Fawlty Towers - Series 1 & 2 
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Contains all twelve episodes from both series of Fawlty Towers:
Disc One Series One:
- A Touch Of Class
- The Builders
- The Wedding Party
- The Hotel Inspectors
- Gourmet Night
- The Germans
- The Builders
Disc Two Series Two:
- Communication Problems
- The Psychiatrist
- Waldorf Salad
- The Kipper And The Corpse
- The Anniversary
- Basil The Rat
- The Psychiatrist
Disc Three DVD Special Features
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 to 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
On the DVD: each six-episode season is given its own disc with a commentary track from John Howard Davies and Bob Spiers, directors of Season 1 and Season 2 respectively. The third disc has all the additional material, the best of which are new interviews with John Cleese, Andrew Sachs and Prunella Scales. Also included are text biographies of all the leads and the guest stars, a short background featurette on Torquay and the hotel owner who is said to have inspired Basil, a very short blooper reel of outtakes and a brief teaser with Cleese in character entitled "Cheap Tatty Review". Much of this extra material was comfortably fitted onto the individually available Season 1 and 2 discs, so it's a bit of a mystery why a third disc was deemed necessary for the box set. --Mark Walker
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Foreigners are lampooned, the Irish are mocked, women are laughed at and dismissed with sexist disdain, and relations with Germany are re-set to 1945!
Actually, it's impossible to imagine this getting past layers of BBC management, but none the less, Fawlty Towers remains one of the greatest sit-coms known to mankind.
Like all good British sitcoms, the protagonist is an everyman blighted by bad luck, a victim of circumstance, or is just plain awful; his hopes and dreams crushed by a cruel world. Often he is in some petty employment, or is entrusted with the role of a minor official or manager, which only adds too the calamity, as he struggles to make sense of a changing world.
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way, Pink Flloyd once sang, - they may have well have been singing about Basil Fawlty, as he lurches from one disaster to the next, involving Irish builders, dead guests, incompetent staff, or mad army veterans. Mostly he's plain unlucky, but often, it's a result of Fawlty shooting himself in the foot, again, as he pays the price for acting like a cheapskate.
The only fault with this series is its establishment of the 6 episode series, which became a strait-jacket for future comedy series. Imagine only 12 episodes of cheers or Frasier...
No, neither can I!
Why have I deducted a star? The booklet is superfluous being somewhat forced with nothing new added and each episode begins with one of the most irritating introduction (while you set subtitles etc) I've come across; matched only by those of the otherwise excellent Jeeves and Wooster.
Always worth seeing - but cut out those introductions.