DVDs in Review #69: The Complete Fawlty Towers

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I'm feeling rather whimsical and yearning for a simpler time today, a time where a trip to the British sea side meant staying in a quaint little hotel owned by a lovely couple and spending time relaxing on the beach and soaking up what little sun there is available. Of course, Fawlty Towers resembles a relaxing vacation spot as much as a desert resembles a bathroom. But there is absolutely no doubt it is one of the finest examples of a Brit-com (British Sit-com) since well, ever.

Spanning just two series for a total of twelve episodes John Cleese stars in and writes this wonderful treasure of a show about one Basil Fawlty. A man so with entirely the wrong disposition required for running a pleasant sea side hotel and as such proving repeatedly and grossly incapable of performing the job. He is assisted, corrected and berated by his long suffering wife Sybil (Prunella Scales ), the live in maid Polly (Connie Booth - who also co-wrote the series) and Manuel (Andrew Sachs), a Spaniard with a loose grasp of English who usually ends up receiving the brunt of Basil's anger when things go wrong.

Fawlty Towers belongs to that most precious of situation comedies, the painful yet funny inevitable situation genre. Other such alumni of this include both versions of The Office, Mr. Bean and Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. But there is really no debate when one states that Fawlty Towers is the best of them. Every single one of the twelve episodes is filled with classic moments of slapstick, verbal comedy, energetic performances and this complete collection has all of them right here. All ready for your repeated viewing pleasure.

It's rather incredible to think that this show came out in 1975, around twenty nine years ago - because the writing seems as fresh as ever. Inspired by a stay at a hotel owned by one Donald Sinclair, a man who John Cleese described as 'the most marvellously rude man I've ever met', John and the other Pythons were treated to an incredible display of a eccentric behaviour (something which is of course disputed by Mr Sinclair's family), and this became the inspiration for Basil and the show.

Of course, you should already know all of this and I'm most likely preaching to the choir, but this show is one of the greatest telly vision shows of all time, and this complete boxed set is (currently) the definitive version of a much beloved British comedy. A show which has inspired so much which followed after it and should be enshrined in entrance to the comedy section the Museum of Modern Telly Vision, alongside Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Interviews with John Cleese, Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs
Commentary on Series One by John Howard Davies (Director)
Commentary on Series Two by Bob Spiers (Director)
Artist Profiles
Torquay Tourist Guide (documentary film)

Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Region: 2 + 4
Runtime: 6 Hours 14 mins approx
Soundtrack: English Dual Mono
Subtitles: English, French, German and Dutch


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