


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