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Fawlty Towers/Season Two
Season Two (1979) of Fawlty Towers was almost never made. Show creators John Cleese and Connie Booth were apprehensive about returning to their former success. Although the initial response to Fawlty Towers had been lukewarm, by the end of the run of the first season, the show had garnered a wide audience. In its rebroadcast, it had become a massive success. Cleese and Booth were concerned that the expectations were too high. When they finally agreed to it, they redoubled their efforts on the scripts. While the first season had required massive amounts of careful plotting, writing and rewriting, for the second season, they took as long as six weeks or more to write each episode, often going through ten or more drafts.
The result was a more densely plotted series. Whereas the first season's episodes had often involved one concept, carefully built to a climax (a few episodes aside—see 1x03 - The Wedding Party and 1x06 - The Germans), the second season's episodes almost all had two or more parallel storylines building towards a conclusion and crashing into one another at the end.
Few other changes seem to occur between the seasons on screen. Most notably, Terry appears as a staff member in the second season, because Cleese and Booth felt that it was strange that a hotel would be run by only three people (Basil, Sybil and Polly). The second season also saw a few years pass in the timeline. But otherwise, there is very little, at first glance, to mark the difference between the second season and the first.
Behind the scenes, however, quite a bit had changed. Director John Howard Davies had left, and director Bob Spiers—a BBC regular—had replaced him. Cleese and Booth had gone through a number of changes in their personal lives. Cleese had started down the road to international superstardom, as Monty Python had made its first forays into original films with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, although it would still be a few months before the release of Life of Brian, which would rocket the Pythons into an almost rock star status for a brief time. Most importantly, however, Cleese and Booth had divorced after a ten-year marriage in 1978, although they continued to work well together both as writers and as actors.
Their apprehension regarding the second season ultimately proved to be unfounded. The second run of Fawlty Towers was as big a hit—if not a bigger hit—than the first, and it cemented the show's place in the annals of BBC comedy history. Several episodes went on to become international classics, including 2x03 - Waldorf Salad and 2x06 - Basil the Rat. Although many lamented the fact that there would never be a third season, the amazing work embodied in the complete twelve-episode run of the series is truly remarkable, and there can be no doubt that the show went out at the peak of its success.
|7||1||Communication Problems||February 19, 1979|
|8||2||The Psychiatrist||February 26, 1979|
|9||3||Waldorf Salad||March 5, 1979|
|10||4||The Kipper and the Corpse||March 12, 1979|
|11||5||The Anniversary||March 26, 1979|
|12||6||Basil the Rat||October 25, 1979|