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YMMV / Fawlty Towers

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Maybe Basil is the way he is because of the stress of trying to run a business with little to no help from his inattentive wife? She mostly scoffs that he's not doing enough, while never doing any work herself.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Mr. Hamilton, the American guest in "Waldorf Salad". Some viewers - including John Cleese himself - feel that he gave Basil a well-deserved verbal beatdown throughout the whole episode. Others find that since he demanded the chef keep the kitchen open after his shift had just ended and expected to be served an elaborate meal and drink that weren't on the menu, he comes across as over-entitled.
    • It's possibly a bit of both, Basil, often something of an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, is deceptive in trying to provide Mr. Hamilton with the titular salad and deserves to be chewed out. However, the extent of said chewing out goes into extreme territory when he rallies all the guests against Basil.
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  • Catharsis Factor: The ending of "The Kipper and the Corpse" where Basil escapes his usual comeuppance and Sybil is left to deal with all the consequences.
  • 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 Dark Horse: 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.
  • Fight Scene Failure: Mr. Hutchinson beating up Basil Fawlty in "The Hotel Inspectors". Seriously, it looks like William Shatner choreographed the fight.
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  • Friendly Fandoms: Fans of that other show John Cleese was on are almost always fans of this show as well.
  • "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.
  • Heartwarming Moments: In "The Anniversary", Basil displays some out-of-character thoughtfulness by arranging a surprise party to celebrate Sybil's and his 15th wedding anniversary. Not only does he invite six mutual friends of theirs to the party, he also asks Manuel to prepare a proper Spanish paella for the anniversary meal. Of course, Sybil drives off in a huff to spend the day golfing before any of this can happen, but still...Basil showing respect for both Sybil and Manuel in the same episode is quite something.
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  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Basil the Rat", Manuel gets a pet rat, and when the health inspector comes, Polly tries to explain that "Basil" is a nickname for the hotel's ratatouille.
  • 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:
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales:
    • Despite O'Reilly being a bit of an Irish stereotype, he's beloved by Irish fans.
    • Torquay has embraced the show as part of its legacy. When the renovated Gleneagles re-opened in 2006, Prunella Scales attended the ceremony as a special guest. When the Gleneagles closed and was demolished in 2015, another Torquay hotel took on the name Fawlty Towers. The Gleneagles was replaced by a retirement apartment complex named Sachs Lodge after Andrew Sachs, and there's a plaque noting the connection to the show.
  • 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: The 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. Of course, just as many will argue that, while often imitated, nobody could hope to do better.
  • 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. In a way the bad sfx only makes the scene all the funnier.
  • Testosterone Brigade: Polly has quite a few admirers for her beautiful blonde hair, and Adorkable Girl Next Door personality.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • John Cleese and Connie Booth were already reluctant to do the second series because they were afraid the expectations would've been too high to satisfy, and refused to do any more episodes after that for the same reason.
    • Writer Richard Curtis claimed that the only reason Blackadder was conceived as a period piece was because of his belief that any sitcom just set in modern times couldn't hope to follow up this one. Tropes Are Not Bad indeed!
  • 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 backlash from purists. They're uncensored on the DVD and on Netflix though, fortunately. Even in-universe the fact he's so matter-of-fact about it is the entire joke, along with several other moments throughout the series that make fun of racist attitudes.
    • Sybil comes across even worse to modern audiences due to the lack of work she actually does around the hotel. In the 70s, she wouldn't be expected to take much of a role in the business beyond helping out occasionally. To modern viewers, she comes across as incredibly lazy and irresponsible.
    • In the first episode, both Sybil and Basil compare Manuel to a trained monkey.
  • Vindicated by History: The first season had a mixed reception. There were some critics who did not find it inspired or funny at all, and fretted over how conventional it was compared to Cleese's Monty Python work. 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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