'Fawlty Towers: Complete Collection Remastered'
(John Cleese, Andrew Sachs, Connie Booth, Prunella Scales, et al / 3-Disc DVD / NR / 2009 / BBC Home Video)
Overview: Coming to Special Edition DVD for the first time, it’s the complete Fawlty Towers collection with all-new commentary from John Cleese! Hot off the runaway success of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, John Cleese embarked on his now-legendary sitcom, Fawlty Towers, creating one of the most memorable and best loved characters in all of British comedy, Basil Fawlty.
DVD Verdict: To be quite frank, what can be said about this classic BBC tv show that just hasnt been said over and over before - good or indeed, bad? The show consistently tops many peoples's favorite lists, as does its central character, Basil Fawlty, the manic man-child of a hotel owner created by the iconic John Cleese.
The fact that Cleese knew how to write extremely witty comedy that never sells itself short, and was a firm believer in brevity means that not only is every single scene packed with things going on (usually in the background!), but this series only contained (incredibly) a mere 12 episodes!
For those not in the know (come on now, where have you been all these years?!), Fawlty Towers itself is a (fictional) mid-to upper-class establishment in the coastal town of Torquay, England. The wordplay Cleese honed in his sketch-writing is at its finest, particularly where double meanings and misunderstandings are concerned, and also in the beastly endearments Basil utters beneath his breath about Sybil.
The plot construction is logistically cyclical, minimal in scope as compared to Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, but with no less depth. If there's a moosehead in the first few minutes, you can be damned sure that moosehead is coming back in the last few minutes. The entire cast is flawless, performing these impeccable scripts with the flair of an ensemble together for many years.
Sybil, as his wife is rather an unsympathetic character, but she quips back and forth with her husband in champion style. Andrew Sachs is simply fantastic as the waiter not knowing a lick of Spanish, but playing the hapless immigrant with an unwavering glass-eyed expression and a knack for physical comedy on par with Cleese!
And also the numerous one-off hotel guests Basil stresses over could have left much room for awkward performances, but there is not a single sore thumb in the bunch. It's easy to sympathize with even the most troublesome guest, simply for having to put up with Basil.
The original interviews in the Special Features include Prunella Scales (7:49), Andrew Sachs (24:57), and John Cleese (52:49). These are timeless and priceless, one and all. The new 2009 interviews are just about 50 minutes in total, and are chapter-choosing themed entities from a large number of contributors. [NV] This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Exclusive commentary by John Cleese
2009 extended interviews, including exclusive interview with Connie Booth
Interviews with John Cleese, Prunella Scales, and Andrew Sachs
Series 1 director's commentary by John Howard Davies
Series 2 director's commentary by Bob Spiers
Torquay Tourist Guide (short documentary film)
Cheap Tatty Review
Did you ever think you looked like Basil Fawlty? And your dog had the air of the Major? Is your mom a dead ringer for Sybil and your 4 month old baby having an uncanny resemblance to Manual? Well, now’s the chance to prove it to the world and to John Cleese.
Submit your photo for a chance to have your entry be one of the 3 favorites chosen By Mr. Cleese himself.
Nov. 15: last day to submit entries
Nov. 16-22: public voting
Nov. 22: last day to vote
Nov. 23: top ten finalists announced
Nov. 26: John Cleese announces the 3 winners