Payne (TV series)

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Payne TV series title card.jpg
Opening title
Created byJudd Pilot
John Peaslee
StarringJohn Larroquette
JoBeth Williams
Julie Benz
Rick Batalla
Composer(s)Scott Van Zen
Chris Wagner
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes9 (1 unaired)
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time30 minutes
Production company(s)Big Phone Productions
Port Street Films
Studios USA Television
Original networkCBS
Original releaseMarch 15 –
April 28, 1999

Payne is an American sitcom based 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 as the antagonistic rival hotelier 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. Royal was always trying to improve the quality of his hotel and eventually franchise the place, in search of immortal legendary status as a hotelier, like Hilton or Waldorf.

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 claim 2 or 3 times a week in the episode "The Psychiatrist", although this is most likely untrue). 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. She is no doubt named for Connie Booth, who played the maid, Polly, in Fawlty Towers and who co-wrote the show with her then-husband, Cleese.
  • 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.


Episodes aired in the UK on the ITV network soon after the series run. Episode 8 was also broadcast in the UK unlike CBS.
No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"The J. Edgar Hoover Pin Story"Dorothy LymanGail ParentMarch 15, 1999 (1999-03-15)
2"Sexual Intercom"Michael ZinbergJennifer FisherMarch 17, 1999 (1999-03-17)
3"Whatever Happened to Baby Payne?"John RichRob Dames & Lenny RippsMarch 24, 1999 (1999-03-24)
4"Gossip Checks In and a Cat Checks Out"John PasquinJudd Pillot & John PeasleeMarch 31, 1999 (1999-03-31)
5"Pacific Ocean Duck"Andrew D. WeymanTeleplay by John Peaslee & Judd Pillot
Story by John Cleese & Connie Booth
April 7, 1999 (1999-04-07)
6"Trouble in Room 206"John RichJoseph StaretskiApril 14, 1999 (1999-04-14)
7"I Never Forget a Face-Lift"Craig ZiskJames KramerApril 21, 1999 (1999-04-21)
8"Wedding Fever"Dorothy LymanSteve Atinsky & Dan O'ConnorApril 28, 1999 (1999-04-28)
9"Uncle Royal and Aunt Connie"Michael ZinbergJonathan Leigh SolomonUnaired


  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.

External links[edit]