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The Complete Fawlty Towers DVD was released in the United Kingdom on DVD in 2005 and so the DVD is quite recent, however the actual footage on the DVD is taken from the show which was back in 1975. The DVD is a PG which means that it is suitable for all, providing that children have an adult present with them when watching. The DVD is currently available to buy from around £14 from Amazon, which I do think is a little expensive. However, there are 3 discs which contain all 12 episodes of the show.
For those of you who don't know (although I am sure that there aren't many of you), Fawlty Towers was a British comedy show which aired in the 1970's. The show was based on a hotel; Basil Fawlty, along with his wife Sybil were the owners. However, whilst Sybil was always efficient and professional with the customers, Basil always got into trouble by doing something wrong or not doing something as promised.
~ * The Episodes * ~
1) A Touch Of Class 2) The Builders 3) The Wedding Party 4) The Hotel Inspectors 5) Gourmet Night 6) The Germans 7) Communication Problems 8) The Psychiatrist 9) Waldorf Salad 10) The Kipper and the corpse 11) The Anniversary 12) Basil The Rat
The show features: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth, Bernard Cribbins - they all play their parts exceptionally well. However, my favourite character is definitely John Cleese as he is so funny and is such a natural comedian.
I like this show because it consists of good old fashioned comedy. They didn't have to rely on swearing or being rude to be funny. It's good to see that it has kept it's funniness over 30 years - proof what an excellent show it is.
The show is so funny that it is a shame that only 12 episodes were ever made as it is the kind of show that could have kept on and on.
I like every single one of the episodes are they are each really different and just as funny as each other. My favourites would be 'The Hotel Inspectors' and 'The Waldorf Salad'.
Even though Basil is the one in the wrong, it is funny how the viewer always takes his side when it should be the other way around. However, because it is always an accident or misunderstanding, I always feel sorry for him.
Working in a hotel myself, I can totally understand where he is coming from and I think that is why I enjoy the show so much - because I can relate to it.
I think one of the things that makes the show so funny is Basil - he is the best thing about the show. I love the fact that he always tries to hide what he has done from Sybil, although she always finds out which makes it even funnier.
This is the kind of the show that the whole family can watch together - even family members who were too young to remember the show the first time around will still find it funny.
Despite the fact that I have seen this show hundreds of times on the television (I have seen all of the episodes), it is the kind of show which you can watch over and over and still laugh just as hard as the first time you saw it.
If you like Fawlty Towers and old fashioned comedy I would definitely recommend this Dvd to you!
Thanks for reading!
Xdonzx / xd-o-n-z-x
Constantly rated as one of the top television sitcoms of all time I believe Fawlty Towers is up there alongside the finest comedy ever to come from Britain. The fact that only twelve episodes were made makes this collection a must have for any fan of Fawlty Towers, John Cleese, Monty Python or British comedy in general. Definitely of it's time and written with such carefully observed detail pertaining to the British character. Not a minute of any one episode is wasted and as Cleese reflects in one of the interviews on the bonus disc, the pace is substantially quicker and more manic than most sitcoms to date. As a study in farce the shows are unequalled and we will be waiting many, many years for any other show to come close to the genius exhibited here. The show may be set in the seventies but it's comedy has not dated and the concept of Fawlty Towers has quite rightly entered the lexicon of British people today.
Whenever there is a poll carried out to judge the best television comedy show since TV was invented you can always rely on Fawlty Towers to either be voted the best or at least the second best comedy of all time.
It is a remarkable achievement for a show that only ever had 12 episodes & which was slated by a senior BBC executive for being dull & uninspiring before it went on air.
The first episode in 1975 had just over one million viewers at a time when we only had three TV channels to choose from. By the third episode the viewing figures had crept up past the three million mark & by the time the second series ran in 1979 viewing figures peaked to over 13 million.
So what makes it so great? What makes this comedy show such a classic?
THE BASIC IDEA / STORY
Fawlty Towers was written by the ex Monty Python creator John Cleese & his then wife & actress Connie Booth. The whole idea was based on a visit to the Hotel Gleneagles in Torquay in May 1971 when John Cleese & the other members of the Month Python team were staying.
The owner of the hotel was Donald Sinclair who had a dislike to the hotel guests & was often very rude to them. He complained when he saw Terry Gilliam using a knife & fork to cut his food & then switch his fork to his right hand to eat, as an American it was regarded as quite normal but for the hotel owner it wasn't. He remarked to Terry "we don't eat like that in this country!"
On another occasion Eric Idle had left his brief case in the reception area of the hotel, when he arrived back later that day he asked Sinclair if he had seen it. Sinclair told him it was sitting at the other side of the garden wall. When asked by Eric why it sitting over the wall, Sinclair informed him he thought there was a bomb in it, apparently he was having problems with the staff at the time.
The members of the Monty Python cast left the hotel for another local one but Cleese stayed on fascinated by Sinclair's antics, he even invited his wife Connie to join him so that she could see how bad Sinclair really was.
After Cleese left Monty Python in 1974 he was asked to do another show for the BBC & the idea he got was based on Donald Sinclair & the Torquay hotel.
The first episodes were all written by Cleese & his wife, Cleese would write the male parts & Connie the female parts, although in the end they shared the writing of the parts.
The main characters would be John Cleese as Basil Fawlty the hotel owner with Prunella Scales as his long suffering wife Sybil. Connie Booth would play Polly the waitress & Andrew Sachs would be Manuel the Spanish waiter from Barcelona who could hardly speak English. If he didn't understand what you said to him, he would reply with a vacant look on his face & say "Keh!"
Added to that was the Major, he was a little eccentric & a permanent guest along with two old ladies.
It was meant to be set in Torquay just like the original hotel but in actual fact some of the outside filming was carried out at Wooburn Country Club in Bourne End Buckinghamshire. Sadly after filming had been completed the building was damaged by fire & has since been demolished.
THE FIRST SERIES
The first series went out on BBC2 on Friday 19th September 1975 at 9pm & the press reviews at the time were rather mediocre. In fact none of the first episodes made into the top 10 programs at the time but by the time the last one was broadcast it had become very popular encouraging the BBC to repeat the whole series not long after.
The program won the British Academy Award for the Best Comedy Series in 1975 & in 1976 John Cleese won the Royal Television Society Award. By 1978 the series had been sold to 45 different TV companies in 17 different countries & there was a demand for another series.
However, John & Connie's marriage had declined and they divorced in 1976 although they continued to write together to make the next six episodes which were broadcast in 1979.
During the making of the second series industrial disputes (common in the 1970s) prevented the last episode from being made with the other five. The first five were broadcast from 19th February 1979 with last one not going out until October 25th 1979.
Listed below are the basic details of the twelve shows all of which are featured in the complete boxed set now available.
DISCS ONE / FIRST SERIES
1: A TOUCH OF CLASS
The very first episode features Lord Melbury arriving at the hotel & requiring a cheque cashed, Basil Fawlty is more than happy to help a Lord but that is when his problems just start.
2: The BUILDERS
The lobby of the hotel needs a facelift, Sybil wants a professional builder to do the work, Basil wants it done on the cheap which leads to a conflict of interest.
3: THE WEDDING PARTY
Basil is outraged by an outbreak of promiscuity at the hotel when a wedding party arrive.
4: THE HOTEL INSPECTORS
A classic episode when Basil hears that hotel inspectors are in town, just after he has been extremely rude to a guest who he then thinks is the hotel inspector!
5: GOURMET NIGHT
Another classic episode best remembered for the old red Austin car getting a thrashing with a tree branch in the street by Basil. The episode features the local dignitaries attending a gourmet night at the hotel but the chef is unable to carry out his duties after getting plastered.
6: THE GERMANS
One of the most famous episodes when Basil has German guests at the hotel & is determined to give them some 'truths' about their country.
DISC TWO / SECOND SERIES
7: COMMUNICATION PROBLEM
A hilarious episode featuring Mrs Richards who is a little deaf & constantly complaining about the standards of the hotel. All this is leading Basil closer to a nervous breakdown.
8: THE PSYCHIATRIST
A visiting psychiatrist & his wife find Basil's antics fascinating.
9: WALDORF SALAD
An American guest demands a meal after the chef has gone home & Basil is left to prepare the food, but it's not exactly what the guest expected.
10: THE KIPPER & THE CORPSE
One of the guests dies in the hotel room & Basil tries to hide the body from the other guests until it gets collected, not without problems.
11: THE ANNIVERSARY
Basil pretends to forget about their 15th anniversary & has close friends coming round for a get together, unfortunately Sybil walks out leaving Basil in an award position.
12: BASIL THE RAT
Manuel has what he thinks is a pet Siberian hamster but it's actually a rat, Basil finds it the day a health & safety inspector is inspecting the hotel, a hilarious episode.
DISC THREE / EXTRAS
Disc three has exclusive interviews with John Cleese, Prunella Scales & Andrew Sachs along with some out takes & information on the Hotel Gleneagles in Torquay.
This is an excellent complete collection of the classic Fawlty Towers series & a must for any fan & it comes highly recommended. No matter how many times you watch it you are guaranteed to be laughing.
Great DVD showing all 12 episodes of the classic British Sitcom, set in a hotel on 'The French Riviera'- Well Torquay. Basil Fawlty runs the place with his wife Sybil. Basil fears her wrath but at the same time has contempt for her! Sybil treats her husband with scorn and disdain but at the same time seems Motherly towards him too. They've employed a waiter from Barcelona- Manuel- Basil got him as he was 'cheap'! Basil treats him like something he's just stepped on, but at times I think Basil takes a bit of glory as he knows, even he, is more competent than Manuel! Sybil just thinks he's useless. That makes both of them!
Polly is the one who seems to keep the place together, along with Sybil when she can be bothered. Polly is the chambermaid who Basil bosses around but he does listen to her as she often ' saves the day'! Manuel and Polly are good friends and she acts like a sort of role model for the spanish waiter.
Fawlty Towers is basically a farce, but all 12 episodes are constructed in fantastic way. John Cleese and Connie Booth- who used to be married- wrote the program, and John said he got the idea for the show when he stayed in a hotel with The rest of The Monty Python team. The guy who ran the place was incredibly annoying and the character of Basil Fawlty was born
My favourite episode is probably ' The Anniversary'- Basil pretends he's forgotten their wedding anniverary but he's actually organised a surprise party with some of their friends'. Sybil storms off, so Basil has to explain to everyone that she's ill, so the saviour of the day Polly, has to dress up as Sybil in her 'sick bed'!- Absolutely hilarious! Basil typically has a small problem but shoots himself in the foot and makes things a million times
On this DVD there are some added extras such as interviews with the cast. When I watched FT as a child I was most upset when I found out Manuel wasn't really Spanish! There's some funny outakes too which haven't been shown before. This is a fantastic DVD and one that I really treasure.
I got this dvd boxset as part of a christmas present 2 years ago, i've recently had to sell it along with a few others in order to obtain a little extra cash but thats not to say this isn't a brilliant tv series, and to many the best British comedy of all time.
Such a shame they only made 12 episodes but at the same time had they made more and ruined it they probably wouldn't be so special, the boxset doesn't have too many extra features and in fact I don't think I used any, but the boxset was extremly cheap and for 12 episodes of some of the best comedy Britain has sen I was more than willing to pay the £10.
Basil Fawlty is a hotel owner in a remote area of the country which he runs with his wife, he employs 3 staff, a waiter, Manuel, a cook and a waitress/receptioist. Between them they run a, well, unusual hotel. Basil isn't the most generous and pleasant hotel manager you would ever meet, unless you are wealthy of course, for the wealth bring money.
Manuel starts trying to learn english and increases his vocabulary as the episodes and series go on but there's no hope for him, he's useless, doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing and usually somehow messes up customers food orders.
The 2 of them being the best characters are supported by Basils wife, a moody woman who doesn't really do a lot of work around the hotel and orders Basil to do everything, the waitress who is fairly enigmatic and the cook, whom we see very little of.
Overall Fawlty Towers is a brilliant comedy and this dvd should be bought purely for 12 classic episodes of comedy
I simply don't think I can do this comedy justice with a review, but here goes:
After the time of Monty Python's Flying Circus, John Cleese (and, indeed comedy itself) had one of the greatest acts ever to follow. After all, it the hotel of Fawlty Towers was inspired by a terrible hotel the Pythons stayed in during a filming.
For those of you who do not know already, Fawlty Towers is a situation comedy set in a poor hotel in Torquay. The main character is Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), a middle- aged man with a horrible temper and a sharp wit, the hotal manager. His wife, Sybil (Prunella Scales), the sardonic woman of the house who drives Basil slowly insane. The waitress, Polly (Connie Booth) is the down to earth character who does almost all the work. And finally, Manuel (Andrew Sachs) the spanish waiter with almost no understanding of anything.
The comedy in this show is perfect. Cleese and Booth (the writers) gave just the right level of sarcasm, juvenile humour, physical comedy and one-liners to make the show what it is. Basil's total disregard for the guests is so funny in that the viewer seems to side with him as he subtly insult the intelligence of his customers. His manic traits are the highlights of the shows.
The most unique aspect of the show (as Cleese described himself) is the use of taboo. The subjects covered include disability, foreigners and public humiliation. The effect is that the viewer becomes engrossed into the situation by means of pity for the characters, yet still find the awkward moment side-splitting.
The other great part of this show is the physical comedy. This produced some unforgetable moments, such as the infamous Germans episode. The flailing legs of Cleese cannot soom be forgotten. The choreography of the scenes is just fantastic.
Overall, this is a piece of British comedy history well worth having in your collection.
Fawlty Towers is my favourite comedy and one of favourites in our home and also with most of my friends and family. It originally aired on BBC 1 in the 1970s
It is a comedy made at the height of comedy in the 70s and is about a hotel - "Fawlty Towers" in Torquay. It is probably one of the best known and most loved British comedy and although there were only ever two series they are forever being shown on channels such as UKTV gold - and with there being this boxset available you will never forget this great programme. I am forever watching the episodes over and over again despite knowing most of the words - they are just so funny and enjoyable to watch.
How it all started:
The series was written partly by John Cleese who came up with the idea when he was staying at a hotel in Torquay named the Gleneagles. He was there along with the rest of the Monty Python team and the owner of the hotel called Donald was extremely stressful and they encountered many rather shall we say amusing moments for example with a bus time table being thrown at the guests. The idea of the Fawlty Towers series just spawned from that hotel visit!
What's it all about:
The series is simply about the day to day life of the Fawlty Towers Hotel in Torquay on the English Riviera. There is Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese who is perfectly suited for this part) as the owner and manager of the hotel. He spends most of his time just getting angry at the guests and throttling or hitting Manuel with whatever he can find be it a saucepan or a kipper. Manuel of course is the waiter from Barcelona who speaks little English and is constantly getting things wrong. Polly the assistant in the hotel is left to making people's stay as pleasant as possible whilst Sibil (Basil's wife) is left to pick up all the pieces.
There are throughout the two series a range of different guests from hotel inspectors to Germans. There are also a few p[permanent guests including Major - an old war veteran and a pair of old ladies who are always very happy and upbeat.
John Cleese - Basil Fawlty
Prunella Scales - Sybil Fawlty
Connie Booth - Polly
Andrew Sachs - Manuel
Brian Hall - Terry The chef
Ballard Berkerley - Major Gowen
Series 1: (1975)
- A touch of class:
In this the first episode of the series there is an arrival of what appears to be someone of aristocracy but is actually a con artist and hands a case full of valuables which are actually bricks! Basil of course treats him with nobility and talks about other guests being "riff-raff" and is a bit embarrassed when the common man talks to Manuel in perfect Spanish. Eventually they discover they have been tricked, but Basil can't face up to it and checks the bricks as much as he can for anything.
Best bit: Where Basil says to Manuel "There is too much butter on those trays" and Manuel replies "No senor - uno, dos, tres"
- The builders:
In this episode Basil and Sibil are away for the weekend and he has organised O'Reilly to do the building work very cheaply, but Sibil thinks it is being done properly. Of course it all goes terribly wrong with the door being put in the wrong place and likely to collapse at any moment. There is also an incident with Manuel in charge and a garden gnome which he tries to book into a room. The episode ends with Basil leaving the hotel eager to stuff the gnome into O'Reilly's head and then escape to Canada!
- The wedding Party:
In this episode there is a group of couples from a wedding party and Basil is not very keen on what is going on and tends to be extremely rude to the guests. The episode also reveals the sleeping arrangements of Basil and Sibil in separate beds. Basil also ends up hitting Manuel round the head with a frying pan in this episode!
- The Hotel Inspectors:
This episode does as you can probably guess involve a hotel inspector; however Basil doesn't get it quite right. He at first is extremely rude towards one of the guests and gets very annoyed with all his requests and tells him to "talk properly". He then thinks he is the hotel inspector and is very apologetic and tries to redeem whatever he can. He then discovers right at the end that he is not actually a hotel inspector and applies a custard pie to his face and groin and pours milk in his briefcase just as the real inspectors walk in and witness everything. He boots the man out of the door and turns to the others and says "And what can I do for you three gentlemen?" and then he screams!
- Gourmet Night:
There is a special gourmet night at Fawlty Towers and most of Torquay is out to see it, but unfortunately the chef is drunk and Basil is in charge. He has to race out in his car to find a replacement main course of duck! He has a struggle getting it with his car breaking down and him beating it with a stick. He gets back and opens the tray to reveal not duck but a trifle and he quickly searches in it and finds nothing and the episode finishes on "Duck's off. Sorry"
- The Germans:
Definitely save the best till last with my favourite episode of this series in which a group of Germans come to stay at the hotel. Sibil is at the hotel being treated for an in growing toenail, leaving Basil in charge having to put up a Moose's head and have a fire drill. He is constantly called by Sibil and told to do something he is already doing! The fire drill goes very wrong with a confusion over aslarms and everyone not doing what he says - and then there is a real fire in the kitchen and Manuel is pushed into it - Basil goes mad shouting "FIRE!" and the Moose's head hits him on the head and he ends up in hospital. He quickly returns to find the Germans have arrived and he causes more problems by talking about the war and results on one of young Germans to start crying.
Best bit: When Basil makes the girl cry and he then says "You started it you invaded Poland!"
He then says to the other staff "Don't mention the war, I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it!"
Series 2: (1979)
- Communication Problems:
My favourite episode by far with Mrs Richards visiting as well as Basil making a secret bet on the horses without Sibil knowing. Basil makes a bet on the horses but to hide the money it is given to Polly then to Major - who forgets he has it. Manuel also refuses to say anything as he says "I know nothing" and is told not to say anything by Basil. Sibil is then persuaded that Polly won the money on that horse called "Dragonfly". Mrs Richards is also visiting at the same time and is very hard competition for Basil and complains about everything: "I asked for a room with a view" but Basil comes back with what did you expect "the hanging gardens of Babylon". She also complains about the bath being too small. There is also the problem with her hearing aid not working because it is tuned off as it may "run the batteries down". But Basil plays on this and speaks quietly then shouts really loud and she bangs her head. He then picks something up and says "is this a piece of your brain?"
The episode ends with her having lost some money and his winnings from the horses is given to her - but she is "ten pound short" and he shakes the till out and goes mad. He is then given her lost money and for the first time in his life he is winning! But then he drops the vase and screams when Sibil finds out he was betting and he loses all the money!
- The Psychiatrist:
The episode starts with two doctors coming in and he gets confused as to who is a doctor. There is then of course the psychiatrist and Basil is constantly under the impression he is being tested and when he joins in a discussion about holidays he thinks it is about sex and answers that he goes on holiday "2 to 3 times a week". There is also a young guy staying in the hotel who smuggles a girl into the room. Basil won't allow this and does all he can to stop it including going into other rooms and listening through the wall and peering through the windows after climbing up a ladder which he subsequently falls off. The psychiatrist ends by remarking that there is enough material here for an entire conference.
- Waldorf Salad:
In this one some Americans come to stay and arrive late after the Chef has left but they still want some food. There is also one point when they order a Waldorf salad and Basil is cooking and claims that they are out of waldorfs - even though there is no such thing! Basil even pretends there is a chef and has an invisible fight whilst Sibil walks out with the salad. The American guy, Mr Hamilton finally walks in and catches Basil shouting at the invisible chef!
Best Bit: When everyone is in the lobby and Basil is being shouted at and he then declares he goes or they go. He is sent out but then immediately marches back in demanding a romm with breakfast in bed and a waldorf salad!
- The Kipper and the corpse:
In this episode they have a guest to stay who is feeling ill and asks for breakfast in bed. He dies in the night but Basil is unaware and takes the breakfast up along with the old kippers and talks to the man and thinks nothing of it. It is not until Polly comes in that she realises he is dead. Basil assumes it was the old kippers that killed him and quickly throws one out of the window and puts the other up his shirt - especially as there is a doctor who comes in and he doesn't want to be blamed. He is overjoyed when he finds out he died in the night and he can't be blamed (though everyone else finds this a bit strange). The man is then put in the laundry basket to be taken away and on the way downstairs it scare the two old ladies. At the end of the episode Manuel is hit round the head with a frying pan and out in a basket and Basil also jumps in as he can no longer cope!
- The Anniversary:
It is of course Basil and Sibil's wedding anniversary and Basil has organised as surprise party with loads of guests. However Sibil assumes he has forgotten like the last time so she disappears to the golf course for the day. Basil is now stuck with loads of guests and no Sibil, so Polly dresses up as Sibil and pretends she is really ill in bed. He just makes the problems worse and worse encouraging guests she is really ill. The real Sibil then appears and he forces her to leave again as they can't both be seen or he would look stupid. He ends up ruining their wedding anniversary despite having good intentions!
- Basil The rat:
Manuel has bought what he thinks to be a Siberian hamster from the local pet shop, but it is actually a rat. It is kept in a cage but unfortunately manages to escape and is running loose around the hotel at the same time of the hotel inspector arriving. The inspector eats in the restaurant and orders veal, which is off as it is covered in rat poison. It is even more amusing the fact that the rat is called Basil and Manuel sits there a clasps his hands and shouts "Basil!" trying to find the rat. It ends with the inspector seeing the rat and Basil being dragged off by Manuel - after having gone mad again!
The boxset comes with three discs the first two being with the two series each on separate discs. The DVD boxset as well as including all the episodes in the two series also comes with some special features which are all on the third disc:
* Exclusive interview with John Cleese
* Exclusive interview with Prunella Scales
* Exclusive interview with Andrew Sachs
* Artist Profiles
* Torquay tourist guide -- a short documentary film
The boxset also comes with a booklet with a list and short description of each episode and some other information about the series.
Catalogue Number: BBCDVD1072, DVD Region 2 coding in PAL format, Subtitles (other than English): French, German and Dutch, Picture Format 4:3, DVD release date: 19 November 2001. Rated PG (Parental Guidance)
Price: £22.99 - a super price for the whole series!
This is a great British comedy which can be described as being short and sweet and has not been overdone. It is a shame of course that there aren't any more episodes of superb comedy from John Cleese. The boxset also includes every episode as well as some great features and is certainly worth buying for any Fawlty Towers fan so you can watch those great episodes over and over again!
Of course if you really enjoy watching these and seeing John Cleese in particular it would be worth watching some of his other films and series such as Monty Python and the films.
If you ever ask anybody what their favourite comedy sitcoms are, there's a good chance you will hear them mention Fawlty Towers. This comedy classic may only be 12 episodes long, but what it lacks in length it does not lack in quality. Some people argue that 12 episodes simply aren't enough while others state making any more would ruin the quality of the programme. In my opinion, they did the right thing to stop at 12 episodes, so the programme remained a classic. Personally this is one of my favourite comedy sitcoms ever created. This is because of the cleverly written scripts and the quality of the acting, but in particular the energy which John Cleese injects into his role as Basil Fawlty. This hotel owner bullies the waiter, fears his wife, and always tries to please people he considers to be in "high society". Fawlty Towers frequently makes it into "top comedy moments" countdowns, and there are so many to choose from. From Basil locking Manuel (the waiter) in a burning kitchen, to him beating his broken down car with a twig, the laughs never stop coming.
The main cast members are:
John Clesse as Basil Fawlty
Prunella Scales as Cybil Fawlty
Andrew Sachs as Manuel
Connie Booth as Polly
What is in the DVD Box set?
This "complete" DVD box set stays true to its name, featuring all 12 episodes, with a 3rd disc devoted to special features. These include Out-takes and interviews with the cast members never before released on DVD. Also, a special illustrated booklet is included as a further insight into the shows creation, while all this is packaged well, in an easy to access box set.
Is it worth my money?
Of course, this is not the first Fawlty Towers DVD to be released. Both series' were released separately, on single discs, containing no special features. If you already own these than the question is, does the addition of the special features make this worth buying again? It can depend on a few factors. Firstly, if you are a die hard fan of the series like myself, than the special features make it worth your money. Another issue is the price, however this is pretty good value for what you get, the average price of the box set being around £20. One thing I cannot stress enough, however, is if you have never seen this sitcom before or don't own it on DVD, then £20 is excellent value for money.
In conclusion, this is the definitive version of Fawlty Towers on DVD. It has the appeal to attract some fans of the series back for a second purchase, while also managing to attract new fans, and keep them hooked on what truly is, a comedy classic.
Created by John Cleese and Connie Booth.
Series 1 produced and directed by John Howard Davies.
Series 2 produced by Dougkas Argent, Directed by Bob Spiers.
Starring John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Andrew Saches and Connie Booth.
Fawlty towers was a classic comedy, set in a fictional hotel in Torquay, which began in September 1975 until October 1979, creating 12 episodes into 2 series.
The main Characters being the hotel owners Basil Fawlty, (played by John Cleese), with his stressed out attitude and the tendency to create chaos out of calm. Also his wife Sybil (played by Prunella Scales), with her beehive hair style and laid back, if lazy, attitude.
Then there was the housekeeper Polly, (played by Connie Booth) and Manuel, (played by Andrew Saches), the Spanish waiter with his pigeon English and his willingness to please.
There are a few other regular characters who are guest at the hotel from hell, there's
Major Gowen, (played by Ballard Berkeley) with his posh sounding voice and his forgetful manner, always asking for the newspaper.
Then the lady residents, Miss Tibbs, (played by Gilly Flower) and Miss Gatsby, (played by Renee Roberts). These two old ladies have a bit of a thing for Basil, treating him almost like a son.
In the second series we see the regular chef, Terry, (played by Brian Hall) with his easy style of running the kitchens, sometimes irritating Basil.
The show relies on quick one liners and some fantastic timing and with Basil being everyone's worst nightmare for a hotel owner it brings out some hilarious results to the screen.
Basil enjoys running the hotel but hates the guest and his relationship with his wife is as cold as the inside of a freezer.
The Box set gives you three DVDs and comes in a fold out sleeve type cardboards and plastic box, which slots into a rigid cardboards outer box. A good looking set which will sit nicely on the shelf.
1, A touch of class ( 19th September 1975)
Basil is duped into believing that a Lord Melbury, (played by Michael Gwynn) is staying at the hotel.
With Basil being a bit of closet snob he does everything in his power to make the Lords visit a pleasurable stay.
2, The Builders (26th September 1975)
When the hotel needs a bit of a refit Basil decides to bring in some cheep builders called the O'Reilly's to the horror of Sybil, who hates the O'Reilly's with venom.
3, The Wedding Party (3rd October 1975)
The hotel is inundated with guest for a wedding, but with the friendliness amongst the guest Basil soon jumps to the wrong conclusion with some hilarious consequences.
4, The Hotel Inspectors (10th October 1975)
Basil is pre-warned that a trio of hotel inspectors are in town which leads him to be overfriendly with everyone he serves.
5, Gourmet Night (17th October 1975)
With some VIPs coming for an upper class dinner, Basil's good intentions and general boot licking go totally wrong as he goes from insulting the VIPs to almost serving some questionable duck.
In this episode we see Basils brilliant attempt at DIY car maintenance.
6, The Germans (24th October 1975)
With Sybil in hospital undergoing an operation for an ingrowing toenail, Basil is left to run the hotel, becoming agitated when he learns that a group of Germans are coming to stay. With his comical way of welcoming the German guests this episode is a classic. (Watch out for Basils impression of Hitler and his funny walk).
1, Communication problem, (19th February 1979)
When Mrs Richards, (played by Joan Sanderson), a partially deaf guest with a cheap hearing aid comes to stay at the hotel it causes confusion with Basil and a small sum of money he won on the horses.
2, The Psychiatrist (26th February 1979)
When a Psychiatrist stays at the hotel Basils attempts to act normal lead to some hilarious results. Any true psychiatrist would have a field day with Basil.
3, Waldorf Salad (5th March 1979)
When two American guests come to stay at the hotel Basil is forced to make a Waldorf salad for them, leading to some seriously funny results.
4, The Kipper and the corpse (12th March 1979)
When a guest is found dead in bed Basil instantly thinks the kippers he served for breakfast are the reason, his attempts to cover it up lead to more chaos and many laughs.
5, The Anniversary (26th March 1979)
When Basil's and Sybil's wedding anniversary comes around Basils attempt at throwing a surprise party for Cybil go slightly wrong, forcing Polly to pretend to be Cybil.
The more Basil tries to lie to his invited friends the more confused his story becomes
6, Basil the rat (25th October 1979)
When the health inspector pays a visit, almost closing the hotel down, he gives Basil a few days to sort out the list of defects.
The trouble really begins when Basil discovers Manuel's pet rat, (or Siberian Gerbil as Manuel believes).
And when some veal is covered in rat poison it is not long before the meat is on the menu.
(These two disc give you the option of listening to the directors commentary whilst the show plays...very distracting indeed).
Disc three is full of special feature, such as ....
Interviews with John Cleese, Prunella Scales and Andrew Saches
A profile of the stars
Some out takes, (only about 7 and not really that funny)
A short film about Torquay.
There is also a short sketch involving John Cleese talking on the telephone.
In all, a great series of comical genius, well written and acted to perfection by all involved.
Manuel plays his part hilariously, to the point that you really believe he is actually from Spain.
The reason Fawlty Towers is a comedy classic is because the show never outstayed it's welcome, it only ran for two series with a total of only 12 episodes ever made. Not only that but it is constantly funny with some of British television's most classic moments, most of them with Basil Fawlty. For those that don't know, the show is based on John Cleese's real life experiences while staying in a Torquay hotel in the early seventies. It was here that the Monty Python team encountered a hotel manager who Cleese calls "the rudest man I've ever met". This is a man who threw Eric Idle's briefcase over the hotel wall as he heard the alarm clock inside ticking and thought it was a bomb. His reponse to doing it was that he had some "staff problems". Another moment saw him berating Terry Gilliam for using his american eating habits in the UK. I don't think I really need explain the premise of the show as there is a lot of opinions of this site that could explain in more detail better than I ever could. not only that but the show seems to be an institution across the world where everyone will at least have heard of it. The BBC have decided to release the show on DVD for prosperity and to cater for those who have long since worn out their VHS copies. You can choose to buy either series seperately but of course it's best to have everything in one boxset. The set comes on three discs with the first two discs containing each series with the third disc dedicated to extras. Each one of them has some nice menus with clips from the show as well as animated icons as well as the classic theme tune. -------------------------------------------- Basil Fawlty: Is something wrong? 4th German: Will you please stop talking about the war? Basil Fawlty: Me? You started it! 4th German: We did not start it. Basil Fawlty: Yes you did, you invaded Poland. -------------------------
------------------- The first series has some of the best episodes and none better than 'The Germans' where Basil arrives back at the hotel in a deranged state due to a smack on the head. Here he get's into all sorts of problems with some polite German guests which lead up to one of the funniest things ever seen on the UK screen. A few of the episodes also highlight Basil's ongoing attempts to bring a touch of class to the hotel but at every turn he stuffs it up by focusing on the wrong people. -------------------------------------------- Mrs Richards: I expected to see the sea. Basil Fawlty: You can see the sea, it is over there between the land and the sky. Mrs Richards: You call that a view? Basil Fawlty: Well perhaps you should consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea, preferably in it. -------------------------------------------- The second series continues to see Basil try and keep things together but always causing thing to fall apart. The best episode is probably 'Waldorf Salad' where Basil trys to look after a brash american guest and his wife. Basil has finally met his match and soon loses control over everything while trying to keep the fact that he has stuffed up the catering from the ever dominant Sybill. Each episode is presented in 4:3 and you have to bear in mind that the show is now over 25 years old. The transfer is decent enough considering the age of the material and the format it was shot on. There is some colour bleeding and some of the scenes look incredibly soft. But overall this will look better than any VHS version you have seen and it's pretty much broadcast quality. As for the sound well this is in the days before stereo was even an established concept. The original mono mixes serve the material well. It is of course just people talking and that's just what you get but just presented clearly and crisply. -------------------------
------------------- Mr Hamilton: What I'm suggesting is that this place is the crummiest, shoddiest, worst-run hotel in the whole of Western Europe! Major Gowen: No! No! I won't have that! There's a place in Eastbourne! -------------------------------------------- On the extras side you really do get a mixed bag. All the episodes come with audio commentary by the directors of each series John Howard Davies and Bob Spiers. I'm sorry to say that these are some of the dullest commentaries you're ever likely to hear on a dvd. The comments are few and far between and at times you may be forgiven for thinking that the participant has actually fallen asleep. To be honest you get far better stories from the interviews on the disc so it's not really worth sitting through these commentaries. The interviews themselves are also a mixed bag. The first is a 50-minute segment with John Cleese which tells an awful lot about the show and how it came about. Cleese discusses how the show was written and how some of the storylines derived from real life experiences of other people. He also talks about comedy in general and how his appearances on US shows like Third Rock From The Sun actually remind him of how Fawlty Towers was made. This interview seems to have been done a few years ago as some of Cleese's ideas for a Fawlty Towers movie certainly wouldn't be good ideas in the current state of world affairs. The only poor thing about this interview is that is done in sections but the BBC haven't given it any chapter stops which means you can't jump to different parts. The next interview is with Prunella Scales (Sybill) and appears to have been conducted recently, running for a scant 8-minutes it is conducted with that annoying bloke from that Saturday morning kids show with Dani Behr. The questions that are asked are a bit dull as the interview progresses and Scale's seems to lose interest. I think this
would have worked much better if Scales had been allowed to just remember her own stories and thoughts. The 25-minute interview with Andrew Sachs is a bit better but still has the annoying bloke conducting the interview. The interview works better because Sach's is far more open and allowed more room to speak. Perhaps it's because Sach's just likes talking about the show more. Next up is a 10-minute segment that features Torquay and in particlaur stories about the real life hotel owner who inspired the show. We hear all the horror stories from people who actually stayed there as well as stories from some people who say he was eccentric but misunderstood. The 'Out Takes' and 'Cheap Tatty Review' are brief snippets that show some stuff ups by the cast in scenes as well as Fawlty closing the series with a phone conversation to the BBC Programming Controller. Both these segments seem to have been dug up from the archives and it's nice to see them although they aren't incredbily halarious. To round out the package you have some narrated cast biographies for the hotel staff and the various guests who stayed at the hotel. It's interesting to see what the guests had done after and before Fawlty Towers. Finally there's an hidden feature set to some operatic music that shows a montage of footage featuring what actually happened to the real building used for the exterior shots of the hotel. It's strangely sad. So there you have it, this is a set that would have been worth it even if it was devoid of any extras. The show is instantly re-watchable and should be in any DVD collection of the classic comedy fan.