Often hailed as the greatest ever British sitcom, Fawlty Towers
is closer to the more elaborate tradition of farce. Comprising two series made in 1975 and 1979, the total of just 12 episodes were painstakingly constructed by writers John Cleese and Connie Booth. Unlike most British farce, however, Fawlty Towers
deals with the big themes--death, psychology, xenophobia and even sex-o-phobia (Basil's marriage to Sybil is the most sterile ever depicted in a sitcom).Basil's contempt for his guests is, of course, legendary. It takes little from patrons to unleash his sledgehammer sarcasm: "Rosewood, mahogany, teak? Sorry, I was wondering what you'd like your breakfast tray made out of," he sneers at a guest who dares request breakfast in bed. Like every Englishman, he wants to be king of his own castle and resents having to take in lodgers to maintain the place, especially the open-necked younger generation, whom he regards as sub-human. Mostly, though, Fawlty Towers
is comedy of exasperation--who can forget the "damn good thrashing" Basil gives his clapped-out car, or the nervous breakdowns he almost suffers trying to make himself understood to Manuel? It's also comedy of embarrassment. The very fear of losing his dignity generally leads Basil into the most spectacularly undignified of predicaments. His inevitable misery is our sheer delight.--David Stubbs
A Touch of Class
The Wedding Party
The Hotel Inspectors
Starring: John Cleese, Prunella Scales, Connie Booth, Andrew Sachs. Directed by: John Howard-Davies. First broadcast in 1975, Fawlty Towers has remained a timeless example of comic writing, acting, and characterisation at its very best. This DVD features all six memorable episodes from the first series: A Touch of Class - Lord Melbury arrives and Basil is only too pleased to cash his Lordship's cheque... The Builders - The lobby is in need of a face-life, so when Sybil's back is turned, Basil goes for the lowest quote job. The Wedding Party - Basil is outraged by an outbreak of promiscuity at Fawlty Towers. The Hotel Inspectors - Basil hears that hotel inspectors are in the area, just after he has been exceptionally rude to a guest. Gourmet Night - The cream of Torquay society is present for a special gourmet night at Fawlty Towers. The Germans - While Sybil is in hospital Basil tells some German tourists the "truth" about their fatherland... DVD Extras: Director commentary. Digitally remastered.