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Often hailed as the greatest ever British sitcom, Fawlty Towers is closer to the more elaborate tradition of farce. Comprising two series made in 1975 and 1979, the total of just 12 episodes were painstakingly constructed by writers John Cleese and Connie Booth. Unlike most British farce, however, Fawlty Towers deals with the big themes--death, psychology, xenophobia and even sex-o-phobia (Basil's marriage to Sybil is the most sterile ever depicted in a sitcom).Basil's contempt for his guests is, of course, legendary. It takes little from patrons to unleash his sledgehammer sarcasm: "Rosewood, mahogany, teak? Sorry, I was wondering what you'd like your breakfast tray made out of," he sneers at a guest who dares request breakfast in bed. Like every Englishman, he wants to be king of his own castle and resents having to take in lodgers to maintain the place, especially the open-necked younger generation, whom he regards as sub-human. Mostly, though, Fawlty Towers is comedy of exasperation--who can forget the "damn good thrashing" Basil gives his clapped-out car, or the nervous breakdowns he almost suffers trying to make himself understood to Manuel? It's also comedy of embarrassment. The very fear of losing his dignity generally leads Basil into the most spectacularly undignified of predicaments. His inevitable misery is our sheer delight