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fawlty at large

06.12.19

Fawlty at Large, Part Four:
“Why did you laugh if you don’t understand it?”

Posted 6th December 2019

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LWT logo

In the penultimate part of this series, we examined the full wrath of John Cleese. Today, to round things up, I want to investigate his softer side. The softer side that nonetheless involves a sharp jab at his fellow professionals, because this is John Cleese: the man who deliberately broadcast David Frost’s telephone number to the nation because he thought it was funny.

And a character like Mr. Davidson – someone who is the embodiment of anti-comedy – is the perfect vehicle Cleese can use to slag off some lazy jokes.

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04.12.19

Fawlty at Large, Part Three:
“He doesn’t know when to stop, does he?”

Posted 4th December 2019

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Mr. Davidson and Collier

Last time in our analysis of No Ill Feeling!, we took an in-depth look at Dr. Upton’s nemesis, Mr. Davidson. We are now heading towards our final showdown with that particular fragment of humanity.

It is utterly glorious. It is also utterly savage, in a way that you might not expect from a 1971 LWT sitcom. And it’s something which seems to have been pretty much ignored by everyone in their analysis of the episode – in as much as the episode has had any analysis, beyond “look, there’s an early version of Basil”.

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02.12.19

Fawlty at Large, Part Two: “Join in the fun!”

Posted 2nd December 2019

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Mr. Davidson

In Part One of this series, we took a trip to 1971 and Doctor at Large, where newly-qualified doctor Michael Upton went to stay at the Bella Vista hotel. There, he met Mr. Clifford, our ersatz Basil Fawlty, and had a fairly baffling time with him.

That’s where most analysis of the episode No Ill Feeling! ends. But to me, it’s really just the beginning. Today, we meet the real nemesis of Michael Upton… and John Cleese.

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30.11.19

Fawlty at Large, Part One: “Did you book a sprout?”

Posted 30th November 2019

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Doctor Upton and Mr. Clifford, from Doctor At Large

There is a tendency, when talking about TV shows, to get caught up in the same old anecdotes and stock opinions.

Star Trek: The Next Generation only got good with Season 3. Panorama was briefly interesting in 1957 with its spaghetti harvest April Fools, and again that time when Dimbleby sat there like a twat when no films would run. Catchphrase is reduced to Mr. Chips having a wank next to a snake.

It’s the same with sitcoms. Hancock is all about armfuls of blood and reading off cue cards. Are You Being Served? is entirely centred on Mrs. Slocombe’s minge. The Office invented a whole new way of making comedy.1 So it is with Fawlty Towers, which has its own set of anecdotes and origin stories, all endlessly repeated over the years until nobody bothers to question them.

So let’s question one of them, shall we?

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  1. It didn’t. 

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