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Fawlty Towers reboot – the darker side of Basil Fawlty



Fawlty Towers is back in the news, due to the announcement of a US reboot where Basil Fawlty is now running a boutique hotel in the States with his daughter – to be played by Cleese’s real-life daughter, stand-up comedian Camilla Cleese.

One question this raises is how on earth did Basil Fawlty, the cantankerous parochial hotelier in the English countryside, somehow end up with an American daughter? A second question is why are they bringing the show back at all?

Stylistically Fawlty Towers is a farce, which is a genre of comedy built around a series of increasingly absurd, exaggerated and improbable situations.

Sitcom wise, the last great farce was Frasier. But despite the extraordinary stage farce Noises Off being revived for a 40th-anniversary production, rebooting Fawlty Towers as a farce in the 21st century would be a mistake.

That’s because, as a form, the farce has been eclipsed by comedy drama (aka “dramedy”).

Fawlty Towers was released at a time when farce was a dominant cultural form – joined, for example, by Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn (National Theatre, London 1975) and the works of Ray Cooney. Farces are powered by a lie that gets out of control, the comedy driven by the increasingly desperate attempts of the protagonist to keep the lie going and all the chaos and absurdity this causes.

In a Fawlty Towers plot, for instance, Basil tells an initial lie to get out of a tight spot, then is forced into more and more convoluted lies in order to sustain the original lie, until it all becomes too convoluted and comes crashing down.

In classic stage farces, you’ll often find a lover hiding in a wardrobe of a hotel bedroom. In a nod to this kind of bedroom farce, in the “Kipper and the Corpse” episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil – along with a reluctant waiter Manuel and maid Polly – have carried the deceased guest Mr Leeman’s body out of his room whereupon resident guest Miss Tibbs sees the corpse and becomes hysterical.

On Basil’s urging, Polly slaps her to bring her to her senses but applies too much force and knocks her out cold. In a panic, they manhandle both the unconscious Miss Tibbs and the corpse into a nearby empty bedroom and hide them in the wardrobe. At which point – like the unfaithful wife’s husband – the couple who are staying in the room return and, of course, want to get something from their wardrobe.

Having an unconscious pensioner and a dead body inside is certainly upping the ante on the classic lover “hiding in the wardrobe” scenario.

If the show returned in the form of a farce, it would feel chronically dated alongside today’s best comedies that are a heady mix of comedy and drama. A case in point is the celebrated White Lotus, itself set in a hotel but with a class of guest that Basil could only dream of.

Comedy dramas have all the gloss of big-budget dramas and tackle darker and deeper subjects within their comedic frame than the traditional TV sitcom ever could.

The first season of White Lotus, in a pleasing echo of Basil Fawlty, has hotelier Armond, a tall moustachioed volcano of emotion covered up by a supercilious exterior. Armond, however, goes in directions Basil never would. He’s gay and a recovering addict, who falls spectacularly off the wagon and runs amok – leading to a death with more gravity and consequences than the demise of Mr Leeman.

But like Fawlty Towers, at the heart of the comedy, are lies that spiral out of control. For example, Armond claims to not have found a lost rucksack belonging to two young guests because this bag is his supply of drugs. Armond also continuously lies to cover up his incorrect booking of a room – a lie that spirals spectacularly out of control collides with his drug taking and leads to a grisly finish.

While the style and subject matter changes, the fundamentals of comedy remain the same. So it’s not that the new Basil shouldn’t be a chronic liar losing control of his falsehoods, but rather that stylistically the revival would be better off being in the dramedy mode, like White Lotus. This also opens up the show to the delicious possibility of a much darker and wilder Basil Fawlty.

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Man suing Gwyneth Paltrow over ski accident takes to stand



Terry Sanderson has detailed the collision he suffered

The man suing Hollywood superstar Gwyneth Paltrow over a ski accident has taken to the stand.

While testifying, 76-year-old Terry Sanderson recounted what he says was a “blood-curdling scream” just moments before the collision occurred.

Sanderson says it sounded like someone was “out of control”.

Sanderson accuses Paltrow of the 2016 crash and is seeking damages of $300,000.

The actress is denying any responsibility and is now countersuing for $1 and her legal costs.

This comes as a ski instructor told the jury the actress was not a reckless skier at the time.

Paltrow says the incident in Utah, left her with a sore knee and she got a massage afterwards.

Sanderson has also told the court he suffered physical, mental and emotional injuries as a result.

He says these medical issues have changed his relationships with his children, as well as contributing to his split from his partner and losing friends.

The trial continues.

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus meets Joe Biden & Kamala Harris at White House



Dreyfus’ character made fun of the vice presidency

Three Vice Presidents – past and present – in one room.

Well, kind of.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – whose show ‘VEEP’ made fun of the vice presidency – met with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the White House for the President’s annual awards ceremony a few days ago.

The moment was released by the White House.

When presenting the award, Biden said Louis-Dreyfus “embraces life’s absurdity with absolute wit, and handles real life turns with absolute grace. A mom, a cancer survivor, a pioneer for women in comedy, she is an American original.”

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Jonathan Majors arrested on assault charges



The ‘Creed III’ actor also had an advertising campaign involving the U.S. Army pulled

‘Creed III’ star Jonathan Majors has been arrested in New York City on assault and harassment charges.

Majors was part of this ad campaign with the U.S. Army, who have quickly pulled the advertisements from showing in the U.S.

He was arrested on Saturday morning in Manhattan following a domestic dispute.

A 30-year-old woman suffered minor injuries to her head and neck and was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

The U.S. Army says: “While Mr. Majors is innocent until proven guilty, prudence dictates that we pull our ads until the investigation into these allegations is complete”.

Majors rose to fame in the 2019 film ‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ and appeared in Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ released this year.

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