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Recap / Fawlty Towers S2E1 "Communication Problems"

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The arrival of the "guest from hell" – Mrs. Richards, a rather deaf, dotty and bad-tempered woman – interferes with Basil's attempts to prevent the money he won on a racehorse from being discovered by Sybil, who disapproves of gambling.

Tropes appearing in this episode:

  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Subverted:
    Basil: (takes Sybil's hand) Seriously, Sybil, do you remember when we were first... manacled together? We used to laugh quite a lot.
    Sybil: (pulling her hand away) Yes, but not at the same time, Basil.
    Basil: That's true. That was a warning, I guess. Should have spotted that, shouldn't I?
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  • Brick Joke: Thanks to her hilarious opening conversation with Manuel, Mrs Richards thinks Basil's surname is Watt. She uses it throughout the episode, which causes even more confusion since she also says "what" a lot:
    Mrs Richards: Ah, you're Watt.
    Basil: I'm the manager!
    Mrs Richards: What?
    Basil: I'm the manager!
    Mrs Richards: Yes I know, you've just told me. What's the matter with you?
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "I shall sneak into your room in the middle of the night and shove a bat up your nightdress!"
  • Dramatic Drop: When The Major lets slip to Sybil that Basil has been betting on horse races behind her back, Basil drops the £75 antique vase he was holding.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mrs. Richards sets the tone for her general behaviour by barging into a conversation, demanding Polly's attention, and refusing to listen to anything anyone says. This leads to about the only episode in the show where Basil comes off as sympathetic, because he's dealing with Mrs Richards.
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  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    Sybil: If I find out the money on that horse was yours, you know what I'll do, Basil.
    Basil:'ll have to sew them back on first.
  • Hate Sink: Basil manages to earn sympathy points when he meets Mrs. Richards, a snobby old woman who complains about every little thing in the hotel, belittles the staff and refuses to acknowledge that her hearing-aid isn't working even as other characters have to bellow at her to make her understand.
  • Moving The Goal Posts: Mrs. Richards is never satisfied, and constantly shifts her position so she'll have something to be querulous about. For one example, she initially complains that the room she's been given doesn't have a bath. When Basil opens the door to her bathroom and points out the bath that is actually there, she switches her complaint to it not being big enough.
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  • Obfuscating Stupidity: It's implied that Mrs Richards can hear more than she lets on.
  • Who's on First?:
    Mrs. Richards: Now, I've reserved a very quiet room, with a bath and a sea view. I specifically asked for a sea view in my written confirmation, so please be sure I have it.
    Manuel: "¿Qué?"
    Mrs. Richards: What?
    Manuel: "¿Qué?"
    Mrs. Richards: "K"?
    Manuel: Si.
    Mrs. Richards: C? K.C.? K.C... What are you trying to say?
    Manuel: No, no no, no. "Qué": "what".
    Mrs. Richards: K. Watt?
    Manuel: Si. "¿Qué?": "what".
    Mrs. Richards: C. K. Watt??"
    Manuel: Yes.
    Mrs. Richards: Who is C.K. Watt?
    Manuel: ¿Qué?
    Mrs. Richards: Is he the manager?
    Manuel: Ah! Manager!
    Mrs. Richards: He is.
    Manuel: Ah, Mr. Fawlty!
    Mrs. Richards: What?
    Manuel: Fawlty!
    Mrs. Richards: What are you talking about, you silly little man?! (to Polly)What's going on here? I ask [this man] for my room, and he tells me the manager is a Mr. Watt, age forty.
    Manuel: No, no, no. Fawlty.
    Mrs. Richards: Faulty? What's wrong with him?
    Polly: It's all right, Mrs. Richards, he's from Barcelona.
    Mrs. Richards: The manager's from Barcelona?


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