This Special Edition marks the 30th Anniversary of one of the greatest situation comedies British television has ever seen. Every episode of the BAFTA winning sitcom has been fantastically remastered and for the first time ever John Cleese provides audio commentaries on all 12 episodes. Episodes Comprise: 1. A Touch of Class 2. The Builders 3. The Wedding Party 4. The Hotel Inspectors 5. Gourmet Night 6. The Germans 7. Communication Problems 8. The Psychiatrist 9. Waldorf Salad 10. The Kipper and the Corpse 11. The Anniversary 12. Basil the Rat
Every episode of the classic BBC BAFTA-winning sitcom in high definition for the first time ever. Basil Fawlty is a much put-upon, hard-working hotel manager whose life is plagued by dead guests, hotel inspectors and riff-raff. Of course his biggest headache is his little nest of vipers' - his nagging wife Sibyl. Together they run their hotel, Fawlty Towers, with a little help from the unflappable Polly, and Manuel, the trainee waiter from Barcelona with marginally more intelligence than a monkey.
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
Boasting a virtuoso comic performance from Leonard Rossiter The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (1976-79) remains one of the greatest of all television sitcoms. Writer David Nobbs combined the surrealist absurdity of Monty Python with an on-going story line that unfolded through each of the three seasons with a clear beginning, middle and end; a ground-breaking development in 70s TV comedy. The first and best season charts middle-aged, middle-management executive Reginald Perrin as he breaks-down under the stress of middle-class life until he informs the world that half the parking meters in London have Dutch Parking Meter Disease. He fakes suicide and returns to court his wife Elizabeth (Pauline Yates) in disguise, a plot development that formed the entire basis of Mrs Doubtfire (1993). Series Two is broader, the rapid-fire dialogue still razor sharp and loaded with caustic wit and ingenious silliness, as a now sane Reggie takes on the madness of the business world by opening a chain of shops selling rubbish. The third season, set in a health farm, is routine, the edge blunted by routine sitcom conventions. At its best The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin is hilarious and moving, its depiction of English middle-class life spot on, its satire prophetic. Reggie's visual fantasies hark back to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947) and Billy Liar (1963), and look forward to Ally McBeal (1997-2002) and are the icing on the cake of a fine, original and highly imaginative show. On the DVD: Reginald Perrin's discs contain one complete seven episode season. There are no extras. The sound is good mono and the 4:3 picture is generally fine, though some of the exterior shot-on-film scenes have deteriorated and there are occasional signs of minor damage to the original video masters. Even so, for a 1970s sitcom shot on video the picture is excellent and far superior to the original broadcasts. --Gary S Dalkin
Contains all twelve episodes from this crown jewel of British comedy. This exclusive collector's edition featuring a Corgi model of Basil's Austin 1300 and a hand painted figurine of Basil would be a great gift! Episode titles: A Touch of Class The Builders The Wedding Party The Hotel Inspectors Gourmet Night The Germans Communication Problems The Psychiatrist Waldorf Salad The Kipper and the Corpse The Anniversary Basil the Rat.
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