Fawlty Goods Reviews
Discover the magic of Fawlty Towers DVD
This is a review of the complete Fawlty Towers on DVD. The box set contains three DVD discs: Series One and Two are on a disc each plus a third disc of Special Features. This DVD box set can be picked up for a bargain price and you can buy it now from Amazon UK through this affiliate link, or follow this link for the 2009 remastered version.
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)
Introduction and first impressions
It is a fair bet that anyone reading this is a fan of the show and probably has the twelve episodes on video cassette, either taped off the telly, or the BBC videos that have been released. It is worth buying the DVD box set purely for the usual convenience and benefits of DVD that everyone is aware of. You are going to be able to watch these time after time without any degradation in picture or sound quality and the other main benefit is being able to jump to whatever episode, or indeed scene, that you want — no more forwarding or rewinding tapes.
The DVD box set also comes with a small eight-page colour booklet containing photographs and a bit about the background of the show. I feel this booklet could have been much better, it's a bit short but I suppose the extras on the third disc make up for it a bit. The other first impression is that the box set and inner box is made of cardboard (albeit rigid and laminated) so might get a bit tatty after a while — especially if yours is going to get a lot of handling — a rigid plastic case would have been much better.
Disc One and Two: A Series on Each
All that needs to be said about the first two discs is that they contain a series each. Each of the series discs also has the option of a commentary by the director (series one: John Howard Davies, series two: Bob Spiers). This is done with the normal sound reduced a bit in the background with the director commenting over the top. I watched a bit of this but found it very distracting. I suppose I will persevere with it at some stage though and watch the whole twelve episodes with the director commentary on.
Special Features disc
One of the main reasons most people will have opted for the DVD box set, or bought it even if they have the videos, is the third Special Feature disc. It includes:
- Exclusive interview with John Cleese
- Exclusive interview with Prunella Scales
- Exclusive interview with Andrew Sachs
- Artist Profiles
- Torquay tourist guide — a short documentary film
Highlights of this third disc are the interview with John Cleese (who is showing his age a bit ;-)) and the “Torquay Tourist Guide” which is more of a “how it all started” filmed in a documentary style, it is around twelve minutes duration. Apparently they contacted the living relatives of Donald Sinclair (the inspiration for Basil), but none would appear in the film stating that Donald had been unfairly portrayed in the past. They also interview real previous customers of the Gleneagles from when it was owned by Mr Sinclair. The interview with John Cleese is a surprising 45 minutes long. I was anticipating something far shorter.
The two other interviews are shorter: the Andrew Sachs interview is around 15 minutes and the interview with Prunella is even shorter. These two are both interviewed by the same young guy who didn't strike me as being a typical Fawlty fan, if he is then I apologise in advance. On the whole, all three interviews are great and must-see material for all Fawlty fans. You may have noticed that an interview with Connie Booth is conspicuously absent from this disc. Any ideas anyone? Was she asked and declined?
The Artist Profiles are in two sections: the main characters and the others who starred as guests etc. These both take the form of a still photograph with lists of their other TV/film credits with a spoken bio about the person. Interesting stuff.
The Cheap Tatty Review is an odd sketch of John playing Basil talking on the phone at the FT reception in which he insists to the unknown person on the other end that the series is finished. Bizarre.
The Out Takes are a bit disappointing, in my opinion; there are only eight or so, none of which are as good as you might hope. Disappointing. Denis Norden has probably bought the rights to all the good out takes, surely there are more and better?
There is also a short film clip of the building that they used for the exterior of Fawlty Towers. See the "Easter Egg" item in the right-hand column on this page.
Well worth the cash and a must buy for Fawlty fans, which you must be if you've read this far. When you add in all the extra material you get, it makes it unmissable.
Rating: 5 out of 5
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