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April 11, 2009 10:28 AM   Subscribe

In 2000, the British Film Institute voted Fawlty Towers number 1 on its list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes. Perhaps an even greater tribute, numerous real-life lodgings have named themselves after it. Next month, Connie Booth - now a practicing psychotherapist in London - will break a 30 year silence about the show for a televised special. posted by Joe Beese (79 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's a great show, no doubt, but #1? And #1 of all British Television--not just sitcoms?

I'm going to have to assume the list was in no particular order.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:36 AM on April 11, 2009


I watched it when I was a kid and twenty years on, still absolutely love it.

It would be nice to see the entire list though.
posted by xm at 10:39 AM on April 11, 2009


Farty Towels.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:43 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Doing some additional reading: Connie Booth is married to John Lahr?

This is a sentence I could say to 99 percent of the people I know in this world, and they wouldn't know who either of those to are or why this surprises me.

This is why I need better friends.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on April 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Watery Fowls
posted by Flashman at 10:46 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flowery Twats
posted by mightygodking at 10:59 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


A link to BFI's list.
posted by dr_dank at 11:02 AM on April 11, 2009


I think the British Film Institute got that right.
posted by caddis at 11:05 AM on April 11, 2009


That's why you've got us, Astro Zombie.

I'm not an expert on All of British Television Shows, but Fawlty Towers is one of my favorite things ever ever ever.

*note to self: put DVDs on birthday list*
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on April 11, 2009


Oh cool, I can't wait for the Connie Booth interview!

I have watched a lot of British TV, and I can't really think of a show that is the same as Fawlty Towers. Every episode was perfectly crafted and the whole cast worked impeccably well together. One of those rare TV moments I suppose. I wish there were more episodes!
posted by Calzephyr at 11:28 AM on April 11, 2009


It's a great show, no doubt, but #1?

Yes, absolutely.

And #1 of all British Television--not just sitcoms?

Yes, absolutely.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:29 AM on April 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


I've never gotten Fawlty Towers. It's like a TV version of The Lockhorns, only louder and with more ethnic stereotypes.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Blackadder Goes Forth: #16
The Singing Detective: #20

Jealous of the UK. In the US these slots would be occupied by 90210 and Baywatch.
posted by zippy at 11:53 AM on April 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'm another agreer on the "all of television" point, it's absolutely brilliant, but entirely in a fundamental way. It's a simple show really, just executed perfectly. It may be the funniest thing ever.

It is very Lockhornish, but improves upon it in two ways: first, it only went for six episodes instead of decades and decades; and second, it is funny.
posted by JHarris at 11:53 AM on April 11, 2009


A work of pure artistic genius. Gets funnier every time I watch it.
Don't try that with Seinfeld.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:54 AM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Are you Orally men?
posted by storybored at 11:56 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, and on Blackadder Goes Forth... recently we went through a Blackadder kick here. When we got to the last episode... there's a point where Baldrick is making, uh, "coffee" for Lt. Darling. (I won't spoil the joke by explaining what is funny about this.) But then the shot cuts away to Gen. Melchit and George talking outside the bunker, and that's where we realized, to our astounded, hysterical horror, that you could hear Baldrick making the "cream" for the coffee in the background! One of the funniest moments in the entire Blackadder canon.

And then the episoded ended the way it did. Wow.
posted by JHarris at 11:58 AM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never gotten Fawlty Towers. It's like a TV version of The Lockhorns, only louder and with more ethnic stereotypes.

This is true only in the same sense that the fax machine actually is just a waffle iron with a phone attached. Thanks for contributing, Abe, but you should probably stick to the Matlock reruns while I hunt down the incomparable climax of "The Germans" episode and giggle my ass off, all the while recognizing that the gag does not hinge on the idea that all Germans are humourless warmongers.
posted by gompa at 12:08 PM on April 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


A work of pure artistic genius. Gets funnier every time I watch it.
Don't try that with Seinfeld.


I wholeheartedly agree.
posted by ob at 12:09 PM on April 11, 2009


Oh, weapons-grade pandemonium I just saw your location, which leads nicely into a Fawty Towers quote:

"I didn't realise that the Canadians were that clever!"
posted by ob at 12:10 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jealous of the UK. In the US these slots would be occupied by 90210 and Baywatch.

Maybe. Note how little there is in the top 50 from the last 10 years. In my opinion, the best things shown on British TV in that timeframe have largely been American.
posted by vbfg at 12:14 PM on April 11, 2009


One of the funniest moments in the entire Blackadder canon.

Yep, and that's high praise indeed.

/wanders off craving a Blackadder fix
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:17 PM on April 11, 2009


I'll add to the chorus of "Fawlty Towers is one of the funniest goddamn shows ever in the history of anything."

And I will also say... ahh, Connie Booth. I have been in love with her since I was 6 years old, watching Fawlty Towers and Monty Python on PBS. One of my dreams is to make sweet, sweet love to her. I so envy John Cleese and John Lahr.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:29 PM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fawlty Towers is, indeed, brilliant. But there were only 12 episodes ever. It seems to me that picking something with so few episodes is cheating a little bit; running for an extended period of time is fundamental to being a television series. This is kind of like picking an utterly brilliant short story as the greatest novel ever.
posted by Justinian at 12:33 PM on April 11, 2009


I've never gotten Fawlty Towers. It's like a TV version of The Lockhorns, only louder and with more ethnic stereotypes.

Spoken like a native son of Barcelona.
posted by timsteil at 12:43 PM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


running for an extended period of time is fundamental to being a television series

Not really in the UK, no...

Those no 'no number one'... if they ask the proletariat they inevitably pick, Only Fools And Horses. So be happy for small mercies.

Seeing that the beeb is about to put out a remake of The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, with Martin Clunes of all people... Though as Towers is still officially a national treasure I think we've got a few years left, after all it's just about a capital offense to prank-call one of it's actors.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:48 PM on April 11, 2009


Not really in the UK, no...

I've always wondered why UK shows often have only 6 episodes per series ("season" in the US). It's not the smaller market; Canadian shows have seasons like the United States and Canada is a much smaller market than the UK.
posted by Justinian at 12:54 PM on April 11, 2009


Note how little there is in the top 50 from the last 10 years. In my opinion, the best things shown on British TV in that timeframe have largely been American.

(clears throat)
The Office (the original)
Coupling
and last but not least, Spaced, my friend. Spaced.

I will grant you the dearth of quality British comedy during the Thatcher years… which is understandable.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:56 PM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Bas-il!
posted by PenDevil at 1:16 PM on April 11, 2009


will break a 30 year silence about the show for a televised special.

I have every means of acquiring this special here in the U.S. possible, but I must know how to get it. Someone must have this information.
posted by thanotopsis at 1:17 PM on April 11, 2009


Note how little there is in the top 50 from the last 10 years.

Um... Note the year the list was compiled.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:18 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fawlty Towers is, indeed, brilliant. But there were only 12 episodes ever. It seems to me that picking something with so few episodes is cheating a little bit; running for an extended period of time is fundamental to being a television series. This is kind of like picking an utterly brilliant short story as the greatest novel ever.

Brevity is the soul of wit, as WS said in Hamlet. I think if they had dragged it out over 100 episodes, they'd have run out of gags and "jumped the shark," at some point. I'm glad they left us wanting more, instead of groaning that they'd killed it to death.

Speaking of Shakespeare, I've got a friend who's a relatively accomplished Shakespearian actor, and a pretty serious dramaturge, and the thing that gave him the worst nerves in 15 years was playing Basil Fawlty in a local production. He second-guessed himself to death trying to not imitate Cleese while still making the part work.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:31 PM on April 11, 2009


In my opinion, the best things shown on British TV in that timeframe have largely been American.

Unfortunately, I'd have to agree. A lot of the opinion that British TV is better than US TV seems to be a combination of nostalgia and reflexive snobbery rather than anything I can conjure up much evidence to support. Fawlty Towers was indeed brilliant; Yes, Prime Minister likewise. David Attenborough's nature docos, especially the Life series are still astonishingly good.

But I picked up a pack of recent non-Attenborough nature docs from the Beeb recently and they were no better - and in some cases, considerably worse - than anything on Discovery or National Geographic. Sci-Fi? Well, Blake's 7 was great until it got neutered for kid friendlyness 20 years ago. More recent that that? Sorry, new Who is just fan service that pales in comparison to B5 or new BSG or even, heaven help us, DS9. More serious stuff? I guess Spooks could sit alongside (or above) 24, but The Sopranos? The Wire? I'm not seeing anything out of the UK that compares.

Oh, and the second season was the high point of Blackadder. The fourth was retreads of jokes started in the second that were worn our by the third, and Ben Elton in full "so strident I forgot to be funny" mode.
posted by rodgerd at 1:39 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


...Television Programmes...

Is that like a Television Program?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:41 PM on April 11, 2009


Um... Note the year the list was compiled.

Hmm. I suppose that's a reasonable excuse.
posted by vbfg at 1:42 PM on April 11, 2009


Duck's off, sorry.
posted by gimonca at 1:48 PM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I 'll jump in add my own voice to the chorus of "brilliant". I have a copy of the scripts, I reread it every few years, and it still breaks me up. Connie Booth never received enough credit for her role in writing that series, in my opinion. I'd love to hear what she finally has to say about it, after her 3 decades of diplomatic silence. I hope someone will link to it , that we colonials can see it.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:49 PM on April 11, 2009


Brevity is the soul of wit, as WS said in Hamlet.

WS didn't say it, Polonius did. And Polonius was a rambling windbag. This isn't a coincidence.
posted by Justinian at 1:49 PM on April 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


I hope Ms. Booth does well in the interview. My hunch is that she deserves a lot more credit and recognition than she gets, and this could be a chance to improve that situation.
posted by gimonca at 1:50 PM on April 11, 2009


Note how little there is in the top 50 from the last 10 years. In my opinion, the best things shown on British TV in that timeframe have largely been American.

Well as well as what others have noted there's State Of Play (See it now before the new film ruins it)

(Although yeah, things have been a bit thin lately.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:06 PM on April 11, 2009


A lot of the opinion that British TV is better than US TV seems to be a combination of nostalgia and reflexive snobbery rather than anything I can conjure up much evidence to support.
This is 180 degrees from my experience. Mr. Gravy and I have been watching nothing but British TV for the last 4 months-- we find American TV so trite, so poorly acted, and so predictable as to be unwatchable. On the other hand, We have been enthralled by The Royles, Clatterford, Jeckyll, Doc Martin, Smoking Room, Nighty Night, dinnerladies, Little Dorritt, People Like Us, Spaced and House of Cards. Right now we are especially enjoying The Inbetweeners-- which is Freaks and Geeks without the girls and none of the reflective, thoughtful stuff-- just hilarious, audacious, teenage-boy-angst humor.

By the way, thanks to all the Mefites who pointed us in the right direction.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 2:07 PM on April 11, 2009


Saxon Kane: "ahh, Connie Booth. I have been in love with her since I was 6 years old, watching Fawlty Towers and Monty Python on PBS. One of my dreams is to make sweet, sweet love to her."

Same here. Alas, watching Romance with a Double Bass is as close as I'm ever going to get. [nsfw]
posted by Joe Beese at 2:29 PM on April 11, 2009


If you should happen to be around Ithaca, New York, John Cleese is coming to Cornell on the 19th!
posted by zachlipton at 2:33 PM on April 11, 2009


¿Qué?
posted by effwerd at 2:35 PM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


we find American TV so trite, so poorly acted, and so predictable as to be unwatchable.

Seeing as you put (the brilliant) House of Cards on your list, I feel fine reaching back to Twin Peaks to start my rebuttal, followed by Freaks and Geeks, Mr. Show, Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, The Wire, Rome*, Six Feet Under, Arrested Development, Homicide, Battlestar, Veronica Mars, The Shield, Deadwood, Firefly, Buffy, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Northern Exposure, Seinfeld, Deadwood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Friday Night Lights, The Simpsons, Dexter, Futurama, Venture Brothers, Undeclared, The Corner ...

In other words, ur doin it wrong.

*a co-production of the BBC
posted by Bookhouse at 2:59 PM on April 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


WS didn't say it

Yeah, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn't say that. That Polonius guy did.
posted by naoko at 3:06 PM on April 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


The best series on British television is Horizon, and it is not on the list.
posted by dydecker at 3:12 PM on April 11, 2009


"Whatever you do, don't mention the war."
posted by orthogonality at 4:00 PM on April 11, 2009


I feel fine reaching back to Twin Peaks to start my rebuttal, followed by Freaks and Geeks, Mr. Show, Band of Brothers, The Sopranos, The Wire,

I won't argue with your list, although I found about half of it to be mediocre, however most of them (aside from the second season of Breaking Bad) aired years ago. I guess I was making an unfair comparison (American TV shows of today vs. all the British shows I can get my hands on) but my point was that at the moment American shows are nearly all crap, while Britain is still turning out some pretty good comedy.

My husband and I do take into account that a large part of what we are enjoying about the shows we are watching is their novelty-- new ideas, new locations, new faces. Take Doc Martin, not the greatest show ever aired, but very watchable. It is the equivalent of House-- irascible doctor with zero people skills who nonetheless is a great diagnostician. So why don't I bother watching House but love Doc Martin? Aside from the splendor of its setting, the writing on Doc Martin is vastly superior. The doctor himself is a much more interesting character, with greater depth. He often makes mistakes. He is sometimes unsure of himself. Mostly though, it is the absence of cheap shots, of cardboard characters, of predictable plot lines that I find so refreshing.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:22 PM on April 11, 2009


WS didn't say it, Polonius did.

Sheesh. Okay, for the sake of argument then, Sir Francis Bacon wrote it, while pretending to be Shakespeare. About 8 years before he started writing Don Quixote. The actors who have played Polonius are the people who have actually said it. Have I covered all the bases here?
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:29 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


...Television Programmes...

Is that like a Television Program?


No, it's more like a Televisual Feast.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:02 PM on April 11, 2009 [4 favorites]


"One of those rare TV moments I suppose. I wish there were more episodes!"

I think there were just the right amount of episodes. It's brilliant, but they thoroughly investigated all the humor from the setting and characters. It has the potential to get very repetitive if they let it go on too long, but as it is each episode stands on its own very well. Sometimes I wish there were more episodes, but it seems like it might be overdoing it.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:10 PM on April 11, 2009


The actors who have played Polonius are the people who have actually said it. Have I covered all the bases here?

No, because it's important to note that it was the character of Polonius who believed that brevity was important and not the well-regarded actual person William Shakespeare. Otherwise one might end up believing that Shakespeare was putting forward the idea that using as few words as possible was critical, which would be the mistake that you originally made; he obviously didn't believe that brevity was the soul of wit (as evidenced by his plays), he had a character who professed to believe it while actually acting like a complete gasbag.
posted by Justinian at 5:17 PM on April 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


but my point was that at the moment American shows are nearly all crap, while Britain is still turning out some pretty good comedy.

Bullocks. American TV is of a higher quality than ever before. There are currently and have been over the last few years an astounding number of excellent television programs. If you don't believe this, I submit that you probably just don't like television very much.
posted by Justinian at 5:19 PM on April 11, 2009


Bullocks. Bollocks. They're different.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:39 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I knew that. I started to write "bullshit" but then felt it was too harsh and tried to change it, but failed to backspace far enough.
posted by Justinian at 5:46 PM on April 11, 2009


American TV is of a higher quality than ever before. There are currently and have been over the last few years an astounding number of excellent television programs. If you don't believe this, I submit that you probably just don't like television very much.

Yeah, what Justinian said. Obviously, Gravy, you're free to like what you like, but we're in the middle of a great age of television here in America. There's a lot of crap out there, and there will continue to be ... America has a lot of hours of teevee to fill. But there's lots of sterling television on right now. I'm not aware of anything currently on the BBC that can come close to Mad Men or Breaking Bad, or even the level of Friday Night Lights, Battlestar, Damages or Big Love. For comedy, I'd put 30 Rock, Eastbound and Down and The Venture Brothers against any currently running BBC show, and if I'm wrong, I'll be glad to find three more hilarious shows to watch.

And I'm not denying that great stuff comes out of the BBC. I love Cracker, Coupling, House of Cards, Dr. Who, The Sweeney, the incredible I, Claudius. But it is easy for an American to mistake a British accent for being classy.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:04 PM on April 11, 2009


Cracker was ITV, not BBC, much as it pains (and amazes) me to say it.
posted by influx at 6:11 PM on April 11, 2009


No, because it's important to note that it was the character of Polonius who believed that brevity was important and not the well-regarded actual person William Shakespeare. Otherwise one might end up believing that Shakespeare was putting forward the idea that using as few words as possible was critical, which would be the mistake that you originally made; he obviously didn't believe that brevity was the soul of wit (as evidenced by his plays), he had a character who professed to believe it while actually acting like a complete gasbag.

Fucking Spaniards

RIGHT then...I'll just get back to hanging up this moose.

wait...I think I saw gnome.
posted by timsteil at 6:13 PM on April 11, 2009


The Ascent of Man at #65? Fuck that noise.
posted by doubtfulpalace at 6:55 PM on April 11, 2009


I've always wondered why UK shows often have only 6 episodes per series ("season" in the US). It's not the smaller market; Canadian shows have seasons like the United States and Canada is a much smaller market than the UK.

British series are often written by writers working alone or in pairs, rather than vast committees.
posted by kersplunk at 7:23 PM on April 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


My favourite british sitcom of all time has to be black books.
posted by kolophon at 7:31 PM on April 11, 2009


I might be wrong, but I think America's crazilly long seasons are a big part of why such a high percentage of our television is just plain terrible. If you look at the good shows almost all of them break this rule. 1000 minutes of comedy a year is just too hard to do. Seinfeld managed a great batting average and some other shows like the cosby show managed to do pretty well based on the strength of the comic leads. But as far as writing goes... it's really too much to expect from really talented people to produce that much. The other thing is, I think many american shows could have been legit great if they didn't have such unrealistic demands on production. Frasier for example had some funny moments, and some great episodes but it also had some pretty middling filler. Cheers, even though it is well loved had some terribly contrived episodes (Like when Diane's mother was going to go broke unless Diane married Sam for no good reason but is saved by her chauffeur... somehow).

I understand that good television isn't really rewarded, but it has to suck to have to phone in a dozen or so episodes a year because no one is funny enough or talented enough to what networks demand.
posted by I Foody at 8:22 PM on April 11, 2009


I desperately wanted to like Fawlty Towers when I first watched it a couple years ago. I could not do it, for the reason stated above by DU. Since the advent of reliable torrenting, I've watched more UK than US programming and (obviously) prefer it to the on-air offerings here. Fawlty Towers was one I couldn't get in to. Also, Coupling was horrible.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:36 PM on April 11, 2009


This is timely. I was just showing my son the Lumberjack Song last night, and wondering whatever happened to Connie Booth. I agree with the 'perfectly done show, produced for just right number of episodes" crowd; Fawlty Towers did its thing exactly right, and then got off the stage.

The show's greatest moment of many many great moments: when Cleese beats up his car with the tree in Gourmet Night.

ahh, Connie Booth. I have been in love with her since I was 6 years old, watching Fawlty Towers

I was 26 when Fawlty Towers appeared (Booth was 31), and perhaps had different feelings for her than a six-year-old might, but yes, who wouldn't be? It's rare that anyone in a TV sitcom plays an interesting 'decent' character at all, let alone one so sexy; Jan Smithers (as Bailey Quarters on the show WKRP) might be the other name on such a short list.

As for Blackadder, I think the shows of season 3 are genius, and the other three years just pale imitations.

p.s. Doing some additional reading: Connie Booth is married to John Lahr? This is a sentence I could say to 99 percent of the people I know in this world, and they wouldn't know who either of those to are or why this surprises me. This is why I need better friends.

You can always come hang out here in the Blue, A>Z. We won't make fun of you. [One of us, one of us...] Some of us not only know who Lahr is (as well as who his famous dad was), we've even (gasp) read a bunch of Lahr's books.
posted by LeLiLo at 11:27 PM on April 11, 2009


Regarding the 12 episodes, Cleese says something in his (awkward, repetitive) interview feature on the DVD set currently available to the effect of "How could there be more?" After all, they never even expected to make the second series, almost four years later, and did so simply because there was so much demand. But you can already see the recycling of bits and plot points. But oh, those six episodes per series, they worked like hell on them.

The DVD is very instructive to a deep fan. For instance, I had no idea that they had no standing sets, and about four days to film each episode. The first two, they'd rebuild the set -- every time. The third day (I think) they'd rehearse. And on the fourth day they would film, exactly twice. Given this enormous pressure to get it right it's amazing that some of the madcap stuff comes off even halfway. And of course, by the second series Cleese and Booth were divorced, yet such professionals none of that shows.

As for my moments ... well ..

"Ba-zeel... Ba-zeel...."

And "I'm gonna give you a damn good thrashing!" Something like a perfect moment of madness.
posted by dhartung at 11:44 PM on April 11, 2009


SssssPOONS. SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING THAN BEING A HOTEL INSPECTOR!!!
posted by Meatbomb at 12:53 AM on April 12, 2009


The things one learns. Didn't know there were just 12 hours of Flowery Twats.

As someone above suggested, the U.S.-standard length of seasons and number of them (for shows that last) doesn't necessarily do the shows--in totality--any favors. Sure, people could select a best-of that could hold its own, but good U.S. stuff can feel worn, milked dry.

I adore the original The Office, all the more because it was there for a couple seasons, the network was ready for more, the people behind it felt like it was the right time to stop.

I assume it's happened in the USA (can anyone think of an example?), but feels uncommon at best that people making a show that's popular there would do/have done that.
posted by ambient2 at 2:00 AM on April 12, 2009


British series are often written by writers working alone or in pairs, rather than vast committees.

Though it tends to be less so these days. Take Shameless, for example. Season 1 was probably the distinctive vision of a single writer. Once you get a commercial success though, you start seeing the whole '13 episodes, written by committee' phenomena coming into play with an eye to the global market.

Given how many British screenwriters cut their teeth on the soaps these days, the bulk of them are no strangers to that writing by committee tendency anyway -- though the best of them, Jimmy McGovern, Frank Cotterell Boyce, etc. do tend to graduate to being able to work by themselves eventually.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:15 AM on April 12, 2009


I'm not aware of anything currently on the BBC that can come close to Mad Men or Breaking Bad, or even the level of Friday Night Lights, Battlestar, Damages or Big Love.

I'll see all of those, and raise you a Red Riding. (Though you can't limit us to a single company while you get the whole of US TV to chose from.

For comedy, I'd put 30 Rock, Eastbound and Down and The Venture Brothers against any currently running BBC show, and if I'm wrong, I'll be glad to find three more hilarious shows to watch.

Johnny Vegas in Ideal? Gavin and Stacy?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:35 AM on April 12, 2009


1. Fawlty Towers
2. Fawlty Tower
3. Faw ty Tower
4. Faw ty To er
5. Warty Towels
6. no sign
7. Fawlty Tower
8. Watery Fowls
9. Flay Otters
10. Fatty Owls
11. Flowery Twats
12. Farty Towels

via
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:01 AM on April 12, 2009


I assume it's happened in the USA (can anyone think of an example?

I believe more than one network offered to pick up Arrested Development after Fox dropped it, but Mitchell Hurwitz refused to continue to develop it. (On television anyway. There's a movie in some nascent stage of production.)

But I would argue that US shows don't have the "quit while you're ahead" mentality. Good shows are either cancelled or prolonged beyond expiration date. For what it's worth, I think US TV comedy is in a peak right now. Almost every network has at least one great and funny show. I would point out NBC Universal (NBC and USA Networks), which has the best comedy lineup I can remember in recent times, and Comedy Central (The Jon Stewart and Pals Channel) as the forerunners.

In any case, I'm just glad the laugh-track sitcom is no longer the gold standard for what you can do on network television comedies.
posted by shadytrees at 7:11 AM on April 12, 2009


Though you can't limit us to a single company while you get the whole of US TV to chose from

Sorry, that's me being a lazy American with my phrasing ... I'm aware that y'all have different companies, but we're used to just thinking of all British teevee as BBC. And Red Riding looks very good, I'm off to hunt that down.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:44 AM on April 12, 2009


Thrashing the car with the tree is one of the single greatest bits of comedy ever filmed. So much comedy relies on the setup, and it stands perfectly on its own--who among us hasn't wanted to beat up a car?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:56 AM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was 26 when Fawlty Towers appeared (Booth was 31), and perhaps had different feelings for her than a six-year-old might, but yes, who wouldn't be?

I don't know, I was a pretty precocious and horny six-year-old.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:04 PM on April 12, 2009


I'll see all of those, and raise you a Red Riding

RR was good, high production values (though the cast all worked for scale), intelligent script (though seeing it on screen did underline it's debt to Elroy's LA Trilogy) but I actually found it sad because it just reminded me how little really adult drama we're producing in the UK at the moment (I don't think there's that much being made in the US either if you take HBO out of the equation). For every Mark of Cain or Sex traffic there's a dozen god awful cliched messes. BBC4 has done wonders for factual entertainment on TV but drama is now so ruinously expensive that I don't hold out a lot of hope for a new State of Play or House of Cards.

Unless it's written by Russel T Davis and aimed at twelve year olds.
posted by ciderwoman at 1:15 PM on April 12, 2009


"Is not fire, is bell!"
posted by djrock3k at 2:55 PM on April 12, 2009


Thrashing the car with the tree is one of the single greatest bits of comedy ever filmed.

That's a great moment, but I've always been partial to the bit at the end of Episode 1 where, after his attempts to pummel the fake Lord Melbury are stymied by the cops, he apoplectically shakes his fist at a plant.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:40 PM on April 13, 2009


I love the bit in episode two where he tries to throttle the garden gnome. Fawlty is like a wild beast that's been raised in captivity to think it's human. He should be out there running free on the moors, hunting hares and maybe stealing the occasional sheep - but he's stuck running a hotel instead, trying to please people and swallow down all that aggression. Even his wardrobe looks like it's constricting him, with the tiny little ties. He's a wonderfully realized character.

Thanks to Metafilter for this thread! Reading the op and the subsequent discussion spurred me to watch Fawlty Towers again, and it's been a real pleasure.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:21 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


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