For you British comedy fans out there, do I have a treat for you? The BBC has released the complete Fawlty Towers collection on DVD, and it is a very nice 3-Disc set.
“John Cleese stars as Basil Fawlty, the sharp-tongued, short-tempered owner of Fawlty Towers, a hotel plagued by crisis, chaos and bizarre characters.”
Considering that this collection is a 22 year old television series, the 2.0 audio is pretty good. Sure, you won’t get any notice…ble surround activity, and the soundtrack wont be overly impressive, but it comes out just fine. The voices are all clear, and the mild soundtrack sounded nice.
The audio commentary, although very informative, was very disappointing. The reason for the disappointment is the fact that no audio can be heard behind the commentary. This means that the only audible sound is the commentary. This allows for massive gaps of silence, and no real idea of what is being said by the actors in each sequence. As I said, the commentary was good, but the setup and execution in regards to the collection was very weak.
This video was as good as it could have been. This television series is now 22 years old, and considering this, the transfer looked amazing. The colors were as sharp as the 70’s clothes and sets could allow, and there was little to no damage to the print. Warner Brothers did a magnificent job transferring this classic television series to DVD… good job.
Let me start this section with a discussion about the menus on this collection… they were fabulous! All menus are fully animated in brilliant fashion, and all contain full audio. The page transitions were fun, and the setup was marvellous.
In terms of special features, there are lots to play with. First and foremost, there is a three part interview with John Cleese that is very informative. Cleese talks about the characters and how they were created, the style of the genre, the storylines, and the method of filming. Each of the 3 discs in the set contains one part of this interview… therefore allowing each disc to get a touch of Cleese’s brilliance. There is also a collection of other interview on these discs. Andrew Sachs (Manuel) and Prunella Scales (Cybel) both discuss (in separate interviews) their characters and their feelings towards Fawlty Towers and the cast. These interviews are not as good as the John Cleese interview, but are still worth a watch.
There are a nice collection of funny vignettes include on each of the discs in this set. Covered are categories such as “Customer Service Tips”, How to Manage your Staff”, and “Tips for a Successful Marriage”. Each of these is equally funny, and all deserve credit. There is also an out-take reel that is quite humorous.
It is not very often that I discuss character bios, but the bios in this set are the best I have ever seen. Each main and supporting character each gets a bio page, complete with full audio commentary. So when you are sorting through the bio, you are treated to an audio vignette on what this actor has done in his/her career. This type of treatment could actually entice me to watch each characters bio for entertainment sake.
If you like British comedy, you cannot go without this collection. The episodes are all very funny, and the video ad special features were great. Warner Brothers should be commended for their great work at restoring such a classic series with such class.
Special Features List
- Commentary by director
- New and archival talent interviews
- Guest ledger of the series