Payne (TV series)

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Payne TV series title card.jpg
Opening title
Created by Judd Pilot
John Peaslee
Starring John Larroquette
JoBeth Williams
Julie Benz
Rick Batalla
Composer(s) Scott Van Zen
Chris Wagner
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 9 (1 unaired)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 30 minutes
Production company(s) Big Phone Productions
Port Street Films
Studios USA Television
Original network CBS
Original release March 15 – April 28, 1999

Payne is an American sitcom patterned after the British program Fawlty Towers. It starred American John Larroquette, who was also an executive producer for the series.

Payne was a mid-season replacement on CBS and aired in March and April 1999. The show also starred JoBeth Williams, Julie Benz and Rick Batalla. Despite fairly positive reception, and receiving the blessing of John Cleese, who agreed to take a recurring role if the show was renewed[citation needed], Payne was quickly cancelled. Nine episodes were filmed; eight were aired.

Basic description[edit]

Payne was a remake of Fawlty Towers, though set in this version at an ambiguous location on the coast of California, as opposed to Torquay, England, in Fawlty Towers. The action takes place at the Whispering Pines Inn, owned and operated by Royal Payne and his wife, Constance.

The pilot episode, "Pacific Ocean Duck" (which actually aired fifth in sequence), merged the plots of the Fawlty Towers episodes "Gourmet Night" and "The Hotel Inspectors".[1][2][3]


JoBeth Williams & John Larroquette as Connie and Royal Payne
  • Royal Payne (John Larroquette) – Inspired by Basil Fawlty, Royal had an overpowering obsession (not unlike Basil’s generally obsessive behavior) with keeping up with a rival hotel called the Sand Dune, located just a short distance up the road. His schemes to do so cheaply or overly simply were the source of many of his problems. The viewer was given the impression that the only reason Whispering Pines ever had any guests at all was that it was in a popular resort area and the far superior Sand Dune was nearly always full. Payne like Basil is guilty of false economy and rudeness.
  • Constance (Connie) Payne (JoBeth Williams) – The antagonistic dynamic between Connie and Royal was also nearly identical to that between Sybil and Basil with one distinct exception: their sex life was apparently extremely vibrant and healthy, whereas Basil and Sybil's was implied to be repressed, (though Basil does hint at 2 or 3 times a week in the episode "The Psychiatrist"). Connie’s gossip sessions on the telephone with her friends (a Sybil Fawlty characteristic) invariably had her bragging about how fantastic Royal was in bed, implying that this was why she continued to tolerate him. Since Royal had a Basil-like sense of embarrassment, this caused him enormous consternation.
  • Breeze O’Rourke (Julie Benz) – A waitress/chambermaid, based on Polly in Fawlty Towers. One difference between Breeze and Polly was that Breeze was staunchly proud that she was a virgin, "saving herself for marriage". Otherwise, Breeze was, like Polly, intelligent, efficient, and repeatedly saving Royal from his own incompetence.
  • Mo (Rick Batalla) – A bellhop from India, Mo is essentially modeled on the Manuel character in Fawlty Towers.


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "The J. Edgar Hoover Pin Story" Dorothy Lyman Gail Parent March 15, 1999 (1999-03-15)
2 "Sexual Intercom" Michael Zinberg Jennifer Fisher March 17, 1999 (1999-03-17)
3 "Whatever Happened to Baby Payne?" John Rich Rob Dames & Lenny Ripps March 24, 1999 (1999-03-24)
4 "Gossip Checks In and a Cat Checks Out" John Pasquin Judd Pillot & John Peaslee March 31, 1999 (1999-03-31)
5 "Pacific Ocean Duck" Andrew D. Weyman Teleplay by John Peaslee & Judd Pillot
Story by John Cleese & Connie Booth
April 7, 1999 (1999-04-07)
6 "Trouble in Room 206" John Rich Joseph Staretski April 14, 1999 (1999-04-14)
7 "I Never Forget a Face-Lift" Craig Zisk James Kramer April 21, 1999 (1999-04-21)
8 "Wedding Fever" Dorothy Lyman Steve Atinsky & Dan O'Connor April 28, 1999 (1999-04-28)
9 "Uncle Royal and Aunt Connie" Michael Zinberg Jonathan Leigh Solomon Unaired


  1. ^ Jay Vanzil (May 31, 2014). "5 Pacific Ocean Duck" – via YouTube. 
  2. ^ "Payne - PACIFIC OCEAN DUCK". Archived from the original on June 30, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Payne - UNCLE ROYAL AND AUNT CONNIE". Archived from the original on June 30, 2012. Retrieved June 14, 2014. 

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